At Alternative to Meds Center, our protocols include a wide array of adjunctive therapies to soften and ease the tapering experience. Please call us to discuss how our program uses holistic therapies for the best patient outcomes possible.
An in-patient taper program is going to be quite different than what an outpatient program will look like. You are welcome to explore the various treatments on our services page and discuss these with your prescriber so you can blend these into an outpatient program if that is how you plan to proceed. Please choose a prescriber who understands and is sensitive to your needs and situation before embarking on Ativan tapering.
Summary (note: this summary is expanded further on in the article)
Arrange outpatient medical oversight before starting. If you are not sleeping or eating or experiencing major anxiety, don’t start yet. Get these factors reasonably under control first. Use information from our services page and share it with your prescriber.
Different protocols may be needed depending on if you are experiencing intermittent symptoms or constant symptoms. (more below on each of these topics)
Tell the people close to you what your plans are so they can be supportive.
Certain stimulants in food or beverages should be avoided.12,13,14,15
Set up your diet for blood sugar regulation.16,17
Exercise is an important segment of your daily routine.6,7,8,9
Ask your prescriber to use the smallest dosage pills.( 0.5 mg five-sided pills)
Work out with your doctor how to discontinue other drugs you may be taking concurrently. (read more below)
Your symptoms and how long you have been taking Ativan will largely determine the length of time needed to taper off.
Let your physician know if you are experiencing inter-dosing withdrawal.18
Discuss with your doctor whether using a Valium crossover or a bridge medication such as gabapentin in certain cases, might assist your taper.19
Inform yourself about what Ativan withdrawal symptoms you may expect, and let your doctor know if you are experiencing any of these. The end of the taper may be the most difficult, and it is important to go slow to avoid an impasse.
Don’t attempt Ativan tapering until you have stabilized sleep and anxiety. While this may sound counter-intuitive for some, there are ways to help stabilize sleep and anxiety before beginning your Ativan taper. Please review the Ativan alternatives page and discuss with your doctor whether some natural therapies can be put in place to help settle things out before tapering Ativan. If you are already constantly in panic mode, tapering Ativan might elevate such symptoms, resulting in an impasse. Get some help to bring severe side effects under control before attempting to taper.
Are your symptoms intermittent or are they constant?
Is your anxiety constant and unrelenting? Is it something you always experience, because it is always strongly present? It may have gradually built up over a period of time but now it is constant. Most often, neurotoxic poisoning is the reason for this phenomenon. Certain heavy metals, for instance, drive anxiety, insomnia, ruminations, and other symptoms. Mercury, lead, pesticides, and other accumulations can impact mental health in a very real way. Lyme disease is a medical condition that can present symptoms of panic as well as depression and others. Treatment for such a medical condition must be given priority before tapering can be initiated. Testing is an invaluable tool to help determine what toxic load your body may be carrying. Cleaning out these accumulated poisons will relieve constant anxiety symptoms where they are caused by neurotoxic poisoning. 25,26,27,28,29
Does your anxiety come and go? Some days it is there, and some days it is not? Perhaps mornings are fine, but as the day goes on it worsens? Are you okay in the summer but suffering in the colder months, or perhaps vice versa? On investigation, this intermittent anxiety may be related to one or more of the following:
Hormone imbalances 20
Food or other allergies 21
Seasonal Panic Disorder 22
EMF influences 23
Concurrently taking SNRIs or other stimulants 10
Symptoms of interdosing withdrawal 18
Unresolved situational or workplace anxiety 24
Blood sugar spikes and crashes (hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia) 16,17
You are invited to learn more about addressing these issues on our services page. Inter-dosing withdrawal is quite common. Learn more on options for treatment on our medication tapering page. For example, your doctor may suggest staggering your dosage over the day so that this phenomenon lessens. This could be important if inter-dosing withdrawal symptoms emerge during Ativan tapering. Sometimes these emerging withdrawals are misinterpreted as “mental illness” or “relapse” when in fact they are vital signposts that can lead to a resolution if you are able to investigate their causes. Various methods of tapering are described on our medication tapering page that may be appropriate for your unique situation.
Gather support from those close to you
There are few things more painful than witnessing the suffering of others. Generally, people want to help if you ask. Tell the people close to you what you are planning, so they understand. It can be really hard on those around you, which is a valid reason so many people opt for inpatient treatment. Not only is it more productive and easier to endure, but it also relieves the stress and worries of those close to you. A fascinating study authored by Pettinati et al published in the Psychiatry Quarterly reported that outpatient drug treatment was 4 times as likely to result in early treatment failures than inpatient treatment.30 However, if inpatient care is just not available to you, putting a strong support system in place may be instrumental to your success. For example, you might try showing some videos of the struggles of others who have gone through it. Peer support groups may also be available in your area — medication has become nearly endemic in today’s world, and there are many who have walked your path before you. In these ways, your family and friends can become more compassionate and understanding of your situation.
