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The End of my Addiction

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Alice22
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I have been lurking on this forum for some time. reading (and re-reading many) all of the threads looking for guidance and support for my "journey" with baclofen. And all of the information, conversations, and  stories have been so HELPFUL and provided me with the insight and hope to forge ahead.

I am a 55 year old married woman, been a stay-at-home mom for 20 years.  My drinking really escalated over the last three years, along with a dependence, then abuse, of Vyvanse.  I was on Lexapro for years, then Cymbalta , Prozac, Wellbutrin.  I guess they did help with anxiety, but I didn't feel much of anything else.  No motivation to do things I used to enjoy, no desire to socialize, no  emotional highs.  I think this is when my drinking got out of hand, I was sneaking out late at night  for a second bottle of wine. The Vyvanse, a stimulant like Adderall, allowed me to drink much more than I could otherwise.  It also helped the next morning with any sluggishness, hangover stuff so I was able to function okay for a couple of years.  But I was feeling increasingly like crap, anxious, had to run around Dr. shopping to maintain Vyvanse addiction. I was getting desperate, did some research and decided to try The Sinclair Method.  Did it on my own, sent for the book, got the Naltrexone from AllDayChemist and started.  It was working I think, but very, very slowly and I was still drinking way too much.  Then in July 2015, I ran out. It takes about 3 weeks to get a shipment from ADC and I didn't order in time.  So, just like they say, there was a serious uptick in my drinking. Like now it was vodka in the morning, then 2 bottles of wine, blacked out once or twice, threw up blood. My husband became alarmed, of course, and  I went away to a 30 day program, drank the day I got out then after 3 weeks of all day drinking at home, I went to another useless program for 6 weeks, drank the day I got out, then, after only one week of hard drinking at home, went to a third rehab for 30 days.  This one was ok, the psychiatrist there took me off everything and put me on Gabapentin.  I felt really good, despite being in rehab, almost like my pre-pill, pre-alcohol self but still had the cravings so yes, you guessed it, drank the day I was released.  I always knew I was going to drink too. I looked forward to it.  This last rehab started me on naltrexone right before I left, as an anti-craving med, but I was using it per TSM and hoping so much it would stop this compulsion to just numb myself all the time with booze.  Like I said it was working little bit, I did have a few AF days here and there and not so many 2+ bottles of wine days.  I must admit, I was not always compliant with TSM's "one hour rule" since I was sometimes drinking around the clock.  I was getting desperate when I remembered I had ordered some Baclofen with my last order of Naltrexone from ADC.  Since I was already paying the the shipping for the Nal, I threw that in.  I had a read a few things on MWO about it and I was, and still am, at a point where I will try most anything.  So I guess it was in May, I tried a little Baclofen. I think it was 10 mg 3x a day.  I hadn't read the book yet, kind of glanced over the prescribing guide, I was just grasping at anything I could to feel better.  I was drunk  a lot and depressed so I didn't titrate up in any organized way.  I eventually got up to 120mg, probably over a 3-4 week period.  I couldn't do much of anything but lie in bed, watch TV, no energy or motivation, really fuzzy in the head, dizzy.  But, I was drinking less and less and when I did drink, I would feel incredibly awful for days afterward.  I think it was when I went to 120-130 mgs (since I was so bad at keeping track) I got really sick, nauseous, bedridden really, but for the first time could not stand even the thought of alcohol. So it's been about 2 months since this happened and I have been AF for the most part.  There were 2 or 3 times I did try alcohol, always around 30 days, 45 days.  Last time was about 2 weeks ago, I bought a bottle of wine, sneaked a few gulps in my bedroom, felt awful and threw 2/3rds of the bottle down the drain.  Unbelievable for me.  I still paid for it though the next day.

 I am so happy about the no drinking but I am still struggling with SEs, sometimes I feel like I am swimming under water, it is an effort to get things done, I feel in slow motion.  There were 2 separate weeks though, one right after I hit the "switch" where I had pretty good energy. I got  my oldest off to college, shopped, packed the car, drove her down to Alabama (I live in Baltimore) , moved her in and drove back home.  And I felt good the whole time, didn't drink, wasn't even tempted.  Then when I got home couldn't do anything for 10 days.  Same meds (110mg Bac and 1800 Gab), no alcohol, just felt depressed, no energy, no motivation.  Then I slowly started to pull out of it.  I find if I force myself to do something I feel better and then I do something else and it's better again.  So this is kind of where I am now, no drinking but still not great.  Not much energy and although I have a desire to do things, I just can't move.   I watch a lot of movies, waste time on the computer.  I'm trying to fight it and hope it lifts little by little.  Meanwhile, like I said, I am so grateful for this forum, it has been a lifeline for me for the past 2 months.   Thank you. And sorry for such a rambling, lengthy post, it's the ADD.

