Lorazepam dependency

Hi all,

I'm pleased to find this site as you'll soon see why....

I am a British citizen but have lived in Spain now for about 7 years....without boring you all with how things went downhill....basically, wife left, 10 year old daughter stayed here in Spain with me and went through a horrid time. Long time ago now and have a fairly normal life. Daughter is now 17, very happy and is virtually Spanish with a safe and good way of life.

When the ex left back to the UK, I started drinking heavily (nothing new there but never been a big drinker before) but it got to a really bad way like shakes in the morning, down to supermarket at opening time to top up etc.

Ended up in hospital who looked after me very well and my doctor was very understanding and prescribed me 2mg Lorazepam (Ativan) 3 times a day. This helped immediately...stopped drinking and got on with life.

6 years on, I take on average 5/7 2mg pills a day on an on going repeat prescription...this is Spain by the way and have a private doctor, who although a nice bloke....just takes my 10€ every couple of weeks with no questions asked.

I am completely dependant on Lorazepam now and have been for years. The pills are no longer doing anything positive, just keep me normal (ish!) A few times...the last being 3 weeks ago, I have almost ran out if tablets (we have lots of fiestas and everywhere closes unannounced!) The withdrawal symptoms are terrible....really terrible.

Starts with shakes, sweats and leads onto uncontrollable body movements and delusional thoughts. The last time this happened, my girlfriend had to drive miles to find a chemist open who was helpful and prescribed enough pills until the doctor opened again.

I'm waffling on now and thanks for reading.....is anyone else on this medication at the same level as myself? I would love to hear other people's experience and how to start to come off the drug safely.

Many thanks

7 Replies

  • Hi Steveinspain - and welcome to the site - lots of support on here

    As you indicate, that's a hell of a lot of lorazepam to be taking, and you are NOT going to come off them overnight- like you don't know that! :-O

    First of all, i would suggest you see your doctor - or find another one! - and tell them very firmly you want to withdraw from the lorazepam. If your current doctor won't help, find another!

    If you find a sympathetic doctor, follow their advice - you will have to withdraw VERY slowly to stop the withdrawal symptoms. I do know, I was taken off diazepam (much less addictive/strong) too quickly and nearly went (even) madder!)

    If you really can't find a doctor where you live, then you can do it yourself - but again, slowly! Make a note of how many you take each day for, say, a week. Okay, so you take, say, 7. Start to cut down to 6.5 - they are usually easy to cut in half. If the withdrawal symptoms are too bad on 6.5, then - it's down to a nail file, just shave off a little from one tablet each day. Once you feel comfortable with that, shave off a bit more, until you ARE down to 6.5. Stay on that for a week or two, then start again with the nail file. Would your gf agree to keep your tablets for you, so you can't "cheat"?

    Also, and this is a purely personal opinion, I'm no medic, but I would try to take them at the same time every day. In that way - if, for instance, you feel you "need" one at 11.30 and you're due to take one at 12, you can tell yourself "I can manage 30 minutes!" - and try to do something else - go for a walk, read a book, do some exercises - whatever.

    Oh, and try some relaxation exercises - they do help, but you have to keep at them! (I can talk, I'm very BAD at keeping them up! :-O ) This site has some brilliant relaxation exercises, if you can cope with the American accent ;)


    AND - keep blogging. There is loads and loads of support from lovely people on here who KNOW what you're going through and will be here for you!

    Just remember - it's taken a long time to get addicted, it will take time to get unaddicted - but keep at it, and you CAN do it!

    Good luck, and all the very best. Hope this helps.




  • Hi Rose,

    Thank you so much for your reply. I can see clearly that you understand my situation. The problem I have, which you can see! is living here in Spain and having a private doctor it's been too easy to get my pills. I can no longer see my original Spanish doc, as I am not working at present and although I am a Spanish resident, because I have not paid tax for a while, he won't see me.

    I think my private doc would understand and be helpful.....I've never asked to be truthful.

    Your plan to ween off sounds do-able and I thought that would be the road to take. The other being changing to Valium and coming off from them as I've heard it's easier?

    They lorazepam has changed me as a person without doubt....I can see that for sure. I'm moody, short tempered, lazy, up and down like a yo-yo and pretty depressed.

    I intend to go to my docs for a proper chat and see how helpful he is!

