Sleeping pill dependence - How to wean off them?

I can only sleep when taking Zoplicone, I have been prescribed this for 7 years and have tried nurmerous times to wean miyself off but still can't sleep without them. The sleep deprivation is to hard to cope with when stopping these tablets. I have tried switching to Diazepam in the past with no luck. My GP has no other suggestions… What have others done to come off these tablets?

Posted 19 Mar 2012 at 3:59 PM
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  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I’ve been taking 1 mg of lorazepam (Ativan) about a half hour before lights out time for a decade!

    It makes me quite sleepy and seems to allow me to fall sleep, even with the distractions of a full-face mask and BiPap machine, now running at 21/14 cm pressure.

    But, I’ve read that this type of “solution” results in poorer sleep quality. And the drug is now so closely controlled that getting it is a chore. So I’d really like to be done with it in the near future.

    Does anyone have experience with this that they are willing to share?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I have been taking the same drug for about 15 years. Last fall, I read an article saying that it’s linked to Alzheimer’s. Not necessarily causative, but a link. So I really wanted to get off of it. Around the same time, I heard about Sleepio and figured I’d try it as well.

    I talked to my doctor and he worked me through it. Be sure to work with your doctor. You can’t go off this medication cold turkey, or the rebound insomnia is really awful.

    I was taking one mg at bedtime and one mg when I’d wake up in the middle of the night for the bathroom, around 2-3 am.

    I started by using a pill splitter to cut the pills in quarters. I reduced each dose, bedtime and middle of the night, by a quarter. For several nights, I’d have broken sleep, but it settled down after maybe a week or two.

    After a few months and a second reduction, I talked to my doctor and he replaced the one mg pills with half mg pills. I cut those in quarters and continued the reduction in stages.

    Now 8 months after starting, I don’t take anything at bedtime, and I take 3 quarters of a half mg pill in the middle of the night.

    this is all while going through Sleepio, graduating, and continuing with the Sleepio rules.

    I hesitated to try each new reduction as I was afraid I wouldn’t sleep. I think I’m now at about the lowest dosage that actually does anything. I’m afraid to go lower but I know I’ll try eventually.

    Each reduction was hard, but I wad determined to get off these pills. I’m making progress, but I’m not there yet.

    I always needed to take a larger dose when sleeping in a hotel, a friend’s house, or traveling over several time zones. Now I can use my regular home dose in my friend’s house and certain hotels where I stay a lot and am comfortable.

    Without as many pills, I don’t feel groggy the next day, and my sleep feels purer, if that makes sense.

    So that’s my story. I can’t believe I’ve been successful with Sleepio, and also greatly reduced my sleeping pill usage. Never would have imagined it.

    If you want to try to get off the pills, be sure to work with your doctor.

    There is an interesting article written by Dr. Heather Ashton on benzo.org.uk. It includes a chart that has you replace your Ativan with a longer acting drug, Valium, and use them both in reducing amounts to taper off. I didn’t use this method, but it seemed interesting. It looked like the lowest starting ativan dose was 3 mg a day, so this may or may not be relevant.

    Best of luck to you, what ever you choose to do.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I was taking Ativan to sleep but switched over to Xanax, which wears off quicker, but I began taking it for spasms in back and legs/feet. This does not help me sleep in itself, but I also take Oxycodone with it at night and together they help me get some sleep, but still have insomnia. I just graduated from sleep and would like to taper off, as I've heard that benzos can lead to dementia. My daughter-in-law is a pharmacist and she said that since I've been taking it to sleep for a long time, I may not be able to stop it. In the past when I stopped it gradually, insomnia got worse again. But after doing this program my sleep efficiency is better, so I am going to try to titrate off it, with the help of a doctor at National Jewish Health in Denver. Good luck, I have the same issue and concerns. But whatever happens, I need to sleep somehow, so will continue taking it if needed.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I have tried so many sleeping medicines. In the US we have Lunesta instead of zopiclone. Lunesta left this terrible taste in my mouth. It tasted like the national mint. Like I literally put a roll of quarters in my mouth and started sucking on them. Yuck. I tried Ativan 2mg with no luck. Just started Restoril which helps me fall asleep beautifully but I can only stay asleep for 2 hours. Seroquel makes me sleep like a champ but I also gain weight like a champ. I have this love-hate relationship with sleeping meds. Stick with this program. You may not be able to go completely off of the meds but you can at least learn some new techniques that will help!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 3

    Anyone tried to get off Pregabalin? I have been prescribed 200mg Pregablin to help me maintain sleep. Been taking to for 2 months now and it has helped the insomnia but I think that is mainly psychological. I have found that my insomnia is worse trying to reduce the dose. I have gone down to 150mg and thought would try that for 2 weeks then drop another 50m for 2 weeks until zero.
    Anyone have any suggestion for reducing sleeping medication whilst taking the Sleepio course?
    thanks

  • Sleepio Member

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    Hi, if you scroll up a little bit, you will see a long post that I wrote about reducing my usage of Ativan. It’s a different medication, so I don’t know if my solution would work for you. I would highly recommend that you work with your doctor on this. Your Doctor would know about tapering or reducing the dosage, and also if you might actually need this medication and should not stop it.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Hi,

    I was on Zolpldem for about seven years. My new physician took me off because of my age and risk of falls for seniors (I am 73). However, it was quite a task to overcome my addiction. I could not go to sleep at all and I was miserable. The pills did help me sleep and relaxed me. It was terrible to go cold turkey with no support. I still have the sleeping problem. Hope that Sleepio will be beneficial to me.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Hi Bessie, a lot of sleepios start the programme and still use their sleep medication, I was one of them but I hadn't been on them long term. As I progressed through the programme I was encouraged to gradually come off the meds because you don't build up confidence in getting to sleep on your own if you continue to take them.