 

 

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Welcome! Sounds like a pretty rough ride the past few years. So glad you have found a way out of the bottle, but sorry the depression and lack of energy is still there. Getting up and forcing yourself to do something, anything, even something very small is a great start. It's hard, and some days maybe doesn't even seem worth it. But every little bit helps.

I don't have much by way of advice, but wanted to say hi. Hi.

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Welcome to the forum!  Congratulations on your success so far.  I'm not sure I have any words of wisdom, just that it takes time for your brain to recover from alcohol.  I've gone three months without drinking and am still getting my brain and motivation back.  My doctor prescribed Gabapentin for me at one point in addition to Baclofen. i was suppose to take 300 mg 3x a day but couldn't as it knocked me out. I was already ramped up high on the Baclofen though, so just had to go a bit higher for my switch. 

Thanks for sharing your story :) 

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Hi Alice, welcome and congratulations!

From your description of your SEs, it sounds like you might be a bit over-medicated. Since baclofen worked for you I wouldn't suggest going down in dosage anytime soon. It does sound like it might be a good idea to start gradually tapering down on your gabapentin usage, especially since that drug can cause dependence after a while. It can definitely cause the dopeyness you describe. 

You've come a long way and I would suggest not testing your alcohol limits any time soon. You can "drink through your switch" if you push your boundaries.

You are in the right place, and I for one am so glad you found us! Congrats again. :)

 

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Thank you for all the advice and kind words.  Felina, overmedicated is exactly how I feel.  I do have a addictions psychiatrist prescribing both but only because he's a nice guy.  I don't think he knows much about the pharmacology of both (although he should) so I'm really on my own with the dosing.  I'm going to titrate down very slowly, see how it goes.  I'm definitely not reducing the baclofen.  I think I read someplace that the side effects caused by reducing gabapentin are ameliorated by baclofen use.  Hopefully.

 

Thank you Mom2JTx3 , I feel better knowing the combination of gab and bac may be responsible for the crushing fatigue.  Like, I said I plan to reduce the gab slowly.  I wish my Dr. could offer more guidance with the medication.  I feel better about the baclofen now, like this fatigue isn't a permanent trade-off for being AF.

And thanks to you StuckinLA for the warm welcome.  I have had obligations over the past few days so had to get up, show up, look interested , and it was better.  I forgot about everything for awhile.  So just gonna keep pushing forward . I have 4 kids, 3 still at home so i have no choice most of the time.  Like right now my 14 year old son is yelling for me to drive him to his friend's house.  I'm lucky really to have this stuff to give me a routine right now.  Like you

 

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Hi Anne, Welcome

19 hours ago, Felina said:

From your description of your SEs, it sounds like you might be a bit over-medicated.  That drug can definitely cause the dopeyness you describe. 

I am new to the Baclofen scene but most of what I have read, be it anecdotal or on official sites points to Baclofen and Gabapentin, not being the bosom buddies they are in MS, in alcoholism - I seem to read that Gabapentin increases the intensity of the side effects in Baclofen 

It frustrates me that the medical profession *seem* to be content just to add more and more pills to an already (in some cases) pretty exhausting list. without really considering how certain drugs react with others, which areas they effect, etc, etc

Of course if you are already on XY and Z and wish to start a Baclofen course, what do you do? - Start on Baclofen and maintain your current medicines or come off the current and start Baclofen - That is the million dollar question

Regards

 

Bacman

 

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Hey, Alice and welcome! So glad you've joined us. Huge congratulations on your sober time. 

I had the exact same experience when I went through rehabs. Although in one of them, the craving got so bad, and the atmosphere was so stressful, I made them call a cab for me at 9pm, stopped to buy beer on the way home (45 minutes from the rehab) and started drinking in the cab. Ugh. It's laughable and miserable to think about those days. Anyway...

I don't know that I agree with all of the previous posters about reduction of your meds, given that the focus is that you stop drinking, and it's working! But it seems like you're in tune with what you're doing and are going to go down slowly. If you find yourself reaching for a glass, you can always go up again. 

