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The End of my Addiction

Hi, my name is Greg, and I'm an alcoholic


IWantOut
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So, that's apparently the intro you give at AA meetings.  I've never actually been to one, for multiple reasons.  But a biggie is because I understood that their philosophy was that an alcoholic needed to "hit rock bottom" before they could get better.  I've never been to rock bottom yet.  I've been holding down the same job for 20 years, don't have any DUIs or unexplained broken bones, and am still living with the woman who loves me and my two great little kids.

 

And yet, I'm ready to be done with this.  I have resolved in the past to "cut down", and have done so for a while, only to end up overdoing it again within a week or so.  But I still don't think "the AA way" is where I'm at.

 

I actually ordered baclofen online over a year ago, on an impulse to get this monkey off my back.  But once I read about how it works, that you can't just pop a couple pills before beginning drinking, to give you more ability to stop, I never took any.  I wasn't ready to make the commitment yet.  Now I am.  So, I am on day 3 of taking 10 mg a day, after reading the prescribing guidelines posted in a link on this site.  Tomorrow I have to decide whether to bump up to a higher dose, or stay at 10 mg for 5 days.  I would really like to reach my indifference threshold as soon as possible, but don't want to experience side effects that are going to worry my family.

 

My problem is compounded because I'm also a 10-year opiate addict.  Seven of those years were on tramadol, which I started on when I fell and seriously whacked my hip joint on concrete stairs.  Tramadol was not a controlled substance in the US at that point, and I was able to mail order it once my script ran out.  In 2013, tramadol was reclassified as a controlled substance in the US.  I did without for over a month, but then found a way to buy poppy material online, of a strength that made my dependence much deeper than it was under tramadol.  The main active ingredient of opium is morphine, with a smaller amount of codeine.  So that's what I'm looking at getting off of.  It's not encouraging to read that, among heroin/morphine addicts (heroin is a "prodrug" for morphine--the first thing your body does with heroin is break it down into morphine, so they're basically the same thing), the number who end up staying clean is very small.

 

But right now, it's the alcohol that is screwing up my life, and the thing I'm wanting to be done with ASAP.  I'm hoping baclofen will slay both beasts at the same time, but morphine causes a physical dependence that I'm not going to be able to get past just by "losing interest", I don't think.  So I will focus on the alcohol part for now.

 

I am curious what dosage people started to feel like they were getting some benefit from baclofen?  And have there been any members dealing with getting off alcohol while simultaneously dependent on opiates?

 

Thanks for reading!

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Hi Greg, and welcome!

I can't speak much about baclofen and opiate addiction, but it can be a godsend for alcoholics. @Jetsman32, didn't you struggle with opiate abuse at some point? Would you chime in re: how baclofen addressed that?

Everyone's response to baclofen is different, but I can tell you from my own experience, I could start to feel the baclofen working early on--probably about when I got to around 40 mgs/day. I drank every day while titrating up until I hit my "switch" at 190 mgs/day. And it was as though a light had been turned off. Although my alcohol use had tapered off the higher I went in dosage, I was still drinking 4 beers a night. And then one day I could only drink two beers. And then, the next day, I had the mother of all hangovers (from two beers!) and I could not imagine drinking a single drop. That was it! That was over six years ago and I still take around 120 mgs/day.

Sorry it's been so quiet in here today. Stick around, I know that others will chime in soon.  Thanks for joining us :)

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Hi @IWantOut & welcome.

I can't tell you anything useful about a serious opiate addiction - but I can say that I misused OTC meds containing codeine for many years alongside alcohol, & now that I'm on a maintenance dose of bac (160 mg daily) I no longer get any sort of "high" from codeine or alcohol.  So I just stopped buying the meds.  There is definitely some sort of crossover effect - others have noted that when they are prescribed analgesics they get pain relief but no "high".

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Well, after not touching a drop for two days, I blew it last night, drank way too much.  My GF was thoroughly disgusted with me this morning.  And the funny thing is I have NO IDEA why I drank that much.  Normal people have a sense of when it's time to slow down/stop.  I used to have that, but somehow seem to have lost it.  I wish I knew why!

So, she was pretty pissed off and couldn't even wait until we got the boy off to school before tearing into me.  But when she saw it was making him upset she quieted down and after he was on the bus we had a talk.  She suggested I at least consider visiting AA, and was surprised and apparently somewhat relieved when I told her I started on bac a few days ago.  Not that she'd ever heard of it, or that any such thing existed.  More that I was not only not going to fight her on something needing to be done, but was already doing something.

So yeah, alcohol is definitely what's causing me grief right now.

Thanks everyone for writing to me.  I don't really have people I'd talk to about this.

@Molly78, I am hoping that, if the opiates just gradually stop working over many weeks as my dosage goes up, I'll be able to taper off them without too much difficulty.  We'll see.

@Nicnak, when you say you "lost" your switch--you mean you were indifferent and went off baclofen and then the urge came back?  Does it seem any better than before--is there any lasting benefit, or would you say it's the same as before you went on bac?

@Felina, thanks.  I hope I don't have to wait until I get up to 150-200 mg before I get any benefit.  After last night I feel like I'm getting worse, maybe I'd better try abstaining altogether until the stuff kicks in.

