Profiles in Recovery

David Fava

Panic attacks – the result of childhood trauma – triggered Fava’s 15-year addiction to benzodiazepines. He was prescribed a parade of the tranquilizers – including Valium, Klonopin, Ativan and Xanax – to treat severe anxiety. But the long-term exposure made his problems worse, and left Fava near death.

“I could barely talk without a stutter and was shaking with tremors. Most of my organs were shutting down,” Fava writes on his website. “I was having partial seizures. I was not in control of myself and needed intervention.”

Breaking free of benzos was intensive work, and Fava’s withdrawal symptoms lingered for two years. But he recovered with an army of strategies – including professional addiction treatment, recovery meetings, a nutrient-rich diet, and daily yoga and meditation practices. Fava also began walking to relieve anxiety, starting with a half mile and working up to five miles daily.

“Sometimes it may seem as though the withdrawal symptoms will go on forever,” he says. “My actual experience tells me that recovery is possible and that in time, the symptoms do subside and the brain does heal. I am proof! “

Day Job:
Retired State of California employee.  Advocate for people struggling with benzodiazepine addiction, sharing knowledge at RecoveryAdvocate.net to help them recover.

What I lost to addiction:  
The power of choice. I had to use in order to find the perceived relief and avoid the pains of inter-dose, acute and post-acute withdrawals.

At my worst, I was:  
Near death with neuropathy over 70% of my body. Having severe withdrawals including shakes and trembles, partial seizures, dry heaves, jaw chattering, hot & cold spells and many other physical and psychological symptoms.

What worked for me:  
Inpatient treatment (Pat Moore Foundation in California, followed by months of outpatient treatment).  I had to learn many new tools to get through the withdrawals and deal with fear and anxieties.

On my bucket list:  
Doing things my fear-based thinking has preventing me from experiencing.

Rules I live by:  
I have a God of my understanding and rely on Him daily. I understand that my thinking (good or bad) can lead to behaviors (good or bad).  So being in the Word and living by godly and healthy principles will transform my selfish desires and nature to the man God intended me to be.

Advice to my younger self:  
It is better to learn healthy ways of addressing childhood trauma and tools to deal with fears and anxieties.

Favorite recovery quote:  
I had no shoes and complained until I met a man who had no feet. (unknown)

When cravings come:  
I no longer have cravings. My fear of relapse is much stronger than my desire to “reinvestigate.”

On my schedule today:  
What can I do for my fellow man; attend recovery meetings; be of service to my wife and family.

Best advice for newbies:  
Get a mentor, sponsor, accountability partner and advocate. Go to meetings, find God and develop a relationship with Him.

What I value most in recovery:  
I have regained the power of choice and am an overcomer. I have a new body and a transformed psyche.

Proudest moment:  
Seeing my wife succeed in her non-profit ministry.

What saves me from myself:  
My faith and belief in a power greater than myself.

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If you’re a person in long-term recovery who wants to share your insights, please contact us at [email protected].