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Old 02-18-2014, 01:49 PM
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Are We Addicted to our Drugs?


The other day I started a thread about Medical Marijuana and its possible benefits. Since MJ was once posed as the first stage to heroin addiction, this got me off on a tangent: Are we addicted to all those drugs our MDs prescribe to us? Think about it. If we were to suddenly stop taking these drugs we would experience super grand mal seizures winding up in the ER with brain damage. All these anti-seizure drugs work on our nervous system just like all the illegal drugs do. Once upon a time, they prescribed 'downers' i.e. barbituates which are highly addictive. Many tranquilizer drugs cause withdrawal symptoms that can include grand mal seizures.

I would say that we could be very manipulated by MDs and the pharmaceutical corporatons who are making a real fortune off our condition. The usual approach is "pills, pills, and more pills". Over the past few decades, I have been prescribed numerous kinds of drugs to prevent occasional seizures that occur every few months. None of them have been effective. I'm taking more pills and more kinds of pills than I ever had now and I have no doubt that all this is wrecking my nervous system.

In their ignorance of the cause of our condition, they just push pills on us - rather than check other causes or solutions that may work far more effectively. For example, biofeedback could be a way we could train ourselves not to have seizures. I would prefer to use "meditation" not "medication". All the pills we are taking may be regarded in the future as just as primitive as "blood-letting" a few centuries ago.
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Old 02-18-2014, 01:59 PM
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Of course were addicted to our drugs, before I could come off Clonazepam I was slowly weaned from 2 MG to .5mg and it took forever for me to get off it.
If I've been on a drug just a few weeks come off i, it still takes time to come off.

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Old 02-18-2014, 02:00 PM
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Old 02-18-2014, 02:33 PM
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I have to confess: Back in the 60's and 70's, I tried out all kinds of psychedelics, not the extent some of my peers were doing. Smoking pot was a big part of my lifestyle, but again not as heavy duty as some. Here's the interesting anecdote: I've also had pscyhiatric difficulties and visited a number of therapists and one or two psychiatrists. As with epilepsy, they LOVE to prescribe pills. I took thorazine, hated it. Tried valium, loved it, but I went a bit crazy without it. Then around 1974, a mental health MD prescribed Phenotoin (a mix of dilantin, phenobarbitol, and a bit of methedrine (speed) for me. I loved that one, but they stopped prescribing it. Then for a few months, I tried Dilantin as a way to relax, it's a muscle relaxant, as some of you are aware. One day, when I had a job interview the next day, I wanted to keep clear headed and stopped taking it, flushing down the toilet. About a week later, I was feeling weird and passed out on the street. A few years later, I was stepping off a bus and apparently had my first grand mal seizure, and woke up in the back of an ambulance. In the ER, they told me I had epilepsy and gave me a lot of dilantin, which I took regularly for awhile. So I have to ask the question: Did Dilantin CAUSE my condition originally? I had no experiences like that prior to that, I was in my mid-20's then.
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Old 02-18-2014, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by John-Forrest View Post:
So I have to ask the question: Did Dilantin CAUSE my condition originally? I had no experiences like that prior to that, I was in my mid-20's then.
Who knows. But I doubt that Dilantin caused your condition. But perhaps your messing around with all those other meds like Thorazine brought on the seizures and your body got used to them. Those anti-psychotics can do more damage to the central nervous system than anti-epileptic drugs.
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:36 PM
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Honestly when I stopped my medicine, I did so cold and had no problems. Therefore, I believe that I am not addicted to any of my medications. If I have gone through any withdraw symptoms, there were unnoticed by me.
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Old 02-18-2014, 11:23 PM
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I am a recovering pharmaceutical addict--five years off mood/mine altering substances including alcohol, benzodiazapines (valium, clonazapam, xanex etc) and any other physically addictive medications (pseudoephedrine, codeine etc.) I can tell you that there is a huge difference between psychologically/physically addictive substances and medications that take just a week or two to wean off of. If I were to take one valium, I'd be screwed. I'd go circling around the drain again, and end up in the toilet. The neurontin, phenytoin, tegretol, topomax, epilim, lamictin etc have never left me craving for more and they haven't wrecked my life the way rivotril or valium would.
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Old 02-19-2014, 08:47 AM
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My daughter has asked me this question, since she starts to get a headache if she is just a few hours late with her medication. I think that just because your body gets adjusted to a medication that you NEED does not mean that you are "addicted" to it. After all, if someone taking medication for their high blood pressure or cholesterol stops taking that medication, their blood pressure or cholesterol will shoot up. I'm sure that that there are other physical effects as well, since there are no medications without side effects, but I am not familiar with them.

