Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted
America has a disturbing history of creating medical crises with prescription drugs. Just look at the “opioid epidemic” – it’s an epidemic started by doctors prescribing medication to their patients in response to severe pain. It turned countless people into addicts, and many died as a result of these drugs – or the ones they desperately sourced when the medical community cut them off cold turkey.
The next prescription drug “epidemic” is likely to be benzodiazepines. These powerful drugs are prescribed for a few physical ailments, such as seizure disorders, but more commonly for maladies, such as insomnia and anxiety. They aren’t supposed to be long-term solutions but rather a stopgap measure. That doesn’t stop the medical community from treating these sedatives like they are designed to be taken indefinitely.
What are benzodiazepines?
Some of the most popular and frequently prescribed benzodiazepines are alprazolam(Xanax), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin), and temazepam (Restoril). Most prescriptions come from primary care providers.
Benzo prescriptions were already dizzyingly high, doubling between 2003 and 2015. Then came the pandemic and all its accompanying woes. Benzos were prescribed even more as people suffered from social isolation, financial woes, media-stoked fear of the illness, and other stressors.
…Researchers concluded that 12.5% of adults in the U.S. used benzodiazepines, which extrapolates to about 30.5 million persons. However, only 2.1% of U.S. adults misused them (at least once), and only 0.2% met the criteria for benzodiazepine use disorders. Among benzodiazepine users, 17.1% misused them…
However, “misusing” is a term that is…dare I say it, misused.
Benzodiazepines were never supposed to be taken on a long-term basis. But people take them for years and years, not realizing that by taking their medicine exactly as prescribed, they’re developing a dangerous physical dependency. The misuse often comes straight from the doctor’s office.
What does this have to do with prepping?
With the high numbers of people prescribed benzodiazepines, chances are, someone you love is taking them too. If (or let’s be real, when) our medication supply dwindles, these people will be left without a medication they took as prescribed, and they could face a horrible withdrawal – sometimes ending in death.
Because of the dangers of benzodiazepine withdrawal, it’s important to know what the symptoms are, how to help, and how to taper off safely. I’ve seen the aftereffects of somebody weaning off of a benzo. It’s not pretty. And cold turkey is even worse.
If you take benzodiazepines, don’t think that you’re fine just because you are taking them as directed. You’re still developing a physical dependency. Please understand there’s a difference between physical dependency and addiction. Being dependent on benzos doesn’t mean the person is a junkie, out there robbing the neighbors for their next fix. You’d never even realize the dependency existed until the medications were taken away.
If you’re not prepared to manage withdrawal, I suspect that we could lose many loved ones due to this prescription medication once it becomes unavailable.
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How should withdrawal be managed?
In a perfect world, all benzodiazepine withdrawal would be handled by a caring medical professional. Therein lies part of the problem. If you have to go to the doctor every month or three to renew your prescription under the guise of being “monitored,” that’s a moneymaker. I’m certainly not suggesting that all doctors who prescribe benzos do it for the money, but some do.
If that’s the case, then they have a vested interest in keeping the patient on the medication. As well, many doctors – as in hundreds of thousands – don’t seem to understand that these drugs are meant for short-term use only. They may not see a problem with the patient continuing to take the med indefinitely.
If that’s the case, then help can be difficult to come by, particularly if money is tight. Detox facilities may or may not work because those who take benzos aren’t necessarily addicts – they’re dependent. Weaning off benzos takes a long time – longer than most folks would be in rehab.
If your doctor won’t help, your best course of action is to find a doctor who will. Seek out a doctor who has a more osteopathic practice – they’ll nearly always want you off those drugs, but they’ll be able to prescribe the medication needed to taper off.
What are the symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal?
Benzodiazepine withdrawal can range anywhere from unpleasant to deadly. It’s highly, highly recommended never to go cold turkey. That not only escalates the initial symptoms to almost unbearable levels but can also set the patient up for a long-term health crisis called Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome, in which the symptoms last for years.
