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Um... 02/23/2012.


Kayla

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Have you ever been completely dependent on something?

I have never liked the thought of depending on something. Especially a drug. It actually REALLY bothers me. I can't count how many times I've tried to stop taking my Luvox in the past 3 years. Every time, though, I end up having terrible cold sweats, high fevers, and complete restlessness. Not to mention ridiculous anxiety that I can't control. I absolutely hate the fact that my body is so dependent on this medication. And that I have to take it every single day so that I can act like a functioning human being.

On top of that, it dawned on me today that I am probably 100% addicted to over the counter sleeping pills. (Unisom) I don't look to see what the long term side-affects may be, because honestly, I don't want to know. I've gone through 96 pills in 31 days. Seeing my empty bottle of sleeping pills tonight is what made me realize how much I depend on them to put me to sleep.

Not only do they put me to sleep, but I really enjoy the way they make me feel the hour or so before I fall asleep. I guess it's a form of a high...? I've never been one to want to do drugs or have an addictive personality. Of course, I experimented a little as a teenager with marijuana, shrooms, molly, and alcohol.. but never anything crazy. I drink wine every now and then, but it's definitely not something I do everyday or even every week. I have never, ever smoked a cigarette in my life, and don't plan to. I don't feel like I need a drug to deal with my anxiety, but I do look forward to taking my sleeping pills as night, and just relaxing. That's the feeling they give me.. relaxation.

I understand that this is a form of addiction, and soon... the pills probably won't work anymore unless I'm taking like, 5-6 at a time. I don't want it to get to that. I have had sleeping problems for as long as I can remember. The doctors I've seen have prescribed me Lunesta, (which I loved...) but insurance won't pay for it anymore, and Ambien, which just makes me very nauseous.

Now, don't think I haven't ever tried natural ways to get to sleep. I've tried meditation, reading before bed, exercising before bed, and melatonin. Nothing else seems to help.

I just wanted to get it out, and off of my chest that I'm addicted to sleeping pills. Maybe actually writing about it, and now keeping it all in my head, will help me stop and ween myself down.

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You're completely dependent on oxygen. Please do not try to give that up.

I think the real issue that bothers people about medication (and I resisted taking any for years) is that they feel an inherent value judgment about themselves tied up in taking a psychiatric medication. Most of them would not feel the same judgment about insulin, though, if they were diabetic.

Yet there's no biochemical difference, really. A metabolic pathway becomes unbalanced, whether due to a congenital weakness or behaviorally induced damage. A supplementary chemical is required to bring the organism back into balance, otherwise it suffers.

But with mental issues, there's this enormous "should", for many of us: "I should be able to handle this myself." Well, I would submit that by taking meds that you need, you are handling it, in the best way that you can at the moment. Maybe some day you'll be able to handle it differently; that's not the issue. What's needed is to forgive yourself for today.

And most of the above was written in response to the first two paragraphs, before you brought up sleeping pills. You're right: what you're doing is abusing them. What makes me say that, after all that I've said about your prescribed medication?

Well, first off, you're averaging three a day. What does the dosage on the bottle say? I'll bet it says fewer than three. So, in some way, though the two medications are for similar purposes, your judgment about one doesn't apply to the other. You're even willing to take extra sleep medication, which I'm sure you wouldn't do with your psych med. Why? The pleasure is altering your judgment.

Now, I'm not saying the pleasure you get from feeling relaxed is "wrong", or that you're fully addicted. We all deserve to feel relaxed. You mentioned that the natural activities that you have tried didn't help you sleep. Is it possible that you were doing them only with the goal of getting to sleep, maybe even slightly obsessively to make yourself sleep? It would be easy to understand how that focus on a goal might keep you from relaxing.

When I first started to learn Tai Ch'i (which I recommend if you have the opportunity), I kept trying to relax. But that's much like trying not to think: it doesn't work any better, because you have to think to stay focused on the goal.

To me, especially if your sleeping pill consumption remains high next month, it would seem worth it to bring this up with a medical doctor, preferably a psychiatrist, to see whether they can't do something more for your relaxation. Certainly it's a bad idea to keep trying to medicate yourself. You already see where that road leads.

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Are you tapering down on the Luvox or trying to stop cold turkey? since you mentioned it to me before I looked at it and it's an SSRI. Those have to be tapered off slowly to avoid withdrawal effects.

Whether you need the med or not is another story. It comes down to what are the costs and what are the benefits - it might help with your condition but you don't want to be dependent on a pill. What about the side effects of the med? Those are going to be different for each individiual.

There are also costs and benefits to not taking the med. Looking at these objectively might help you feel better about taking the med or else help you to go to your doctor to get help coming off it. It's not fun to stop taking it cold turkey though, definitely involve the prescribing pdoc.

Sleeping pills can be very psychologically addicting. You get used to taking a pill before bed and forget how to fall asleep because the pills force you to relax.

I had the same issue with seroquel and I still have rebound insomnia. They put me on Ambien to get off the seroquel but then I had to get off the Ambien. Eventually I had to learn how to fall asleep all over again and still haven't mastered the ability, but it is easier to wake up.

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Have you ever been completely dependent on something?

Yes... Yes I have...

As far as getting off the Luvox, if you need it then so be it. I was worried when I first got on Zoloft. I was scared I'd be one of those people who rely on it for their happiness for the rest of their lives. I put the thought to the side, and it later occurred to me, "So what if I DO need to take these for the rest of my life? Many people do." If you're not ready to get off them yet, give yourself another few months or years. Whatever it takes. Just be sure that you're quitting them because you genuinely don't need them, NOT because it simply bothers you to be on them.

As far as the sleeping pills go, yeah, that's a pretty bad idea. I'm sure you already know more about this than I do seeing as you've actually been training in the field, but from what I've learned in AP Psych, sleeping pills greatly reduce REM sleep, which is bad for a whole slew of reasons. You're finding that you're becoming dangerously attached to them, and if I were you, I'd stop before it goes too far.

Oh, and I hope you're doing okay. It's been a while.

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Thank-you, everyone for the wonderful advice and comments. I really needed the support, and information you all have provided. I'm slowly trying to get off of the sleeping pills now, and as far as my Luvox, I'm going to continue taking it, because I know it helps me. Thank you all again, I really do appreciate it. :(

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