I think that we sometimes forget that for some people there is often a general malaise that comes with getting sober. And lots of other "side effects" from quitting drinking that we don't take into account because we're using meds. That said, there's no question that baclofen causes somnolence and can make it hard, particularly initially, to motivate to do things. But the more things you can do, meaning setting up plans for how to fill empty time, the better off you'll be. (Although with 3 kids at home, I'm guessing you're fairly busy all the time anyway! HA!) 

Hang in there. Being contentedly sober takes time, patience and focus. Just as quitting drinking does. Ya' know? 

Great that you're here and looking forward to hearing more from you! :hug: 

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22 hours ago, Baclofenman said:

I am new to the Baclofen scene but most of what I have read, be it anecdotal or on official sites points to Baclofen and Gabapentin, not being the bosom buddies they are in MS, in alcoholism - I seem to read that Gabapentin increases the intensity of the side effects in Baclofen 

Yo, bacman, will you send me the info about this? I'm taking both gabapentin and bac and it seems to be working well. (Under the guidance of my pDoc, of course.) I haven't looked into it since I read the stuff in the research section, but I don't remember anything that indicated they weren't copacetic to take together. Not to say that I might not have read it somewhere or that I might have forgotten! xo

Anne, don't know why I called you Alice! Sorry! 

:) 

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17 minutes ago, Ne1 said:

Yo, bacman, will you send me the info about this? I'm taking both gabapentin and bac and it seems to be working well. (Under the guidance of my pDoc, of course.) I haven't looked into it since I read the stuff in the research section, but I don't remember anything that indicated they weren't copacetic to take together. Not to say that I might not have read it somewhere or that I might have forgotten! xo

Yo Ne

http://gabapentindrug.com/can-baclofen-and-gabapentin-be-taken-together/

https://www.drugs.com/drug-interactions/baclofen-with-neurontin-318-0-1147-677.html - As these on my saved tabs - I will look for some more when I get a chance

17 minutes ago, Ne1 said:

Anne, don't know why I called you Alice! Sorry! 

Cos you is a doughnut :)

Regards

 

Bacman

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In 2015 ncbi said:

Gabapentin acts synergistically with baclofen and can significantly potentiate baclofen-induced motor impairment and side effects. Our patient had not missed any HD sessions prior to admission, but was taking gabapentin, which likely exacerbated the effect of baclofen. Medications that affect renal function can also potentiate baclofen toxicity. Therefore, clinicians should be vigilant in identifying the potential risk of renal dysfunction when prescribing baclofen.

Interestingly they also said:

Quote

In view of the absence of an obvious etiology for the patient’s altered mental status, we carefully reviewed her history. This review revealed that the patient had presented to her primary care physician with complaints of muscular spasm 1 week prior to admission, for which she was prescribed baclofen, 10 mg twice daily (total dose of 140 mg in 1 week). This was the only new medication that had been added to her regimen. Considering this fact, our clinical suspicion was high for baclofen toxicity, and she was administered emergent HD for 4 hours in the emergency room. Her mental status improved, although she remained somnolent and confused

And that is at 20mg a day!!

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4410727/

However, Notwithstanding the above....

There are mixed reviews for interaction for sufferers of MS - I don't know what the stats are but *I* seem to feel that it works better as a combination in MS rather than AUD, which only goes to enforce my opinion that Baclofen for MS works differently than for AUD

I was on a MS site the other day and they were discussing HDB, the general consensus was, how can these people take any more than the 30 or 60mg a day they are on - They were astounded that people taking more than 100mg a day could actually walk, given the effect 60mg has on them

Regards

 

Bacman

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I also posted a link above to the effect that taken together they potentiate each other's SE - however, they also potentiate each other, so if the SE aren't bothering you, as with Ne, they are probably fine together.

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You are exactly right Bacman, I was afraid to stop taking the gabapentin when I started the baclofen.  My drinking diminished as I titrated up so I didn't  wanted to change anything meds wise but the noted SEs were barely  tolerable.  So yesterday, I took some of the advice here and I took less gabapentin, usually it's 600/mg, 3x day, but yesterday I only took it twice, 600mg at noon and  again at 11:00pm.  And I felt a little better, bit more energy, not as dizzy, and I managed to move around a lot more too, especially later in the day.  I'm trying to do some heavier physical work each day, too.  So I raked and did work in my yard.  I used to love this and enjoyed it ok yesterday but had to force myself, I did not feel any sense of accomplishment or joy that I am making the yard look better.  So this is how I have felt for so long, just kind of flat, not much enthusiasm for much of anything.  I know it may be as you say Ne, just part of the recovery from AUD (I like this so much better than alcoholism), they call it PAWS in recovery circles.  If I knew for sure it was only temporary, I would feel much better.  My brain is also recovering from years of antidepressant use, vyvanse abuse blah, blah.  Some people report they feel this way for years after giving up alcohol, drugs. Shoot me now. 