Early symptoms start within 24 hours of stopping the medication. Acute withdrawal takes place after that, and it’s far more intense. This can last anywhere from 5-28 days or even longer. Some people suffer from PWS for years after that.
40% of people who take benzos for more than six months, even as directed, will suffer from moderate to severe withdrawal.
Medical News Today lists some of the symptoms a person suffering from benzo withdrawal could experience.
- physical aches and pains that can range from uncomfortable to severe
- abnormal sensations, such as the feeling that bugs are crawling on the skin
- muscle spasms
- weight loss
- anxiety attacks
- trouble concentrating
- panic attacks
- grand mal seizures
- detachment from reality
- hallucinations or delusions
There is very little information about managing withdrawal online because it should be managed by a healthcare professional. Unfortunately, if things have gone sideways, this help may not be available.
What should preppers know about benzodiazepine withdrawal?
While I certainly can’t provide medical advice, having watched someone go through this firsthand, I can suggest a few things you should know.
Know what medications your loved ones are taking.
This isn’t just true of benzodiazepines. There are many meds that could cause severe problems when stopped cold turkey, particularly psychiatric ones. If you know what medications your loved ones are prescribed, you can prep now by learning about safe withdrawal specific to those medications.
If you are able to find alternatives, do so.
If you can taper off of this medication now, before things go sideways, it will be one less crisis to manage later. Talk with your doctor to see if there’s an alternative that doesn’t create a physical dependency. This article is by no means suggesting you just stop taking your meds nor should you encourage others to do so.
Never, never go cold turkey if you can help it.
Stopping these medications cold turkey is how people die. And I mean that literally. At the first sign that medication is becoming difficult to acquire, consider finding a doctor to aid in tapering off the medication. If you have been taking these medications for a long time, consider taking steps now with your doctor to find alternatives that don’t carry the risk of severe withdrawal.
Know the symptoms of withdrawal.
Being able to identify the symptoms of withdrawal can help if your loved one is going through it. Many of the symptoms listed above mimic other health concerns or mental health crises. It’s easier to manage if you know the reason it’s happening. It can also give the sufferer hope that this will pass.
Most people who have become dependent on this medication trusted their doctors. They were truly suffering and found relief. They’re feeling physically and mentally awful anyway, and additional judgment won’t help this process. Your compassion could mean the difference between success and failure. Remember, if meds are no longer available, failure could be fatal.
Stockpile meds for the taper.
If possible, it can be helpful to stockpile enough medication to manage a taper. This medication should be kept hidden and handed out in carefully reduced doses, preferably according to a doctor’s advice. Some people who are extra-sensitive may need their meds cut by a fraction of a milligram at a time, and some may need longer than others between cuts. Many experts recommend waiting until withdrawal symptoms have completely gone away before further reducing the medication. Depending on the dose the person was taking and how long they were taking it for, this can require several months to a year to be completely off the drug.
Be prepared to manage the taper for the person going through withdrawal. Their judgment could be impaired or they may not feel up to handling the details.
Understand the timeline.
This isn’t a short-term recovery for most people. Expect at least a month of downtime while a person is tapering off the medication. Keeping busy with tasks they can manage can help them focus on something other than how awful they feel, but if they need to rest, respect their limits.
Learn everything you can.
This goes for more than just benzodiazepines – it’s true for any psychiatric medication. You need to learn everything you can about helping a person who is tapering off their drug. As I mentioned, this information is fairly difficult to find. You might be able to locate more advice on a forum than on an official website due to the dangerous nature of withdrawal.
Obviously, you have to be very careful with the information you get on a forum. These folks are not doctors – they’re people who are going through the same thing that you or your loved one may face. But you can learn what to expect, you can develop a bit of an expected timeline, and you can learn about worst-case scenarios. (It’s often the people suffering the most extreme experiences who share on a forum.) You may also learn some coping mechanisms that people used successfully to handle their symptoms.
