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Xanax vs Ativan for Anxiety

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Xanax and Ativan are both members of the benzodiazepine family and are used for the treatment of anxiety related disorders.  They can also be used for muscle relaxant and anti-convulsive effect.

For a list of ways to fight anxiety in general, see The Top 25 Anxiety Tips.

How does Xanax vs Ativan compare?

First, they are both high potency.  This means that they are relatively strong among their class of medication.

Xanax has a half life of 6-20 hours while Ativan has a half life of 10-20 hours.  This means that your body gets rid of both of these medications relatively quickly.  By comparison, Valium, another popular benzodiazepine, has a half life of 20-100 hours.

This is both good and bad.  It’s good in that you clear the drug out of your system quickly.  It’s bad in that it means that drug delivery is relatively quite rapid.  When you stop taking the medication, it quickly clears from your body, which can result in horrible withdrawal.

Both are fairly addictive when used for long periods of time.

In a survey of 31 clinicians with detox experience, 84% said that Xanax is “especially problematic” for withdrawal.  Ativan is also highly addictive and has similar withdrawal incidences, but has somewhat less of a bad reputation.

Efficacy

Both Ativan and Xanax are highly effective for the short term treatment of anxiety and neither has been indicated for the long term treatment of anxiety.  Both work at fairly high rates to treat panic symptoms.

One study of 74 patients showed that the two have similar efficacy for treating of anxiety at around two weeks.

Remember, both have very similar chemical activity and similar half-lives.

Side effects

Both have similar side effects.

Xanax and Ativan both cause some degree of memory impairment.  One study showed that Ativan was among the “most frequently associated with amnestic effects” in the benzodiazepine class.

The way that memory impairment is tested for is as follows.  Participants are told to memorize a set list of numbers or words then are given the medication and asked to recall them.  This, or some variant, is used to show if memory impairment happens.

It’s somewhat artificial and does not replicate the more realistic use of the medications over several weeks.  It has been shown that the memory impairment side effect may be attenuated to some degree over time.  On the other hand, other studies have shown that long term use of Xanax or Ativan can cause memory and attentional problems.

Both Xanax and Ativan are also both associated with sedation.  One study showed that Xanax was among the least sedating of the benzodiazepines while Ativan was among the most sedating.

Another study showed that Ativan has slower onset of sedative and memory effects, but that they lasted longer than with Xanax.

Note

There are very few studies that directly compare Ativan vs Xanax.  This is likely because drug companies have no reason to run comparison studies when there is the chance that their medication may come off in a bad light.

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This post was written by on Saturday, February 20, 2010. This author has written 223 posts on this blog and has 5247695 total posts views.


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47 comments

  1. Neither of these drugs should be on the market outside of a hospital setting, there are far better ways to treat panic attacks and especially anxiety. Both cause severe and prolonged withdrawal syndrome in at least 50 percent of people who use them for 3-6 months. Long term use at higher doses can result in severe withdrawal symptoms such as hallucinations, seizures, severe muscle pain, twitching, intractable insomnia, vommiting, epigastirc problems, dysphoria and ataxia. Death can occur if you stop taking the drug abruptly. Those are just a few of the brutal withdrawal symptoms I experienced after being on Klonopin and Xanax for a number of years. Stay away from both these medications except for (very) short term use. Shame on the pharm industry for handing out these drugs like candy and the physicians who RX them.

  2. DID I MISS SOMETHING MARK S. ZACHMAN? SURELY YOU MUST BE DR. MARK S. ZACHMAN OR MAYBE MARK S. ZACHMAN PHD.? THE MANNOR IN WHICH YOU WROTE I THOUGHT YOU WERE AN EXPERT BUT THEN I REALIZED YOU WERE MERELY ANOTHER JUNKIE LOOKING TO PLACE BLAME ON ANYONE BUT YOURSELF. IF YOU TRUELY NEDDED THIS MEDICATION AND TOOK IT ONLY AS DIRECTED I DON’T BELIEVE YOU WOULD HAVE HAD SUCH SEVERE WITHDRAWAL.WHAT YOU DESCRIBE DOES NOT ADD UP. WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE SHOULD ONLY BE HOSPITALIZED TO BE GIVEN THE MEDS. YOU WERE ON? SO YOU CAN’T BE IN CONTROL?SO YOU DON’T TAKE THEM WHENEVER YOU WANT AND IN WHAT AMOUNT YOU WANT! YOUR NOTHING BUT A JUNKIE WHO CAN’T CONTROL YOURSELF SO WHY IS THAT THE DRUG COMPANIES FAULT? AGAIN,IF YOU TOOK THE MEDS. AS DIRECTED AND SUDDENLY STOPPED THEN YOU “MAY” HAVE SOME MILD PHYSICAL WITHDRAWAL WHICH YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN ABOUT BEFORE YOU TOOK A SINGLE PILL…..DID YOU NOT READ ALL THE INFO. THAT COMES W/EA.&EVERY SCRIPT? I THINK YOU KNEW THIS,I THINK YOU KNEW WHAT SUDDEN WITHDRAWAL AT HIGHER DOSES WOULD BE LIKE ALSO BUT WHEN A JUNKIE WANTS A HIGH………NOTHING ELSE MATTERS!!! GROW UP TAKE IT LIKE A MAN AND STOP TRYING TO BLAME ANYONE ELSE YOU WEREN’T FORCED TO TAKE IT……………….

