The Ashton Manual - An Overview


Professor Chrystal Heather Ashton DM, is known mainly for her work involving Benzodiazepine Addiction and Treatment. She wrote what has become known to benzodiazepine addicts as the Ashton Manual. The manual is unique in the world of benzodiazepine addiction as it holds within a substantive and holistic method to break from benzodiazepine addiction.

Learn More About Benzo Addiction Symptoms, Withdrawal, and Treatment Options

The Ashton Manual is divided into four areas:

  1. Benzodiazepines: What are they and what do they do?
  2. Benzodiazepine Addiction Withdrawal
  3. Benzodiazepine Addiction Slow Withdrawal Schedules
  4. Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Addiction Withdrawal

Part 1

In part one of the Ashton Manual, Professor Ashton explains what common benzodiazepines are and what they do. She explains that most benzodiazepines are prescribed and marketed as anti-convulsants, hypnotics, and anxiolytics. Professor Ashton divides the effects of benzodiazepines into two categories: short term effects and long terms effects.

Short-term use of benzos

Short effects of benzodiazepines vary from drug to drug, but most benzodiazepines have these therapeutic effects in the beginning of usage: relief of anxiety, promotion of sleep, muscle relaxation, sedation, and preventative against fits and convulsions. According to Professor Ashton nothing comes close in comparison to benzodiazepines in implementing the above effects.

Long-term use of benzos

Where benzodiazepines begin to reveal their negative effects is during long term usage. When describing effects of benzodiazepines after long term use, the Ashton Manual reports the following:

Oversedation, Drug interactions, Memory impairment, Paradoxical stimulant effects , Depression, Emotional blunting, Adverse effects in the elderly, Adverse effects in pregnancy, Tolerance, and Dependence.

Part 2

In part two of the Ashton Manual the professor writes about benzodiazepine withdrawal after long term use. The benzodiazepine withdrawal is delineated by two time periods or actions or otherwise known as Preparations for Benzodiazepine Withdrawal and Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Strategy.

According to the Ashton Manual Preparations for Benzodiazepine Withdrawal include:

  1. Consult with you doctor and pharmacist
  2. Prepare psychological support
  3. Create a positive and confident frame of mind

In terms of a Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Strategy, Professor Ashton suggests what is known as "Withdrawal Tapering." This withdrawal functions in a way that eases the body and mind into a life without benzodiazepines. The Ashton Manual makes a point that each individual will have a unique "Withdrawal Schedule," specially tailored to his/her addiction level and type of benzodiazepine they are addicted to.

Part 3

Part three of the Ashton Manual deals with numerous examples of "Slow Withdrawal Schedules." The reason for such a slow tapering was given in part two, but in essence, benzodiazepine withdrawal, if done abruptly can cause serious psychological and physiological damage to the addict. The Ashton Manual explains that each benzodiazepine has a different life expectancy in one's blood level. Professor Ashton recommends in Part 2 that an addict wishing to withdrawal from benzodiazepine should use benzodiazepines which last in the blood longer, in order to produce a slow withdrawal process. Part 3 of the Ashton Manual uses Part 2's hypothesis as a foundation in creating benzodiazepine withdrawal schedules.

part 4

Part four of the Ashton Manual reports the physical and mental effects of benzodiazepine withdrawal. They are broken into two sets of symptoms, psychological and physical.

Psychological Symptoms include:

  • Excitability
  • Insomnia, nightmares, and other symptoms of disturbed sleep
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Agoraphobia, social phobia
  • Perceptual distortions
  • Depersonalization, derealization
  • Hallucination
  • Depression
  • Obsessions
  • Paranoid thoughts
  • Rage, aggression, irritability
  • Poor memory and concentration
  • Intrusive memories
  • Cravings are rare, but still possible

Physical Symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Pain and stiffness
  • Tingling, numbness, and altered sensation
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue and influenza-like symptoms
  • Muscle twitches, jerks, tics, and "electric shocks"
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness, light-headedness, poor balance
  • Blurred or double vision, sore or dry eyes
  • Tinnitus
  • Hypersensitivity with light, sound, touch, taste, and smell
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms
  • Appetite and weight change
  • Dry mouth, metallic taste, and unusual smell
  • Flushing, sweating, and palpitations
  • Over breathing
  • Urinary difficulties and menstrual difficulties
  • Skin rashes and/or itching
  • Fits can happen, but are usually rare

It is clear to many in the benzodiazepine addiction community that Professor Ashton's Manual has succeeded in establishing itself as a solid withdrawal strategy, helping many people with a benzodiazepine addiction through a successful withdrawal period.


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