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Re: withdrawal from Klonopin

Posted by Laura915 on March 30, 2004, at 8:17:56

In reply to Re: withdrawl from Klonopin, posted by awatts on March 28, 2004, at 18:29:24

I have been on my own road to recovery and have some suggestions for anyone who wants to get off benzos. Amino Acids.

I was prescribed a growing number of scrips over a 4-year period to deal with the aftermath of an auto accident. Oxycontin, Klonopin, Ambien, Baclofen, anti-inflammatories, Seroquel, Methocarbomol and others at various stages. On top of that, I enhanced all that with lots of alcohol. I was never informed of the side effects of the drugs I was prescribed(at the time I began, Oxycontin was hailed by my pain doc as "not addictive like other painkillers", boy was that a crock!)and I certainly wasn't told about how to detox or the intense withdrawal symptoms to expect. K

lonopin was the last drug I withdrew from and the worst, long term at least, to cope with. I did a lot of homework to find relief that is natural, since I knew just about any pharmaceutical solution would only prolong my problems and I was so ready to be myself again. Amino acids have helped me greatly.

Now that I learned the hard way about withdrawal, the relief I have gotten from amino acids while my brain chemistry gets back to normal is so wonderful. It's all about serotonin and creating more of it.

Our brains need serotonin, endorphins and dopamine to feel good without drugs or alcohol. Our bodies cannot create serotonin from nothing, the amino acids needed to produce those brain chemicals can only come from diet or supplements. Unfortunately, many of us do not get enough from the foods we eat due to low-calorie diets and poor food choices. Stress further depletes serotonin stores. The lack of serotonin sets us up for failure by creating drug, alcohol and food cravings to get us to do something to normalize the brain chemicals even if it has only temporary effects.

Drugs and alcohol can mimick the feelings of ample serotonin but they actually trick your brain into creating less, so when you try to withdraw from those feel-good drugs, the absence of serotonin is even greater than before. Many of the popular anti-depressants work by using whatever serotonin you have and pumping it up a bit, but if you're short on it anyway, it's like a 98-pound weakling going to the gym, there's only so much you can do with what you have and the side effects are often worse than the depression.

When I detoxed from Oxycontin, I remember how electric my mind became. After years of my mind being dulled, it was awake and didn't feel like sleeping for more than a couple hours a night for two weeks. My body was wracked with pain, nausea, intense restlessness, unrelenting insomnia. The first natural remedy I used was called Nutrasleep. It has GABA (nature's Valium), valerian, taurine, and other vitamins and calming herbs. For the first time in weeks I slept for a few hours without waking.

When I started tapering off Klonopin, Nutrasleep was not strong enough to overcome the multitude of withdrawal side effects and that is when I discovered amino acid supplementation. I got bits of information from many websites, but found an excellent article that explains why serotonin starvation causes us to turn to drugs and alcohol, to overeat, become anorexic/bulumic, have low pain tolerance, suffer migraines and experience deep depression. You can find it at:

Here's what worked for me:

L-tryptophan* - 3000 mgs/day in divided doses
(l-tryptophan starts a chain reaction as the body creates 5-HTP from it and converts that to serotonin and that is ultimately converted to melatonin. L-tryptophan is nature's Prozac without the major side effects. It is used to treat depression and insomnia. Some people take the supplement 5-HTP--the second step in the chain--but dosing is trickier since the conversion is not happening in your body. You need fewer mg's but I found it provided less overall relief than tryptophan.)

DL-Phenylanine - 1500 mgs/day in divided doses
(this amino acid supports alcohol withdrawal,reduces aggression, helps diminish physical and emotional pain and enhances tryptophan's effects on the brain.)

L-Glutamine - 1000 mgs/day in divided doses

(this amino acid supports alcohol withdrawal, suppresses appetite-especially carb cravings, helps metabolize fat, helps with mental focus-enhances effects of the other amino acids. I only take it in the day so my mind is ready to relax for sleep)

L-theanine - 2000 mgs/day in divided doses

(this one produces a calming effect on the brain and relaxes muscles but does not have a sedating effect so your mind is clear as a bell-it takes 30-40 minutes to take effect, you feel a calm come over you and your shoulders will relax like you just had a massage. I take this one frequently.)

GABA - 1500 mgs/day in divided doses

(Like I said before, this one is known as nature's Valium-it helps "balance" your brain. It also stimulates the production of Human Growth Hormone which can enhance muscle growth and reduce fat storage.)

You should be able to find all of these on-line or at your local health food stores. All of the amino acids, except L-Theanine should be taken on an empty stomach with a little carb snack which improves the absorption and prevents stomach upset. If you take them within 2 hours of either side of a meal with protein, the amino acids you take will not be able to compete with the amino acids in the protein and will not be as effective. Also, take a good B-complex vitamin once a day as B's, especially B6, enhance the effects of the amino acids. You can take L-theanine at any time since proteins do not affect its absorption. Although overdosing is uncommon, be aware of the upper recommended doses. The dosages I am taking are in the middle of the range. Initially, you should probably aim for those dosages and tinker with the right combination for you. Maintenance doses can be lower, once you get past the withdrawal period.

Like you would with any supplement, make sure you read about any conditions you have that would be advisable to avoid supplements or drug interactions with current meds. You should not take MAOI's when taking the amino acids and some anti-depressants should be avoided if taking amino acids. Because these are natural body chemicals, side effects are typically few or none and relief can be immediate. I had 50% relief my first day and it gradually improved each day for at least a couple weeks. I feel calm, relaxed, not in pain, I can even say I feel HAPPY again.

When I first started tapering off Klonopin, I spent four weeks in physical and mental agony before I discovered the amino acid therapy. I started at 3 mgs/a day (quite a bit for a small woman) and ten weeks later am now drug-free. I was able to be a little more aggressive with my tapering schedule and still not miss a day of work. I haven't eliminated all of the withdrawal side effects, but my symptoms are under control while my brain recovers.

Interestingly enough, I believe I have always been serotonin-starved. I had migraines from age 3, have been anorexic and bulimic, prone to drug and alcohol dependence, all attributable to lack of serotonin. Now that I understand the possible reasons why, I know how to prevent it from happening for the rest of my life and I can finally stop being a "patient".

I don't know if this will help anyone, but I have scoured these message boards and haven't seen this suggested by either professionals or others trying to taper off drugs or alcohol, so I would love to hear if anyone has tried this and if it was successful.

*You may read where l-tryptophan was removed by the FDA from the consumer market in 1989 (due to one foreign company creating contaminated supplements that many fell ill from)and was only approved for US non-prescription sale again recently. The problem was isolated to the one company and was due to a change in their processing procedures-they skipped a couple critical steps-but tryptophan continued to be available in Canada and by prescription in the states and is used in manufacturing baby food, liquid food supplements, and pet food. (Another interesting side note, Prozac, a then-new anti-depressant was introduced just four days after the l-tryptophan ban. Some believe it wasn't just a coincidence and that the ban was politically motiviated--big drug companies' interests helped ensure the ban to eliminate competition. L-tryptophan was used for depression without incident for years.)




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