    • Wow, you read my mind and stated it very well. Your point may be better received IF YOU DIDN’T USE ALL CAPS! It’s amusing that drug abusers blame the drug companies, and worse yet, their doctors. “Patients” can be such good manipulators, and then turn around and blame the doctor for believing them.

  3. WOW….harsh LOL…..I agree in someways though. I was prescribed Xanax a while back and my Dr was sure to let me know that if I exceeded the recommended dosage I would be at rick of developing a dependency. Maybe Mark should have at least read the warning that comes with the meds. It is however, just a temporary fixer. I was only prescribed it until my SSRI kicked in…which took about a month. Benzos are not ment to be long term aids….Unless all other long term drugs are ineffective (Paxil, Zoloft, Welbutrin…ect).

  4. I don’t think Mark said anything wrong. In my opinion, he clearly stated that with the side effects affecting memory and the sort, that these drugs should NOT be so available. This didn’t indicate to me that he possessed any “junky” tendencies, as you would like to say (BREEIA). Mark was simply stating that with the hars effects it could have on the body; withdrawal, dependency and death inclusive, they should not be available to use. How you took this and claimed he was a junky wanting his next high missed the spider web for me. Mark, I totally agree with what you are saying with memory impairment, as I have been prescribed Klonopin and Xanax. But also know I am a two time graduate that has no record and no medical history of having any harsh adverse effects to these medicines. This has been over the course of 1.5 years. I have gone periods of 3 months or longer not taking these medications only experiencing mild to severe irritability, brain moving faster than my mouth can keep up and axiety. Nothing phsical took place because I work out regularly and I eat somewhat healthy. Everyone is not the same, however Mark shouldn’t have been labeled due to his OPINION on the medications readily available, yet labeled “narcotic”. Doctor or not, his opinion is valid…it doesn’t take initials to see that. Ever took a course where you wrote a thesis statement on a paper? Or maybe a debate that took place in lecture hall? Did you even attend college BREEIA? I think I’ve rested my case here…case/point-think before you speak. Everything that hits your brain isn’t meant to be said. Since you felt you placed Marks opinion below yours, how do you anticipate a rebuttal for mine???

  5. Both of these drugs work tremendously well for sporadic, infrequent panic attacks. That is, NOT long term. Mark’s comments about withdrawal and using for 3-6 months are in regards to people abusing the drug and not following the indicated usage. How the hell was he on Xanax for years? Either he is a junky or he had a doctor who should be in jail. I’m guessing junky. Abusing drugs is abusing drugs. Idiot.

  6. OK… I’m seeing on other sites people who had *doctors* prescribe this stuff for years. That is unbelievable. So that may very well be the case with Mark. If so, that is reprehensible. This stuff is NOT for long term use, *period.* Sorry I called him an idiot if that’s the case and if so his doctor should be in jail for malpractice.

    Again, for short term, infrequent use this stuff is great. Anyone going outside of that is looking for trouble.

  7. It scares me if someone has a hard time with a medication and suddenly makes movesw to have everyone else restricted from that horrible medication also. We each have to have control. We can have a family member control the dose hand outs for the day if we fear our own control will fail.
    Medical research has found that some people have the ‘gene’ to get addicted to alcolhol, cigarettes, cocaine, and other substances. Many many people do not have that addiction problems. Not everyohe is the same in hadnkling medicationsl.

    It is annoying that Canada and 3rd world countries can get codeine with their cough syrup or aspirin but Americans, the poor idiot sods, can not. They must all be mentally deficient in controlling themselves or something the U.S.A. prohibits many drugs you can buy at the corner store in most countries.

    I hate seeing people that are in the addictive group destroy the help these drugs give ourselves and others. I don’t want the government that far in control of my life. Sure, give out the warnings. We need to know. But it is hard to be treated for so many things because the U.S.A. believes we are all incapable for watching out for ouselves. And if one person has a problem, nobody should get the help anymore.

    I am truly sorry when someone turns out to have that addiction written into their chromosome and gets hurt. In all my prescriptions, and youthful partying, nothing has addicted me but the cigarettes, and I fell for that because I didn’t understand what an addiction was. Its horrible. And now that the government has increased tobacco product taxes a couple thousand percent, cigarettes are so high that theft may be many peoples only way. That is a problem. Who thought that making cigarettes incredibly expensive would stop smoking??? can you spell addiction? obviously can’t define it.

    We have an obligation to control ourselves, not to try to control others who are very probably not just like you. America is goinhg crazy with personal choice limits. Well, that got off limits.

    However you can tell hospitals and doctors that you are allergic to any drug you have a problem with and thereby keep yourself from being given the drugs that harm you. A lot easier that trying to make laws for everyone else in the world.

