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The End of my Addiction

Miranda212
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This forum is so necessary. Thank you NeNe.

I have been using Baclofen for 10 months. I have never not been alcoholic. Long history, but no need to go into it now. I'm more interested in hearing the experience of others using B. When I started, I had been sober for four years, heavily involved in A.A. But I wasn't finding the relief I needed. Adjusting to B was challenging and remains so. The sedation factor almost ended it for me. I was able to counter it and continue. The psychological effects are remarkable and to a certain extent, destabilizing. I had no idea that anxiety was the determining factor in my makeup until I was suddenly, seemingly miraculously, free of it. It's been a process of relearning my life. This will sound odd, but for the first time I have a conscious role in it. For the first while on B, I was almost obnoxiously self-centered. So full of this new self. Now I'm learning to renegotiate relationships. I have such changed feelings about so much. It's tricky though and I'm just finding my way.

I don't mean to suggest I have reservations about Baclofen. It has changed my life in ways I couldn't have known to wish for. I didn't know it, but I'd never experienced pure pleasure Before, I always felt chased by worries. Not now. I'm comfortable in my own skin. For the first time, I feel genuine contentment. I still can't believe that a pharmaceutical can bring about those changes. And that I was lucky enough to stumble on it.

I'm wondering, what it has been like for others. 

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Hi. When I started baclofen I didn't know I had anxiety. I started 12/12/12 and pretty quickly relaxed. I was usually the loud one when drinking and with baclofen I became a loner. My work is intense in that I listen to people all day.  I thought maybe I was just burnt out.  I quit taking baclofen 12/15 because I was rarely drinking and not over drinking. I was also concerned that it affected my distance running. I am still a loner and don't like doing much with others. 

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Hi, Miranda, and welcome to the forum. I haven't shared my story yet, though it's on the short list of things-to-do. There are some who have done it, though, and you can check their experiences out at http://www.theendofmyaddiction.org/forum/33-share-your-story/ . Some of what you've written is so similar to my experience that I was really surprised. I've never heard anyone else say some of it before. Like this part: 

Quote

I had no idea that anxiety was the determining factor in my makeup until I was suddenly, seemingly miraculously, free of it. It's been a process of relearning my life. This will sound odd, but for the first time I have a conscious role in it. For the first while on B, I was almost obnoxiously self-centered. So full of this new self. Now I'm learning to renegotiate relationships. I have such changed feelings about so much. It's tricky though and I'm just finding my way.

I have come across many people who said that they didn't know anxiety was the "determining factor" until they realized it was gone because of baclofen. I was one of them. I had NO IDEA that I had chronic, general anxiety. (As an aside, I have a really hard time labeling what goes awry in my thinking as 'anxiety' which just seems too general and too related to every day life. But that's another discussion for another time.) I definitely relate, too, to having a conscious role in managing it after I realized it--which I had to learn. But mostly I just felt so FREE!

Something I've never heard anyone mention before but was overwhelmingly true for me is that I, too, was obnoxiously self-centered. And judgmental toward my friends, in a way, because I wanted them to get their lives together (according to Ne) because I was also, "so full of [my] new self". It took most of a year for me to temper those feelings, and almost another year to repair one of my closest relationships. 

What's interesting about that, though, is that I vaguely remember something similar happening the first time I got sober in AA. (Which was about 20 years ago, when I was in my mid-20s.) Even my family remembers my "zeal", which is a nice way of saying that I was completely overbearing. I remember telling my father that he needed to make amends to one of his friends about something. Can you imagine? Ay carumba. Not only was I arrogant because of my youth, I was absolutely sure that I had ALL the answers to life because I was sober and AA had all the answers needed. HA! Now I know better.

My first year on baclofen was a little different than that, though. And there was something nebulous about it I can't exactly explain. A big part of the nebulousness was the lack of daily, minute-by-minute 'anxiety'...But there was more to it than that, too. I have always felt a little bit self-conscious about all of that and feel much better about it now that I know someone shared the experience. Thank you. 

