Addiction Issues


My father is a recovering alcoholic.  I can say that because he doesn’t care about his anonymity.  He’s proud of his 34 years of sobriety and frankly, so am I.  It’s his greatest achievement.

As I navigate the world of chronic pain disorders, I am struck by how many medications are addictive.  I recently started Lyrica and there’s a risk of dependency.  I’ve been taking clonazepam for 18 years.  I’ve been taking butalbital for 10 or so to help treat my migraines.  I also take Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine).  Of my daily meds, the only one without an addiction warning is the cyclobenzaprine…

Yet, I seem to only have 2 addictions: nicotine and caffeine.  I can go weeks at a time without taking my clonazepam.  It helps me sleep, but I have this irrational fear of med mixing myself to an accidental death, so when I start screwing around and adding new meds, especially medications that impact my central nervous system (like Lyrica) or meds like Tramadol that screw with my seratonin levels or even opiates, I tend not to take my clonazepam.

I don’t have withdrawal symptoms.  My anxiety doesn’t heighten until I have been completely off it for months – at which point I suffer from a touch of agoraphobia and paranoia.  Which I had before I started taking the clonazepam, so I might just be returning to my natural psychological state at that point and it may not be a side effect of not taking my benzodiazepine.  As a matter of fact, I go off it often enough, that in a six month period, I always lose at least one month worth of prescription due to the cutoff date… sometimes, it’s two months.

Butalbital is a barbiturate and also addictive. I don’t need it to function.  It doesn’t cause rebound migraines.  I don’t have withdrawal migraines if I don’t take it.

Here’s the thing, opiates don’t make me feel good.  Just like my butalbital doesn’t make me feel good.  My clonazepam does, so if I was going to be addicted to meds, it would be that one. Opiates mostly make me feel like I need a nap.  Since I always seem to need a nap right now that isn’t an improvement in my situation and I don’t crave them.  I do like it when they help the pain by either bringing it down from a 600 to a 7 or when it makes it so I don’t limp… but it isn’t something I enjoy taking and I don’t know that I would get addicted to them anymore than my clonazepam.

Yet everyone is taking up pitchforks to fight addiction.  Except, I didn’t end up on any of these drugs without some serious and careful experimenting.  When I found out that if the Lyrica doesn’t help, my only other option is Cymbalta, I started to cry.  I can’t take SSRIs… actually, I can’t take any of the 4 classes of antidepressants.  That is why I take clonazepam for my anxiety instead of one of those.  Gabapentin has less chance of addiction than Lyrica, but it made me suicidal and weepy.  Hence the change to Lyrica.  So far the biggest side effect is drowsiness, but I take it with a muscle relaxer, so that might be more muscle relaxer than Lyrica.

Does anyone stop to think about the people those pitchforks are affecting?  My Vicodin prescription which treats the pain in my hips as well as the pain in my back from the torn disk in one of the lumbar vertebrae isn’t covered by insurance anymore because my prescription is for 30 tablets, more than insurance allows… So I pay for it out of pocket, I have to, because I get to the point where I am in so much pain, even my clothes hurt touching my skin and it feels like I have giant kidney stones in both kidneys (that’s a disk problem – yay torn disk!).  My doctor gave me samples of the Lyrica because he is going to have to fight with my insurance company to get it covered, for a couple of reasons: 1. there isn’t really a generic version yet and 2. it carries an addiction warning.

My primary care doctor has to see me every couple of months just to fill my clonazepam prescription because it’s a controlled substance.  Same on my butalbital.  I even had to fill out a questionnaire for my insurance company about why I take the meds and how effective they are for me.  Some of the questions were kind of invasive, especially on the clonazepam questionnaire.  I’ve also learned that any time I travel and take my clonazepam or butalbital, if I am stopped for any minor traffic offense, the police have the right to count my pills, they can also report any irregularities to the DEA… so if I should have 16 clonazepam left and I only have 15 because I had a really bad anxiety day, this is considered enough “abuse” that I can be reported to the DEA and have my prescription taken away.

All these laws to keep people from becoming opiate addicts are ridiculous, because I’ve done the research.  If I’m willing to drop the cash, I could have 120 Vicodin, Morphine, or Percocet delivered to my door overnight (I was researching for Ritual Dreams & Demonic Dreams).  It’s outrageously expensive and I would never buy illegal drugs over the internet, but they exist in massive easy to access quantities.  All we’ve really done is make it harder for law abiding citizens with real pain problems to get access to medications to help them.  I feel like we are all getting a middle finger and being told to suck it up by those in charge.  My research also turned up Xanax, Klonopin, and a host of other addictive non-opiate drugs that can be bought on the internet without a prescription and cause fatal overdoses in higher quantities in the US than opiates.

