What’s Next for Amanda Bynes?
“Amanda is continuing treatment with the assistance of mental health counselors and addiction specialists. (She is) responding very well to treatment and her team remains extremely optimistic about her future.”
~ Us magazine
Even before this latest setback, Amanda Bynes faced several significant challenges. Along with her problematic substance abuse, she also reportedly suffered from mental illness, in the form of schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. When addiction and mental disorders co-occur, this kind of dual diagnosis can complicate recovery.
This happens more than you might think. In fact, 72% of people who are addicted to drugs have at least one psychiatric condition. Amanda Bynes has at least two.
Prior to relapsing, it as evidence that Bynes still had a way to go. For instance, even though she reported that she was four years sober, her affairs were still handled by a conservatorship. That seems unlikely now to change anytime soon.
Despite her wish to resume her acting career, her first, perhaps ONLY priority needs to be her sobriety and good mental health. Everything else that she could ever want to accomplish must start there.
In a very real way, Amanda Bynes is an extremely lucky woman. She is not going through this alone. Her parents have stood beside her the whole time, sometimes making the tough calls needed to protect their daughter. Although she has struggled, she hasn’t lost her fortune, her home, her freedom, or her life. She is still young enough to have a long, bright future ahead of her.
And when she is healthy enough to leave the treatment facility, hopefully, she will have learned healthier ways to cope with negative emotions and stress. The ability to practice those skills that support her successful sobriety will serve her well for the rest of her life, one day at a time.
20 Signs That You Are Abusing Ativan
The recent suicide of musician Chris Cornell and the speculation about the prominent role that Ativan seems to have played has people asking questions about this popular antianxiety medication.
- Is Ativan REALLY safe?
- How do you know when someone is abusing Ativan?
- What do I do if I have an Ativan prescription?
These are valid concerns. After all, Cornell had a legitimate prescription. But he also had an extensive history of drug and alcohol abuse. This means that there was a fine line between treating his anxiety disorder and safely managing his substance abuse disorder.
Unfortunately, that line was crossed, with tragic results.
So, let’s examine these questions and more in an effort to prevent similar outcomes in the future.
First, the Basics – What Is Ativan?
Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam, a benzodiazepine-class medication that is prescribed for the treatment of a number of ailments, including:
- Anxiety disorders
- Insomnia and other sleeping problems
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Epileptic seizures
- Nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy
- Memory formation during medical/surgical procedures
- To sedate patients who are mechanically ventilated
Because it can be a beneficial treatment for so many conditions, Ativan is an extremely popular medication. In 2011, there were 28 million Ativan prescriptions filled, making it the second-most-prescribed “benzo” in the country.
Is Ativan REALLY a Safe Medication to Use?
Ativan has been on sale in the United States for 40 years, and overall, it has an excellent reputation. The World Health Organization put Ativan on its List of Essential Medicine, signifying that it is one of the safest and most effective medicines that should be part of any society’s health care system.
However, there is a caveat.
Like all benzodiazepine lines, Ativan is only recommended for short-term use, no more than two to four weeks. The problem arises when it is taken for longer periods or when it is misused recreationally.
With long-term use, there is a significant risk of psychological and physical dependence, misuse, and ultimately, addiction.
Overdose is also possible, especially if Ativan is misused with other central nervous system depressants like alcohol, opioids, or other benzo drugs.
What Formulations of Ativan are Available?
There are several different formulations of Ativan, and the prescribed dosage will depend upon the condition being treated:
- Adult dose –2-3 mg by mouth per day taken 2-3 times per day (initial) and 1-2 mg by mouth 2-3 times per day (maintenance)
- Child dose – Same as adult dose (age 12 or older ONLY)
- Geriatric – 1-2 mg by mouth per day, in divided doses
- Adult dose – 2-4 mg by mouth, taken at bedtime
- Child dose – Same as adult dose (age 12 or older ONLY)
- Geriatric – 1-2 mg by mouth per day, in divided doses
The medication comes in three dosages:
- Ativan or Lorazepam .5 mg
- Ativan or Lorazepam 1.0 mg
- Ativan or Lorazepam 2.0 mg
Ativan vs Xanax – How Do They Compare?
How do the two most popular benzodiazepine medications compare to each other?
Because they are both benzodiazepines, Ativan and Xanax are very comparable medications, although Xanax (alprazolam) is prescribed far more often, 49 million to 27.6 million.