17 hours ago, Miranda212 said:

I didn't know it, but I'd never experienced pure pleasure Before, I always felt chased by worries. Not now. I'm comfortable in my own skin. For the first time, I feel genuine contentment. I still can't believe that a pharmaceutical can bring about those changes. And that I was lucky enough to stumble on it.

Amen to that, sister. It was AMAZING how much joy I found without the anxiety. And not to get too personal, or share too much information, but it revolutionized my intimate life with my husband. Again, I had no idea that anxiety (or whatever it's called) affected even the closeness, physical and emotional, that we shared. 

Again, thanks so much for giving voice to something I've never been able to explain and didn't think anyone else experienced. (Frankly, I've been around a loooong time, so it's doubly refreshing to read something that strikes a new chord with me.)

I'll share with you that things changed slowly over time, and a big part of it, in hindsight, is that I changed my baclofen doses dramatically over the first 12-18 months after I reached indifference. I really don't recommend that at all. 

How much baclofen are you taking? How long have you been taking it? Have you seen the questionnaire? When you have time, will you fill it out? 

If I had a decent hug emoji, I'd share it here. But Admin1, our technical-wizard-behind-the-curtain, hasn't found one for me yet... So <hugs to you> will have to do. 

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 I had forgotten my judgy phase. Fortunately, I voiced very little of that. The irony is that one of the huge gifts of Baclofen is that I'm much less irritable. It's hard to get a rise out of me these days. Once I saw how harshly judgmental I was, I found my sweet spot at the other end of the spectrum. I have more compassion for others and can't think of one good reason to add to anyone's grief. That just seems foreign to me now. And pointless.

 I'm so interested in the psychological impact of being suddenly free of anxiety. As others have experienced it. I'm sure it's individual with wide variations. Still, it would have been so helpful to have insight into what might lie ahead, some reference for what I was feeling. I was so unprepared for that magnitude of change. And I'm still grappling with it to some extent.

 As for the physical side effects, sedation seems to be fairly common. What are people doing to counteract that?

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On 3/28/2016 at 2:23 PM, Miranda212 said:

 I'm so interested in the psychological impact of being suddenly free of anxiety. As others have experienced it. I'm sure it's individual with wide variations. Still, it would have been so helpful to have insight into what might lie ahead, some reference for what I was feeling. I was so unprepared for that magnitude of change. And I'm still grappling with it to some extent.

 As for the physical side effects, sedation seems to be fairly common. What are people doing to counteract that?

I don't know how long that feeling of being anxiety-free and sort of at peace lasts, Miranda. My switch was at 320mg, and I went down very quickly and very dramatically over the next few months, so I have no way to compare it to your experience. And I don't know that many people who have consistently stayed at or around their switch doses. Back in the day, like around 2011-2012, it was fairly common practice for us to go down a lot after reaching a switch dose. Unfortunately! 

Now that the forum has officially gone "live" (as of today!) I would expect more people will be along who may be more help to you about these things...

I tried a lot of different things to combat the somnolence (tiredness) that hit me in the late afternoon. Are you experiencing sedation, like you feel sedated throughout the day? Or are you experiencing periods of tiredness? When are you experiencing it? And are you sleeping well and enough? 

 

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Ne, I never had a switch point. At least what I think you mean as a switch point. I wasn't drinking when I started taking Baclofen. I had been sober, with one 5-week relapse, for four years. I use 120 mg. daily. That's the level at which I experience overall well being. Freedom from pervasive anxiety as well.

At 120 mg I tend to doze off during the day. It's not something that can be addressed by sleeping well. I've read on other forums that daytime drowsiness is a common side effect of Baclofen. 

Right now I have another prescription that keeps me up and running. But I was interested in what solutions others who have experienced this side effect have found.

 

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Miranda, it's so interesting to me when I read about people who have started using baclofen after a long period of sobriety and found it helpful. I really wish I could go into the rooms (AA) and share that with people...

So I used lots of things to try and stay awake. Some of them some people would disapprove of...Among them, modafinil, ritalin/adderall, lots and lots of coffee, caffeine pills...Most often, because I had some flexibility, I just took a brief nap. I've heard of some supplements that may help, but I can't remember what they are. Piracetam? Though that just may be for clarity of thought...Maybe someone who knows something about supplements will be along with suggestions, or you could start a thread and ask if you don't get any answers here. 

