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How could I overcome prescription drugs abstinence?

By December 2, 2009 - 4:10pm
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I was taking daily for several months (even a few years) the following drugs:
- Propranolol. Prescribed by a neurologist to treat migraines.
- Fluoxetine. Prescribed by a general doctor to treat migraine crisis caused by stress.
- Sibutramine. self "prescribed" drug. Taken for about 14 months.
- I've been drinking a lot of alcohol in the last months too. I'm aware of these and I'm also trying to quit or at least reduce it.

From a few weeks I had been feeling bad about my dependence to all these pills, for both physical and mental effects. When a friend of mine with about 27 years old had a major heart episode I freaked out and I quit taking Fluoxetine and Sibutramine all at once.

It was almost two weeks ago, the first week was hell for me, I was sleepy at times, I felt very very anxious, I can't concentrate, my migraines started again with the worst pain I've ever had since I can remember (I suffer migraines since I'm 4).
In the ER they prescribed me Tramadol and other pain drugs but I'm really afraid to get addicted to them so I'm trying to cope with the pain. And all of these of course while I work about 10 hours a day.

Is there a way I can help myself during these days? I feel better after the first week (besides migraines I mean), I don't want to go back to Sibutramine or Fluoxetine, I just want to know if there is something else I can do during these first weeks.


Add a Comment9 Comments

Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Maria - You may say you feel like a Grinch, but I sure see a lot more optimism in your writing and you're talking about taking care of yourself. That's fantastic! I think your majority holiday right now is New Year's Day because 2010 is headed toward being a much better year for you. Please let us know how you're doing. And, you're very, very welcome! Take care, Pat

December 21, 2009 - 6:27pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Maria - I join Diane in congratulating you for seeing this through, making the appointment and, most of all, what seems to be a great attitude about going forward with your treatment and improving your health.

This is going to be a lifelong process and commitment for you, so it's important to pace yourself and to figure out how to learn a lot while not getting overwhelmed by it. Like Diane, I'm wondering if you discussed your medication history with the psychiatrist and got support for those issues. If not, a follow up with your regular physician is needed. This is really, really important for your health.

You mentioned earlier that you had concerns about expenses so I wanted to make you aware that Tegretol is the brand name for a drug that also comes in generic versions which may be less expensive. The generic name is carbamazepine and it's sold under the brand names of Tegretol, Tegretol XR , Equetro and Carbatrol.

It's extremely important that you learn as much as you can about this drug, particularly the side effects and warnings, including interactions with alcohol. Your pharmacist can help with this, as well as this link:


Keep in mind that this may, or may not, be the right medication for you. You may want to keep a personal journal or diary to keep track of how it works for you. If it does not work for you then there are many other medications available. It's really important to work closely with your psychiatrist so that together you can figure out what's in your best interest. Sometimes it takes a while to do that.

You also mentioned that you don't have a lot of people to talk to about this. And, as you navigate your way through the learning and treatment processes, you may also choose to keep this information private. An option for keeping your personal information to yourself, while also getting support from others, is to join an online support group. I did a quick search today, and found one that may be good for you, and I'm sure there are many more. Daily Strength is a site I really like. It has many support groups, including the Bipolar Disorder Support Group and a related group for family and friends of those who are bipolar.


Keep in touch, and let us know about those meds and how you're doing. And, of course, we're here to help you with any questions. Take care, Pat

December 16, 2009 - 7:11pm
(reply to Pat Elliott)


Well, now that I think of it she didn't told me anything about the other drugs. She did prescribed me some blood tests (liver and thyroids related and also a Complete Blood Count). I'm not sure about going to the regular physician since I know for sure they won't do anything, I've gone before to those insurance doctors just to go from there disappointed. I'm thinking about getting one of those insurance policies that DO take care of people. I have to do the math for next year expenses, maybe I can include it.

About medicines I'm glad to tell it is not very expensive, I bought Tegretol XR for about 15 dollars (when my sister had a mayor depression a few years ago her medicine expenses where extremely high and not covered by the insurance at all).

Thanks for the link!!! fortunately I haven't felt any side effects, I should double my dose tomorrow as my doctor advice me, I hope I don't get side effects tomorrow either. Hmmm I don't feel better either, I feel like The Grinch, hating Christmas days, people, smiles hehe trying to, at least, be productive at work.

Thanks for the support group you sent me, I'm checking at it right now. I will search for other groups as well... I also really liked the idea of a journal, it seems like the right thing to do. Besides, I don't want to rely only on medications, I read somewhere one should learn to know itself and identify mood triggers.

And thanks again Pat!!!


December 21, 2009 - 12:23pm
EmpowHER Guest

Thanks Diane, I'm looking forward to read about it as soon as I get some free time.
She (my doctor) did told me it was really bad to mix both sibutramine and fluoxetine together. What I really liked was that she didn't judge me, she just listened and ask me a lot about the reasons that made me start taking them both even when I knew they were bad for my health. She sent me three different blood tests, two of them I know are to measure my hepatic conditions and to check my thyroids.

