Tag Archives: Addiction

Sobriety, dual diagnosis, and personal OTC self-help

First, I want to make clear that this is just about my personal experiences, since Lifering is about personalized, individualized, self-empowerment, or self-help.

That said, let’s jump into what’s on my mind.

A fair percentage of people who eventually have addictive problems to drugs or alcohol are “dual diagnosis.” That is, they have some mental health issue connected with their addiction. Often it’s depression. Often it’s anxiety. Sometimes it’s bipolar disorder, occasionally schizophrenia.

For people that have “simple” depression or anxiety, and have been to a doctor before, for lower-level depression or anxiety, it’s tempting to self-medicate with over-the-counter items. For example, it’s a “commonplace” that Benadryl can help mild anxiety. Many people use St. John’s wort for mild depression. Beyond that, over-the-counter versions of lithium compounds, somewhat similar to, but not the same as, the prescription versions, are available. And more.

But, even over-the-counter medications aren’t risk free.

For example, prescription lithium has a narrow range of dosages. The non-prescription versions are presumably similar.

With St. John’s wort, there are studies indicating it can help with some cases of mild-moderate depression. There’s no “magic secret” as to why, though. The active ingredient is an MAO inhibitor, just like the first class of anti-depressant medications. Given that prescription MAO inhibitors come with certain warnings, like not combining them with aged cheeses, something similar might apply to St. John’s worth.

And, there’s the placebo effect. A lot of people swear by GABA, a natural neurotransmitter, to help with anxiety. However, GABA does not cross what’s known as the blood-brain barrier, therefore people are presumably just talking about a placebo effect.

Also, just as a prescription anti-depressant that works for one person might not work well for another, the same is true of these OTC self-helps.

A Lifering friend mentioned his doctor suggested he take a new OTC medication, which is GABA chemically linked to niacin, the B vitamin. He said it helped totally kill alcohol cravings, as well as some anxiety.

I decided to order it myself; it’s readily available online.

Well, my “sample size date” is only 10 days so far, but, I may discontinue it after another week.

While it’s not quite making me MORE anxious, I have had trouble falling asleep since then. I’ve had a couple of issues in my mind, but, this may be a contributing factor.

For me, the one time I went to a doctor with even more serious anxiety, it was anti-depressants that helped.

There’s nothing wrong with a prescription from a doctor, and there’s nothing magical about over-the-counter items. It never hurts to get professional advice.

100 Americans Die Every Day from Drug Overdose

hoffmanPhillip Seymour Hoffman, the widely admired and award winning actor, died recently from a drug overdose. That got a lot of publicity and millions of people asked themselves how such a thing could happen to someone like that. Meanwhile, on that same day if it was average, 99 other people died in the same way without the public taking notice, or seeming to care. Overdose is the largest single cause of accidental death in America — beating out car crashes for that “honor.”

Here is an article from the Washington Post, a lengthy interview with a prominent psychiatrist and leading researcher in the field of addiction. There is much of interest in the article. An example, when the interviewer asks about private detox facilities, the response is scathing:

It’s such a horrible promise to hold out to desperate people and their families. By the way, those programs are usually cash-pay only. They promise to take away your addiction in two weeks but what they really take is your money….Some [very wealthy people] are checking into rehabs that don’t seem much different than luxury hotels. I suspect, actually, that you might get better care being a working class veteran, or someone who happens to live near a primary care doctor who has trained him or herself using buprenorphine than you would being a rich and famous person in that luxury tier of care.

The article is filled with much information and insight. See it Here.

 

Former Heavy Weight Boxing Champ Mike Tyson Writes About His Addiction

tysonMike Tyson, the famously fearsome heavyweight boxing champion, wrote an op-ed for the New York Times recently that offers a wrenching look into his life and reveals insights about addiction from an unexpected source. Tyson was champion from 1986 to 1990.  Throughout the 1990’s he fought to regain his crown, finally retiring for good in 2006. His career was marked by controversy and appallingly bad behavior, including a rape conviction and a famous incident in which he bit off part of his opponents ear in a fight with Evander Holyfield.

The column is remarkably articulate — much more so than expected from a man with his reputation as a thuggish brawler. Even if he had help with the writing, it shows a great deal of insight into his addiction and his own life. Take this passage, which will resonate with many:

Even though I possessed incredible discipline when it came to boxing, I didn’t have the tools to stop my slide into addiction. When I got a chance to get high — boom, I’d get high. I wouldn’t call my sponsor, wouldn’t call my therapist, wouldn’t call my sober companions.

No, in order to kick it, I had to replace the cravings for drugs or alcohol with a craving to be a better person.

The piece isn’t long; you owe it to yourself to have a look. See it Here

 

Predicting the Chances of Relapse

imagesDick Sprague, a Colorado LifeRinger, forwards an interesting article that deals with predicting relapse. The academic article stems from the distressing fact that more than one-third of liver transplant recipients — most of whom, presumably, need the transplant because of damage from drinking — relapse after the transplant. Pause and think about that — you’ve damaged your liver to the point where it’s function is so compromised that you need a transplant. You convince the doctors that you won’t waste their time, energy and money by resuming drinking; you go through the wait for a donor liver and the trauma of the surgery and recovery … and then you go back to drinking. What an example of the power of addiction!

The article (actually the abstract of the article) offers a list of nine factors that predict the risk of relapse, and most of them certainly don’t just apply to transplant recipients:

Nine of 25 hypothesized risk factors were predictive of alcohol relapse after liver transplant: absence of hepatocellular carcinoma, tobacco dependence, continued alcohol use after liver disease diagnosis, low motivation for alcohol treatment, poor stress management skills, no rehabilitation relationship, limited social support, lack of nonmedical behavioral consequences, and continued engagement in social activities with alcohol present.

Read the abstract Here.

— Craig Whalley

 

Revealing Story of Pain Medication Addiction

OxyHere is a harrowing story about pain pill addiction and how easily and savagely it occurs. It’s a story from the Salt Lake Tribune in Utah. It illustrates exceptionally well how easily good people can stumble into addiction, even with their eyes wide open to the dangers. An accomplished, intelligent, award-winning writer becomes addicted not because of childhood abuse, inherited predilections, emotional dysfunction, or moral failure, but instead because of simply using too much of a drug, prescribed properly, for too long.

See the story Here.