Because people with epilepsy are taking a medication that affects their brain function, some of the consequences of coming off the medication may mimic what happens when you withdraw from from an addictive drug. However, I think that Kirsten has beautifully expressed what the difference is - addictive drugs cause physical and psychological cravings in the person addicted to them. While my daughter may need her daily dose of Keppra, and may feel poorly if she misses a dose (and might have a seizure if she missed two or more doses - she hasn't ever missed enough to find out!), she in no way experiences any CRAVING for her dose of Keppra, and has never been tempted to take more and more of it. And if she was ever weaned off of the Keppra, I can't imagine that she would feel any pull to take it again afterwards - quite the opposite actually!

So I really think that the physical need for the medication doesn't at all indicate an "addiction" to it - there are many other factors at play there.
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Old 02-19-2014, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Kgartner View Post:
I think that just because your body gets adjusted to a medication that you NEED does not mean that you are "addicted" to it.
Because people with epilepsy are taking a medication that affects their brain function, some of the consequences of coming off the medication may mimic what happens when you withdraw from from an addictive drug.

So I really think that the physical need for the medication doesn't at all indicate an "addiction" to it - there are many other factors at play there.
This is exactly what my psychiatrist told me when I asked her--I was worried at one stage, too. Not anymore, though.

I have to keep myself on a strict and straight line because of my history, so even if I missed a dose of meds on purpose, I would consider it a relapse because it'd also be a kind of self-medication. That's just me though. I have to keep to stricter rules.
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Old 02-19-2014, 09:22 AM
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Good question John.

Am I addicted to my meds? no
Am I indentured to my drugs? yes (I'm their b_tch)

Robert Palmer wrote a song about my real addition.
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:35 AM
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When I change medications, I certainly do not feel any craving for the other. Maybe a better way to put it we are DEPENDENT on these medications; our brains get used to them, adjusts to them, sudden absence of them could cause the brain to malfunction. Since I have been taking these for years, I would be hesitant to gradually stop taking them, but it may be an interesting experiment just to note if my seizures increase, decrease, or remain at about the same pattern. If they are remaining at the same pattern, that would indicate the drugs aren't doing a damn thing for me. I would certainly be a lot more clear-headed without them.

By the way, the phenothiazens (thorazine) are pretty weird in effect, to me, they felt like cold medicine since they are related to antihistamines. I didn't take them for long way back then, because I hated the effect.

I think seizures are akin to our computers when they 'crash'. Lately, they've been talking about circuits in our brains to hook directly with computer (to be constantly wired to the Net). Who knows, maybe they would work to stop seizures.

Last edited by John-Forrest; 02-19-2014 at 10:40 AM.
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Old 02-19-2014, 10:37 AM
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I was on lots of pain meds for 2 years for very serious back problems. After surgery, while in the hospital in terrible pain, some of the nurses treated me like I was an addict. Two months after surgery when I was no longer in pain I went to my family doctor and told her I was dependent on the drugs but ready to come off. She said she had no experience with that and referred me back to my pain management doctor. The pain doctor was a pill pusher and I was a good paying customer so he told me I had other pain conditions that still needed to be treated. I took the prescription he gave me and filled it. I got on the internet and read different web sites about how people kicked herion and other drug habits and within 4-6 weeks I had weaned myself off all the drugs and now only occasionally take a over the counter pain reliever. I do take 2mg of klonipin at night for sleep but other than that, I do not take any addictive drugs. My neurologist thinks the klonipin is a good idea because otherwise I can go days without sleep.

There is nothing wrong with being dependent on drugs if you need them. I am dependent on anti-epileptic drug's and thyroid meds just like some diabetics are depentant on insulin.
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Old 02-19-2014, 11:03 AM
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I think it's a very different story for people who are not addicts. Say in your situation, MAB, you're taking 2mg of klonipin at night. I would never do that. I used to take a ton of the stuff all day every day, from the moment I woke up to the time I went to sleep. I used to get prescriptions from three doctors a month and had them all thinking I needed excessively high dosages in order to keep my epilepsy under control, which was not the case at all. So I can't take 2mg of it at night, ever. Or 1mg, ever. Every one of my doctors knows that they can never treat me with that kind of medication. So of course, if you are not an addict, you're free to take what ever your doctor prescribes. That isn't the case for me. As they say in AA, one is too many and a thousand never enough--but only for us.
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Old 02-19-2014, 11:20 AM
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Truly, I'd do just about anything to avoid experiencing another grand mal seizure. It took years to identify a drug that actually controlled my epilepsy. If there's a cure someday, I'll cross that bridge very happily as I come to it. Right now, however, the peace provided by a drug that works with minimal side effects is about the extent of my ambition.