Caffeine can throw a wrench into the process of eliminating benzodiazepines from the system. In a review published in the Journal of Brain Research, authors Nehlig et al conclude that caffeine has obvious effects on anxiety and sleep, and suggests that caffeine enhances the release of dopamine, and may also affect serotonin neurons. The authors call for more research on the mechanics involved.31
Blood sugar can go too high, or too low. Both of these scenarios can induce psychiatric symptoms that have nothing to do with your psychiatric health.
Especially during coming off benzodiazepines, diet can be a potent tool for energy as well as balancing blood sugar. This can help to avoid unnecessary mood swings, dropping energy, or other phenomena associated with blood sugar spikes and crashes.
Become informed on the symptoms of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia so you can recognize them should they present.16,17
Anxiety can feel like a sort of paralysis, leading to inactivity. You may find that gently easing into an exercise routine can help, though it may initially seem like an impossible task. A phenomenon called “anxiety sensitivity” has been studied, where a person becomes anxious about the physiological effects of exercise.6 Just the thought of exercise can increase feelings of anxiety and can cause a kind of resistance to any motion. However, with practice, the discomfort associated with exercise will become lessened over time.7 At Alternative to Meds, we offer trainer-led exercise sessions, that are designed for your current and increasing tolerance and ability levels. If you are attempting Ativan tapering in an outpatient setting, you can still start implementing a very gentle, gradual, regular exercise regimen that will get your body moving. Some potential benefits include protection against aging, memory loss, and helping to gently detox certain organs in the body.8.9
Ask your prescriber for the lowest dose of your medication
You can ask your prescriber for the lowest available dosage of Ativan, which is 0.5 mg, to configure decreasing dosages along your taper. This will allow for the most exact totals. For example, to come down from 4 mg to 3.75, a person can configure this dosage using 3 x 1 mg tablet, and 2 x 0.5, plus cut 0.5 in half for the remaining 0.25 to make up the total of 3.75 mg.
Are you taking multiple medications along with Ativan? Some of these may be driving anxiety or insomnia and can be eliminated first. Examples could be Provigil, SNRIs, or others that could have a stimulant effect. Your Ativan taper will go more easily if you can reduce or eliminate these medications first.10
On the other hand, drugs such as SSRIs, mood-stabilizers like Depakote or gabapentin may assist the benzodiazepine withdrawals. Your doctor may decide it’s better to stay on those until the Ativan taper is complete and you are stable. Otherwise, removing the “easiest” drugs first might leave the person in a difficult position of having no support for tapering the more difficult medication. Speak with your doctor about the most logical sequence in regards to reducing multiple medications.
IV Treatments for Ativan Tapering
Alternative to Meds Center offers a wide variety of therapies to assist with medication withdrawal. IV treatments have their place and can be extremely beneficial while tapering. For example, NAD+ IV therapy is one of our favorites, known for its significant benefits in easing medication withdrawal.
NAD+ IV therapy helps sleep, mood, and supports the immune system, resulting in a treasure trove of benefits to overall health improvements and longevity. We have found it is tremendously useful during medication withdrawal.11
Valium Crossover for Ativan tapering
In outpatient treatment, Valium crossover tapering is sometimes used where the Ativan tapering has reached an impasse, where even the smallest of cuts cannot be tolerated by the patient. You can read more about this and other methods of tapering that may be useful on our benzodiazepine tapering page. Share this information with your outpatient physician in case it should become useful during your treatment.
Ativan tapering and toxic responses (Lyme disease, toxic burden, etc.)
There may have been a response to the presence of certain toxins in the body. A medical situation such as Lyme disease can have similar responses that are debilitating. Where Ativan or other medications have been prescribed to dampen these symptoms, there is value in investigating elements of toxic load in the body, and taking steps to remove such toxins as part of an overall health recovery plan. We have found that not doing so can eventuate long and difficult Ativan tapering. There are many factors that can be addressed in preventing or resolving protracted withdrawal including genetic issues, liver and kidney health, the presence of heavy metals or other toxins, that can improve the efficacy of Ativan tapering protocols.32
Half-life time for Ativan ~ 12 hours33
Tapering Ativan, especially when done too abruptly or without proper preparation, can result in Ativan withdrawal syndrome. Symptoms can include:
return of anxiety
return of insomnia
pain and stiffness
Monitor these symptoms closely, especially within 1 to 4 days after a reduction in dosage. Slower tapering is recommended to avoid serious Ativan withdrawal syndrome. 33,34
Ativan tapering may be the most difficult at the end
Do not be dismayed if your Ativan taper becomes more difficult after the halfway point. This is a common occurrence. Stay well-coordinated with your prescriber so that smaller cuts and more time can be allotted to settle out at each new dosage. Stay informed about Ativan withdrawal symptoms and do not be discouraged because it is going slower than you had hoped. When it comes to benzodiazepine withdrawal, “slow is fast” as the saying goes.
