Citation: Strauss. "6 Months of Misery: An Experience with Clonazepam (Klonopin) (exp45008)". Erowid.org. Apr 25, 2007. erowid.org/exp/45008
This is the story of my nightmare. I was definately addicted to Klonopin. I had used many varieties of drugs throughout my life, but never gotten addicted: not to pain pills, not to cigarrettes, not to speed, not black tar. But I was definatley, hopelessly, addicted physically and mentally to klonopin. This is my experience, hopefully you will learn from it.
I have suffered from insomnia since I was a child, and have been seeing psychologists since I was young. I have been diagnosed with ADHD and Insomnia. My whole life I had been ok with a funny sleep schedule, until I went to college. The grueling schedule was too hard for me, especially because I was unable to keep a regular sleep schedule. I decided to do the 'rational' thing and talk to a psychologist. I told him I was smoking pot to help myself sleep, and was tired of self medicating. He put me Ambien. This worked fine for 2 monthes. I asked about the fine print on the bottom of ambien commercials that said not to take ambien for more than a week. So he switched me to ativan (lorazepam). I slept well but not long, so he switched me to klonopin.
At first, life was beautiful. I could sleep 8 hours, and feel rested in the morning. I was started at 2mg a night (four times the recommended starting dosage.) After 2 monthes, he upped my dose to 3 mg a night. The bottle said to take every night, so this is what I did.
After 1 month at this dosage, I started forgetting things. A lot of things. I lost things I wouldn't ever lose: my backpak, my keys, my cellphone. I told the psychologist that I was experiencing memory loss. He assured me that this was a normal reaction to my body boing into withdrawal from my dosage not increasing. I recommended that I up the dose to 3.5 mg / night. I asked him when he would plan on keeping the amount consitent. He said around 10 - 20 mg / night I wouldn't be complaining of these symptoms. He probably was right, I wouldn't be complaining of these symptoms, I would be braindead and unable to communicate at all!
Well, I was freaked out, and choose NOT to up my dose. I looked at my only reasonable option which was to drop my morning classes that semester as I could no longer hear my alarm clock in the morning, and never was able to get up before noon, even when people tried to wake me up; I would just fall back asleep immediately and not remember being woken up.
When I went to drop my classes, I realiized that I was signed up for classes that I hadn't ever remembered to go to. To quote Hunter S. Thompson 'How long had this weird shit been going on?' I decided to try and taper off, as I read that stopping suddenly could result in seizures and even death. Tapering off involved cutting a sliver with a razor blade of one of the pills, and have a sliver less every few days.
This didn't work so well. I had been doing this for a month, and was miserable. I was forgetting to eat, forgetting to call people, to take care of basic responsibilties. I decided it was time to try another way. I heard from a friend that alcohol would lower my seizure threshold, and allow me to quit twice as fast. I tried taking half my dose (totaling 1.5mg) and drinking some hard liquor. I awoke a few hours later, and thought it was safe to drink some more. I woke up to my then girlfriend running over my foot with her car. Apparently I had been blacked out for awhile and done a lot of things that I didn't remember at all.
I decided to stick to just tapering the klonopin with klonopin. I read that If I cross tapered to valium, quitting would be easier due to its longer half life. Of course the psychologist was more than willing to help.
I was cutting down my dosage, but unable to remember large parts of my life. I lost 40 pounds (putting me down to 110, I'm 5'7, and this is way underweight for me) because I couldn't remember to eat, lost friends because I was a flake and emotionally unstable, lost a relationship because I was too moody. I needed help. I was smoking pot to hang out with stoners and therefore remember to eat. This actually helped me keep weight on, so I kept hanging out with my stoner friends. One day they were taking 2-CI, and I decided to join them.
For the first time in six monthes I could see my life for the mess that it was. I was losing everything that mattered to me, all direction, and even my identity. In a psychedlic state, I started remembering things. I had lent my computer to some 'friends' who wanted to take it into the hot tub, and became aware of many things I had done in my stupor. I fixed a lot in those six hours, but the 'benzo fog' came back.
The month that followed was a total blur. I was so unstable, that it is a miracle I surived. I had dilated pupils most of the time and looked manic. I was even approached by people on the street who thought they were recognizing that I was manic; they offered me there medication. I knew I was in trouble. I even tried to cut off my hand because my girlfriend told me not to touch her ever again. My life was literally a nightmare. I think what was really putting me over the edge was the lack of restful sleep. I would just pass out, and then come to. Never reaching a deep sleep, never dreaming.
I attended a family funeral, and when everyone saw me, they barely knew who I was. I was cranky, and nearly flipped whenever they would try and wake me up before 2 in the afternoon. They did the sane and logical thing and sent me to detox. This was the worst imaginable hell. I looked worse than the heroin addicts, who were very concerned for me. They kept telling the nurses that I either was on speed, or needed more tranquilizers.
On my fourth day of detox with phenobarbital, I started to seize. I ran to a nurse and put her hand on my heart. I didn't need to say anything, she immediately gave me more phenobarbital. I barely slept and had horrible distortions of perception. My eyes were so sensitive that I mistook a light at least 100 feet from my window for the sun and thought that night was day. Luckily I started gaining weight, and got my feelings back, all at once. A week later I found myself in a six month residential rehab. No one believed that I wasn't abusing my medication. It really is hard to believe for most people that all this could happen from taking a medication AS DIRECTED. Be careful. I lost a lot, and it could happen to you. If I would have just stuck to the natural substances instead of trusting my mental health to a 'professional' who didn't tell me about any risks of the medication he was prescribing to me.
In retrospect, research anything a doctor tells you, and get a second opinion. All prescription sleeping pills are addictive, and most doctors don't want to admit this. My views of bio-psychiatry are very skeptic. I used to want to be a psychologist, and now I can safely say that any doctors telling your emotions can be fixed are absolutely full of shit. If you are bi-polar or schizophrenic, or severly depressed that is different. But add/adhd, insomnia, anxiety, and many other 'mental illnesses' simply cannot be fixed for any length of time with drugs. Listen to your body. Exercise daily, proper nutrition, and doing what I love (music) have helped me to balance myself; and I don't suffer from my mental 'illnesses' anymore.
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