Knowing what to expect is a huge part of the battle. Print off any particularly useful information in case you need it one day.
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Download the Ashton Manual.
The most widely- accepted advice for benzodiazepine withdrawal is the Ashton Manual. Some people believe this manual has been discredited, while others swear by it. You can find it here for free: https://benzo.org.uk/manual/
Some reader-recommended resources:
Peter Breggin – http://www.breggin.com/
Beyond Meds – https://beyondmeds.com/
Mad In America – http://www.madinamerica.com/
Benzo Buddies – http://www.benzobuddies.org/
Surviving Antidepressants – http://
Prep for benzodiazepine withdrawal like any other emergency.
If you or a loved one takes benzodiazepines, you should prep for withdrawal like you would any other crisis on the horizon. That means understanding it thoroughly, knowing the risks, taking steps to mitigate those risks, and putting back items to make the crisis more comfortable.
Do you have any other suggestions for people who face withdrawal when the meds run out? Do you have any thoughts about prepping for this scenario? Is there a personal experience you want to share?
Let’s talk about this quiet crisis in the comments.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites. 1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2) The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.
Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.
This is one of those things we do not consider if and when the JIT/BAU system were to fail.
Also, note more than a few of Rx meds come from overseas.
Saw on the news this morning that Medical Professionals are advising that everyone under 65 years of age be screened for depression and anxiety. So basically, they are trying to get people hooked on these meds. or make everyone complacent to what may be coming next. Good article Daisy, appreciate you staying one step ahead of what is really going on.
great article! ya know, easing off meds of any kind isnt something we are even thinking about, but the majority of these do come from china! so how about expanding on other meds too, how we can taper down, even blood pressure, arthritis, sleeping, etc. are all in the same category…..what will happen to people taking these for years and years?? wow, what a mess! I would rather find natural herbs etc to care for these symptoms and problems than any chemical conglomeration they think up! we have been poisoned slowly for centuries and dont know it….same with animals….funny how its all coming to light…guess the world is coming to an end…..but they want to hurry it up…..well, anyway, gonna see what I can find to substitute the meds, hate the side effects, they make it worse. take care all….thanks for all you do Daisy!
I was an addict and have had problems with opiates and benzos. Withdrawals can be miserable but conoladine helped me. I stocked up and keep it around for back pain and the anxiety it brings . It doesn’t make it easy but you can get thru it. Hope this can help at least some folks like me . Thanks for talking about such a touchy but real problem.
It is a good article, if you have someone on these meds.
The other side of the coin is that there will be a lot of non preppers, come SHTF that will be dealing with this or other similar issues.
What kind of help and compassion will we be willing and able to offer to them?
It does not seem like there is a solution for them except going Cold turkey.
I expect we will see a lot of suicides, due to drug withdrawal symptoms. It is something we must mentally brace ourselves for.
One of the many horrors that will have been caused by our current dependence on a corrupted medical system.
Thank you, Daisy, for this kind and compassionate approach. Addiction is hell, whether you experience it or witness it. We all live with the consequences. Remember, we are all humans, no matter our mistakes, and deserve respect and understanding.
Kava kava, ashwagandha, hops, and melatonin extract will help you sleep and relax muscles as you’re weaning off, also any of the herbal sleep blends widely sold. And OTC doxylamine succinate.
Adding magnesium n selenium might assist with this as well.
You need to read the recent study on melatonin. It is not good for you as the phara has said.
I’ve taken three droppersful of it a night for years, along with the other things I mentioned. I could not ever sleep without prescription drugs if I didn’t rely on melatonin and hops. I have MS which prevents normal sleep. I don’t know what the study you refer to says, but it’s again a risk-benefit thing. It’s good to inform yourself as to risks, but they may not be as serious and common as a study might suggest. While sleep is absolutely necessary, with no good answers for those with permanent, severe insomnia.