There are many similarities. Both Ativan and Xanax:
- Are prescribed to treat anxiety disorders
- Have a high potential for misuse and addiction
- Have similar half-lives – Xanax half-life 10.7-15.8 hours, Ativan half-life 9-16 hours
- Have sedating effects – dizziness and drowsiness
- Are not recommended for pregnant women
But there are also important differences, the biggest of which is the fact that while both medications are prescribed to treat anxiety, Xanax is also given for panic disorders.
Why Do So Many People Use Benzodiazepines?
In 2011, over 127 million benzodiazepine prescriptions were filled in the United States.
Benzodiazepine medications like Ativan are so popular in America because the need is so prevalent. Consider just two conditions that typically call for a benzo prescription—anxiety and insomnia.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million American adults struggle with an anxiety disorder – approximately 18% of the entire US population. This makes anxiety disorders the most common type of mental illness in the country.
The National Institutes of Health reports that roughly 30% of the general population in America struggles with sleep disruption. Interestingly, there are significant differences in how common insomnia is among the various age demographics:
- 18-29: 68%
- 30-64: 59%
- 65 and older: 44%
The Use and Abuse of Benzodiazepines in the United States
With those kinds of numbers, it is no wonder that 1 out of every 20 American adults has filled a benzodiazepine prescription within the last year. Other relevant statistics:
- In 1996, there were just over 8 million American adults with a benzodiazepine prescription.
- By 2016, that number had risen to 13.5 million – an increase of 67%.
- Use of benzos like Ativan and Xanax increases as people get older:
- 18-35: 2.6%
- 36-50: Use doubles, to 5.4%
- 51-64: 7.4%
- 65 and older: 8.7%, more than triple the youngest adult demographic
- Likewise, long-term use among those with a prescription also rises sharply with age:
- 18-35: 14.7%
- 65-80: 31.4%
- Significantly, the percentage of people who receive their benzodiazepine prescription from a psychiatrist DECREASES with age:
- The highest rate of benzodiazepine use is among women, and it increases with age.
- 10.8% of women age 65-80 use benzos, and among 80-year-old women, the rate is 11.9%.
- Between 1996 and 2016, the amount of medicine contained in an average benzodiazepine prescription DOUBLED.
- 1999-2013, the rate of benzodiazepine-related deaths more than QUINTUPLED.
- Approximately one-third of all prescription overdose deaths involve benzodiazepines.
- In 2016, that equated to over 8600 deaths.
- In 2012, more than 17,000 people were admitted to substance-abuse treatment citing Ativan or another benzodiazepine as their primary drug of choice.
- According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the use of benzodiazepines for more than 6 weeks results in dependency for 4 out of 10 patients.
- This dovetails with a report in the Journal of Addictive Behaviors stating that 44% of chronic benzodiazepine users eventually become dependent.
Are YOU Addicted to Ativan?
Because benzodiazepine use is so widespread, and dependence is so likely, knowing how to identify the risk factors and recognize early warning signs of a growing benzo dependency or addiction in yourself or someone you care about can be critical to avoiding a tragedy.
Let’s take a look at some of those risk factors and warning signs.
Sign #1 – You Have Been Taking Your Medication for Months
Ativan and other benzodiazepines are only considered to be safe when they are taken short-term as a temporary solution, while other therapies are attempted. If you have used Ativan for more than one month, it is highly probable that you have become dependent.
Sign #2 – You Take More of Your Medication Sooner than Prescribed
If you take your Ativan because of “how it makes you feel”, rather than as prescribed, you are setting yourself up for dependency. When you base your medication regimen on how you “feel”, rather than your doctor’s orders, that is a definite red flag.
Sign #3 – You Have to Take More of Your Medication to Get the Same Effect
Needing ever-increasing dosages of your Ativan in order to achieve the same results is a sign that you have built a tolerance. This warning sign shows that the drug is beginning to change your brain.
This is what happened to Chris Cornell. When his wife noticed that he was slurring his words during their phone conversation the night he died, he admitted that he might have taken “an extra Ativan or two.”
Sign #4 – You Run Out of Your Medication Early
When you take more of your Ativan than prescribed, you will definitely run out before it’s time to fill your prescription.
Sign #5 – You Are Unable to Function Without your Ativan
Your medication is supposed to make your life easier. But when it is the only thing that brings you any pleasure whatsoever or allows you to feel normal, that is evidence of drug dependence. Where once you took your medication to feel better, now you are taking the medication to keep from feeling bad.
Sign #6 – Your Life Revolves around Your Ativan
If you constantly obsess over when and where you can get more Ativan or when you can take your next dose, it may be because you are hooked on the drug’s pleasurable – rather than therapeutic – effects.