Ativan tapering does not amend itself well to rapid detox. Done gradually, with proper support, Ativan tapering can indeed be done successfully. We’ve done it … a lot.
Benzodiazepines like Ativan cannot be treated like other drug withdrawal — these need exacting precision and compassionate support.
Do Your Symptoms Require Ativan?
Alternative to Meds has been the expert on benzodiazepine tapering and withdrawal for over 15 years. We have published evidence that we are pleased to offer, compiled from the successes of our clients. While some persons have less trouble coming off benzos than others, some struggle with neurotoxicity and other barriers. Their journey can be of nightmarish proportions. These conditions can be tested for and treated so that they do not get in the way and allow an easier tapering experience. Once a person’s neurology regulates, the symptoms associated with tapering and once-lingering side effects ease up or disappear.
It is common for persons contacting us to believe that they were the worst we had ever seen. And to us, they were our average population. This video is of a woman who had a truly miraculous recovery in a short period of time. She was unable to walk more than a few steps, was on prescribed amounts of benzodiazepines, and could effectively not care for herself. She left medication-free, hiking up to 1½ hours at a time, and regained her professional career.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Ativan tapering doesn’t have to be a nightmare that goes on indefinitely. There are some important things to factor in a timeline for withdrawal. No two individuals are exactly alike. No two benzodiazepines are alike either. While they may share certain characteristics such as side effects, Klonopin tapering, Ativan tapering, and Xanax tapering will differ because of their half-lives and other parameters specific to each drug.
However, we can say that generally, 2 months is about average for Ativan tapering done inpatient at Alternative to Meds. The body needs to transition slowly and gradually, and some may require more time where, for example, the drug was taken for many years or other factors enter in such as multiple medications or health conditions. In an outpatient setting, a realistic estimate might be anywhere from 8 – 20 weeks, based on a reduction of approximately 10-25% every 2 weeks or longer, to allow symptoms to settle out at each reduction.
Find a Prescriber Who Is Confident in Helping You
This is the first step, especially where inpatient care is not available. Outpatient help might be found in searching for a nutritional psychiatrist, an integrative or holistic MD who is familiar with benzo tapering and is confident about their ability to help you.
Safely Weaning Off of Ativan
Ativan has ranked in the top 60 most prescribed drugs globally since 2011 and its use is still rising some ten years later.35
Ativan is a popular street drug as well, and skyrocketing abuse of benzodiazepines is now called America’s “other” prescription drug crisis, with many similarities to the opioid crisis that has done so much damage. Like many other prescription drugs that develop a street presence, Ativan is also produced in “pill mills” across the nation, and across the world. It is a highly addictive, highly profitable drug for those who make drug sales their racket. Finding a competent program that can help with getting off Ativan safely has become crucial.
Whether one began taking Ativan in a doctor’s office or elsewhere, we have been successfully helping our clients to solve this problem in a safe and comfortable way, holistically, for nearly 2 decades now. Over that time we have helped many thousands of people to learn how to get off Ativan while at the same time improving their health. Stopping Ativan is possible. There is hope. We can help you or your loved one in the process of safely getting off Ativan. Our program is time-tested, proven, and thorough, though it is the safety and gentle nature of the program that seems to appeal to most.
The Trouble with Ativan Tapering
Some would say the pharmaceutical industry largely overtook the good old practice of medicine in recent decades. While some absolutely amazing medical breakthroughs have been achieved in physical health, we see a tragic misfire in the mental health sector. For example, there is an increasing number of patients needing hospitalization and specialty care, not a decrease in these numbers. Addiction levels are skyrocketing, not decreasing. But thankfully, holistic practitioners and protocols have shown, through clinical trials, favorable results using non-drug-based treatments. The speed at which these results are becoming widely known has unfortunately been much slower than that of the aforementioned industry’s offerings. Could it be that perhaps some of these new and exciting holistic research breakthroughs have even been suppressed?