You need to research melatonin.
Dr Ardis on vokal has several podcasts about it n its benefits that are researched n proven.
Also Dr Ealy on America Outloud.
The study indicates that prolonged use causes your body to stop producing melatonin.
The study, as you say, is not the only study.
Anyone trusting the so called powers that be, who are associated with n funded by those touring covid n vaccine lies should at least consider researching other more equable sources who gain nothing by passing along truth n best advice.
I personally would trust a Natural-path n truth seeking medical researcher long before considering listening to anyone governed n controlled by money, greed n corruption.
The choice is yours to make for yourself.
Please research anything from many perspectives n use your brain.
As always another very thoughtful informative/educational article to assist in an area most might not consider.
Thank you for a wonderful reminder to consider something often/ easily over looked.
Although I do not use any pain relievers, I have stockpiled a variety in order to assist others who might need these in the future.
I have also done the same with allergy otc items should there be s need.
Thanks so much for your loving compassion for others n addressing this.
Not related but putting this out there as a PSA:
Some idiot/s have a TikTok challenge involving the OTC cold medicine NyQuil and cooking chicken in it.
Yes, you read right. And if you said, “What the heck?” I am right there with you!
The FDA has issued a warning ( https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/recipe-danger-social-media-challenges-involving-medicines ).
Daisy has a article about violence being a indicator of collapse.
Maybe a better indicator is cooking chicken in cold medicine, eating tide pods, or that walking around blindfolded challenge.
Yup, saw that nonsense.
Amazing how many stupid things come about. Boggles my mind!!
In the novel, “One Second After”, the town doctor brings up the issue of folks going cold turkey off their meds that helped control symptoms of their mental illnesses. It was very sobering.
On another note, my mother was prescribed Valium in 1976 to help her deal with the death of her mother. She never went off of it but was switched to Atavan in 1989 when she and my dad retired to their custom home in the beautiful hills of PA near my dad’s family. She remained on Atavan til she died of complications from Alzheimers in 2016. In looking at her medications before bringing her to live with me in 2014, I was appalled that her doctor had kept her on it all those years. At that point in time, it would have disastrous to attempt to wean her off of it.
Oh that’s interesting. One thing I watched that kind of dealt with this was fear the walking dead when it hit and Nick was a heroine (or something)addict.
Watching that play out was horrifying even tho it was just a show his mom kind of knew what to do but it was an eye opening factor. This is a fantastic article. We better get ready!
Or maybe not – my grandmother smoked for years. Once Alzheimer’s started to set it, she forgot she smoked. Obviously her body wasn’t craving nicotine. But I agree re: meds and Alzheimer’s – even if a legit medication, the end game is still the same, why prolong it?
Love the books in the “One Second after” series. And I live right where the books take place. I told my husband that I enjoyed reading the books, but don’t necessarily want to live the 🙂
Thanks for this very important & timely article & reference to the book. This is a huge problem looming.
I guess I am one of the lucky ones. My husband, who is 100% disabled veteran (I am 50%), has the first cousin to ALS. MMN is ALS in slow motion. Both of us are seen by the VA. According our different VA doctors, we are the only two patients they see that are not on any medication. Remember the VA is the largest pharmaceutical testing grounds in the world.
My husband does natural supplements & herbs. He was given two years to live by the doctors. That was in 1992. He attributes his still being alive by not doing the drugs and treatments that the doctors subscribed. One was chemo & steroid alternate drips.
The reason the FDA & Pharma discredits natural cures is because they are not in the cure business. They want maintenance to keep selling drugs. Plus you cannot patent a natural cure.