Sometimes, I feel like we are creating more problems than we are fixing. Sometimes, I also think we should just bring back the days of laudanum and say to hell with it.  People will be opiate addicts even if every doctor in the US stops prescribing them.  They are mostly just hurting the people that need them, not the ones that are using them recreationally or abusing their prescriptions.

12 thoughts on “Addiction Issues

  1. I was placed on Lyrica when it first came out, I began telling my neurologist I was having vision issues within 5 weeks and was told it could not possibly be a drug interaction, I continued till I had lost a lot of vision in my right dominate eye… still being patted on the head and told don’t worry we know best I finally stopped the Lyrica and in a meeting with his staff social worker which everyone had to see, I told her that my vision was finally coming back after stopping a medication. She threatened and found out did take out a PSYCH HOLD on me and even after going to the hospital over the weekend and getting documentation I had been seen , evaluated and found to me no threat to myself or others I called the courts Monday am.. and went down at about 10 when I was supposed to be able to provide the judge with the documents.. Well I waited just outside of the court room for my name to be called and then has a police officer come ask me my name and say he had a hold and he needed to take me back to the hospital… Now keep in mind these were 200.00 trips and I was now an unemployed nurse because no physician treating me would release me for duty… Now I had to find a new specialist and no choice but to go on disability because my MS was in no form being treated… I am in that same boat again this year, increased falls and other issues yet Neurologist wants me seen by a newer one that specializes in MS .stress caused by the loss of parents and court cases in multiple states due to a greedy insufferable sibling…..MY POINT IS THIS NOW THE COMMERCIALS TELL YOU ABOUT SOME SIDE EFFECTS THEY DON’T TELL ALL FOR NEW DRUGS BECAUSE THE GROUPS MAY BE 10,000 BUT GIVE THE DRUG TO A MILLION AND YOU MAY HAVE 20,000 THAT HAVE A SIDE EFFECT.. LYRICA HAS FOREVER CHANGED MY LIFE AS A READER I NOW NEED A KINDLE. ANOTHER DRUG THAT NEARLY LOST ME CUSTODY OF MY CHILD PROZAC WAS A GREAT MED FOLKS WERE THRILLED WITH THE SEXY SIDE EFFECTS AND WEIGHT LOSS AND SUCH WHEN IT HIT THE MARKET ABOUT 30 YRS AGO.. I DIDN’T WANT IT FEEL I NEEDED IT BUT MY SON’S PEDIATRICIAN SAID ANYONE WITH A ADHD KID NEEDS AN ANTI DEPRESSANT..TO ME IT CAUSE A MANIC EPISODE THAT WAS PURELY MEDICATION CAUSED …REMINDER MELITONIN OTC TO HELP YOU SLEEP.., SERITONIN SOUND FAMILIAR THEY ARE TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN…. SO HAVE YOUR HUBBY AND YOUR FRIENDS WATCH ANY NEW MEDS DO YOU SEEM DISTANT, NO UPS NO DOWNS JUST STATIC, ANY VISION CHANGES, AND BALANCE ISSUES.. I HAVE SAID IT BEFORE AND WILL SAY IT TILL I DIE, YOU ARE YOUR OWN BEST ADVOCATE AND IF A MED IS CAUSING A ISSUE STOP AND CALL YOUR DOC.. THE FORMER NURSE..

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    1. I’m watching for side effects and I read all the available literature when I start a new medication, this one included. Vision problems are listed as a rare but known side effect as is hypotension. Luckily, talking in my sleep seems to be the biggest one so far and that could be stress.

      SSRIs cause me not to sleep. I was on Zoloft for a short time, less than 2 weeks, because I stopped sleeping within a week of starting on it.

