If you are supporting someone experiencing withdrawal syndrome due to benzodiazepine, Z-drug, or antidepressant use, you may find that the usual approaches are not effective. Withdrawal can cause bizarre behavior and uncommon physical and psychological symptoms. This can be overwhelming and so you may be feeling unsure about how to proceed.
Here are a few tips which I hope you will find to be useful:
Learn more about the process and what it entails. You will be better prepared.
Release expectations and appreciate that you have no control over what is happening, so that you don’t feel responsible or pressured.
Give unconditionally, without judgement, terms or demands. Giving practical support by helping with chores such as mowing the lawn, vacuuming and shopping, will all be appreciated.
Don’t take things personally. The effects of withdrawal can cause mood swings, organic fear, agitation, rage, paranoia and a host of other psychological symptoms.
Resist the urge to diagnose or suggest the symptoms are caused by other medical conditions. Withdrawal mimics a host of illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and lupus.
More than anything, someone experiencing withdrawal needs reassurance. Persistent, intense symptoms can cause doubt and increased anxiety. Almost constant reassurance is needed.
Avoid burnout by taking care of yourself. Set limits and commit to what is realistic. Eat healthily, maintain your hobbies, and get emotional support and adequate rest.
Baylissa (Bliss) Johns Frederick is author of the “Recovery & Renewal” self-help book and founder of the Recovery Road Charity (www.recovery-road.org).
Baylissa Frederick is a BACP registered counsellor with a private practice and the founder of the Recovery Road support project. She delivers motivational speeches and workshops on recovery, hope and empowerment and has been interviewed and quoted by newspapers and journals including “The London Times,” “The Independent” and “British Medical Association News.” She is the author of the widely successful books, “Recovery and Renewal,” and “With Hope in My Heart: A Memoir.”