You may withdraw from family and friends and miss get-togethers because you have yet another “doctor’s appointment.” or another trip to the pharmacy.
If you are obtaining your Ativan illicitly, you are spending even more time on your habit, because the supply and the source aren’t as reliable as your local drugstore. Sometimes, your whole day will be spent driving around to see which of your contacts is holding.
And even when you have finally received your drug – legitimately or not – you still have to allow time to recover from its use. If you are taking high or excessive doses of any benzodiazepine medication, their sedating effects are going to put you out of commission for a while.
Sign #7 – You Hide Your Ativan Use
You don’t want your loved ones to know how much Ativan you are consuming, or how frequently, so you take your medication in secret. And, because you also need to recover, you spend even more time away from them.
Sign #8 – You Experience Painful Symptoms When Your Medication Isn’t Available
If you ARE drug dependent, then within just a few hours of your last dose, you will go into withdrawal if you don’t take more Ativan.
Symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal include:
- Extreme restlessness and agitation
- Anxiety to the point of panic
- Severe depression
- Difficulty concentrating/confusion
- Muscle aches and cramps
- Fever and chills
- Accelerated heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive perspiration
- Sensitivity to light, sound, smell, and touch
At its most severe, benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can cause your body temperature to rise drastically. You may even experience seizures or convulsions. These symptoms would qualify as a medical emergency because they are potentially fatal.
This is why you should NEVER attempt to cut back or quit Ativan or other benzodiazepines unless you are under the close supervision of a doctor.
Sign #9 – You Have Multiple Prescriptions for Ativan
Knowing that the recommended dose won’t last, you visit multiple doctors in order to have enough drugs.
Sign #10 – Your Original Condition Is No Longer the Problem
At some point on the timeline of your descent into addiction, you stopped taking Ativan for your anxiety or insomnia and started taking it because you craved its effects. While you may still have those conditions, they have stopped being the reason why you take Ativan.
Sign #11 – You Fake Symptoms
There is no one test to measure the level of someone’s anxiety. Therefore, doctors must largely rely on what they are told by their patients. When you are dependent or addicted, you will exaggerate or even outright lie about your symptoms so you can obtain another prescription.
Sign #12 – Your Ativan Habit Is Costing You Too Much Money
Even if you have insurance, multiple trips to the doctor and co-pays can add up. And, because most insurance companies won’t pay for you to go to multiple doctors for the same problem, your extra visits are coming out of your own pocket – cash pay.
While prescription Ativan or generic lorazepam is very affordable – 30-day supply of 1 mg pills can be as low as $10, the expenses mount when you have several prescriptions.
It is even worse when you have to buy your drugs illicitly – 2-milligram lorazepam tablets go for between $4 and $8 apiece. At that price, the habit can be harder to disguise.
Sign #13 – You Do without Other Things Just to Have Your Ativan
To afford your Ativan addiction, you ignore other financial obligations – your bills, your mortgage or rent, your car payment, special occasions with your family, etc. You may even start supporting your addiction with credit cards or loans.
Sign #14 – You Would Do ANYTHING to Obtain More Ativan
Because benzodiazepine withdrawal is so painful, your addiction will “hijack” your brain and cause you act in ways that you would never have imagined:
- Lying to your family and friends
- Stealing – from your loved ones or your job, writing hot checks, etc.
- Dangerous behaviors – driving high, going to unsafe neighborhoods, risky sexual behavior
- You ignore your appearance – lack of personal hygiene, dirty clothes, etc.
Sign #15 – You Abuse Other Substances
Polydrug abuse among people with a benzodiazepine dependency or addiction is very common. Alcohol and opioids such as prescription painkillers or heroin are often co-abused with Ativan and other benzos.
All substances of abuse affect the regions of the brain associated with pleasure, reward, and motivation – this is what drives addiction. But this also makes a person who is dependent on or addicted to one substance vulnerable to cross-addiction.
In other words, when your primary drug of choice is not available, you may turn to other substances just to get some measure of relief.
How prevalent is polydrug abuse?
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, between 2000 and 2010, the rate of substance abuse treatment admissions for benzodiazepine abuse in combination with other substances skyrocketed almost 570%.
Sign #16 – It’s Affecting Your Personal Relationships
Try as you might, you cannot completely disguise your problematic Ativan use from the people closest to you. They are in an unfortunate position to see firsthand the consequences of your addiction – the lies, broken promises, manipulation, excuses, and denial.
What kind of problems might you be experiencing?
