Benzodiazepines: How They Work and How to Withdraw

Protocol for the Treatment of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal, written by Dr. C. Heather Ashton (“The Ashton Manual”), published and available free of charge on

This manual is divided into three parts:

Chapter I: The benzodiazepines: what they do to the body

This chapter describes both therapeutic and adverse effects of benzodiazepines, such as anxiety relief, muscle relaxation and promotion of sleep as well as oversedation, memory impairment, depression, emotional blunting, tolerance and dependence.

Chapter II: How to withdraw from benzodiazepines after long-term use

This chapter provides an explanation of why you should come off benzodiazepines. It then provides a series of slow withdrawal schedules for a variety of different dosages. This chapter also includes information about antidepressant withdrawal and withdrawal in older people.

Chapter III: Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms, acute & protracted

This chapter lists a variety of different withdrawal symptoms, their causes and how to deal with them. Some of the symptoms covered include insomnia and sleep disturbance, intrusive memories, panic attacks, hallucinations and perceptual distortions, aggression, immune system issues and convulsions.