Stages of Recovery

Posted on 27th April 2016

Now my full recovery is imminent and the waves have died out I've been analysing my passage through all this and tried to divide it into stages. These stages could apply to everyone and last for different amounts of time which would explain the inability to compare our journey and time frames with someone else's.

Stage 1 ....The actual process of stopping the drugs. In my case this was a sudden stop or cold turkey and certainly should not be attempted but I knew no better. The usual and most accepted withdrawal procedure is to taper slowly, evenly and consistently over time possibly following the Ashton schedule.

Stage 2 ....The period of time when the drug is leaving the body and being removed from muscles and bones where it may have been stored. The longer on the drugs the longer this time may take. For me this was a 'quiet' few weeks when the worst of symptoms hadn't kicked in and I innocently thought I wasn't going to have a bad withdrawal. It can last hours, days, weeks or even months for some.

Stage 3 ....Acute withdrawal when all hell breaks lose! It's intensity can vary but it's now we may be unable to leave our beds and just do our best to survive each day. Suicidal thoughts can arise and help must always be sought if symptoms are overwhelming. Hopefully this will be from a knowledgable medical practitioner but if there's none available there are support lines in the UK and a lot of Internet support on Facebook and the Benzo Buddies site. Mine lasted from week 7 to week 13 but again this will vary for everyone.

Stage 4 ....The window and waves scenario becomes evident. Sadly some may not have 'windows of calm' but this period is when symptoms may wax and wane and change at the drop of a hat. We don't know what will happen from one day to the next. Symptoms will be different for everyone and no two people have exactly the same. It can last weeks, months or years and we just have to hold on and accept and do what we can when we can. For me this time lasted approximately 33 months. The longer this phase then we are said to be in protracted withdrawal which is usually regarded as someone taking longer than 18 months to heal. There may also be strong chemical sensitivities while all this happens.

Stage 5 ....Finally, things turn and we realise everything has become less intense. The waves disappear and a more linear recovery happens and we can do more. We still have to pace ourselves carefully as the adrenal glands may be pretty exhausted at this time and we tire easily or symptoms start appearing again but with rest, positivity and acceptance each day will get better and better. This is the phase I seem to be in at present. I believe it started around three years off for me and I'm now at 41 months. It will lead to.....

Stage 6 ....Final recovery when we feel strong, well and ready to enter into life to the full again. All symptoms will have gone and withdrawal will hopefully become a distant memory. I know some say that they continue to go on getting better and better and stronger than ever. I look forward to this.

These six stages are my own opinion and based on what's happened to me. Whatever stage you may be at and however long it takes everyone will recover from Benzo withdrawal. I should add that any addition of antidepressants, antipsychotics or even taking benzos again will alter these stages and could return you back to the start. Perseverance, belief and acceptance of all that happens, with help if available, will see you through. It's great on the other side and life is still there waiting for us when it's all over.

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