- A friend, family member, or coworker expresses concern or repeatedly asks you “Are you all right?”
- Increased arguments
- Domestic violence
- Child abuse or neglect
- You stop getting invited to family or social gatherings
- Friends are distancing themselves from you
- Divorce or breakups
- The codependent or enabling behaviors of others
Sign #17 – You’re Having Problems at Work
Although 75% of people with substance abuse disorders work, having an active addiction can make it hard to find, keep, or advance in a job. The abuse of Ativan or other benzo medications can cause you to:
- Falsely call in sick (or have others do it for you)
- Have excessive absences
- Constantly get to work late or leave early
- Miss deadlines
- Have poor production or performance
- Suffer a workplace accident or injury
- Fail a mandatory or random drug test
- Interfere with company morale
- Rate poorly on reviews
- Receive disciplinary warnings and actions
- Get passed over for advancement and promotions
- Get demoted
- Receive a suspension
- Be terminated with cause
Sign #18 – You Are Experiencing Health Issues
Long-term or heavy benzodiazepine use can result in serious physical and mental health problems – the most obvious of which are overdoses and other adverse reactions. According to the drug enforcement agency, in 2010, there were over 345,000 benzodiazepine-related emergency room visits.
But benzodiazepine misuse can cause other problems as well:
- Cognitive decline
- Sexual dysfunction
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Mood disorders – depression, anxiety, PTSD
- Sleep disturbances
- Increased risk of suicide
Sign #19 – You’re Dealing with Legal Difficulties
The abuse of benzodiazepines can get you in trouble with the law in a number of ways:
- Driving Under the Influence
- Public Intoxication
- Disorderly Conduct
- Vehicular Accidents
- Identity Theft
Sign #20 – Your Life Has Become Unmanageable
At some point, even you will be unable to ignore the fact that your Ativan/lorazepam addiction is wrecking your life. You will look around and see the broken relationships, consequences at work, health issues, legal problems, and emotional pain and not like what you see.
In other words, you will be sick and tired of being tired and sick.
This is your rock bottom—the point at which you are ready for something better.
What to Do If You Are Addicted to Ativan
Once you have reached this point, there is good news – admitting that you have a problem is the very first step in getting help for that problem.
Problematic substance abuse in ANY form is usually too big a problem for you to deal with on your own, but this is especially true in the case of benzodiazepine addiction.
Since benzo withdrawal is so dangerous, you will first need to undergo a medically-supervised and medication assisted drug detoxification in order to assure your safety. This also helps your actual recovery and return to healthy sobriety get off to a proper start.
If you have reached the point where even YOU are concerned about your use of Ativan or other benzodiazepine medication, then your next step should be to contact a reputable rehab program for a professional evaluation and to discuss your treatment options.
Clonidine Addiction Explained
Clonidine Addiction: How Does It Start?
Although clonidine is typically not as addictive as many narcotics, it is still possible to become addicted to this drug.
As mentioned above, clonidine is typically used in cases of hypertension, ADHD, anxiety, or insomnia. As with most other prescription drug addictions, the onset of the addictive behaviors can be traced back to an original prescription for the drug. It could be initially for a personal problem or it could be taken from a friend or family member.
In many cases though, a prescription pill abuser doesn’t typically fit the “druggy” stereotype. Part of this misconception is due to the fact that many abusers don’t actually feel like they are doing anything wrong. They do have a doctor-written prescription after all. In fact, CDC estimates put the percentage of illegally obtained prescription medication at only about 15% of total prescription drug misuse.
And that doesn’t come as much of a surprise either as many drug prescriptions are increasing at an alarming rate, especially when it comes to opioids. In 2012, for example, there were more than 259 million opioid pain medication prescriptions written. That’s more than a bottle of pills for every adult in the U.S.
To add to the easy availability of clonidine, it is also not currently a scheduled drug meaning it is not categorized as having a high potential for abuse by the United States government. As such, clonidine is not considered to be a controlled substance. As a result, there are much looser regulations for writing a prescription for clonidine. Punishments for possession are also less strict, making it less of a risky drug to take.
Clonidine Addiction Arising from Addiction Treatment
As mentioned earlier, clonidine is also used to help ease the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol and opiates. For many alcohol and opiate abusers, the withdrawal symptoms can be especially difficult to handle. Consequently, significant effort has been placed on finding ways to make the process easier and thus facilitate a greater degree of full rehabilitation success.
The supplemental use of clonidine to lessen the severity of these symptoms is one such way treatment centers are making detox less of a struggle. Its ability to partially block chemical signals from the sympathetic nervous system can cut down on many of the intolerable withdrawal symptoms of these drugs like nervousness, sweating, insomnia, and even depression.
