I wish I could give you the benefit of all my experiences & knowledge, but due to time-constraints (which I'm sure you will understand once you've read this post) I must keep this message short. I'm going to do my best to give you the best information I know in the amount of time that I have available.
Clonazepam (a benzodiazepine sedative, aka Klonopin & Rivotril) will be the first she will probably choose to withdraw from (after reading/learning the most she can), as these sedatives are extremely addicting and almost always effect the strength and blood levels of other anti-depressants. ::::VERY IMPORTANT::: Absolutely, positively, NEVER stop taking benzodiazepines cold-turkey....the side effects that are possible from cold-turkey (abrupt quitting) withdrawals can last for YEARS. There are only two drugs from which rapid withdrawal can cause death, one is alcohol and the other is benzodiazepine sedatives (death can occur from seizure activity with benzos).
For the absolute most complete/up-to-date benzodiazepine withdrawal methods & support groups, please check out this site:
Welcome to benzo.org.uk
The sites (above) ONLY down-side is that Professor Ashton is a western/allopathic scientist/researcher, and as such doesn't put much/any stock in any type of natural healing modalities, but her research and clinical experience with benzodiazepine withdrawal is the most complete & factual of any in the world.
On the alternative side, you can find very good products (to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal...and possibly even prevent them!) and incredibly good information here:
The Road Back. How to withdrawal off psychotropic medication.
Both sites have withdrawal schedules & tables for various psychotropic pharmaceuticals, and advise on what order drugs should be withdrawn from...as well as the amount of the drug that should be tapered in what amount of time.
A quick search I did just now indicates that Topamax is not a benzodiazepine, but is also extremely addicting...and since it is used to treat seizures, it will also be very important to obtain the correct data for safe withdrawal.
My wonderful mother (65 years old) is a victim of the use psychotropic meds & iatrogenic addiction (physician/medically caused addiction), prescription/medical mismanagement, neglect and negligence. Right now the majority of my life & time is spent assisting her to overcome the hideous protracted withdrawals she is going through due to inappropriate prescription (both quantity & length) of clonazepam (Klonopin). Her doctor left her on the drug long enough to become addicted physically (one can be addicted in 4-8 weeks or less; she took it for 2 years), increasing her dosage as she developed 'tolerance', and then withdrew her FAR too rapidly. It was originally prescribed to treat the extreme anxiety that had rendered her virtually catatonic and incapable of caring for herself...which was caused by an insidious mix of Lexapro, Ritalin, Provigil & Trazodone. My mother has suffered with extreme clinical Depression
for her entire life, but it wasn't until the advent of the 'miracle psychotropics' (starting with Prozac), that over the years my mother has become almost entirely disabled and dependent upon others.
My mother was already in what is known as 'tolerance withdrawal' (being in withdrawal and experiencing withdrawal symptoms, while still taking the drug...just like a junkie would be as their addiction worsens, but they don't get enough)...when her physician started cutting her dosage harshly. Two weeks after her last dose of Klonopin, she became uncontrollably full of merciless anxiety with brutal levels of fear & self-loathing (along with a myriad of physical symptoms, inability to sleep/calm herself, as well as being suicidal)...and at that time she was admitted (without my knowledge) to an inpatient psych unit (where they told her that her symptoms were all HER fault and caused by negative thinking). Her physician (a total outrage) did NOT examine her past history and every day attempted to put her back on the benzos (not even knowing she had recently been taken off by another physician), or put her on drugs she'd used before, and even tried to get her to take drugs for schizophrenia. She was dismissed after 10 days for "non compliance"...for not taking the drugs suggested (and for not being able to read the books and take part in the group sessions to 'change her negative thinking'). When I suggested that withdrawal from Klonopin was 'at issue' I was kicked out of the therapist's office (told I didn't have the qualification or education necessary to make such a suggestion - or question the physician - hence I was a 'danger')...and was not allowed to talk to her physician.
I myself took Prozac & Trazodone for over 15 years, and have turned my life around with a natural health & healing (as organic as possible, 70%+ raw, SuperFood, Fish Oil and regular cleansing & flushing)...and I did it in less than a year & a half.