The tiredness, like all the SEs, just wore off after a while, but I don't remember how long or under what circumstances. Wish I could be more help! 

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I didn't really have a switch point either. When I first tried baclofen in 2010, I was drinking, I kept increasing the dose with little effect other than drowsiness, tinnitus etc, & eventually gave up. The second time (Dec 2013) I just stopped drinking & increased the bac quite rapidly over 2 weeks with no real SE. It was easy to just not go back to drinking daily, although I was able to have a few over Christmas.

So I suppose I am more like Miranda than others on this forum, who have kept going up om the dose while drinking til eventually they didn't want to drink any more.

Obviously there's more than one way to do it!

Ne, I use modafinil occasionally, mainly when I need the motivation to complete some really boring paperwork. It's not something you can use regularly to counteract the sedation of baclofen - well I can't anyway as it interferes badly with sleep. It has a very long half life so it's cumulative over several days.

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6 minutes ago, Molly78 said:

Ne, I use modafinil occasionally, mainly when I need the motivation to complete some really boring paperwork. It's not something you can use regularly to counteract the sedation of baclofen - well I can't anyway as it interferes badly with sleep. It has a very long half life so it's cumulative over several days.

I agree about the modafinil, Molly. Since the purpose of it is (among other things) to keep people who suffer from narcolepsy or who have night-shift work awake, it makes sense that it messes with being able to sleep. I also found it useful to help concentrate and to stay awake, though not always. That afternoon somnolence can be pretty overwhelming. It just wore off, though, and stopped happening. 

Forgive me if you've written your story or filled out the bac questionnaire and i just haven't read it yet, and I know you've told me before, too...How much baclofen are you taking now? Did you decrease it? 

On 4/2/2016 at 1:01 AM, Otter said:

Hello!

The whole forum you have set up looks very nice.  You've done something really good here.   Well done!

Hiya, Otter! Sorry I missed this earlier. Thanks for the compliments! :) I certainly like it. :hug:

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Ne, I'm taking 120 mg a day at the moment - 40 mg at 9 am, 12 md & 3 pm.

I went up to about 200 mg daily at one point, because I was still "thinking" about alcohol a lot, still planning when I could have a drink, anticipating my reward at the end of the day - in other words I hadn't lost the alcoholics mindset. However I decided that this is conditioning to some extent & habit after 30 years of drinking. I don't think bac will rid me of that, but I think time will. When I do have that drink as planned on a weekend night, despite all the anticipation, I no longer get the buzz, so I think there is going to be a process of extinction going on, a bit like with naltrexone, & from what I hear, that process is quite a long one - people talk in terms of months & even years.

I also have the feeling that bac is altering my brain chemistry long term, that the timing of the doses is no longer as important as it was at the beginning. But for now I am sticking to the regime that gives max blood levels around the danger time of wine o'clock - Don Quixote on MWO showed some really good graphs of blood levels/timing which I think newbies would find helpful. I wonder if there is some way we could get those posts transferred here? I not IT competent enough to attempt that!

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Thanks, Molly, for the info. Sorry, Miranda, for digressing, since I know that what I'm talking about (me) isn't your experience at all...

On 4/3/2016 at 0:15 PM, Molly78 said:

...in other words I hadn't lost the alcoholics mindset. However I decided that this is conditioning to some extent & habit after 30 years of drinking. I don't think bac will rid me of that, but I think time will. When I do have that drink as planned on a weekend night, despite all the anticipation, I no longer get the buzz, ...

I'm pretty sure that's about where I am at the moment. In that I need some more baclofen, because I'm definitely still craving a lot, so I'm in that excruciating process of titrating up slowly. But I also know that quite a bit of the compulsion is habit. Despite the craving, my routine is VERY entrenched and it includes getting a beer at certain times of day. 

