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Offline sukey15

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Medication fear
« on: January 24, 2014, 10:00:03 AM »
Hi

I am new to the board. In a nutshell, many years ago (about 16) I got into legal trouble for a problem with prescription painkillers (I was an RN at the time, in my early 20's).  I was trying desperately to self medicate a severe, unresponsive to SSRI's depression I had struggled with much of my life, and only opiates seemed to work. Anyhow, long story short, before getting into legal trouble I had tried countless abstinence based 12 step rehabs, inpatient and out, never with any lasting success. Finally, about ten years ago after my last brief relapse, I tried medication assisted treatment (methadone, in my case). It worked like a charm, allowing me to function normally, and removing all desire for other opiates, as well as blocking the effects of them should I try any which I never did. It did not cause a high or drowsiness in tolerant patients, and no one knew I was on anything. It simply rebalanced the endorphns in my brain.

Ok, so about 3 years ago, I began to have hypochondriacal thoughts.  My mom had died of cancer when I was 28 (colon) and my husband was ill with liver disease and waiting on a transplant list, though he was basically ok and able to function.  I think in retrospect that maybe my fears or my own health were related to losing him.  I had no insurance and would go from ER to ER with one weird symptom after another, having test after test, that basically showed I might have an autoimmune disorder like Lupus, but that was about it. I had rashes and strange blood counts (high ANA, etc), and was also going through menopause. When I had my first pap smear in like 8 years I was crying so hard on the table out of fear they put me on clonazepam. This helped a great deal.

A little over a year later my husband fell ill with cancer and died in my arms 2 months later. Our son was present.

After that I no longer feared for my life.  However my anxiety was awful--I had never in my life taken care of myself, financially, with the cars, taxes, etc. I was petrified. We had only social security disability survivor benefits to live on and nothing else. My clonazepam was boosted to 3 mg a day. However, I was so nervous sometimes I took 4 and would then end up short at the end of the month. The end all and be all was that over a year I went to the ER twice for more pills and they found out and are now tapering me off at a rate of .5 mg every two weeks. I am at 2 mg now and feel terrible.

What can I expect after a couple years on this--firs year was very low dose and I was almost off when my husband was diagnosed, second year on 3 mg most of the year? Please no terrible horror stories. I can't bear it. I am looking for someone to tell me I will make it without having to be carted off to the loony bin.  I am very scared. My son has no one else but me to care for him. I cannot just find another dr as I don't have the money and I would have to tell them about the methadone which puts most people off immediately. and it has to be a psychiatrist. So that really won't probably work.

Can anyone encourage me?
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Offline Abraham2007

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Re: Medication fear
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2014, 04:30:29 PM »
My condolences to your husband.  Loosing someone can be very difficult with coping in life.

Please go to this page off Anxiety Zone:
http://www.anxietyzone.com/index.php/topic,76314.msg433278.html#msg433278

Two posters, Abraham2007 and Insights, responded to Alissa235 on how to get psychiatric help, when you don't have insurance or you don't have the income to cover it.   If you read through the thread, both posters provided links to Alissa235 for outside, financial help.

The death of your partner has spurned your addiction to Clonazepam (Klonopin) for psychological relief.    Most of us can't handle death well. I can't.   The death of a loved one, especially a partner, can be a challenge to cope.  As you might know, Clonazepam (Klonopin) is a benzodiazepine, and due to its  18 to 50 hour half-life, its effects don't last for more than a day and a half.  To feel additional effect from prolonged anxiety, you would need to take an additional dose of Klonopoin (or another benzodiazepine) for maintenance, or you could take an antidepressant, since the SSRIs are better treated for long term anxiety disorders.  Benzodiazepines were meant to be taken as needed for short term anxiety. 

If you've been taking Klonopin regularly, like everyday for the past month(s), your body has developed a need for it, which would explain why you need a larger quantity of Klonopin for control. Usually the dosage of Klonopin for an anxiety disorder sufferer, if not taking it daily, but as needed, is .5mg or half a 1mg pill.  If your going up to 3/4mg on a daily basis,  you need medical supervision of a doctor to monitor your progress, so you can take the medication properly, without feeling you are loosing control.