  8. @Vicki,
    I totally agree with your point. The thing to realize with benzodiazapines is their highly *physical* addictive property. That is, if you take them for long enough, even if you aren’t someone with addictive traits, you will become addicted, period. And unlike most drugs coming off of these can be extremely *dangerous.* Benzodiazepines are currently a schedule IV drug in the US. But considering the physical addictiveness and how quickly that happens with the dangers associated with withdrawal, it should likely be a Schedule II drug. Trust me, if you were put on these for a month and then quit taking them, you’d be in a world of hurt.

  9. I have been prescribed Ativan for panic attacks for over 10 years.  My doctor made me fully aware of the risks and proper usage.  My therapist – who is responsible for working with me on my anxiety management – has always said that she would rather I took an ativan once or twice a month than turn to some other form of self-medication, such as alcohol or smoking or other drugs.  I set my own personal boundaries around my usage. If I need more than one dose a week, I get a therapy session and go back to the basics of my coping mechanisms… I have never used more than one refill (30 .5 mg pills) in a year, and usually less.  For patients with good coping skills and self-discipline, there is no reason not to have this in your tool box for acute/situational anxiety or panic attacks.

    • Kim, I think you are wonderful! It’s not been an easy battle but you’ve managed what life has dealt you in a mature way. I also am very careful in how I use Ativan, in fact my Dr. was understanding but amused when I confided in him that I was fearful of the addictive nature or Ativan and like drugs…he gently pointed out that it had taken me 9 years to finish a bottle and not to worry to much! lol (of 30 pills)

  10. You can buy all these drugs online without any problem. No wonder we are so addicted 

    • where can u buy them online i cannot believe you could just hop on the computer and purchase perscription drugs online just like that!

  11. I have been prescribed and taken as needed, an Ativan dose of 1 milligram, 1 at a time up to 3 times daily, for the last 27 years.  I take them when Needed, not at whatever terms the prescription says.   It is quite obvious this is not an anti-biotic or life sustaining drug such as Synthroid that must be taken daily as written.  My doc was clear on taking them “as needed”, and directed the use of 2 at a time in certain situations, instead of one as was written.  I absolutely understood that the prescription terms did not say I was to take that many everyday.  Unless I wanted to be institutionalized for treatment.

    I take them as a precaution on the few business/social ocassions I need to attend, and I take them on an ‘emergency’ basis, when my brain and all my uncontrolled chemical imbalances are spinning out of control.   Ativan has saved my life and marriage thru the years on many ocassions.

    I have had a couple experiences with withdrawal symptoms, racing pulse and anxiety, or creepy feelings in muscles.  That is a warning that you are having problems.  You cut back use and re-evaluate your criteria  for taking the drug.  if you are not strong enough to control yourself, you immediately call your doctor with the information.  Although there may be a feeling of anxiety, it is Not the type of anxiety that caused the drug to be prescribed!.

    If you cuse the discomfort as a warning and react immediately, you won’t go through hell months later when physical withdrawal will be horrible.

    There is NO excuse for taking any drug blindly as ordered.  You can NOT rely on or blame your doctor for your problems, in most cases.  It is your life and your responsibility to inform your doctor of any problems, physical or emotional, with a drug the doc has prescribed you.  If you omit info or lie, your doctor or family members are not at fault for believing you.  Nobody can read your mind.

    Having the drug available does not “cause” your addiction.  Your lack of wanting to take control of your life, or active pursuit of and abuse of a drug because it feels good is the cause of your addiction. Nobody else but you knows and can control your presription use and need.

    Getting the drug on line absolutely does NOT cause or validate addiction.  You are actively abusing the drug if you order online.  In fact those drugs coming from other countries have no manufacturing controls, they may not even contain any of the drug you order.  They might have plaster of paris as the combining material, not good for your body.   Many of these on-line drugs contain animal tranquilizers.

    Think, get info on the internet on any drug you are given.    

  12. I have been prescribed and taken as needed, an Ativan dose of 1 milligram, 1 at a time up to 3 times daily, for the last 27 years.  I take them when Needed, not at whatever terms the prescription says that I am allowed.   I often take 1/2 and wait 30 minutes to see if it will work.  why screw up a helpful medication by causing it to quit working due to overuse?

    It is quite obvious this is not an anti-biotic or life sustaining drug such as Synthroid that must be taken daily as written.  My doc was clear on taking them “as needed”, and directed the use of 2 at a time in certain situations, instead of one as was written.  I absolutely understood that the prescription terms did not say I was to take that many everyday.  Unless I wanted to be institutionalized for treatment.

    I take them as a precaution on the few business/social ocassions I need to attend, and I take them on an ‘emergency’ basis, when my brain and all my uncontrolled chemical imbalances are spinning out of control.   Ativan has saved my life and marriage thru the years on many ocassions.

    Through the years I have taken 30 in a month, or none, or 1 or 2.  Even Ativan can start to make you feel dull and out of it, why would I take a drug continuously that made me feel like I was living a half life?

