A guide for carers who are helping people to recover from benzodiazepine dependence
My Wife's Story
It started in 2005 when she was prescribed Lorazepam (Ativan) for acute depression, resulting from my illness. She was advised to take it only when required, which she did. After 4 months she decided that she no longer needed it, so stopped taking it straight away with no ill effects whatever.
In 2010 she was prescribed it again, but this time started to take it continuously. No one warned her of the risk of dependence, and 2 years later it was too late. She was dependent. In 2012 she started to give the drug up and since then she has been recovering from its ill effects. During that time I have been her carer as well as her husband, and this account is the result.
The Guide is in 3 parts.
• Part 1 attempts to explain what benzodiazepines are and how they work
• Part 2 is intended to help carers as they support people withdrawing from the drugs
• Part 3 contains additional information.
It describes the journey from a carer’s point of view, and includes not only our own personal experiences, but those of the people we have met. It is written primarily for other carers and those who are supporting or involved with the sufferer, or trying to understand what is happening to them.
It aims to explain what benzodiazepines are, how people become unwittingly addicted to them, how that addiction affects them, the difficulty of recovering from it and the support they need in doing so.
It is said that some people manage to withdraw from benzodiazepine dependence quickly and painlessly. Whether true or not others find withdrawal difficult and disturbing, and this account is principally for those and their carers. I have tried not to paint too gloomy a picture but it is as well for people to understand what might happen, so that they are forewarned. If a person’s recovery turns out to be easier than my wife’s so much the better.