I feel a lot like your friend says, my whole life I had been thinking I was a bad person, I felt really bitchy sometimes (I'm sorry for the word I don't know any other way to express it in English since my native language is Spanish). I'm glad to find it is not completely my fault and that there is hope after all.

I started medication yesterday and thankfully I don't feel more sleepy than usual today!

I will read Laura Yeager's posts tonight :)

thank you both

December 16, 2009 - 10:27am


I just want to chime in and add my "Atta Girl!" to Pat's comments. It takes a LOT of strength to find a psychiatrist, to go to the appointment and to start treatment. I'm so proud of you!!

You might be interested in the posts on our site from our HERwriter Laura Yeager, who writes about being bipolar:


and here's our EmpowHER page on bipolar disorder:

What did your doctor say about the other medications you have been on, and your efforts to cut out or reduce your reliance on them?

I have a friend who also was recently diagnosed as bipolar, and it made a world of sense to her. Suddenly she understood so much more about herself. Like you said, many things started making sense to her. As she gets her medication needs determined, she expects to feel even better. I hope the same for you!

Please do come back and write.

December 16, 2009 - 8:35am

Thank you Pat! I feel really encouraged by reading your comment. I don't really have a lot of people to talk face-to-face about what is going on, I'm really happy that I've found this community.

My appointment went great, I talked with my doctor a lot not only about the last crazy months but also about my years as a teenager and later as a college student. She asked me a lot of questions and explained to me a lot of things. She finally told me she thinks I suffer a bipolar disease and actually, after talking with her it fits, I've suffered from really crazy mood changes my whole life, I've taken risks and decisions I could not explain later, and well, a lot of things...

Thanks for your advice, I finally went to the doctor because of your advice and my sister concern.

My doctor sent me some blood tests and prescribed me Tegretol to treat me. I will try to study more about this desease since I understand I can avoid some bipolar "episodes" by knowing myself better.
Thanks again!


December 15, 2009 - 9:17pm

Thanks Pat for your answer!!! I haven't realized how long it's been since I wrote and got your answer. I really should have written to you before.
The good news is I finally have my psychiatric appointment today, I finally decided to go, I want to know exactly what I can expect for these weeks, what is normal and what is not. I'm paying for the appointment with my own money, it is pretty expensive but medical insurance here is awful specially for psychiatric conditions (just imagine, a friend of mine got robbed and raped last November and she hasn't got an appointment with a psychiatric professional!!!!!, agh).

Last weeks have been difficult, specially the fact of being sleepy all the time, I hate that part. I will let you know how it goes :)
I'm 28 by the way.
Thanks again!!!

December 15, 2009 - 6:43am
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger (reply to masha)

Hi Maria - I'm so happy to hear from you, and to learn about your appointment. It sounds like your head is in the right place, and you're taking charge! Good for you!!

As far as the expense, if you had a physical illness such as cancer, and you had to pay for treatment, there probably would be no questions about your priorities. Your mental health is just as important, and an investment in yourself that's going to pay off for the long run. It may not seem that way right now, but 28 is really young and you've got many decades ahead of you to enjoy.

Please do let us know how it goes, and keep in touch. I'll have my fingers and toes crossed for your success. Take care, Pat

December 15, 2009 - 5:08pm
Expert HERWriter Guide Blogger

Hi Masha -
It sounds like you've been going through some difficult times. I'm glad you took the time to write in, as that's a good step toward making things better.

You've provided information on several prescription drugs that you appear to have been taking for quite some time, as well as one that you say is "self-prescribed." Later you mention changing your medication patterns, then needing to go to an ER for help, and then you ask what you can do to help yourself. You also mention drinking a lot of alcohol in recent months, which is another form of self-medicating.

In all of this information what I'm not seeing is any indication that you're working with a physician or other health care provider, or that anyone is monitoring how the drugs affect you, whether your dosage levels are accurate, whether you still need the medications, whether your physical health necessitates changes, and more. This is very alarming!

If you continue to be your own health care provider, and continue to self-prescribe, self-medicate and come up with your own equivalent of treatment plans, you're putting your health at risk. You MUST see a medical professional and provide complete information on not only the medications you've been taking, but also your overall health and well-being. If you need and want to withdraw from medications, there are safe ways to do that. If you have additional problems that you need treatment for, only a professional can help you with that.

I can't tell your age from your post, but since your 27-year-old friend's situation scared you I'm going to guess you're about the same age. Look at it as a wake-up call, one that's saying you need to get professional assistance. I urge you to get help as soon as possible, and to let us know what you learn and the progress you make in getting back to better health. Good luck to you.
Take good care,

December 2, 2009 - 6:45pm
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