    Sleepio will be beneficial to you so long as you follow Prof's instructions. It takes patience and perseverance to get through this course as you gradually start to have some really good nights. With encouragement from the community I am now a good sleeper…..with the odd blip, but I would encourage you to keep on with this programme and you will reap the rewards and start enjoying life more because you won't be so tired.

    Ve

  • Sleepio Member

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    Did your doctor tell you to stop zolpidem cold turkey? If so, the withdrawal symptoms typically last 1-2 weeks, and you are at an increased risk of seizures. Your doctor should have tapered your dosage over a period of time, to reduce these risks.

    If you scroll up a bit, you will see a long post I wrote on May 20 about my experience in reducing my usage of Ativan/lorazepam. I have even reduced my dosage further since then. But I still use a “regular” dose in hotels or when traveling over several time zones.

    There is a lot of very good info in this site, in the library and the community. I’m sure you will find many topics that will help as you go through Sleepio.

    Best of luck to you.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 3

    Some medications dont need to be wean off from (like lunesta) according to my doctors you can stop that immediately even after years. I think a very slow approach is best for pills that you need to wean off from, half a dose one day a week, then half a dose two days a week (not in a row) then half dose 3 days… eventually all nights are half dose then do same with no dose one day a week.. with some pills you might be able to take them 8 hours before wake time and still fight the pill to do the sleep deprivation that way you are doing both, but some pills are hard to fight off and try to stay awake.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Genius! I’ve been at half the lowest dose of Ativan, way less than when I started Sleepio, and am afraid to cut those in half. Your solution seems very workable. I will have to try this. Thanks so much for the suggestion!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I am happy to report that after almost 15 years on sleeping pills, I have completed my weaning, and the bottle is now at the back of my medicine cabinet. I tapered very slowly, working with my doctor. After so many years on the pills, I was really hesitant to try getting off of them. However, using the Sleepio techniques over this past year, and with the help of the community, I am no longer using the pills, and wake up feeling rested and refreshed most days.

    I realize that every day will not be perfect, and I can accept that. I have had insomnia for several decades, so I feel very pleased that I have come this far. I know that I will have some struggles when sleeping in a hotel or traveling over time zones. And I may have to resort to a sleeping pill at those times, but I will try not to.

    Thank you to everyone who has helped with suggestions and encouragement, and best of luck to those of you who are trying to do what I have done.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 5

    so helpful to hear that so many sleepios have been doing the program on meds and determined to wean yourself off of them.

  • Sleepio Member

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    I´m the same and feeling lost. I take super doses of benzos and stay awake all night. Dare not up the dose any more or I shall never get off them which I intend to do. My plan is to use Sleepio to get my sleep back and then, when I am sleeping properly, wean myself off.

  • Sleepio Member

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    That is exactly what I did. A slow taper over many months. Work with your doctor to be safe.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    I wonder if anyone can help? I have been taking Zopliclone for years and now my doctor has suddenly stopped them. I was doing quite well with half a tablet that’s half of 3.75 mg for about a week, but I’m now on holiday and back to taking one a day to get a decent time. I am really worried about coping after the holiday, She has prescribed amitriptyline but that doesn’t actually get you to sleep. But anyone got any advice?

  • Sleepio Member

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    in reply to Sleepio Member
    Graduate

    I wonder if anyone can help? I have been taking Zopliclone for years and now my doctor has suddenly stopped them. I was doing quite well with half a tablet that’s half of 3.75 mg for about a week, but I’m now on holiday and back to taking one a day to get a decent time. I am really worried about coping after the holiday, She has prescribed amitriptyline but that doesn’t actually get you to sleep. But anyone got any advice?

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hi! That sounds like a stressful situation. Could you book another appointment with your doctor to discuss tapering off? Some doctors get very nervous prescribing it long-term, but I've found they're usually happy to do so if your dosage is low enough.

  • Sleepio Member

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    Graduate

    Hi all! I've been using 3.75mg zopiclone for about 18 months. Since starting CBT techniques, I've decreased my use from 3-4 nights a week to 1-2.

    I have bit of a love-hate relationship with the drug. Zopiclone never fails to get me to sleep and I don't experience any side effects on it. BUT to be honest, I'm a bit ashamed to be taking a restricted medicine, as well as conscious of the risk of dependency. Those negative feelings were only making me feel more anxious about sleep, so this year I've been working on seeing zopiclone as one of many useful tools in my toolkit.

    My advice for people thinking about starting would be: try CBT first. And if that fails: use the minimum dose you can, and as a back up for the nights where you're lying awake (rather than taking them in advance). But don't beat yourself up if you need to take a pill – it's about the pattern, not the day. You're here, so you're moving in the right direction!

  • Sleepio Member

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    Session 5

    I realise my situation is not as bad as many peoples but I was on 7.5mg zopiclone for about 2 months and started to get worried about addiction. Found splitting pill in half helpful and it was quite easy getting down to 3.75mg. However from there found it difficult until my doctor advice to take one every other day, which has been a brilliant tactic. It means that even on the non zop night when I was barely sleeping to begin with I'd at lest think well tomorrow night ill get a good sleep with the zop. I only started doing this about 2-3 weeks ago and now I sleep nearly six hours on a non zop night and will only take half a 3. 75mg pill on the zop night. I imagine I'll do 1 night on 2 nights off soon and then am quite certain I'll be able to kick it forever. But yeah, my best advice would be doing it every other night--it's shit at the start on the non zop nights but really worked for me only after a short time.

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