For Family & Carers

The road to recovery from chronic benzo and antidepressant use can be challenging not just to the person in withdrawal, but to family, friends, doctors and other carers. They just cannot fully fathom or understand the effects. The consequences are often inconceivable. It can be frustrating and painful to watch someone you care for in the throes of withdrawal and very often it is difficult to relate to the experience.

Withdrawal is complex, and for many it is near unbelievable. In fact, withdrawal from benzodiazepines and antidepressants can be so bizarre, it is often a conundrum even to the person experiencing it. It is not unusual for carers to allude to an overreaction or to the medication causing some form of permanent mental or physical disorder, and for the user to eventually feel this way too.

With regard to the more problematic withdrawal, no amount of empathy can prepare family and caregivers for the impact it makes on their lives. Witnessing the physical and psychological symptoms, personality changes and emotional challenges can be distressing and providing the practical support requires dedication, patience and stamina.

It requires unconditional acceptance to support someone going through withdrawal. This also includes those who are still on the medication and may be experiencing tolerance symptoms, as well as those who may take the drug erratically and are unknowingly experiencing inter-dose withdrawal. It is not only in the acute stages that support is needed. The most important things are that you also look after yourself while dealing with the challenge, and that you not lose sight of the fact that even if the symptoms are persistent, the withdrawal will not last forever.

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