I'm also not able to drink enough, for the most part, to get to a place where the booze I'm drinking actually feels good. I joked with my psychiatrist about it last week, because I actually went and bought a bottle of hard liquor just so I could feel something despite the fact that I'm doing all of these things because I absolutely do not want alcohol in my life. Oh, the irony of the diseased brain and habituated mind...

On 4/3/2016 at 0:15 PM, Molly78 said:

I also have the feeling that bac is altering my brain chemistry long term, that the timing of the doses is no longer as important as it was at the beginning. But for now I am sticking to the regime that gives max blood levels around the danger time of wine o'clock - Don Quixote on MWO showed some really good graphs of blood levels/timing which I think newbies would find helpful. 

I think that's accurate, in terms of how much is influenced by doses after you've been on it a while. I don't remember anything by Don Quixote, but I do remember Terryk posting something about that. I'll look for both things... Thanks for the reminder. 

Back to you, Miranda! 

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I think digressions are the point of this thread. We're sharing the complexities of our experience. Those of us in the U.S. taking Baclofen for addiction are few. We all could benefit from knowing more, from a body of knowledge that doesn't yet exist.

It is true, though, that I'm particularly interested in the psychological/behavioral changes that Baclofen appears to effect while sober. That's an even smaller subset.

Quick qualification. By sober I don't mean abstinent. I'm comfortably abstinent. But sober, in my terminology, includes anyone drinking at a level they're comfortable with.

In time it might be useful to establish a thread for those in the process of finding their switch. If I were in that position, I'd have a real need for the switch point to be a consuming topic. 

Right now, though, let's go with whatever emerges.

Ne, what is your current dosage? You say the sedation side effect diminishes over time? Interesting.

Edited by Miranda212
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After conquering the anxiety I had through years of drinking and now feeling like I am starting all over again, I resent the lack of this treatment going back to my teens when I was a bag of nerves at university and for many years working and ending up divorced etc.   I think if I had not been through my own and my wife's experience with baclofen I would have had a heart attack and gone through another divorce, and still be living with enormous debilitating stress.  Once I got onto baclofen I seemed to realize that all my problems were just in my head.  I used to explain all my actions in life with reference to a long chain of events going all the way back to my childhood.  "you see, my dad wasn't very nice to me, and so I ..."  It was exhausting for me and for them and now I think about it, none of it made any sense at all.  I couldn't see the future or even think about it without reference to my past, which most people would have envied, but I found to be an oppressive, psychological burden.  

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Otter, thank you. 

Hearing from others about their experiences helps me to understand my own. 

When I first started taking baclofen, old issues surfaced with a vengeance. I became obsessively self-absorbed in a way I had never been before.

Fortunately, I had just enough awareness to see I was getting wildly offtrack.

Today, the past is past. That was then and this is now. That alone is freeing, but I'm now convinced that what happened whenever wasn't the issue. Rather, it was the pervasive anxiety that probably had been with me from birth.

The anxiety was so embedded, I wasn't aware that it was in charge of my life, dictating so many of my actions. I wasn't making choices. It was. 

At various times, I've prescribed antidepressants, those that been shown to effectively treat anxiety. I also used benzos during particularly rough stretches. The relief was minimal.

Baclofen brought profound relief. 

I needed something that hadn't been invented yet. Or rather, hadn't yet been repurposed. 

 

 

Edited by Miranda212
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Hi Miranda,

It's amazing stuff.  And after a year or two or so you get the long term benefits of the repair that takes place.  It's like being made new again.   There are relapses along the way but you develop a confidence in the treatment so the experience is not overwhelming.  

It's nice to hear your story because it is so similar to what my wife tells me about her illness predating her exposure to alcohol.