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      1. Like I said a new med comes out and they may have 2-10 people that had an issue as so it’s listed as very rare then it hits mass marketing and because some doctors don’t report it , patients don’t know how unless the call a lawyer..and then 5 yrs later you see a commercial and it lists that side effect and you think wow.. I went thru 6 days of IV steroids and 6 weeks of oral for a foot note in your commercial and over 800.00 in medical bills. Have any clue how rare it is to find an Neuro/ophthalmologist that is a specialist that is like finding a goldfish that rides a bike.. With thePROZAC he wasn’t my doctor he was my 6 yr old son’s and he didn’t treat kids that parents weren’t on treatment, never mind he tossed me into a manic -depressive swingset where I was actively suicidal for hours till I went sobbing to another nurse saying something is wrong and I don’t know why.. got tossed in a locked psych ward unable to tell family what had happened my friend wasn’t told I had been taken to a state facility and just that they were admitting me for observation.. I refused to take meds and do what I was told till I could contact my family and say watch over my son..and for that was in 4 point restraints nude in a icebox room for 12 hrs they checked every 4 hrs to see if my circulation was fine but didn’t talk to me I screamed myself to the point I couldn’t talk begging them to cal my folks.. I went on to become a nurse partly to save another like me from every going thru that.. laws have changed in 30 yrs my nightmares haven’t when my second husband wanted to be especially nasty he would use that as a threat, ALL I NEED TO DO IS CLAIM YOU PULLED A KNIFE OR THREATENED TO TAKE ALL YOUR MEDS wonder why gave him everything and paid to divorce him??
        I wanted to say don’t do the surgery because I have never worked with a patient that had any spinal surgery that made them better, I know if it cured the issue they wouldn’t need me logic does come thru but still they have suggested taking ‘care ‘ of my c spine and Lumbar and I keep saying not while I am still alive.. I can’t tell you what to do or try I simply can tell you some generic info cause after 72 hrs and they have to release you, violated is the least you will feel scared, how to get home, what to say never mind you were fired on the second no call no show day.. My kindle and computer are the only way I can read.. changing font size to suit is my MS acting up , sinuses, or just blurry vision due to something else…I wish that my friends had said yea we noticed you weren’t yourself but thought we’d offend if they said anything… no one said your not super happy or supper down you were just kinda flat.. that clue could have saved so much..
        I underwent a study at UK med center, they gave me a max dose of benadrly and had me collect 24 hr urine specimen, after testing they sid my body didn’t metabolize it and that meant most all antidepressants were going to be a waste…they go thru unchanged, unabsorbed I just want you to get to your next normal safe and without the emotional scars I earned the hard way.. Always in my prayers, your fan, friend and pest…

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      2. I journal everything. And if I feel like one of my doctors stops listening, I make an appointment with my 74 year old general practitioner who is a DO and he was trained when they still trained doctors to listen.

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  2. I have been taking Lyrica for over 4 years now. I am at the max dose to treat my Fibromyalgia. The only issue I have had with it, is that it caused sudden and intense suicidal thoughts. I was driving to work one day, and out of nowhere I had an overwhelming urge to drive off the overpass. My rheumatologist put me on Cymbalta and the thoughts went away. I also take several other medications, but haven’t had any other serious side effects.

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  3. I agree and while I feel pot will be legal. in our lifetime that doesn’t help me if lived in one of the states where it was and it doesn’t work for me as a matter of fact it gives me migraines so wouldn’t work as pain relief . I live in a state with really bad ugly pain management and moved to one that was blessedly a lot different and I Won’t Go Back.

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  4. I absolutely love your books!! You are an amazing writer and I hope you find the relief you need. One thing I wanted to mention to you is to look up xRMD. It is genetic testing and food sensitivity tests that can help with inflammation by testing which foods you can eat and which are toxic to your system. I just did the test today(kits are expensive but my employer paid for mine). I am so excited to see if I can get relief from crippling anxiety and depression. I have tried virtually every antidepressant and anxiety med and nothing seems to work. I suffer from severe stomach pain and skin rashes from my current med but at least I am functional… I am hoping that this test will help me find foods to eat that will help, foods to avoid, and medication that will actually work without killing me. I take 2-4 Ativan a day for breakthrough anxiety and just recently changed doctors. The new doc said the amount of medication I take is staggering and dangerous and can cause memory problems. I have been taking Ativan for 10 years. I read the side effect but every med seems to have so many…
    Anyway I just wanted to reach out and tell you I am a huge fan and in 4-6 weeks I may have found help for my issues. I hope you research the company I mentioned and see if you feel it Is worth trying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All benzodiazepines cause memory loss if used long term. I have been on Klonopin for 18 years now and have short term memory problems as a result, but it was the only med that I could take for my anxiety.

      I will look into the testing! Thanks.

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