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Old 02-19-2014, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by MAB View Post:
There is nothing wrong with being dependent on drugs if you need them. I am dependent on anti-epileptic drug's and thyroid meds just like some diabetics are depentant on insulin.
Well, I DO have Type 1 Diabetes + Thyroid problems + Epilepsy and I give my insulin shots with every meal and at bedtime. Plus due to Diabetes, I should be taking cholesterol meds and I take blood pressure meds. But due to the side effect and drug interaction with anti-epileptic drugs of the cholesterol, I can't take it. And I Do take my anti-epileptic drugs morning, noon and at bedtime.

Do I consider myself addicted to any of them? NO.
Do I need insulin and the anti-epileptic drugs to stay alive? Yes

Plus, if I were addicted to these drugs, wouldn't I have started out voluntarily in the first place? These conditions all were more or less forced upon me. Never in my wildest dreams growing up did I ever think I would end up in and out of docs and hospitals with a brain disorder that would never end!

One time, my dr. changed my anti-epileptic drug abruptly and I went status, ending up in the hospital. Another time, my VNS needed to be reset because I had a bad cause of bronchitis and I went status again. The meds weren't changed. I wasn't addicted to the drugs. The brain gets used to the seizures, creating the kindling effect.

But the problem(s) for me, is that one drug can make/create another problem worse, creating more health problems, thus doctors wanting to prescribe more drugs, more side effects. A vicious circle.
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Old 02-19-2014, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Cint View Post:
I should be taking cholesterol meds and I take blood pressure meds. But due to the side effect and drug interaction with anti-epileptic drugs of the cholesterol, I can't take it.
Cint, what is the issue with cholesterol meds and anti-epileptic drugs? I ask because I'm taking statins. Currently, though, it's more of a maintenance thing as my levels have really gone down.
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Old 02-19-2014, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by kirsten View Post:
Cint, what is the issue with cholesterol meds and anti-epileptic drugs? I ask because I'm taking statins. Currently, though, it's more of a maintenance thing as my levels have really gone down.
My endocrinologist tried me on statins, too, but every time I would take them, either my glucose would skyrocket or I would have another seizure. It seems like for me, the statins and anti-epileptic drugs don't mix. I take Keppra, Topomax and Potiga. <---- I think is the one causing the problem, not sure tho.
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Old 02-19-2014, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Cint View Post:
My endocrinologist tried me on statins, too, but every time I would take them, either my glucose would skyrocket or I would have another seizure. It seems like for me, the statins and anti-epileptic drugs don't mix. I take Keppra, Topomax and Potiga. <---- I think is the one causing the problem, not sure tho.
In that case I'm going to go off my statins for a while.
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Old 02-19-2014, 11:57 AM
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It entirely depends on the medication. I had a 2 week video EEG a short while ago, and all my medications were stopped cold. I had no psychological or physiological withdrawal effects -- in fact I felt great: after only about 48 hours medication side effects were largely gone
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Old 02-19-2014, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Cint View Post:
Well, I DO have Type 1 Diabetes + Thyroid problems + Epilepsy and I give my insulin shots with every meal and at bedtime. Plus due to Diabetes, I should be taking cholesterol meds and I take blood pressure meds. But due to the side effect and drug interaction with anti-epileptic drugs of the cholesterol, I can't take it. And I Do take my anti-epileptic drugs morning, noon and at bedtime.

Do I consider myself addicted to any of them? NO.
Do I need insulin and the anti-epileptic drugs to stay alive? Yes

Plus, if I were addicted to these drugs, wouldn't I have started out voluntarily in the first place? These conditions all were more or less forced upon me. Never in my wildest dreams growing up did I ever think I would end up in and out of docs and hospitals with a brain disorder that would never end!

One time, my dr. changed my anti-epileptic drug abruptly and I went status, ending up in the hospital. Another time, my VNS needed to be reset because I had a bad cause of bronchitis and I went status again. The meds weren't changed. I wasn't addicted to the drugs. The brain gets used to the seizures, creating the kindling effect.

But the problem(s) for me, is that one drug can make/create another problem worse, creating more health problems, thus doctors wanting to prescribe more drugs, more side effects. A vicious circle.
Yes, I agree. Being dependent on drugs is totally different than being addicted to drugs.
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