A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found that individuals taking benzodiazepines such as Ativan, Xanax, Valium, and Klonopin had an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. In fact, the study’s authors found that individuals who had taken benzodiazepines for three months or more had a much higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease in the future. Although a link has already been associated with benzodiazepines and short-term cognitive impairment, this groundbreaking study has now also solidified a causal relationship of the drugs with Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that an individual taking the medications for at least three months had a 50% higher chance of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Moreover, those individuals who took benzodiazepines for six months had nearly double the risk of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The longer one is on the medications or the higher the dose of benzodiazepines, the higher the likelihood one would develop Alzheimer’s.5
These findings help provide yet another reason why finding a way to taper off benzodiazepines such as Ativan is important. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that a large percentage of the population suffers from symptoms that are generally called “anxiety” or “anxiety-related.” This is possibly one of the high prices we pay for modern living with processed and fast-foods, living on the edge of financial ruin and social stresses, living in a toxified environment, juggling marital and family worries, and all in a time-pressured and sleep-deprived state. No wonder so many of us have been looking for instant relief from Ativan. They do provide near-instant relief, an artificially induced relaxed state, but there is also a price to pay. It’s called side effects. Plus, these drugs do stop “working.” Ativan, like all benzo drugs, is highly addictive.
Another concern is mixing benzos with cough syrup, alcohol, or opioids. The synergistic effects of combining such substances can injure or kill. And trying to quit Ativan especially without guidance and help is like throwing gasoline on the fire. And that, in a nutshell, is the trouble with benzodiazepines.2
WARNING: As much as one might want to, NEVER ABRUPTLY STOP ATIVAN or other benzodiazepines. To do so can be injurious to one’s health. Stopping Ativan should be done gradually, under medical care or at least competent supervision, and should never be rushed. There is a correct set of protocols for how to get off Ativan that can make Ativan cessation as comfortable as possible.
Holistic Ativan Solutions – Do They Work?
In a now decade-old clinical study published in the Nutrition Journal,1 the study’s authors Lakhan and Vieira found that 71% of patients involved in the study found relief from anxiety and depression when given holistic solutions for anxiety. They tested herbal and nutritional aids that were given to participants, to see how effective these agents were. The results were overwhelmingly positive.
The study reported in 2010 that approximately 55 million people suffer in the US from symptoms of depression and anxiety. That is nearly double the population of Canada. The number has probably grown significantly higher. That is a lot of people.
It is truly tragic that holistic solutions that are KNOWN to be effective are not used and recommended more frequently. it is also puzzling, but that may be a different research topic that needs significant time and attention all in itself.
Alternative to Meds Center Holistic Ativan Tapering
Our clients receive the kind of Ativan tapering help that we wish were more readily available all across the country, and all across the world. In fact, we have many international clients who come to us for help.
Our program is based on 5 main guiding principles:
Testing to discover root causes for lingering symptoms. This can mean toxicity accumulations, molds, chemical exposure, pesticides, all manner of a toxic burden that could have built up over a lifetime.4Toxins can be purged gently and efficiently, resulting in sometimes life-changing relief of symptoms. After the Tokyo subway disaster of sarin gas affecting 5000 commuters, a Japanese clinical study showed that toxic exposure has major ramifications even years after the event. In this case, it was 5000 people being exposed to sarin gas that was linked to insomnia, anxiety, and depression.3
Gradual Ativan tapering protocols, with constant monitoring to ensure the comfort and safety of our clients.
Providing a clean, nutrient-dense diet consisting of mostly organic locally sourced produce and foods, prepared deliciously with a keto foundation by our gourmet chef, Supplying the body with the nutrients necessary the microbiome can regenerate into a fully functioning and thriving system. The microbiome is the main producer of our neurochemicals so this is vital for health.
Education about how neurochemistry functions, how food and supplements can support mental health, and how to use these tools for sustainable recovery after leaving the program. Many physicians have come to do our training modules so they can help their own patients better who are trying to quit Ativan or other drugs.
Find Out More about the Alternative to Meds Center Ativan Tapering Program
If you or your loved one have been struggling with how to get off Ativan safely, we invite you to contact us at Alternative to Meds Center for more information on our holistic orthomolecular-based programs and for more details on the protocols we use (there are too many to list here in this brief article). Please take the time to call us and ask about our holistic approach to Ativan tapering and improving your health or that of your loved one.
This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.
Dr. Samuel Lee
Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente. He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.
Lyle Murphy is the founder of the Alternative to Meds Center, a licensed residential program that helps people overcome dependence on psychiatric medication and addiction issues using holistic and psychotherapeutic methods.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.