If benzodiazepines have been used for more than two to three weeks it is not advisable to suddenly stop taking them. This can cause serious problems such as severe anxiety, difficulty sleeping, seizures and hallucinations.
It is recommended that the use of the drug be reduced slowly under medical supervision. This may need to occur over a period of two to three months. A slow withdrawal process will lessen the chance of withdrawal symptoms occurring. See your doctor for assistance. It is best to start the process of withdrawal during a period when there is some degree of stability in your life. This will increase your likelihood of withdrawing successfully from benzodiazepines.
Benzodiazepines offer short-term relief of problems, and your doctor may only prescribe these drugs for a short period of time to help you cope while your symptoms are severe. If you experience ongoing problems it makes sense to start thinking about other ways of coping.
You may consider:
- Regular exercise
- Listening to music
- Learning relaxation techniques
- Herbal alternatives, such as chamomile tea or valerian tablets
- Talking about your problems to a friend, family member, counsellor or doctor
- Finding someone to help you work out your problems such as a financial adviser, self-help group or social worker.
Benzodiazepines can be very effective in treating the symptoms of problems such as anxiety, stress and insomnia. However, the underlying cause will remain and it may become necessary to find other ways to deal with these problems. Rather than continuing to use benzodiazepines, try to identify situations (stressors) that cause the stress, anxiety or insomnia. Dealing with these issues and stressors may remove the need for you to use benzodiazepines.
For further information about benzos or polydrug use, or to obtain information resources contact:
- Parent Drug Information Service (PDIS) - The Parent Drug Information Service is a 24 hour telephone support, counselling, information and referral service for parents.
- PDIS: (08) 9442 5050
- Toll Free (country callers only): 1800 653 203
- HealthInfo - Additional copies of this brochure or other benzodiazepine resources are available through HealthInfo. Other benzodiazepine resources include:
- About benzodiazepines
- Using benzodiazepines, sleeping tablets or sedatives with medicines or drugs
- Using benzos
- Managing stress and anxiety.
- The Department of Health has produced the ‘Do-It-Yourself Guide to a Good Night’s Sleep’ resource containing a relaxation tape, brochure and booklet. This resource is available for $5.00 (GST inclusive). A free booklet titled ‘A Good Night’s Sleep’ is also available. To obtain copies, telephone HealthInfo on 1300 135 030.
- Western Australian Substance Users’ Association (WASUA) - Peer-based information, support and referral.
- Visit your local pharmacy and ask for a Pharmacy Self Care Fact Card.
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist.