For those of you new to the not-so-wonderful world of benzodiazepine withdrawal, I’ve put together this little dictionary so that certain things I say in future posts will make sense to you. I may add to it later as things cross my mind.
Ashton Manual, The – “Benzodiazepines: How They Work and How To Withdraw” (by C. Heather Ashton DM, FRCP, Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychopharmacology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England) colloquially know as “The Ashton Manual,” is basically The Benzo Bible. Arguably the most knowledgeable person in the world about the benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, Ashton recommends a crossover to Valium, a longer-acting benzodiazepine, for tapering purposes. I chose a different method, but still find a lot of wisdom in the manual.
Benzochondria – This is when, upon experiencing a new symptom, you become convinced that you have some dread disease: the real reason for your suffering. Benzochondria has its opposite, when symptoms of something else are attributed to benzo withdrawal. For instance, recently I got one of those nasty 24-hour stomach flus. Until the fever and throwing up commenced, I was blaming the weakness and washed out feeling on my recovery from benzo withdrawal.
Benzowise – An adjective usually applied to doctors and other healthcare professionals, benzowise doesn’t necessarily equal fully knowledgeable. Rather it indicates a willingness to be open-minded, compassionate and helpful when dealing with someone who has encountered difficulty with this class of drugs.
Interdose Withdrawal – see Tolerance
Jump – To jump is to stop taking your benzodiazepine at whatever you determine your final dose will be. It is recommended that you do a safe taper and jump from a very low dose. I jumped on August 24, 2010 following an 11-month water titration taper off of clonazepam.
Tolerance – Physiological tolerance or drug tolerance is when your reaction to a drug decreases so that larger doses are required to achieve the same effect. Because of tolerance, it is possible for a person to be in withdrawal while still taking their medication. This is known as tolerance withdrawal. To go into withdrawal between doses is interdose withdrawal.
Wave – This is when symptoms increase for a period of time.
Window – This is when symptoms depart or noticeably lessen for a period of time.
One of the more difficult things to understand about healing from benzodiazepine withdrawal is that healing is not linear. Rather it’s two steps forward, one step back; a series of windows and waves until the windows become more frequent and longer in duration, finally merging into one healed person.