Essentially, the patient must be prepared for withdrawal by being told what to expect; he or she should be taught other ways of combatting anxiety; and withdrawal should be by graded tapering off the dose over six to twelve weeks, occasionally longer. Many people experience little or no upset, a few undergo much distress. Sometimes substituting diazepam in the lorazepam or alprazolam user helps. Antidepressants may be needed if the patient becomes very depressed, but by and large, other drugs are unhelpful.
Family and social support is essential. Usually the family doctor can supervise the withdrawal quite safely, but occasionally specialist advice is sought. A self-help group may provide useful continued advice and support.
It is important that tranquilizers are never stopped abruptly. There is a greatly increased risk of severe complications such as seizures or convulsions.
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