    Thanks again....means a lot


  • Hey there Steve, just a word of caution........I too was fairly heavily addicted to Lorazepam (20mg/day), and about a year ago I went to rehab and the Doc changed me straight over from the 20mg Loraz. to 20mg Diazepam (Valium).....It felt like I had been totally hit in the face with a baseball bat!! This is NOT the way to reduce your Lorazepam, all you will do is send yourself into an uncontrollable tailspin..........Take a tip from someone who has been there and follow what Rose says about weaning yourself off the Lorazepam very slowly, maybe 1/2mg a week is very manageable.....When you get down a bit get your Doc to introduce an anti-depressant at a low dose, nice and slowly ( Mirtazapine 15mg worked for me) This will take the edge off and as you were probably mildly depressed to start with, it really is not a bad idea lol........Hope you find this helpful and let me know how you get on..........Keep positive and enjoy this site, I know I have.....Hasta la vista baby ;o)

  • Hi Steve, Sorry to hear what happened to you. Rest assured you're not alone. I’ve been on many different types of medication for anxiety and depression. To name a few, beta-blockers (great for dulling you out), antidepressants (good for numbing your pain and any emotions you have) and benzodiazepines (reduces your activity to your brain and don’t you know it!).

    Don’t get me wrong these meds are effective for anxiety and depression, but not always in a good or positive way.

    The one thing I know after many years of suffering with Anxiety and Depression is – YOU MUST GET TO THE UNDERLYING CAUSE of why you have anxiety or / and depression to help you get off the pills.Anyone who takes them should know they will not sure cure your anxiety or depression! It will still be with you.

    I took drugs for a number of years due to a break up and fmaily problems and it got to a stage that I couldn’t take them any more due to my health and the fact I wasn’t acting or thinking straight. I had so many mood swings, I had total paranoia, I still couldn’t handle work or social situations and I was still alone, anxious and depressed.

    The paranoia was the worse. I turned against everyone. I couldn’t walk down the street without thinking everyone was against me, looking at me. It was awful.

    I had to stop taking the drugs as they were not working and never really had. All they had done was suppress my feelings and after a number of years made me ultra paranoid and still unable to function day to day – WHAT WAS THE POINT OF TAKING THEM?! I was getting worse not better.

    When I eventually plucked up the courage to come off medication, the doctor gave me a full plan on how to do this as I was of course addicted to taking them, my pills were my habit every morning I would take them to get through the day. PLEASE BE AWARE IT WILL BE A HARD AND SOMETIMES FEEL LIKE AN IMPOSSIBLE TASK - It took me many months to come off meds 100%.

    The point of my message is, You may need to look at other options as taking pills for many years and just coming off them is very hard and most people need something else to help them cope.

    Coming off drugs and now being drug free I turned to counselling and group sessions. I work very closely with ARM (Anxiety Rebalance Method) with Carl Sheppard and a group of friends i have met through ARM, aniextyrebalance.co.uk. I now understand that getting to the route of why I started taking pills was much better healer than just being drug free.

    I just want to help and drugs for anxiety and depression are not always the best way forward (as u know). Coming off your drugs is just the start and counselling / talking to people who struggle like you may help your transition to being drug free alot easier.

    I am drug free now and much better off. I wish I hadn’t started meds and just started talking about my problems rather than masking them, good luck and remember stay focused on what you want to achieve.

    I hope you stay strong and become drug free.

  • Excellent reply Faye, I'm totally with you there.

    Steve, get some therapy find the cause and how to manage it as you withdraw gradually from the meds.

    Stay off the booze, thats no good for anxiety either.

    I did from xanax, valium. luckily I didn't like the ativan when I was prescribed them.

    Wish you well



  • Had lorazepam years ago. I can say that the slow withdrawal way is what i followed. Its going to be difficult because of the length of time youve been taking them. I was on 2mg 3 x a day. It may help to write out a plan on a sheet of paper or stick it on the wall. Say 1st week every day 2mg 1.5mg 2mg. After doing this a week. Make a point of congratulating yourself in writing in your paper and feel that achievement. Then try a week 2mg 1.5mg 1.5mg then a week again celebrate yourself keep stepping down gradually. If it gets too hard try doing 2 weeks instead of 1 weeks. It did work for me.

    Another thing that helped is that when your right down to almost not needing them (you will get there im sure but taking it slow is the key) just keep 1mg in foil in your pocket or wallet. If you get a blip youve got the emergency 1mg. Then over the weeks replace it with 1/2 mg emergency foil. This is way down the road for you now but i got the point where just knowing it was there just in case was enough. Lorazepam was a god send when i needed it but its also a god send when you manage to see the back of it.

    Again no rush, gradual reduction is the key.

  • Thank you all for your replys....way lovely people I've found! .I am so glad I sat and searched out this site. The advise given is far better than my private doc over here who s more of a prescription dealer than professional GP.

    THANK YOU ALL AGAIN....it's gonna be a long tiad and I'll be keeping in touch.


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