Archives for Feelings

Is Xanax or Klonopin Killing You?

I’ve written about the dangers of Xanax (alprazolam), Klonopin (clonazepam), and other drugs in a class of drugs called ‘benzodiazepines’.  The drugs are grossly over-used by patients, and over-prescribed by psychiatrists, usually for patient complaints of anxiety.

My primary concern over use of benzodiazepines is that when used to treat anxiety, they are more likely to aggravate than improve a patient’s symptoms, especially if taken regularly.  Patients develop physical and psychological dependence to benzodiazepines very quickly.  Once physically tolerant, patients experience withdrawal symptoms if...
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Addiction

Not Yet

I’m always impressed by the power of our ‘unconscious.’  I realize that people have a range of models for conceptualizing how our minds work;  my own combination of education, analysis, and observation has led to an understanding that ‘works for me.’

My conscious mind works in series, holding one or two thoughts at a time and proceeding in a somewhat-linear fashion.  The unconscious, on the other hand, is an amalgam of countless processes that never end, epiphenomena...
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Feelings

After Dad’s Passing

My dad passed away two days ago, one day after his 89th birthday.  It doesn’t feel quite right to post something so personal.  But it feels more wrong to write about anything else.

Writing was a source of tension between us in some ways.  My perspectives on myself, my parents, and my upbringing have changed over the years, and I tried to share my observations with my dad in several short essays centered around memories from my...
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Addiction

A Tool, Not a Cure

Please review my prior post, as my comments will refer to an email in that post.

There are many directions that we could take as we review that message.  My overall impression, as I read the letter, was of a person struggling to accept the reality of his condition.  Over and over, the person repeated the same behavior, starting Suboxone, stopping, and thinking this time will be different.

One thing I’ve learned as a psychiatrist, more than anything, is that change is difficult, and rare.  The writer ends with the thought that maybe this time will REALLY be different.  I have no idea if it will be, and for his sake, I hope it is… but unfortunately, the odds are that history will repeat itself.
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Buprenorphine

Treating Depression with Opioids?

I received this message today:
Hi, you probably answer this quite a bit. I've been depressed for as long as i can remember.

Ive been on the ssris, snris, amphetamines and methylphenadate but none of these have worked as well as opiates. (Certainly short term,I don't take for long periods of time). But have you ever used suboxone or oxymorphone for depression?
Depression is probably a broad term, for what may be multiple conditions. For example, some people become depressed almost as if it is part of their nature--- they will get episodes of depression even when everything in life is going well, in spite of good marriages, healthy children and an absence of significant baggage from the past-- at least baggage that is visible.

Other people will present with depression that has developed after a series of blows to their sense of self or self-worth--- after a health scare, job loss, divorce, death of a child, or perhaps from carrying around guilt or shame from abuse that occurred during their childhood.

Does it matter whether the depression is more like the first or the second category? I think so, but I have no proof that my perception is accurate. I will see different responses to medications by people with different types of depression, but I'm always challenging that perception, realizing how easy it is to be 'fooled by randomness', to copy a phrase from a book title.

In my experience, the second person is more likely to bounce back, providing the negative onslaught eventually stops. But the people in the first group are more difficult to treat, especially if the depression becomes part of how a person defines him or herself--- as it is very difficult to change self-perception.
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Addiction

Opioids and BPD

I appreciate the feedback to my last post.  I had no doubt that the thoughts expressed in the original letter would ring such a chord, as I hear similar comments on a daily basis.  For people new to my blog this week, please review the letter in last week’s post, as that is where I’m starting today.

I had the same ‘love at first site’ reaction to opioids described by many people who become addicted.  My addiction began with a relatively weak opioid — codeine —but I still remember lying in bed as the effects of the substance drifted over me, easing the life-long depression that I had long accepted as ‘just how things are.’

I should make clear at this point that I do not mean to recommend that depressed people take opioids.  Unfortunately, every bit of relief that I found from opioids had to be paid back, in the form of sadness, loss, and despair.  There is some possibility that medicine will find a way to tap into the powerful mood effects of opioids at some point, but we are NOT there now.

For people who are thinking ‘I’m smart—I’ll find a way to tame the beast,’ I can only plead that you look beyond that feeling of uniqueness.  I was a pretty smart guy too. But a PhD in neurochemistry, honors in medicine, and board certification in anesthesiology offered no protection against addiction.  If anything, that advanced knowledge made me more difficult to treat.
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Addiction

Buprenorphine for BPD?

I would like to discuss a comment from a reader:

I have been a recovering addict for 12 years. I was addicted primarily to Lortabs (active ingredient is hydrocodone) and Ultram. I was never an extreme user but I was consistently trying to modulate my feelings and feel better. I also have been battling BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) for a very long time which appears to be my primary issue. I have been married for 17 years and let’s just say our relationship is difficult due to my inability to be present and emotionally and psychologically sound.

As with most other addicts, I distinctly remember the first opioid I took, even though I don’t remember my first sexual experience. The opioid made me feel unlike I had ever felt-- like I was “normal” in a way, and happy, which was unusual for me.

Since I quit using 12 years ago I have only had a few days, yes, days, where I have truly felt good, and that was after intense work with someone for hours and hours at a time to help me get through an intense emotional roller coaster ride. I will feel “normal and happy” for a few hours or maybe a day and then I feel the despair creeping back in. I cut my thumb the other day and the first thought that I had was, I wonder if this injury will be sufficient enough to allow me a Lortab? I just never feel right without an opioid in my system.

I have been researching drugs available to help me. I have tried many different antidepressants which were never helpful. I am wondering about a small dose of Suboxone (maybe 2 mg/day) which I have read may decrease some of the problems associated with BPD. I have been reading that persons with BPD have shown to have an opioid deficit and that 40% of those with BPD are addicts.
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