    I have had a couple experiences with withdrawal symptoms, racing pulse and anxiety, or creepy feelings in muscles.  That is a warning that you are having problems.  You cut back use and re-evaluate your criteria  for taking the drug.  if you are not strong enough to control yourself, you immediately call your doctor with the information.  Although there may be a feeling of anxiety, it is Not the type of anxiety that caused the drug to be prescribed!.

    If you use the discomfort as a warning and react immediately, you won’t go through hell months later when physical withdrawal will be horrible.

    There is NO excuse for taking any drug blindly as ordered.  You can NOT rely on or blame your doctor for your problems, in most cases.  It is your life and your responsibility to inform your doctor of any problems, physical or emotional, with a drug the doc has prescribed you.  If you omit info or lie to your doctor, your doctor or family members are not at fault for believing you.  Nobody can read your mind.

    Having the drug available does not “cause” your addiction.  Your lack of wanting to take control of your life, or active pursuit of and abuse of a drug because it feels good is the cause of your addiction, not the doctor or the drug itself. Nobody else but you knows and can control your presription use and need.

    Getting the drug on line absolutely does NOT cause or validate addiction.  You are actively abusing the drug if you order online.  In fact those drugs coming from other countries have no manufacturing controls, they may not even contain any of the drug you order.  They might have plaster of paris as the combining material, not good for your body.   Many of these on-line drugs contain animal tranquilizers.

    Think, get info on the internet on any drug you are given.    There is so much info available now to research before you take a prescription drug.  There is incredible info passed around in daily life, friends, radio, TV, that talks about addictions.  there is no excuse of not knowing.

    If you don’t take control of your use or abuse, your doctor will,  probably by cutting off your prescription immediately   No doctor wants to be targeted by the DEA, or lose their license to practice medicine because a patient doesn’t bother to take care of themselves. 

  13. Sorry about the double post, i skipped ahead for info, came back to make a note, i didnt realize it would print the note, and when i came back, my note in progress was still in the writing box   ooops 

  14. FYI, No one has ever isolated a gene in relation to addiction.

  15. Golly a lot of angry people here. Name calling and all…

    I disagree with Mark that these drugs should only be used in hospitals.  Sorry he had to endure such horrific withdrawals.

    I started taking Klonpin and moved my way up to Xanax bc the milder and lower doses were not working.  When it got to that point my PC sent me to a psychiatrist to manage my anxiety.   Which is the responsible thing to do.  And my psychiatrist was very cautious with me when I first came to him. Unlike all the others, he actually sat down and discussed my issues past & present. Rather than sitting behind his desk w/ his script pad  wanting to know what I needed.  He even did a tox screen to make sure i wasn’t using anything else. 

    I am prescribed 2mg 1/2 -1 3x daily. No, I like others have stated do not take that dosage. During the day if I feel like I need one I start w/ only a quarter. And there are times when I need a whole pill. But I will say this I do have to take one every night.  Sometimes I can get by with half that nightly dose for weeks and when I go back to the higher dose it is bc something is going on. I have severe anxiety. Both my doctor and I know that I cannot quit cold turkey bc of withdrawals.  He has informed me plus I educated myself about what I am  taking.  Xanax does not get me high or make me feel euphoric, I can function normally. If I did not have it I would probably end up hospitalized.  You have to be your own advocate and be responsible for yourself.  If a doctor is all to eager to prescribe you whatever w/out doing follow ups to see if you still need it, then maybe that should raise a red flag…. find a new doctor. My doctor knows what is happening in my life & reevaluates me often. 
    I THINK SOMEONE NEEDS A XANAX!!!! or maybe just therapy. LOL

  16. I took Klonopin for about 8 years for severe panic attacks. I gradually weaned myself off of it. In certain instances, these medicines are wonderful. I occasionally now, when I can’t sleep through the night, take a half of a .05 of it. The lack of sleep is one of the most destructive things, will make an anxiety so much worse.

  17. I was on Lexapro for about two years, weaned myself off at Christmas, and by August I had to be hospitalized for severe anxiety. Went back on the Lexapro and ativan .5 mg morning and night for about a year and a half and felt quite normal. The weight gain was terrible, so I weaned off the lexapro again at Thanksgiving, but stayed on the Ativan. The farther away I get from the lexapro, the more anxious I feel, but that morning and evening dose of ativan takes it away in 30 minutes. I am very afraid I will never feel normal again without drugs. If I could take .5 mg of Ativan 2 or 3 times a day, things would be manageable, but I need to know if this is dangerous. I’m confused because some of you have such strong opinions about NOT taking this drug ever, but it helps me cope. I want my life back. My Dr. seems to think I could be on this for an extended time without adverse affects. She said the same thing about the lexapro. People who don’t suffer with this can’t understand we can’t just “snap out of it” or “think positive” to get over this. I’m trying 50 mg of 5HTP today to see if that helps.