The drawback of using clonidine in this way, however, is the possible trading of addictions. The idea of switching one addiction for another is somewhat controversial. Proponents will say that becoming addicted to something like cigarettes after recovery is a small price to pay for a life without, say, heroin. Others, however, claim that by simply latching on to another substance, an addict isn’t truly facing what’s causing the addiction in the first place.
Whatever side of the fence you land on, the truth is that many people would have never had access to clonidine had they not been given it as treatment for another addiction.
Beyond the simple issue of access to the drug is the additional problem that some people find mixing clonidine with other drugs such as opiates or alcohol can intensify the effects of the drugs. In the case of alcohol, for example, taking both drugs at the same time might make an individual feel even drowsier and might detach them from reality even further. In this way, both the alcohol and clonidine high are bolstered.
While not much research has been done on this relationship, such mixing of substances could become particularly troublesome for individuals looking to overcome their addictions. The possibility of experiencing an even greater high because of the drugs a detox clinic provided could make the notion of relapsing even more appealing than before.
Signs of Being Addicted to Clonidine
The following is a list of symptoms of drug addiction provided by the Mayo Clinic. If several of these behaviors sound familiar, you may be addicted to clonidine.
- You feel that you have to use clonidine on a regular basis, ranging anywhere from daily to more than once a day
- You experience intense urges for clonidine
- You find yourself taking more clonidine to achieve the same affect
- You always ensure you have a back supply of clonidine
- You spend more on clonidine than you can afford
- Your work, social, or recreational responsibilities suffer due to clonidine use
- You compromise personal integrity or act differently in order to obtain clonidine, even committing illegal acts to get it
- You engage in risky behaviors when you’re under clonidine’s influence
- You spend increasing amounts of time and energy on both getting and using clonidine
- You can’t ever seem to successfully quit using clonidine
- You feel the effects of withdrawal when you try to stop taking clonidine
Noticing the signs of clonidine addiction in others can be the first step towards getting them the help they need. Some of these signs could include difficulties at work or at school, a degraded personal appearance or grooming, failing health, erratic and drastic changes in behavior, and money problems.
Symptoms of Clonidine Withdrawal
Though it is not as addictive as many drugs, some of the withdrawal symptoms are similar to that of other narcotics and the intensity of each will depend on the length and severity of abuse. Some of these symptoms include:
- Dizziness – This is one of the most common symptoms of withdrawal with any psychiatric drug. This symptom occurs because your brain is trying to readjust itself once you stop taking it. As you get used to having it in your system, your brain becomes dependent upon it.
- Shaking – This symptom is sometimes referred to as body tremors. This doesn’t have to be excessive. Sometimes it will only be mild, and you might be the only one who notices it. Other times, your hands may be visibly shaking. The good news is that the shaking shouldn’t persist. Eventually, as the drug leaves your system, this symptom should subside.
- Nausea or vomiting – Not everyone experiences nausea or vomiting. However, when the drug is stopped abruptly, this can be a common symptom. Extreme nausea will probably lead to vomiting, which can be very uncomfortable. Sometimes nausea and vomiting can be avoided when the drug is tapered gradually.
- Depression or anxiety – Clonidine is a drug that is frequently prescribed for anxiety off-label. It works very well at controlling it. It stands to reason, then, that when it is stopped, rebound anxiety could occur. For people whose anxiety also causes depression, they may also become depressed. Both anxiety and depression can be excessive; possibly even worse than before starting Clonidine.
- Restlessness – When stopping this drug, you may feel both physically and mentally restless. It may be hard for you to sit still or lie down. You may find it hard to “turn your brain off,” and you could experience racing thoughts. These symptoms can be controlled, but they should eventually subside.
- Headaches – Fortunately, withdrawal headaches with this medication usually don’t become severe. This is a very typical withdrawal symptom for many drugs. Researchers believe that it may be the brain’s way of adjusting to no longer having the drug.
- Insomnia – This medication can have the effect of a depressant on the central nervous system. That means that taking it can make you sleepy. Once you stop, you might find it difficult to get to sleep. This is even truer if you have been using it at night as a way to help you sleep.
In addition to the greater likelihood of these symptoms presenting when higher doses of the drug were used, the simultaneous use of clonidine with beta-blockers can also make such symptoms more likely. As such, patients that are taken off of it should first be taken off of the beta-blocker several days prior.