Daisy, This was a very good article. It makes you think about what meds you are on and what meds your family or group members might be on that might become a problem if you lose access to them. I have gone cold turkey from Ativan which was a very horrible experience for me and my family. During the time when all the Doctor’s got scared of losing their licenses for prescribing opioids, Pain Managers became the only folks you could go to at the time to get prescriptions for narcotics, opioids, Benzos, etc. I was sent to one of those. I was told by this person I had to get off the Ativan,( a Benzo) because I could not mix it with the opioids I was taking, and soon I would be getting off those as well whether I liked it or not. I was not given any tapper instructions, he just didn’t fill my prescription and that was it. I went cold turkey and it was horrible, many of the symptoms you mentioned I went through. I would have to say the mood changes and fits of anger were the worst part for me, I used CBD with small amounts of THC for the physical side effects like nausea and anxiety, but it just made it a bit more tolerable. Going through withdrawal is no easy ride and will be harder to do during an SHTF event. If you are on Benzo’s or Opioids now, try to get off now! Don’t do it cold turkey because I don’t recommend it. It took me a year or better to get off of Opioids (by Choice) and it has been hard. I have yet to find a decent substitute for pain but I do use a combination of Mindfulness, meditation, CBD, OTC pain relievers, and natural remedies, ie: acupuncture, chiropractor, therapeutic massage, and Reiki. I have several prescription pain relievers stockpiled just in case, locked up and hidden, hope I never have to use them, but very few Benzo’s, since they are very hard to get.
While the medicines you mentioned are one part of the issue, please remember that millions of people are on antidepressants like Prozac, Zoloft, and others. These “medications” are also mind altering, and are meant to work in that way. Some people are on both, and they are regularly prescribed and dispensed without any other support being required.
This is a bomb waiting to go off and it will be a disaster. For people on opiates a very helpful withdrawal herbal remedy is Kratom ( Mitragyna Species) also helpful is Cannabis or in places not legal try Delta 8 in health stores. Gabapentin is a prescription medication that many people credit with helping lessen withdrawal symptoms also. Benzos are sometimes given to aid patients for short term use but come with major problems themselves. Almost everything you can take is in some way habit forming, so please do research before considering it.
Gabapentin can be harmful trying to go cold turkey as well. Its a nerve blocker. Used for a lot of conditions. I think people just need to know their body and be aware (as much as you can.) about all the medicines they take.
im an herbalist, so i have every dried medicinal plant going!! i suggest people educate themselves and buy!! You dont have much more time:(
What zone are you in? I grow a lot but Im on the line of zones 3 and 4. Not every thing will grow for me. I wish I could get ashwaganda to grow for me here.
Good Article Daisy! I suffer from panic attacks that are not just for a half hour. They will last a week at times and I feel like I’m going to die.Im saved. I’m not afraid to die. But the feeling of impending doom is awful. Anyway- I have Alprazolam that I take when this happens. But oddly when I need it I don’t want to take it!. Thankfully this doesn’t happen often but I keep some med on hand for when it does. Also I’d also like to recommend Hops, Valerian Root, Skullcap, Passion Flower to help with pain, sleep,anxiety. Do the research. I make tinctures of these herbs and to hey do work. I also make a tincture from dried Hibiscus and Hawthorne. I take this daily to keep my blood pressure down. I stay away from big pharma drugs as much as possible. Research herbs. They are slower working but absolutely do work!
You know it, Arizonagirl
Natural is always better.
Grow, forage n gather to save n use later as well.
I also do nothing Big Pharma n rely on herbal, organic n natural.
Please everyone, as much as possible, filter your water. I do it living in my van n its a bit time consuming but very necessary even for your animals.
I beg you pardon, but sometimes herbal stuff has limited efficacy over benzodiazepin.
I took benzodiazepin 0.25 mg, around 120-150 tablets over a span of around 6 months. I have never felt dependency. Simply quit when I felt that I wouldn’t need it. Not big deal.
I have tramadol in my medicines cabinet. This was the only stuff helped with my lower spine pain. The GP barely wanted to prescript it, I did need to promise to her that I would use it in the acute phase of the discus pain. I took some tablets in the one week. Did not need more. I haven’t felt an urge to take this opioid
I guess the problem lies in the lack of mental power to stop the tablets when it’s not needed anymore. Benzodiazepin may be needed for a longer time to support the central nervous system’s relax. But there is time when the grief/pain/depression/social isolation is over – and at that time, benzo should be quit asap.