  18. One mg of lorazapam( Attivan ) and 10 mg of paxil gave me back my life. I have been taking these 2 drugs for 15 years. I have not had a panic attack in that period. If I forget to take the attivan, I do feel anxious and keep an emergency pill in my wallet. However feeling anxious and having a panic attack where you feel as if you are going to fall over and die from lack of oxygen are two distict feelings.The horrors I faced every day are gone forever. I can only speak for my own situation. Mark may be far more sensitive than myself?

  19. I have been on celexa (daily) for 4 years. Im also perscribed ativan for 4 years as well. mine usually expire casue im sure not to tthke the but smaybe 4 or5 times a month because of the addiction warning. Im to scared of addiction so im sure to only take them if i cant get my panic under control.

  20. Wow.  Wasn’t going to comment until I saw breeia’s judgmental response to poor Mark there. One, he never said he was an addict and 2, since you appear to be so knowledgable  about all this Breeia, and you’re spew against addicts apparently didn’t know that alcoholism and addiction are recognized medical diseases as stated by the AMA.   And since you appear to be playing doctor, let me also.  You’re actions sound as if you came from an alcoholic/ addiction home.  You have all of the characteristics of an alkie/addict, without actually using.  We call that a dry drunk.  Everyone reacts to meds differently. (I’m moving on just to let you know)….where Ativan gives me a buzz,Xanax and klonopin do not…klonopin makes me more tired than the other two.   Don’t ever take advice from lay people, like myself…what works for me , may kill you.   We are not doctors ….and Breeia, I’ll say a special prayer for you ;) 

  21. Wow, funny how drugs affect a persons attitude and emotional state, usually a day or two after I take something (when prescribed) I’m short with people too. I don’t think Mark said anything wrong, my sister isn’t a junkie but she was taking Klonopin for years because her doctor told her to, for her restless leg syndrome, I think the DR was wrong to let someone stay on a drug that long. Anyway, yeah shame on those dr’s who just dish out the drugs..

  22. I have been on xanix for I.5 years and when I decided on getting off of them it was a nightmare!!! I was taking1 mg 4 times a day. I found out I was pregnant so I decided with my dr.to taper off. They tampered me so very quickly that I went into seizures. If I would have known know how dangerous xanix are I would of just suffered with the anxiety. I recommend not to take xanix. They are very dangerous, especially when trying to get off them…..

  23. I cant believe grown people are fighting ovet whats others are prescrribed if you dont like what youre on tell YOUR DOCTOR….i thought this site was to give their opinion on how the drug heloed them nit badger eachother on how long someone else has been on it obviously none if you are doctors…..sorry for the spelling errors useing touch screen dont want to get flipped out on bout it…and one mote thing some of you NEED to be on some xanax just by the way youre flipping out

  24. I’ve been on Xanax since the age 22. I am now 50. I went to see a therapist who specialised in “Panic Control Therapy” when I was 20. My panic attacks were so bad-I had intense agoraphobia. I was able to work(I don’t know how) but my social life- a terryfying experience. I would go out with friends,take my own car, and within minutes of being out I had to return home. The therapist told me flat out to see a Psychiatrist. I was put on Xanax- taken every day (4 times a day) The dosage was gradually increased to a maximum of 4 mg per day. That was the magic bullet for me. She also added 20mg of P. ozac to compliment my course of treatment. Before I found this dosage, I sought out several opinions from other Psychiatrists. One switched me over to Klonopin-I was so slow,tired and depressed I had to be taken off. Then came Ativan, which was better, but a comparable dose (Xanax), I still had breakthrough anxiety which was slowly building up a panic attack. We through our hands up in the air and decided that no other medications worked except this combination of Xanax and Prozac-they also tried different antidepressants,too. So guys, I’ve been there and back. I’m monitored by a doctor and since I’ve gotten my life back many years ago. This works for me. My entire family also suffers from the same thing-it’s genetically transmitted. I am happy, healthy and most of all, I don’t give the dosage I’m on a second thought. Everybody’s different. What works for one, may not work for everyone. It’s trial and error. If you plan on taking MORE than what your Dr. prescibed, then you are abusing it. I never did. If I have a problem, I notify my Dr. That’s what I pay her for.

  25. To Breeia: obviously you are a doctor and know what the word JUNKIE means that your just throwing around like its nothing. Here’s a little insight for you. Mark cant be a junkie on ativan because it isnt a NARCOTIC and the definition of a junkie is a narcotics abuser, usually heroin. BTW, I was a junkie and it offends me that you would call someone like mark one because he uses ativan, hes not shooting it in his arm. So back off calling people names unless you have any idea what your actually saying!!

  26. I am a veteran and recently the VA announced they are cutting out all benzos. I am down to .25 twice a day. I have been on xanax for 16 years. I had no idea that it was meant for a short term thing. The VA doctor who originally prescribed them has retired. He started me out on .25 and at one point I was taking 1mg 5 times per day. I get one more prescription next month and then that is all. Some days I can go for a long period without the xanax and some days I need them. Just depends on the situation. I would like to be totally free of them but I do have anxiety. I suppose I should seek out a private physician.