 

 

 

 

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Hi

I sort of knew I had anxiety issues - My GP prescribed me a low dose Sertraline some time ago - sleep patten was, quite frankly terrible - Waking at 02.00 and awake until 05 - 06.00, thoughts of, rubbish really going through my mind

I had a default thing to think about at these times (building my own house) as I felt that this gave me nothing to worry about and would have a calming effect - Sometimes it worked, usually it did not

Following reading posts on MWO, I decided to get hold of some Baclofen which I took for two months while I was drinking - Boy did this stuff make me sleep at night - Then it dawned on me - I was less irritable, I did not shout at other car drivers, I did not shout at my kids and I was sleeping through the night 

So I pretty much self diagnosed this as anxiety (my GP said "You are feeling low") - And this was why I was using alcohol to improve my mood/mind and social output - I dumped the Sertraline and replaced it with Baclofen and never looked back

To this date I still do not know what my anxieties were but whatever they were, they were there but they have gone now

 

Regards

 

Bacman

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2 hours ago, Otter said:

 Once I got onto baclofen I seemed to realize that all my problems were just in my head. 

Nice summary Otter

Regards

 

Bacman

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2 hours ago, Otter said:

 Once I got onto baclofen I seemed to realize that all my problems were just in my head.  

I agree about the anti-anxiety effect of bac, but I have a slightly different take on it - my problems are real & they're still there - but  I feel a degree of detachment from them which is vital if you're to  actually function from day to day without going under.  Before bac I was using alcohol to try to forget them for a while, to try to reduce the white noise in my head which wouldn't let me relax or sleep properly.

 

I had the same sleep problems as you, Baclofenman, but unfortunately bac hasn't improved my sleep, despite some daytime drowsiness - this may be because habits become engrained with age & I have spent decades being unable to sleep!  Although others on MWO mention that it actually disturbs their sleep. Having ventured into the buying of drugs online, I now also buy quetiapine (Seroquel) which works well at a low dose. (I read about this on MWO as well).  I don't necessarily recommend this, but I excuse myself because of my age, difficulty readjusting etc. I think those who have been lucky enough to discover bac when still young will be able to adjust over time.

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Hi Molly

Bummer your sleep has not improved

Only recently have I felt tired during the day and generally this is when I have little to do, or on a train etc

My sleep patterns are just the tip of the iceberg in so far as my experience with Baclofen has differed from so many other reports

Regards

 

Bacman

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We got hold of Melatonin which is the naturally occurring chemical which makes you sleep.   We ordered it online from Biovea and you get a hundred or so pills for a tenner.  You take a tiny pill, 3mg, I think and it knocks you out for the night.  I feel much better taking that than something like Zopiclone.  Zopiclone is very effective but I just have a problem with using stuff which his not naturally occurring.

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Melatonin is very good as a sleep settling drug, Otter, but it leaves the body after about 3 hours, so for those of us with the 2am waking problem it doesn't help much. And it doesn't work so well if you try taking it at 2am - your body isn't designed to respond to melatonin after you've already had 4 hours sleep.

 I was interested in Kuya's comments on using melatonin as a calm down/anti-anxiety treatment during the day. It won't put you to sleep in broad daylight in the middle of the day any more than it will put you back to sleep at 2 am, but clearly it has some effects. It's widely prescribed for autistic children to help them sleep & so far no major SE have been described.

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On 4/5/2016 at 3:49 AM, Molly78 said:

Melatonin is very good as a sleep settling drug, Otter, but it leaves the body after about 3 hours, so for those of us with the 2am waking problem it doesn't help much. And it doesn't work so well if you try taking it at 2am - your body isn't designed to respond to melatonin after you've already had 4 hours sleep.

... It's widely prescribed for autistic children to help them sleep & so far no major SE have been described.

Very interesting, Molly. Thanks for the info. Our psychiatrist prescribed it for my husband to help him fall asleep. 

(EDIT: Just read back and realized that you, too, are using an atypical antipsychotic--Seroquel--to combat waking in the middle of the night. Sorry that some of this is preaching to the choir, so to speak.) 

I was taking a very small (holistic) dose of an atypical anti-psychotic (Abilify), which is similar to Seroquel. Many, many of us have been prescribed or use Seroquel to help with the insomnia caused by bac (or alcoholism/depression) and seemed to avoid the other SEs, too. I can attest that Abilify had the same effects for me. Unfortunately, I was sleeping much more than I like (8-10 hours). Needless to say, melatonin doesn't have those rather profound side effects.