The reason that I don't have more time to offer is because in the last few months, my world and my family have been torn apart because of my mother's condition. Since I am self-employed I CAN take 6-8 hours daily to assist in my mother's healing, but my time for "other" is now extremely limited. This class of drugs can DESTROY families...as some will believe that there's no way a drug can have these immense life/body/brain altering qualities...especially when 'the doctors' deny it themselves. A victim can be worsened & brutalized (and have what's left of their self-esteem destroyed), by "caring" family members & friends. Those that know the truth that are trying to assist the victim can also suffer.
Alas, this is yet another case where those of us that understand & acknowledge the truth & reality of the atrocities that medical/pharma "industry" commit, are put into a place where we must choose between helping to heal a beloved member of our family...and virtually every member of the rest of our family. In this particular case (like thousands of others), if this situation gets into the courts (and that's possible if my mom were declared legally incompetent), my mother could be forced to undergo ECT/shock therapy and/or have brain surgery and.or have a Vagus Nerve stimulator implanted.
This withdrawal for your friend IS a do-able thing, but it must be understood that this is potentially a very LONG journey (possibly extremely frustrating & frightening). It is also very possible that she will suffer very minimal side-effects and have hardly any problems at all...this seems to be determined by a variety of variables...physical health, length of time/dosages of the drugs taken, self-esteem; diet, and "general constitution". It is really important to do a LOT of reading & research, and developing of as many support contacts (by way of internet forums, etc) as possible, BEFORE jumping in and starting to withdraw from these drugs. So MANY people do not know what they can expect when withdrawing from these drugs, and just knowing what to expect and that others have 'made it through' is many times enough to get them over the rough areas (or prevent the possibility of suicide). I applaud you for reaching out to your friend, and I think your recommendation of the Bio-Tuner is (more than likely) to be a good one. I also highly recommend the use of EFT.
Below my sign off, I have given a huge list of other sites where good information & Support Forums
can be found. Please feel free to email me or post a reply if there's more specific information I can offer. Oh yes, your friend desperately needs to be taking at least one full dose of some type of "Superfood" daily (a double dose would be preferable), and 2000-4000 mg of a high-quality Omega Three Fish Oil...with these two things (and of course/always, a thorough Bowel Cleanse
and eliminating every possible chemical & toxin in her food/environment), at least she will have the nutrition (and ability to assimilate nutrition!) that her body needs to begin with - and a healthy start to this whole thing is definitely the best way to go!
(Please forgive any/all typos or grammatical errors)
benzo.org.uk - Pixie's Story - Four Years After Klonopin and Still Battling
THE BENZO BOOK--getting safely off benzodiazepine tranquilizers and sleeping pills
Benzodiazepine Awareness Network Petition
TRANX Tranquiliser Recovery and New Existence
The Benzo Group Support Site
My TOP TWO favorite Support sites:
BenzoBuddies - Benzodiazepine withdrawal information, help & Support
Medicinske referencer med citat
Omega-3 for Depression
Defeating Depression: as Easy as Omega-3 11/30/02
Omega-3, junk food and the link between violence and what we eat | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
Do Antidepressants Cure or Create Abnormal Brain States? (PLoS Medicine)
Psychiatric Drugs: Chemical Warfare on Humans - interview with Robert Whitaker
Psychiatry and disease mongering: Road Rage Disorder is latest spontaneously "discovered" disease
Withdrawal Reactions from
Excerpt from a Report
by Peter R. Breggin M.D.
Clinical experience and the scientific literature confirm that chronic benzodiazepine use impairs mental function in general (reviewed in Breggin, 1998; Lader and Petursson, 1984; Lucki, Rickels, and Geller, 1986 et al., 1994).
The existence of chronic or persistent adverse effects after withdrawal from the benzodiazepines is confirmed by the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (both the 1987 and 1994 editions) which contain the relevant diagnoses: Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic-Induced Persisting Dementia (292.82). The existence of these diagnoses in this manual confirms that experts in the field consider that the effects are clinically and scientifically demonstrable (see discussion below).
Chronic brain dysfunction can also lead to increased difficulties with disinhibition and loss of impulse control, starting with irritability and mild mood swings, and progressing to more dangerous behavior.
Menkes and Laverty (1996) point out that alprazolam, a short-acting benzodiazepine similar to lorazepam, is especially prone to cause withdrawal reactions that may be long-lasting: "Symptoms usually last 1-6 weeks but may persist for many months, leaving the patient in a vulnerable state." They note that anxiety, depression, "paranoid psychoses" and "delirium" may occur.