 

I realize 600mg is quite a drop in one day, I only intended to reduce by 150 or 300 at a time but I have only 600 mg tablets I could split but I felt fine, even better, yesterday after just taking it once during the day then before bed so I guess I am hoping I do not have a delayed withdrawal from this dramatic a reduction, maybe my baclofen use is offsetting some of the side effects of withdrawal? Or maybe I was so overmedicated, this was a necessary "adjustment " and I'll just continue to feel better on the lower dose?  I see my psychiatrist tomorrow for medication overview but since he prescribed this combo, I question his expertise in this matter.  You folks here have more expertise than he does on this.  He is an addictions psychiatrist too.  He'd heard of baclofen for cocaine abuse but not alcohol.  

 

Thanks for the citations, I did see the one about the interaction between Bac and Gab I just figured since it was only "moderate" , I was ok.  I tend to think "more is more" and was hitting this thing with any ammunition I could get including Bac, Gab, sometimes marijuana. I went to a Naturopath (I purchased an overpriced "cleanse" when I was there last time for acupuncture ,I was so drunk and I liked her and just wanted out of there), kudzu, The Sinclair Method, B vitamins, the aforementioned rehabs, on and on.   So I just got caught up with the Bac and Gab and figured dragging myself around all day was preferable to being drunk all day.  It almost seems like too much to wish for to not feel compelled to get drunk 24/7 AND  to have a sense of well-being and health.  It has been so long since I have felt both.  I just want my brain to feel balanced again.  I hope I can get this Bac thing right.  Not going to reduce Gab anymore anytime soon and if I start to feel really unwell, I'll take half a pill.  So this is the plan for now.  Just trying to forge ahead. One Day At A Time.  I find myself using a handful of these sayings from my 12 step days.  Whatever works. 

 

Thanks again for the support.  There is a lot of wisdom here.

 

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Several (many?) people take bac and gabapentin together. I've only heard of a few adverse reactions - to both or to gabapentin on its own. @Jetsman32 gets doped up as f**k from gabapentin, so it's not unheard of by any means. I used to take lots of gabapentin - in the 3000mg/day range. Popped 600mg at a time like a multivitamin. Never felt a thing. And I stopped abruptly, too. Nothing.

So go with how you feel. If less feels better, I say do that.

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Whilst I would never suggest any titration or tapering suggestions other than pubishing own, it may be prudent for anyone considering withdrawing from any Psychiatric medication to read the following:

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/1024-why-taper-by-10-of-my-dosage/

It is rather lengthy but I would suggest very useful should you be considering tapering

 

3 hours ago, StuckinLA said:

I used to take lots of gabapentin - in the 3000mg/day range. Popped 600mg at a time like a multivitamin. Never felt a thing. And I stopped abruptly, too. Nothing.

Surviving Antidepressants said:

Many people seem to be able to taper off psychiatric medications in a couple of weeks or even cold-turkey with minor withdrawal symptoms perhaps for a month or so. Doctors therefore expect everyone can do this. However, it seems a minority suffer severe symptoms for much longer. It is unknown how large or small this minority is. You may very well be in it. You can't know how your nervous system will respond to a decrease in medication until you try it. You won't know if you're in the unlucky minority until it's too late. It's a lot easier to taper slowly than to put your nervous system back together again after it's injured.

Also read:

http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/2309-tips-for-tapering-neurontin-gabapentin/?p=26292

Regards

 

Bacman

 

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I have been on Baclofen for 3.5 months and was just prescribed Gabapentinin at the beginning of this month for nerve pain from my back. @StuckinLA is absolutely right. I take 300mgs X3 per day and it gives me a definite buzz and euphoria- but in a good way. I feel more awake and focused and have no social anxiety. I'm able to speak in front of large groups with no issues whatsoever.  For me it's awesome, I compare it to phenibut in terms of the feeling.  In all transparency, their are some days I'll take 5-6 of them just to keep the good feeling going. However, if I take it after 5-6pm I get very tired at night and end up dosing off during shows I'm watching with my wife. I've done a ton of research and from what I've read Gabapentinin is non-habit forming and even people taking like 3000mgs per day don't get any withdrawals.

Anyway- I'm playing it safe. I don't take it on back to back days. Every other day seems to do the trick. It works especially well in a fasted state. In my reading I also found that only about 50% of the people that take this med get a "high" from it. Guess I'm one of the lucky ones.