  27. Good luck with that Ben! I was on ativan for 16 years for anxiety and was doing fine. However, they are not prescribing benzos like they were. Withdrawal was a nightmare. My doctor lost his license to prescribe narcotics. Now my family has to endure the effects of my anxiety and depression. My doctor had tried all other depression meds. before ativan, which worked wonderfully. 6mg. daily. Private physicians probably won’t help you. I do experience anxiety, lack of focusing, memory amnesia, restless leg, inability to sleep.

  28. I just started taking 50 Lyrica three time a day along with ..0625 mg of Xanax twice a day and .125mg at bedtime . It is for irritable bowel and GAD. Seems to be helping a lot. But am worried about the Xanax and long term effects. Is this low dose a problem long term?

  29. I am just now coming out of the most horrifying 11 days of my life after abruply ceasing to take both Xanax 2mg (I was prescribed up to 6mg a day, but was taking at times up to 30mg ) and Klonopin ( I was prescribed 2mg a day, but would take up to 8mg). My docotor was giving me a prescription that i could get every 20 days, so I absused them, but she knows that I am a substance absuser, and have been since the age of 19. I am 43 now. I have had a history of opiate abuse, namely iv heroin, and have been on methadone, and am now on a very low, stable dose of 3mg suboxone/day. Anyway, these doctors seem fine with prescribing what you want if you pay them the cash that they want. I have good insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield, but they won’t take it. If you question the high cash amount they must have to write scripts, they often say ,”well, how much would you pay your drug dealer to get your drugs on the street?
    I detest that question. MY answer is, “I thought you were a doctor, not a drug dealer.” It a ridiculous analogy, but maybe not, as they truly are drug dealers in a legal forum and are respected because they have suceeded in medical school. It’s a system that is way too easily abused, and the people coming into this system have no voice, as most of them are uneducated, poor, living off the government, and obviously not even on the radar of any PAC or politician who would, if the contituency were wealthy and powerful, end this charade and get people who most need the help the help that they need. Unfortunately, those people may never have a voice in this society. Anyway, I just wanted to give a little background on my drug use and explain what I”m coming off. I also want to give a bit of personal background. I do not come from an physically abusive or broken home. In fact, I grew up in an affluent MA suburb, did very well in an excellent school system, was popular, was an excellent violin player at the top level in the city for teenagers, played sports, and did what normal kids in my town did. Upon attending on of the top 6 liberal arts colleges in the country, I became sort of lost, as I had never relaly been so far from home without the support of my family or friends. I eventually met some “interesting” people at school who were into the whole punk rock thing. I was obsessed with a boy who I discovered was unsing IV hiroin at school (off campus houseing_, As this sort of thing had never even crossed my mind, I simply watched him do it, feeeling like an interested but detached observer. I did this for a solid year, during which time he became my boyfriend. Finally, a year later, on New Year’s Eve, at a party in NYC, I sniffed one bag. My grandmother and childhood dog had just died, and that may have contributed to me choosing that time after not doing it for so long. I immediately fell in love with heroin. I won’t be able to give a just description of its effects on someone as naturally high-strung and stressed-out as me, but those who have experienced know what that first trime is like. From then on, I was hooked, eventually using iv. I’ve been to dozens of detoxes, from the fanciest private places in California, to the most ghetto, scary places in Roxbury, MA. I’ve been to programs that range from a few days to a year. I’ve been to meetings. I’ve been to social workers, psychiatrists, psychiologists, doctors, everything imaginable, but nothing seems to work. Until now. I have been extremely dishonest in order to protect my addiction. I am not an inherently dishonest person, but I lied so as to continue to do what I wanted (to feed my addicition), Unfortunately, having some intelligence served to keep this cycle going, as i have been able to fool just about every single provider I have had. They usually are no match for me. I have a husband and two beautiful daughters, ages 11 and 7 whom I love completely. I also have two very successful, upstanding parents who I have made suffer all this time. Finally, this benzo detox has brought me right to my fucking knees like nothing I”ve ever known. Not even close. Heroin withdrawl is a walk in the park next to this. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. Maybe just on Hitler and the members of the Tea Party and the KKK, and terrorists, but no one else. I spent the first few days of withdrawl feeling weak and resteless, but still sane. However, when the psychological effects kicked in – holy shit! I do not have any history of suicidal tendencies at all, but I reached the point after a week of the most intense panic attacks imaginable that lasted as long as 27 hours straight. I went to the emergency room twice, only to be told after 6 hours that I wasn’t medically unsafe, so they couldn’t give me anything for my psyche. That was wrong. I eventually got to the point where I was hallucinating severly (I’ve never used hallucinagenics because the idea of it always terrified me), I was completely out of my mind insane. Mykids saw it, my paretns, my husband. I came clean with everything to my parents. I couldn’t lie anymore. My superego was gone, and I felt like my ego was detached from my brain. I couldn’t figure out how I fit inot the world, how the world fits together, how time works, etc.. I obsessed about dying and death. I was sure I was going to die or was dead, or that my parents were dead, and this was my expericne of it. I kept repeating mommy, daddy, mommy, daddy, for an entire day, watching out my window all night looking for my father’s car thinking that somehow he was bringing me some benzos to make this stop. I would’ve done anything to make it stop. Finally, having not slept, eaten, drank, or even used the bathroom, I started to think i was going to have to kill myself even though I didn’t want to. I was looking at the scissors and thought I would take them and cut all the way up my arm and the suffering would stop. I knew I didn’t want to die, but I knew my brain couldn’t go on the way it was. I called my parents and told them I was afraid I was going to hurt myself. When I had been at the hospital, I wasnt’ feeling that way, so they wouldn’t keep me, but now I was realy to go. Thank G-d, One doctor from my past finally came through for my husband and father on a Sunday and got me an Adivan script and some sleeping meds. The first adivan hardly touched me, but by the next day, once I had a few in my system and had slept, I actaully felt “normal” which was a relief because I honestely thought my brain was detstroyed and I would never be the same person again. Well, I’m not the same person, and today is not as clear as yesteday, I’m still a bit lost, but I”m certainly better. I never believed this would happen. I thought I was pretty well experinced with regards to street drugs and pharmaceuticals, but this detox kicked my fucking ass. I had visual and auditory hallucinations and if this makes sense, my thoughts were completely out of my control, way too fast, I had diaheria, sweaty palms, dialated pupils, and looked like a caged animal. I even was emitting some sort of toxin that I can only describe as the scent of pure terror. Because that’s what I felt for days on end, truly terrified like never before, and G’d help me, never again! If you’ve never taken benzos do not start. You will love them if you are a naturally tense person, but nothing is worth this withdrawl. I was assured that breathing exercises or actual exercise would help to stop panic attacks, and i tried and tried, but nothing except medication would work. I know that I took more benzos then most, and an amount that would kill many people, and I really suffered the consequences. Hopefully, I will come out with a stronger resistance to wanting to get high and will dedicate myself fully to my awesome family and will be honest from now on with my parents, as they have stood by me though all this shit, depsite trying to live their own busy lives and being 70 and 67 years old. They don’t deserve to go through this. Doctors, including those in the ER need to be more knowlegable about this stuff. I truly feel like I could prescribe for myself at this point. i know what my body needs. These doctors left me to get to the point of suicide. I should’ve been hospitialized by the er, but they failed twice. My other psychiatrist also abandoned me, and was the one who knew what I would go through, and even explained it to me, which probabaly contributed to my symptoms since I was expecting certain things to happen and my brain can play tricks on me. It sometimes seems it would be so much eassier to be stupid. “Ignorance is bliss.” can be very true. Anyway, this is a really long tale of woe, but I’m trying to avoid being stuck in my head and typing this helps, so if no one reads it that’s fine with me. If people read it and think I’m crazy that’s also fine with me. I just need to help myself and maybe someone else will take this as a precautionary tale.. Do not try to go off a high dose of benzos on your own. Either taper down really slowly or go inpatient. This is not a fucking joke. I apologize for the many, many typos and hope this is even legible, but i’m not in a place to go back and fix things. Thanks to anyone that listended.