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@IWantOut the first time I came down on Bac because I was worried about a new shipment coming and know you shouldn't just stop Bac dead.The second time I was indifferent for 4 months and for no reason slowly started drinking.I was under a lot of pressure (hubby was prob going to prison for dangerous/drunk driving,which he did do)....I am now titrating up and currently on 220mg and hoping to switch again soon 

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@IWantOut

Most people get a benefit at lower doses, but the average "switch" varies wildly from person to person. It doesn't have anything to do with your weight or gender (as was previously thought) but it does appear to have a lot to do with your previous usage and tolerance, from more recent reports/studies. I can't tell you what point you'll have to reach to find relief, but I always subscribed to the adage, "just keep taking the pills" and you'll find relief eventually. I know that's not the most precise advice, but it always kept me going forwards.

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@IWantOut Welcome to the forum!  I use to love Percocet. It didn't escalate to the level of addiction, but I can certainly understand how it could.  It just made it seem like everything was right with the world.  I reached my switch on Baclofen back in May.  I recently had a difficult surgery and was on 10 mg of Oxy every three hours. It did NOTHING for me except for some moderate pain relief.  No euphoria, no pink cloud, nothing.  I was initially kind of disappointed but in retrospect realized how great it was because it could have developed a serious problem without Baclofen.  So yes, I think it will slay both beasts :) 

Some people have limited SEs on Bac and some have more.  This will partially determine how fast you can titrate up IMO.   You may be going up happily every three days and then have to stay at a dose for awhile to wait for a side effect to pass. Good luck!

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13 hours ago, IWantOut said:

 After last night I feel like I'm getting worse, maybe I'd better try abstaining altogether until the stuff kicks in.

I found this a much better way to use bac.  The first time I tried it I carried on drinking, waiting for "the switch".  I got to quite high doses, probably around 250 mg/day, my intake reduced slightly but not much, I was forgetting whether I'd taken the evening dose, took another, got really bad SE during the night, eventually gave up.  A year or so later, I developed some symptoms I thought might be due to imminent liver failure, which frightened me.  I stopped drinking & was then able to titrate up quite quickly without any major SE & realised at some point that the cravings had gone away.

I have subsequently had liver function tests relating to a different health problem & fortunately they were normal.

Hang in there!

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I experienced my first side effects at 30 mg.  Tiredness and body aches.  I dropped back to 20 for a couple days, and am now at 30.  Tiredness is still there somewhat, body aches pretty much gone.

I'm disappointed with progressing so slowly, but have avoided drinking too much since a week before last Thursday (2/24)--since then I've had no more than 1 or 1.5 glasses of wine in an evening.  I've gone back and forth between whether I should abstain altogether or allow myself a small accommodation to my decades-long habit.  My gf would prefer that I abstain altogether, out of fear that I will have another blowout.  I can see that POV but also feel like learning to drink a moderate amount without going further is a useful ability.  I'm not ready to accept that I'm a helpless individual who cannot touch a drop without ending up in the gutter (figuratively speaking).

 

What are people's recommendations for acquiring more Baclofen in the US?  I do not want to go through a doctor (although I will if I can't manage dosing myself).  You can just post a link to a discussion if you think it's been covered enough already.  I saw one mention of "GoldPharma", is that the best choice?

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Hi, Greg, and welcome to the forum. Everybody has already covered what I would write, but of course I have some things to add! :) 

I was indifferent for four years starting in 2011 and relapsed in 2015 because I titrated down too low and had Life happen. My meager coping skills weren't up to the challenge.

I spent the last year+ battling booze, trying to control my drinking while titrating up again, and it didn't work. I can't say specifically why, but I didn't find indifference again. I think it was the combination of not having peer support (I stopped posting here and on another forum), not managing my stress with exercise/meditation/etc. and battling overwhelming depression and anxiety. I once again got to the point where I just couldn't stop drinking. 

Secrets kill us (or make us sicker), without question, and having a place to share, online or elsewhere, is a huge benefit. AA can fill that gap, too. But the first time I got sober with baclofen, I was strictly sharing online and didn't have a "program" or go to meetings. Picking up some coping skills is important, too. I was exercising, meditating and going to therapy, among other things, the first time around. I also drank all the way up to indifference (320mg!) the first time, but have no interest in suffering through that again, and am remaining abstinent now. Whichever you decide to do, know that baclofen isn't (as the others have said) a one-shot deal and it will take time and effort to get to indifference. (Sorry. I know it sucks!) 

One last thought before I run off... Naltrexone has shown to be really effective for opiates, and may be more effective than baclofen for people with dual addictions. I don't know for sure, and it's entirely dependent on the person and the situation, but I thought I'd mention it. Baclofen may work for opiates but it hasn't been studied. It has been shown to be effective for 'uppers' (cocaine and amphetamines) but not for opiates and other 'downers'. Anyway, using it via The Sinclair Method, meaning you take it only when you drink/use, one hour beforehand, might be effective. And it could work as an adjunct with baclofen. The two aren't mutually exclusive. If I were to drink again this time around, I would definitely take naltrexone an hour before. Several other people have used the combination successfully, too. 

Hopefully you found the info about ordering online informative. If you have more questions about that, we're happy to help. And depending on where you are, we may be able to help you find a doctor if you decide to go that route. 

Good luck and hang in there, Greg!

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