Other symptoms caused by clonidine withdrawal can include cerebrovascular accidents, hypertensive encephalopathy, and even death, though such instances are rare. Given the potentially fatal consequences of withdrawal, however, the detoxification process is different than other drugs.
Clonidine Detoxification Process
Treating a clonidine addiction must be handled differently than other instances of substance abuse due to the potentially fatal nature of stopping its use all at once.
The risk of death comes from a condition known as “clonidine rebound” or “rebound hypertension”. Since this drug suppresses signals sent to the sympathetic nervous system, which results in low blood pressure, suddenly stopping the use of it can cause an overreaction in the system. The sympathetic nervous system then produces even higher levels of adrenaline and noradrenaline, causing a rapid increase in blood pressure that may end up being fatal.
Due to this possibly life-threatening side effect of withdrawal, clonidine detoxification procedures follow a tapering method rather than immediate cessation. After being admitted to a treatment facility, the patient will likely undergo a medical examination as well as a series of questions and interviews to determine their duration of use and their drug and medical history.
Determining an exact drug history as well as an accurate appraisal of the patient’s usage is incredibly important for a number of reasons. First, as noted earlier, the use of clonidine at the same time as beta-blockers has been shown to increase the likelihood of adverse side effects once its use has actually ended. As such, the use of these medications must be stopped several days prior.
Second, determining the proper tapering schedule is based in large part off of the length of clonidine use and the dosage. As the tapering is meant to be gradual weaning off of the medication, patients that enter addiction treatment having taken large amounts of the drug will likely have a longer detoxification process, possibly up to several weeks.
During this period, a medical professional will be closely monitoring the patient’s progress. If they exhibit any signs of withdrawal, the treatment facility personnel may determine it necessary to increase the dosage to former levels. As such, a specific timeframe of detoxification is usually quite difficult to determine.
Beyond that, many patients have vastly different physiologies. General health, nervous system peculiarities, and sensitivity to certain withdrawal symptoms all play a major role in determining how your body reacts to the treatment. It should be noted, then, that the recovery process is just that: a process. Patients should learn to trust the system, even in the face of setbacks.
Other Drugs That are Used to Treat Opioid Addiction
Fortunately, Clonidine isn’t the only option available to you for help with your opioid addiction. There are so many other drugs that will work in the same way.
This medication is sold under the brain names Kai Er Ding and BritLofex. It has a few different uses, but treating opioid addiction is the main one. It is frequently used to treat heroin withdrawal. For those undergoing rapid detox, this medication may be combined with Naltrexone. Lofexidine helps by relieving many different withdrawal symptoms, keeping you comfortable during the process.
Guanfacine may be sold as Tenex, Intuniv, and Estulic. At this point, if this drug is used to treat opioid dependence, it would need to be done off label. There has been significant research done on treating alcoholism with this medication. It has shown to be quite promising. Researchers have drawn the conclusion that it might be useful for opioid addicts as well. This is due to the fact that there are other drugs used for both types of addictions.
This medication has not been approved for treating opioid addiction by the FDA. However, that doesn’t mean it cannot be used as an off label option. Many doctors do use it because it can help with some of the symptoms of withdrawal. Tizanidine can be purchased under the brand names, Zanaflex, Sirdalud, and Relentus. It is a medication that acts as a muscle relaxant. Typically, it is used to treat muscle spasms in people with multiple sclerosis, ALS, and other conditions. This drug might be more desirable because it’s easily tolerated than other medications.
The bottom line is that you do have additional options for your recovery. Clonidine might not be a drug that most doctors would consider to be addictive. However, it is possible to form an addiction to it. This is especially concerning for someone who is prone to addiction.
Getting treated for opioid addiction or alcoholism is so important. Still, don’t be afraid to ask for non-addictive medications to help your withdrawal symptoms. The last thing you want to do is to be stuck with a secondary addiction. If you are, you might have to detox all over again.
Further Treatment Notes
While one of the main concerns for facilities overseeing the detoxification of clonidine addicts is ensuring they are properly and safely tapered off of the drug, doing so is simply a medical detox and is only the first step towards true rehabilitation.
Overcoming physical addiction paves the way for truly investigating what it is that’s causing the addictive behaviors in the first place. Without the distractions of the physical dependence on the drug, patients are able to better tackle the mental and emotional hurdles in their lives without using a substance as a crutch.
Many treatment centers will feature counseling sessions, talk therapy, behavioral adjustment classes, stress management courses, and even art therapy and meditation. Supplementing the physical detoxification process with these additional programs can help patients reduce their risk of relapse, make meaningful changes in their lives, and give them an outlet to deal with any frustrations or concerns.