  30. Wow Karen you sound like a horrible person. Why would you start taking Heroin because your dog died and make everyone who loves you suffer. We all know heroin makes you feel good but we don’t do it because it carries consequences. You sound just like another dirty junky who abuses anything that will get you high.

  31. After the guts to share her story, don’t call her a horrible person.  People make mistakes and yes it is a mistake to take a drug like Heroin.  Once people are hooked, it is no longer in their control and becomes a “disease” of drug addiction.  It does take a toll on families, but it seems like her family has been good enough to stand by her out of love.  Hopefully, Karen, you will never go back.   Thanks for the warning about Xanex.  I have been having to take it due to a thyroid imbalance that causes me anxiety.  I am waiting for proper treatment of my thyroid but in the meantime Xanex is a life-saver on certain days.  And I have been one of those people who doesn’t do much medication at all.  I don’t even drink but very rarely.  Sometimes drugs can be lifesavers.  What would we all do if we had to have surgery with no pain medications?  What would I have done without medication for migraines that I used to have in the past (no longer have them, yay)?  If it hadn’t been for Xanex, I would not have been able to go to my son’s 25th birthday party and actually enjoy myself (I did not drink, of course).  Also, I had to take Valium recently due to an episode of Benign Proximinal Positional Vertigo.  I really hated Valium when I took it for an extreme muscle spasm (it did get rid of the spasm and I am pain free after dealing with that for many years) and swore I would never take it again.  However, it worked wonders on the BPPV and the anxiety that I was developing from it.  Turns out that hormonal imbalances (maybe my thyroid?) can be one cause of BPPV.  It was so horrible that I thought I was having a stroke and called 911.  It lasted 2 weeks and caused me extreme anxiety.  So, drugs have their place, but one must address the underlying reason for wanting to abuse them and resist the desire to do so.  Not always easy for addictive personalities and people of certain body chemistries (we are all different).

  32. I have been taken xanax for generalized anxiety disorder for years now.  YES – it is highly addictive – IF YOU ABUSE IT.

