Most individuals can research and employ slow taper protocols on their own from home (and perhaps with support from online or in-person support groups, where available) with the support of a cooperative medical prescriber.
It is important that medical prescribers understand that patients should be in charge of their own program and they must be allowed to proceed at whatever pace they find comfortable. The patient must be in control of their own tapering schedule, without a deadline imposed by their prescriber.
Not only can slow tapering save patients from disability and death, it can also aid in successfully, permanently getting off and staying of off benzodiazepines, which is the end-goal.
To find support (both online and local, in some places), consult W-BAD’s Resources Page.
For some slow tapering guidelines and protocols, visit:
- Ashton Protocol: (http://w-bad.org/abouttheashtonmanual/ for additional information): The Ashton protocol recommends a stepwise crossing over to Valium [diazepam] (in equivalent doses to the current benzodiazepine being prescribed) to taper because it comes in much smaller doses and has a longer half-life than the newer, shorter acting benzodiazepines. Ashton also recommends tapering no more than 5-10% every 2-4 weeks. This means that, on average, a taper will take about ten months or longer, depending on the patient’s starting dose and individual response.
- The British National Formulary: Issued in 2013, the BNF advises to follow a taper schedule similar to the one detailed in Dr. Ashton’s Manual, but that is slower, and one that is flexible to the individual patient’s needs and comfort. They also recommendation not to add additional medications to an already fragile nervous system during the withdrawal and post-withdrawal phases. Polypharmacy, the simultaneous use of multiple drugs to treat a single ailment or condition (typically psychotropic medications in the case of benzodiazepine withdrawal), is common practice in many rehab and detox facilities. The BNF guidelines also acknowledge that many users can successfully withdraw directly from their current benzodiazepine, providing it is available in small enough doses to allow for a gradual reduction.
- Canadian Guidelines
- Current Psychiatry’s Guidelines
- See how other people are tapering in a peer support group. benzobuddies.org‘s taper discussion forums feature a lot of on-going discussion on various taper methods actually being used by members of this large and popular peer benzo withdrawal support forum. Many people discuss there how to taper using traditional methods, compounding pharmacies, microtapering, liquid titration and more. This discussion also occurs in Facebook peer benzo withdrawal support groups which can be found by searching Facebook groups using the search terms ‘Benzo’ or ‘Benzodiazepine’. There are also numerous YouTube videos available where current taperers detail their benzodiazepine tapering process. w-bad.org is not responsible for the quality or type of discussion that occurs in withdrawal support groups. Nothing on w-bad.org is intended to be a substitute for medical advice. Always do your own research, familiarize yourself with how benzo withdrawal works, and consult with a trusted healthcare provider before making changes to your medication.
To find more peer withdrawal support resources, including groups, organizations and discussion forums, see resources.
*Note: it is important to note that all of the above are just loose guidelines and that the individual tapering should adjust (and be allowed by their prescriber to adjust) the rate/speed of the protocols to be in tune with their own body’s signals as they are reducing.