In that same vein, it’s worth noting that dealing with an addiction can be an especially difficult task. That’s why anyone addicted to clonidine or any other substance should seek out the help of a qualified medical professional before beginning on their path towards rehabilitation. There are a variety of addiction treatment options to choose from and you’re likely to find at least one that caters to your particular situation.
In addition to the various supplemental programs mentioned above, treatment centers also provide another extremely important quality when it comes to drug rehabilitation: safety. These facilities are manned by medical professionals that are trained to help make your rehabilitation as painless as possible.
This aspect is especially important for clonidine addicts as trying to manage this drug’s withdrawal symptoms not only might result in discomfort, they could even lead to death or other serious side effects like coma or heart problems. A treatment facility has access to both the knowledge and the equipment that might be necessary to keep you safe. They may even be able to offer you alternatives to medication detox altogether.
Mixing Marijuana and 207 Other Common Substances – What NOT to Do
Marijuana and Prescription Drugs
Weed can prompt adverse drug interactions with many specific prescription medications and even entire drug classes. Either may intensify the effects of the other, or marijuana may interfere with a medication’s desired effects.
Some specific medications should never be taken with marijuana because of adverse effects include:
- Antipyrine (NSAID for inflammation and fever) – Marijuana slows down how quickly the body metabolizes antipyrine, leading to increased side effects.
- Cartizem/Diltiazem (treats angina, arrhythmia, and hypertension) – Marijuana use impairs absorption and increases side effects.
- Chlorzoxazone (muscle relaxant for spasms) –Marijuana may reduce this medication’s effectiveness.
- Ciclosporin (immunosuppressive given for rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and organ reception) – Marijuana increases the speed of metabolization, increasing possible side effects.
- Clarithromycin/Biaxin (given to treat bacterial infections) – Because marijuana slows down how the liver breaks down this medication, side effects are intensified.
- Disulfiram/Antabuse (anti-drinking medication)—Using cannabis with disulfiram may induce hypomania—excitability, disinhibition, and irritability.
- Estrogen (birth control and menopause) – Marijuana slows down absorption, leading to worsened side effects.
- Indinavir/Crixivan (HIV/AIDS treatment) – Marijuana decreases the speed with which this drug is absorbed, causing increased side effects.
- Isoflurane (general anesthetic) – Marijuana changes how isoflurane is broken down by the liver, decreasing its effectiveness.
- Lovastatin/Mevacor (anti-cholesterol) – Marijuana slows down absorption, increasing Lovastatin’s side-effects.
- Theophylline (treatment for COPD and asthma) – This medication is less effective when used simultaneously with marijuana.
Marijuana can also interfere with a patient taking their prescription medications as directed. Almost 8% of patients testing positive for cannabis also tested negative for their legitimately-prescribed medications.
Marijuana and Anticoagulants
Blood clotting is slowed by marijuana use, thereby increasing the risk of excessive bleeding and bruising. Some anticoagulants that should NEVER be taken in combination with weed include:
- Clopidogrel/Plavix (heart disease and stroke)
- Dalteparin/Fragmin (pulmonary embolism and thrombosis)
- Enoxaparin/Lovenox (pulmonary embolism and thrombosis)
- Heparin (pulmonary embolism, thrombosis, and arterial thromboembolism)
- Wafarin/Coumadin (pulmonary embolism, thrombosis, stroke prevention)
Marijuana and Antidepressants
Mixing antidepressants and marijuana can increase the side effects of the medication – confusion, difficulty concentrating, drowsiness, dizziness, cognitive impairment, poor judgment, and worsened motor coordination.
In addition, using weed while taking SSRI antidepressants may result in increased incidence of mania – racing thoughts, restlessness, distractibility, poor impulse control, and irritability.
Concurrent use of SNRI antidepressants and cannabis can cause the body’s serotonin levels to fluctuate wildly, possibly resulting in sudden serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition characterized by poor coordination, jerky movements, tremors, and muscle rigidity.
Finally, both pot and tricyclic antidepressants can cause hypertension and tachycardia, even in individuals without a current heart condition.