    The pill bottle says you can take it every 4-6 hours AS NEEDED.  If you have such bad anxiety that lasts 24 hours a day – then you need a different form of treatment – therapy? hospitalization?, etc. 

    I get one prescription from my doctor any time I go in – no refills.  I make 30 pills last 3 months.  If you take it AS NEEDED and aren’t abusing the medication you shouldn’t have such extreme withdrawals.  
    i have never had any impairment or negative reaction to my prescriptions.  I’m taking 100mg of zoloft for depression/insomnia and I take .25mg of xanax for anxiety as needed.  I’m at the lowest dosage – sure I’ll take two if it’s really bad, but they are NOT meant to be taken as a daily medication at all.  You CAN take it 4-6 times a day if you NEED IT, but this is rare – unless you are a drug head junkie just looking for an easy quick high.

    Morons.  Stop abusing the medications that you probably don’t even need.

  33. Thanks to everyone for their stories and comments.  Anxiety can definitely take its toll on a person.  However, with the proper use of medications, a healthy lifestyle (the best that you can do) and a daily hug, hopefully these things will be of some comfort.

  34. I agree completely

  35. With the article that is..

  36. Xanax is a mild sedative. It is not a drug that needs to be delivered in a hospital setting. It is not addictive like Ambien.

  37. You people are being  a wee bit JUDGEMENTAL callin peoplr junkies!!!

  38. Mark B, I am so glad to hear that you have never made the mistake of commiting an act you knew to be wrong, like Karen did. It must be really nice to have such a clean consious that you have the absolute freedom to judge other people without feeling like a COMPLETE ASSHOLE! All I know is I would rather be a junkie than a person who has no sense of compassion ANY day of the week and I hope Karen all the best in her quest to better herself.

  39. Omg…seriously people. I cannot believe the accusations being made here. And Mark, you need help. You know nothing. Karen, you are very courageous to put your life out here. I heard you loud and clear. I feel as though I know you. Listen up, things happen, everyone is different, and no two people handle things exactly the same way. What is no big deal to you might bring me to my knees, and vice versa. Think about it when you are feeling weak.

  40. Thank you Karen for sharing your story, and to all of you have nothing but nasty things to say, shame on you. Addiction is a disease just like cancer, ms. I don’t think anyone woke up one day and said man I wanna be an addict you should not judge unless these people are making no attempts to help myself. I wanna share my experiences with Xanax which I am now a prisoner of and rue the day I was prescribed it. Growing up I went thru a lot my family suffers from major mental diseases severe bipolar. As a little girl my life revolved around my mother her highs her hospitalization a and her constant suicide attempts. I was always on suicide watch. Finding her stashed pills, calling 911 being that young I never developed any sense of security, throw into the mix a major accident at nine being impaired thru my eye . To date I have had 39 operations and lived in the hospital or worrying a about mom and sister. My point for all this is as I grew up we moved a lot my anxiety panick disorder was crippling. I never used drugs in high school when everyone was. I never finished my pain mess after surgery. But I had a dream of becoming a nurse as I started the anxiety feeling I was going to die embarrassing trips to the Ed having them tell me your fine. So I sought help. I was and I’m not lying started on Prozac and two mg Xanax three times a day (not as needed) I was drug Nieves I felt better and I made it thru nursing school all the while while being told not to change my mess I needed it. Then my fiancé died he drowned while I tried to give CPR he passed away. I began to abuse the Xanax . Even after going to my doctor telling her I had a problem, she literally said I needed it and lowered my dose slightly. So I took it upon myself to try and stop. I’ll sum this up it has been four years now they literally can’t get me off the drug, even small doses I have massive seizures go delusional have to be hospitalized and the only thing that brings me back, my mind, is doses of benzo. The withdrawal is pure hell. I am now so scared of having a fatal seizure in the wrong place I am trapped on this drug. I have learned from many specialist while all benzos do the safe thing. Xanax binds into ur bones it is far worse than Ativan, Valium,. I just had to share you can judge me all u want but I dele not only was my doctor negligent but this drug has cost me everything. I lost my nursing license, my friends who are ignorant and just thought I was crazy. Please people I know anxiety and panick attacks can be debilitating and terrifying. But please take anything other than Xanax….

  41. Sorry for all the typos :( best of luck to u all stay safe)

  42. I have been on ativan 1 mg for 2 years now. 90 amonth as needed. It really helps me and has saved my family. If I get mad or my wife or son really gets to me I take one pill and wait for a half hour and usually I am able to have a normal conversation with them without saying something I regret later. I am bipolar and am on a lot of medication. It’s a miracle to me. I’ve held the same job for years now and don’t think about suicide as much now when I’m really depressed. If I take a pill when I start feeling anxiety coming on it works in usually about an hour.

    As long as you don’t abuse them I think they are o.k. out of a hospital setting. It depends on the person and what his or her intentions are! Everbody’s different. Lets keep this in mind before preaching your bad experiences to everyone else. EVERBODY IS DIFFERENT

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