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terryk

TerryK - I cured my alcoholism with High Dose Baclofen

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terryk

My name is TerryK and I'm no longer an alcoholic. I've been on high-dose baclofen for more than six years, and indifferent to alcohol for more than five.  There is so much distance between who I am now, and the person I used to be, who *needed* to drink every.single.day to fall asleep, to quell anxiety, to lift depression, or to celebrate that it's hard to find new words to describe what that past was like - so I'm just going to borrow pieces from updates that I've written over the years on MWO and let them live here from now on (edited, and hopefully a bit more concise).


25 years ago - I started drinking in college.

19 years ago - I was drinking most nights, and probably pretty heavily on the weekends. It never got in the way of my life, my job, or anything really. I could stop if I really wanted to, with maybe a sweaty, sleepless night or two. I took a couple of weeks off here and there only when I had to.

13 years ago - I was drinking pretty heavily every night, and getting shitfaced on the weekends. I powered through my daily hangovers with aplomb. I could always wait until after work, or even after the gym, to start drinking, but absolutely, I needed at least 5 or 6 to fall asleep. I was concerned, but I wasn't able to cut back.

9 years ago - I could barely wait to get home from work to start drinking. I planned my days around where I could get alcohol. I carried a hip flask. I hid bottles in my house. I hid my drinking from my girlfriend. I considered a six-pack of pounders (8 US units) a sober night for me on weekdays, then I would get completely obliterated Friday and Saturday hoping to be able to taper back down to my 6 (8) beers a night maybe by Wednesday with Friday just around the corner. If I wasn't drunk enough when I went to bed, I would wake up after a few hours without being able to fall back asleep. I started drinking in the middle of the night. I started drinking in the morning. All efforts to cut back failed over and over.

7 years ago - My life was completely unraveling. I would wake up sometimes with a panicky, retching sickness that I could only stop with a couple of shots of hard liquor. I missed work. I snuck drinks on the job. I obtained some benzos to stave off my withdrawal during the day and wound up propelling my drinking to the stratosphere. I switched to the cheapest vodka. I sometimes drank mouthwash. My health was failing (Liver Panel, Gout, High Blood Pressure). I felt like I was dying. I wanted to die. I went to the ER a handful of times; Outpatient detox twice, and inpatient detox twice.

6 1/2 years ago - I got home from my 2nd inhouse detox and white-knuckled for the next 5 months without alcohol. Everyday seemed like a waste - I was miserable, and I made everyone else miserable.

6 years ago - After reading "The End of My Addiction," I started self-medicating with baclofen that I purchased online, soon after from a local psychiatrist.

5 years, 9 months ago - I was hospitalized while trying to titrate too quickly on baclofen. 150mg/day to 235+mg/day + a lot of alcohol.

5 1/2 years ago - I reached my "switch" - indifference to alcohol @ 280mg/day

Today - Still cured of my alcoholism! Completely indifferent!  I don't count days and it doesn't take any effort.

I'm currently at 160mg/day down from 280mg/day on 9/26/10 (240-220mg/day in all of 2011, 200mg/day in 2012 and 2013, 180mg/day in 2014).

After all of that time, no "other shoe has dropped" - my kidney function/blood work is fine, I'm still sharp and sane, and my indifference is solid despite the couple of beers I have occasionally. I am side-effect free.

I don't like to give advice on how to take Baclofen, but if I were to hazard a guess as to the longevity of my success I would say that staying at/near my switch dose for so long, and titrating down very slowly might be the key.

Some background: I'm in my 40's. I drank heavily for 20 years, just about every night for the first 15, and more often during the days, then 24/7 towards the end. Typical week night for me was 8 beers and almost a pint of scotch, weekends were no holds barred.

In my late thirties I had 4 trips to the ER, 2 outpatient detoxes (lorazepam), and 2 inpatient detoxes (phenobarbital). Attempts at moderation invariably put me in the exact place I left off in a month or less. CBT, SSRI's, counseling, did zero. AA was a poor fit for me as well (to put it mildly). I did try Moderation Management online, and had no luck finding Rational Recovery.

I read Ameisen's book in early 2010, and I stumbled upon MWO soon after. I began titrating in March 2010 with Fexobac baclofen ordered online from India (4rx.com) and Neuraxfam baclofen from Germany (Goldpharma). I was then extremely lucky to find a psychiatrist who began writing me a legit script in late spring 2010.

Post "switch," my indifference has been effortless. My titration, however, was *definitely* not. I had very, very severe side-effects and wound up restrained in the ER and hospitalized for 5 days when I tried to increase my dose too high, too soon, and started drinking *A LOT.* Increasing 20mg/week was too rapid for me and I settled closer to 10mg/week, and even then, day 2 after the increase was always a doozy, with intense hallucinations and shocks to my hands/fingers. All in all, it took 7 months of slow, steady titration for me to find indifference @280mg/day.

My answer to overcoming side-effects is 1) slow, steady titration 2) even dosing on an even schedule 60/60/60/60 at 6am/12pm/6pm/12am 3) consistency in brand of baclofen - don't interchange brands day to day and if you need to switch brands do it this way: (100% Brand A to 75% Brand A + 25% Brand B to 50% Brand A + 50% Brand B to 25% Brand A + 75% Brand B to 100% Brand B ).

My yearly update on the old forum included a description of my post-baclofen alcohol consumption that read pretty much like this: "I occasionally have a beer or two (every couple of weeks or so). Except for the time I tried Amesien's "drink a bottle of whisky on baclofen and see if you have cravings the next day" experiment (I passed with flying colors) I haven't been drunk in all of this time (legally or literally), as it is, baclofen makes drinking more than a couple pretty unpleasant for me." I realize that I am lucky in this regard, and I do not believe that my experience means that continued safe, moderate drinking is possible for everyone else on baclofen. As I decrease my daily dose from year to year in an effort to find the minimum effective dose necessary to retain my indifference, I can admit that the beer is not as tasteless now as it was (impossible to drink really) at 280mg/day. However, I have learned with the help of baclofen, to live without alcohol as a cornerstone of my existence - I don't need booze anymore to relax, or socialize, or to help me sleep - and even though the anxiety is still very much present, I have learned coping skills that have kept me from turning to the bottle every time. I know that the future is uncertain, and there are no guarantees that it will last forever for me (especially as I continue to titrate lower - maybe even down to zero some day). The best I can do is to be on the lookout for falling back into bad habits, and to be as honest as I can be with myself about realities of the situation should things start to go south (admittedly a difficult task for those of us with a history of substance abuse). What I do know, is that I don't have to live in fear or anger over alcohol, and if I make any missteps along this path that I'm on, there will never be another day zero - it's been better than 5 really good years, and no matter what happens I will always continue to move forward.

In upcoming posts, I'll detail my side-effects, my baclofen overdose, and put up some more links to my favorite articles on baclofen and addiction....

-tk

 

 

 

 

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Lostinspace

Thanks so much for sharing this, tk. It’s really inspiring to see how far you’ve come and that you’ve stayed indifferent for so long. I really appreciate your advice, too, on coming down so slowly from your switch dose. I intend to follow that model myself. Congrats on finding (and keeping) contented sobriety!

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cturtle3216

Thanks for sharing Terry. How do you recommend finding a doctor who will prescribe Baclofen? Are they usually psychiatrists? 

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