How to locate and secure a “benzo-wise” or “benzo-cooperative” medical provider that will support you in a taper
The following are some tips that have been anecdotally reported by members of the benzodiazepine withdrawal support communities. They are not meant to serve as a substitute for medical advice and are merely for educational and informative purposes. There will be exceptions to all of the points listed below, so please keep in mind that these are just general guidelines regarding what has typically worked for others as they searched for medical support to taper their benzodiazepines.
Types of medical professionals which may be of assistance:
- Most psychiatrists and ‘addiction specialists’ are not “benzo wise” (although there are exceptions). These specialties typically want to add more psychotropic drugs which the British National Formulary guidelines (as well as most all of the BZ withdrawal charities) advise against.
- Osteopaths have the initials D.O. after their names (in the US). They are sometimes more inclined to help as they are trained more with a ‘holistic’ approach that isn’t so ‘medically’ centered. Functional medicine doctors, or the like, may be similarly trained and helpful.
- The “old fashioned” ‘family’ doctor (or PCP) and older ‘might’ be better. A lot of the resistance we see is from the newly trained doctors.
- Some Nurse Practitioners (NP) and/or Physician Assistants (PAs) in the US might be helpful and they can both prescribe, so don’t discount these people. Some of them are more open to new information, and the PAs may be able to talk to the doctor they work with on your behalf (Nurse Practitioners can work solo, without MD supervision).
- Call your local compounding pharmacy and ask for a recommendation. They may know what medical prescribers in your area have prescribed compounded liquid benzodiazepines for other patients to use in tapering.
- Sometimes Neurologists are aware of risks/harms (e.g., neurotoxicity) associated with benzodiazepines and other psychiatric drugs.
- If you happen to have a therapist that is understanding of the situation, inquire with them as to if they know of any medical professionals who would be accommodating to a benzodiazepine taper. You may even ask and sign a release for the therapist to talk to the medical professional on your behalf.
Links to possible benzo-wise or benzo-cooperative doctors:
The following sources contain information on possible benzo-wise or benzo-cooperative medical professionals. They are typically compiled by other benzodiazepine (or other psychiatric drug) damaged individuals. W-bad.org does not endorse any of the medical providers listed nor can we assure that the resources are accurate or up to date. You, the patient, in search of a benzo-wise or benzo-cooperative medical practitioner will have to do your own vetting. These resources, however, are a good place to start.
See Also: W-BAD’s Resource Page for local charities (depending on location), etc.
How to present your case and what information to present:
- Get educated yourself first. Be sure you have absorbed as much information as possible about the advantages of the Valium taper, or tapering slowly off benzodiazepines in general, if you are going to attempt coming off your current drug. You want to look like you are indeed smart and knowledgeable and might actually have something important to say here!
- If you are asking to crossover to Valium, it is critical that you understand why Dr. Ashton recommends the Valium taper–as most doctors are resistant to prescribing Valium (Valium has a much longer half-life than most other benzodiazepines, allowing for a ‘smoother’ taper AND is delivered in 2mg, 5mg, and 10 mg doses, as well as manufacturer liquid formulations, making it possible to do the smaller cuts necessary). You will also need to be familiar with the crossover equivalents, etc.
- That said, if you wish to taper directly off of the benzodiazepine you are currently taking, as opposed to crossing to Valium, the British National Formulary guidelines do point out that this is a viable option. Print the BNF guidelines and take them with you to your prescriber
- Rather than take in Dr. Ashton’s entire manual, you might want to take a couple of pages that hit the gist of benzo withdrawal and especially the ‘Why Valium?’ section (Chapter 2). Do not take a million tons of paper. Take just a few pages where you have highlighted with a marker the high points you want to cover.If you think your doctor would rather have the entire manual, then go ahead and take it with you.
- When you get into the room with the prescriber, keep a few things in mind: 1. Medical professionals do not want to hear a long drawn out story as they are very pressed for time; 2. Approach the prescriber loaded with all the knowledge you can, but keep your presentation simple and precise.
- Have your suggested taper schedule ready and appear confident about it. This indicates to your doctor that you are serious about this, that you have a plan, and that they don’t have to come up with one for you (as they might not know how depending on how educated on the subject they are).
- Try to be positive. Stay on topic and try not to “hem and haw” a lot. Avoid getting hostile or angry or upset. Never react negatively. If the doctor says something you don’t like, listen and state your objection firmly but nicely. This is not the time to go on a rant about how dangerous and horrible these drugs are, as you are asking for them to be prescribed to you (for the purpose of a taper)! Also, mind your language— if you mislabel yourself as “addicted, “as opposed to physically dependent), they are probably going to treat you like an addict (with suspicion, refusing to prescribe or assist you, etc.).
- If the prescriber seems hesitant, offer to come in weekly or monthly, or to submit to voluntary drug testing (if you can afford it), if they think it would be needful. This will often calm the prescribers fears about prescribing Valium or other benzodiazepines. By the way, if you agree to this, then do it. The faster you show them you are willing to submit to their care, the faster they will be inclined to trust you and let you go longer between visits.
Adapted from benzosupport.org