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@Alice22 I didn't by any means want you to think I glanced over your post. It sounds like you've had a rough go of it. For me, SSRI's did nothing. At best they made me feel like a zombie and the SE's were horrible. I gave them up altogether about a year ago.

  I really think you should devote some time and read Dr. Amiesen's book. When I was new to this forum I ordered that book and it was eye opening for me. I read it twice! Now that I've found indifference I KNOW that Baclofen works. Just make sure to start slow and titrate up 10mgs every 3-5 days. Most SE's will go away within that time period.

 For your sluggishness, that's tough. A lot of people find that adding an exercise regiment can help. Even if it's just going to the gym and walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes a day blasting your favorite uplifting music.

   A really good doctor I had a few years back suggested buying a UV light for my desk. It sounds silly but the UV light helps with Vitamin D levels and surprisingly, helps you to pull out of depression. In the summer we are naturally happier due to all of the sunlight but as we enter winter time we don't get those same effects. Get a good UV light, put it by your computer and give it a try!

   Just a few thoughts. Welcome to the forum!

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Just want to jump in quickly - 

I did not mean to make light of gabapentin (or any medications). That it doesn't seem to affect me one way or another does not mean it hasn't had positive (and negative) effects for others. Sorry if I appeared to treat it like no big deal.

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Thanks for all the feedback and don't worry about offending me StuckinLA or Jetsman32, I understand what you're saying.   And  Bacman, I read through most of the articles.  I'd read some of it before since I thought about weaning off of gabapentin earlier this year  (before baclofen) but decided to wean off the antidepressants first and then my psychiatrist convinced me that my brain needs to "heal" and the gabapentin helps this.  

So right now I'm taking 110mg day bac and 1500mg day gabapentin.  I did drop the gab to 1200 for one day but about 36 hours after I started to feel awful so I took another 300 mgs and felt  a lot better.  So I'm sticking with this for awhile and if all goes well I'll just stay here.  I think I like the combo of bad and gab, like some of you, I'm just not at the right dose.  My original prescription for gab was 900mg/day and I felt great on this.  I think I told my DR here  I was on this dose in rehab.  Figured more would make me feel even better.  I am not that big of a person, 120 lbs, so I think this is too much gab.  Anyway, I am just trying to find the right combination.  I've been taking the bac different times and in different combinations every day.  I no longer take it together with the gab--I stagger it.  I take 30-40mg bac at bedtime along with 600gab and 50mg trazodone (I always forget to mention this, I have taken this on/off for 25 years).  I sleep solidly for 7-8 hours and feel rested but, this is hard to explain, some mornings , I feel like I'm paralyzed, I don't feel particularly bad, but I cannot do anything.  It's hard to move from my bed.  I start to feel better around 2:00 pm and have a few productive hours but then I'm so tired by 7pm it's back to my bed.  This is not every day though.   Yesterday I had errands and I had to walk and I ended up talking to people in the neighborhood and going to Starbucks and it was a pretty good day.  Today, not so great.  I managed to make dinner, do some laundry, made some calls but no energy, kind of weepy all day, angry too.   I realize I need to make changes, like get out more, make some friends, exercise,  all these things I've let go for the past few years.  I"m going to just try and push past the inertia tomorrow and do something.  

I did recently get Amiesen's book and am almost finished.  I should have read it before I started baclofen and would have undoubtedly had a smoother titration, but I was barely able to manage the pills, I was so drunk.  I like the book, it's an easy read and he's so nice--I wish he were still alive!

 Thanks. Alice

 

 

 

 

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Yes- his book is incredible! It's just such an easy read and he doesn't pander to you at all- he speaks like a normal guy- not a Doctor which I loved. Glad to hear you are reading it!

I could NEVER take Baclofen before bed. It gave me vivid dreams and sometimes insomnia. I now take my  daily dose (310mgs) 3 times per day 110 at 7am, 100 at 11:30am and 100 at 4pm. I still find that if I take it after 5pm I have a rough night. Otherwise though- I have no SE's and sleep has been getting better and better!

If I took as much Gabapentin as you I'd be high off my as$ all day long! 300mgs at a time gets me a little buzzed so I just take it every few hours throughout the day.  I still try to only take it every other day- less if I can. I wonder (and this is purely a hypothesis), if continued Gabapentin use can in essence burn out your Gaba-B receptors. I'm going to do some digging on that.

Keep in keeping on and titrate up slowly on the Bac- it sounds like you are on the right path!

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