Thanks for the information. Where do you get your supplies for the tinctures?
benzodiazepines should be avoided at all times….they were developed as less lethal ‘calming agents’ to replace barbiturates that were used frequently in suicides.
benzos really add nothing to the quality of life and they are very habituating/addicting. If you think that your benzos are making your life tolerable or improving it then there is some very deep fundamental conflict between your personality and how you choose to live.
avoid the benzos…if necessary change where you live and change who you live with and change your occupation if you have to….do what you have to in order to basically like and appreciate the quality of your own life….. enslaving your life to benzos is not a remedy for anything.
There is a good website with lots of good information on weaning off SSRI/SNRI pharmaceuticals: http://www.crazy-meds.org/
The folks there admit that there is some gallows humor, and a few cuss words, too. But the information you can find there is much more in-depth and generally more practical than what you get from your run-of-the-mill “health” clinic provider.
It’s not just benzos. Far wider. People don’t realize they’re physically dependent. It’ll be a total, legit shit show. The withdrawal effects range in scope but include potential for increased violent ‘ideologies’, electric shock sensation (brain seizures) etc. Coming off is a delicate balance of art, science, Faith, support that; in best case scenario, should take MONTHS TO YEARS.
Anyone on these or with loved ones on these,Needs to get a plan in place now. Get supplies needed to allow for dose reductions, including liquid versions of the meds.
Note that taper is not an even dose reduction. Step downs are at smaller & smaller percentages as you move along.
Withdrawals can/do last for months/years. It depends on how long it takes for the brain to re-establish homeostasis, not how Ming it takes for the meds to leave the system.
Look on Dr Kelly Brogan’s website for resources/info
I fully expect to get flamed on this, but I have 25+years of experience dealing with this in my family. Using marijuana instead of a prescription is just trading one drug for another. The side effects on the family are horrendous. And I’ve never met a user who was honest about it.
I m not gonna flame you fir that. I understand. I ve seen what you describe.
One must do a trade iff that is not one evil vs another, so to speak.
Whats not commonly known is that many things with a person may only be as simple as a vitamin and/or mineral deficiency as well as a parasitic infection.
I might get blasted for stating that, but the truth is that parasites, flukes n protozoa infections can cause many symptoms as what is diagnosed/prescribed as another condition.
Things like statins, the list goes on, are nothing more than a false remedy for a nonexistent problem that do nothing more than cause other issues that require mire drugs.
Put simply, they are a conspiracy to make a profit at the consumers great expense all across the board.
BTW: you can stop cold turkey with statins n do yourself a great service.
Dr Bryan Ardis had a great podcast on vokal or his own site about this, for instance.
The withdrawal can last up to a month. Significant pain, sleeping for days, and all manner of hell can plague an individual suffering from this. When I was in jail, in the county, in the reception area, my bunkie was going through an incredibly bad benzo (Xanax) withdrawal, cold turkey. There is a drug that he was being given by the nurse to ease the worst of it, but the name escapes me. It was not working. Have heard the withdrawal is more painful than the heroin kind.
Daisy I am very disappointed that I can not find your email.
There is a simple solution that you did not mention.
The actions of Xanax can be duplicated with niacin.
I won’t go into detail here and again wish to hell I could find your email.
But this course has all of the information:
I didn’t know better and quit benzodiazepines cold turkey ten years ago. Bad, bad mistake. I was bedridden for almost 3 years and nearly lost everything. It took a long time to get my life back. Horrible, horrible drugs! Avoid them if you can and NEVER quit cold turkey, even if you only take small doses. These drugs are no joke. They completely rearrange your brain chemistry and can take years of intense suffering like you can’t imagine before you heal.