However, if you need the Clonazepam, because you may feel you're going crazy without it, then you should definitely stay on it.  No, it does not make you a junkie, if you need Clonazepam, it just means your body (at this point in time) has adjusted to the medication for relief.  However you need a doctor to prescribe you the medication.

Your best route, at least from my point of view, is to stay on the Clonazepam and then get moved to an antidepressant.  I would choose Prozac (Fluoxetine) due to its large half life.  However weaning off the Clonazepam to an antidepressant, or going on an antidepressant while on Clonazepam, will need the direction of a doctor to:

1) Prescribe you the medications.
2) Monitor your progress.

This may seem hard to hear, but you really need to get access to a doctor.  I'm aware there are constraints in your mind, that no medical professional wants to treat you, based on your use of past substances, like opiates, however please know we're dealing with psychotropic medications.  The doctors who prescribe them, normally psychiatrists, are accustomed to people with a variety of addictions and psychological problems.  Some people have addictions to opiates; some have addiction to cocaine; some have addiction to benzodiazepines due not taking them properly; some have addictions to bad relationships, some have additions to shopping, until broke, and some have addictions to bathrooms, due to fears of embarrassing themselves if they can't handle themselves without a nearby toilet in public.   

And none of these types of psychological issues are more of a problem than another, or more of an issue to be ridiculed over another, because each person has a reason on how their psychological patterns formed into that issue.  Psychiatrists are trained to not judge each user's psychological symptoms, but to assist that person in managing them. 

You may feel your psychological problem with shame, however someone treating you, will not.

Keep strong for your son.  He needs you in this life, so you will need to seek professional, medical help to get your anxiety disorder under control.  If you pursue the links from the post, as I mentioned earlier, those links could lead you to a better direction from where you are now.
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Offline insights

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Re: Medication fear
« Reply #2 on: January 24, 2014, 06:53:59 PM »
What can I expect after a couple years on this--firs year was very low dose and I was almost off when my husband was diagnosed, second year on 3 mg most of the year? Please no terrible horror stories. I can't bear it. I am looking for someone to tell me I will make it without having to be carted off to the loony bin.

Welcome to AnxietyZone.

Before you even consider weaning of Klonopin you need to have another way of controlling your anxiety. Antidepressants would probably be your best bet, but this is something you need to discuss with your doctor.

Once you're stabilized on an effective antidepressant you can then begin discontinuing the Klonopin. The easiest way of doing so is to switch to the longer acting diazepam (Valium) and weaning of in by small increments. Your doctor should be able to explain the methodology, if not ask here when the time comes.

Ian
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NOTE: I'm not a doctor, and particularly not yours, so there may be factors I'm unaware of. Therefore all advice is of a general nature and you should consult your doctor before following any of it, especially before changing med doses.

Offline sukey15

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Re: Medication fear
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2014, 12:08:03 AM »
I wish I had this choice, but again, I haven't the finances to go from doctor to doctor searching for one who will even let me down easy (at least as slow as .5 mg per month) much less one who would consider leaving me on it.. They are too worried about their own licenses. My nurse practitioner first told me "How did you end up on both clonazepam and methadone? Those are contraindicated!". I explained to her that I was extremely tolerant to my methadone dose and how I had come to be on clonazepam and she understood then.  But now it's very very unlikely I will be allowed to stay on it at any dose. I thank you for the resources and will check those out, but I am seriously broke, yet not officially "poor" enough even on SS disability survivor benefits alone to qualify in my state for any assistance of any kind.

I don't think I can make it without this but I have no idea what to say to my provider without her thinking I am going to fling myself off a cliff or something (NOT my plan), but I do fear being totally unable to function and having no one to help me. I have no family here except my sons and they can't or won't help and I HAVE to keep things going--laundry, dishes, groceries, meals, appointments for my special needs child. I can't do it, yet they all act like this is just a GREAT thing!
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