Similarly, the American Psychiatric Association (1990) Task Force on Benzodiazepine Dependence, Toxicity, and Abuse observed that short half-life benzodiazepines are prone to produce "intense discontinuation syndromes."
The American Psychiatric Association Task Force (1990) produced a table listing discontinuation symptoms from benzodiazepines in three separate categories: "very frequent, common but less frequent, and uncommon." Very frequent withdrawal symptoms included "anxiety", "agitation", and "irritability", common but less frequent withdrawal reactions included "depression" and uncommon withdrawal reactions included "psychosis", "confusion", "paranoid delusions", and "hallucinations." Noteworthy are the large numbers of citations used to confirm the findings listed in the table. The task force also confirmed that these withdrawal symptoms "may persist up to several weeks (occasionally for months)" (p. 17).
The following two tables from standard sources used in psychiatry summarize many of the withdrawal effects of this class of drugs:
From American Psychiatric Association, Benzodiazepine Dependency, Toxicity and Abuse (1990), Table 3, p. 18
* Muscle Tension
* Persistent Tinnitus
* Paranoid Delusion
From Rapport and Covington Hospital and Community Psychiatry (December 1989), Table I, p. 1278
Emotional / Cognitive:
* Emotional Lability
* Decreased Memory
* Decreased Concentration
* Clouded Consciousness
* Metallic Taste
* Sensitivity to light, sound, touch, pain
* Feeling of Motion
Official Scientific Recognition of Benzodiazepine Toxicity and Withdrawal
Benzodiazepine toxicity and withdrawal is so well-established that it has received official recognition in the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (1994) in the form of fifteen categories. Each of these diagnoses encompasses the benzodiazepines which are in fact "sedative", "hypnotic", and "anxiolytic." The fifteen diagnostic categories are:
Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic Withdrawal (292.89)
2. Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic Withdrawal Delirium (292.81)
3. Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic Dependence (304.10)
4. Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic Abuse (305.40)
5. Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic Intoxication (292.89)
6. Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic Intoxication Delirium (292.81)
7. Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic-Induced Anxiety Disorder (292.89)
8. Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic-Induced Mood Disorder (292.84)
9. Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic-Induced Persisting Amnestic Disorder (292.83)
10. Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic-Induced Persisting Dementia (292.82)
11. Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic-Induced Psychotic Disorder with Delusions (292.11)
12. Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic-Induced Psychotic Disorder with Hallucinations (292.12)
13. Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic-Induced Sleep Disorder (292.89)
14. Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic Sexual Dysfunction (292.89)
15. Sedative, Hypnotic, or Anxiolytic-Related Disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified)
A similar set of diagnoses can be found in the earlier edition, the DSM-III-R published in 1987. Only five diagnoses are in the 1987 publication under the following rubrics: Sedative, Hypnotic or Anxiolytic abuse, amnestic disorder, dependence, intoxication and withdrawal delirium. However, these categories can subsume all of the ones found in the DSM-VI and indeed the descriiptions in the 1987 edition are sometimes more vivid and detailed.
These DSM categories are produced by a committee of experts in the specific field and therefore represent an attempt to reach a consensus among those most familiar with the subject, in this case benzodiazepine adverse effects. The inclusion of these multiple benzodiazepine-related disorders in the DSM III-R (1987) and DSM-VI (1994) indicates a consensus that benzodiazepine use can cause all of these problems from amnesia and dementia to withdrawal. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the capacity of benzodiazepines to cause a variety of adverse drug reactions and emotional disturbances is well established as a scientific fact within the scientific community and the psychiatric profession. In forensic or medical-legal terms, there should be no Daubert issue concerning the fact that benzodiazepines can cause all of the adverse reactions subsumed under fifteen categories in the DSM-IV.
Patients on long-term benzodiazepines are likely to suffer from many or even all of these disorders. However, patients vary widely in the degree of toxicity and withdrawal reactions that they experience. They will also vary widely in their capacity to understand or describe the adverse drug reactions that they are suffering from.
Peter R. Breggin M.D. & The International Center for the Study of Psychiatry & Psychology
Excerpts from Toxic Psychiatry, Chapter 11
Xanax - Approved for Panic Disorder from Toxic Psychiatry, Chapter 11
Brain-Disabling Effects of Benzodiazepines