Still, as a sleep aid, and for people suffering from really profound baclofen SEs who want to stick with it, a very low dose of atypical antipsychotics may offer relief without the debilitating SEs of other sleep-aids or stay-awake-aids. (Not a doctor. Just stating my experience and what I've read anecdotally, and insight that my psychiatrist gave me as to how atypical antipsychotics work at very low doses...Can definitely help dramatically for people who have major depression, too, which is why I started taking it.) Obviously, I'm also not suggesting that people should take these meds without talking to a doctor first. Just for the official record...

I've been off the Abilify for about two weeks now and my sleep patterns are reverting back to what they were before--waking several times a night. And I also often have really uncomfortable "anxiety" thoughts, like what you described, Bacman, when I wake. Unfortunately, I'm still sleeping way too much, at least in my opinion. I used to wake up around 4:30 or 5am and loved those morning hours. (Did I post about this somewhere already?) Now I'm sleeping until 8, or 9, or even 10am. I hate it. Hopefully that will wear off the further away I get from the AD. 

Very interesting that it's prescribed for autistic kids. Probably much, much better for them than sleep meds. 

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On 4/3/2016 at 1:04 PM, Miranda212 said:

It is true, though, that I'm particularly interested in the psychological/behavioral changes that Baclofen appears to effect while sober. That's an even smaller subset.

Quick qualification. By sober I don't mean abstinent. I'm comfortably abstinent. But sober, in my terminology, includes anyone drinking at a level they're comfortable with.

Miranda, much of this belongs on it's own thread in the "Share Your Story" area, but I think it's relevant, so I'll write it here even though it's long. The short version of my response to your question about the effect that baclofen has on anxiety, psychologically/behaviorally, is that for me, it was probably pretty profound, even though I didn't know it after a while. But I won't know for sure until I'm indifferent again. Hopefully not long from now...

I was sober, not abstinent, but drank well within normal limits by any definition of the word, for almost 4 years, from Feb 2011 to Dec 2014. (hmmm. I should be more clear. I did get drunk on several occasions, like maybe 7 or 8 times over the course of a couple of years. In the beginning, interestingly, it was directly related to when I was about to begin menstruating for the first four months after indifference [the "switch"]. Later on it was because I wanted to--out with friends and having fun, for instance...) 

Again, I was up and down, especially in the beginning, with my dose. So hard to say what the impact psychologically/behaviorally was initially. Interesting thing is that I still didn't drink above normal levels, (with the exceptions already mentioned) despite the fluctuations. 

I settled around 220mg (from a high of 320mg and a low of 80mg over the first year) for about two years. I definitely believe that my anxiety was much more controlled during that time. I was much more...reasonable, too. (After the initial holier-than-thou, judgment phase we already talked about.) Partly because I can compare it to what came after. 

In Jan 2013 I started decreasing my dose at the same time that I started a very demanding intensive nursing program. I wanted to get down to within the FDA approved amount, and thought it was worth the experimentation. (I was SO wrong. Please don't do what I did.) I went down about 20mg/month and was at 80mg by around August. My anxiety was absolutely out of control. Unfortunately, when you're in the midst of that, you can't see it. Right? I couldn't. 

In November/December of 2014, I went to the local walk-in-clinic because I was having chest pain. They did all the tests. Everything came back fine. Clearly nothing wrong with my heart. A couple of weeks later, same thing. Again, EKG showed nothing abnormal. A week after that, back at the clinic. Same reason. Same doctor. Same results. He said, in a very gentle way, "Let me prescribe you an antidepressant. I think this might be anxiety." ha. Needless to say, I wasn't surprised. But I was also very relieved that I really and truly wasn't going to have a heart attack at age 45. 

The antidepressant he prescribed was Effexor (venlafaxine). A couple of months ago, while setting up this forum, I read research that showed that venlafaxine increased drinking in rats, and it also increased their withdrawal symptoms when they stopped drinking. (I'd already been warned about this by Terryk, but chose to ignore his suggestion that the AD was counteracting the baclofen.) 

I don't remember now which came first, the AD or the return to drinking in unhealthy amounts and then eventually alcoholically...

 

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