Examples of SSRI antidepressants:
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro, Cipralex)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Seroxat)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Fluvoxamine (Luvox, Faverin)
- Sertraline (Zoloft, Lustral)
Examples of SNRI antidepressants:
- Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Levomilnacipran (Fetzima)
- Milnacipran (Ixel, Savella)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
Examples of tricyclic antidepressants:
- Amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)
- Amitriptylinoxide (Amioxid, Ambivalon, Equilibrin)
- Clomipramine (Anafranil)
- Desipramine (Norpramin, Pertofrane)
- Dibenzepin (Noveril, Victoril)
- Dimetacrine (Istonil)
- Dosulepin (Prothiaden)
- Doxepin (Adapin, Sinequan)
- Imipramine (Tofranil)
- Lofepramine (Lomont, Gamanil)
- Melitracen (Dixeran, Melixeran, Trausabun)
- Nitroxazepine (Sintamil)
- Nortriptyline (Pamelor, Aventyl)
- Noxiptiline (Agedal, Elronon, Nogedal)
- Opipramol (Insidon)
- Pipofezine (Azafen/Azaphen)
- Protriptyline (Vivactil)
- Trimipramine (Surmontil)
Marijuana and Antipsychotics
Antipsychotic medications are used to manage the symptoms of psychosis, especially as they present in patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. However, using marijuana while taking an antipsychotic can result in reduced blood plasma levels of the medication. Not only does this limit their effectiveness, but cannabis use is also itself associated with psychotic events, worsened depressive episodes, and rapid, unpredictable mood cycling.
Complicating this problem is the fact that regular weed users are not typically compliant with their medication schedules. This is particularly important because missing even a single dose of a mood-stabilizing medication can trigger psychotic flareups.
Examples of FDA-approved antipsychotics include:
- Aripiprazole (Abilify)
- Asenapine Maleate (Saphris)
- Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
- Clozapine (Clozaril)
- Droperidol (Innovar)
- Fluphenazine (Prolixin)
- Haloperidol (Haldol)
- Iloperidone (Fanapt)
- Lurasidone (Latuda)
- Molindobe (Moban)
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
- Paliperidone (Invega)
- Perphenazine (Trilafon)
- Pimozide (Orap)
- Quetiapine (Seroquel)
- Risperidone (Risperdal)
- Tiotixene (Navane)
- Ziprasidone (Geodon)
Marijuana and Barbiturates
Although they have largely been replaced as sleeping aids or anxiety medications by safer benzodiazepines, sedating barbiturates ARE still used. They are used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and cluster or migraine headaches. They are also used as general anesthetics and in assisted suicides. Drug experts caution against the simultaneous use of barbiturates and cannabis, because the combination may cause excessive drowsiness that can lead to accidents and injury.
Barbiturate medications include:
- Amobabital sodium
- Amytral sodium
- Butisol sodium
- Thiopental sodium
Marijuana and Benzodiazepines
Benzodiazepines are prescribed as anti-anxiety medications, sleeping aids, anticonvulsants, and muscle relaxants. As with barbiturates, the concurrent use of both benzos and weed can lead to over-sedation, with such side effects as confusion, inability to concentrate, excessive drowsiness. This can lead to accidents, injury, and dangerous dosage errors.
In the United States, the following benzodiazepines are approved by the FDA:
- Alprazolam/Xanax (anxiety and panic disorders)
- Chlordiazepoxide/Librium (anxiety and alcohol withdrawal)
- Clobazam/Onfi (anxiety and epileptic seizures)
- Clonazepam/Klonopin (panic disorder, seizures, and movement disorders)
- Clorazepate/Tranxene (anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, insomnia, and epileptic seizures)
- Diazepam/Valium (anxiety, alcohol/benzodiazepine/opioid dependence, insomnia, and panic attacks)
- Estazolam/ProSom (insomnia)
- Flunitrazepam/Rohypnol – “Roofies” are illegal in the United States but are used illicitly, primarily as a date rape drug.
- Flunitrazepam/Dalmane (mild/moderate insomnia)
- Lorazepam/Ativan (anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, insomnia, epileptic seizures, surgical procedure amnesia, and nausea or vomiting caused by chemotherapy)
- Midazolam/Versed (anxiety, anesthesia, insomnia, and sedation for medical procedures)
- Nitrazepam/Alodorm (insomnia and age-dependent epilepsy)
- Oxazepam/Seresta (insomnia, anxiety, alcohol withdrawal) – Oxazepam is the most-frequently detected illicitly-used prescription drug among recreational marijuana users.
- Quazepam/Doral (insomnia)
- Temazepam/Restoril (severe insomnia)
- Triazolam/Halcion (anxiety for medical or dental procedures, jet lag)
Although they are considered safe and effective for short-term use, benzodiazepines are among the most addictive and abused prescription medications. The use of any mood-altering substance – in this case, marijuana – that helps prime the brain for addiction is discouraged.
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