Fears of Addiction To Medications for Brain Illness

I don’t want to get addicted!

We agree.  Who does set out to get addicted?  Is that really a starting motive for anyone?  “Ok.  I’m going to take this pill crossing my fingers that I get addicted.”  Even those of us who have suffered from addictions of illicit substances such as cocaine didn’t get into it hoping it would hook us real good.

pills galore

Image by "Boots McKenzie" via Flickr

So here are some questions for you:

  1. Do you have this concern about psychotropic (i.e. for the brain) medication?
  2. How do you see prescription medications for brain illness in comparison to illicit drugs?
  • Are they related?
  • And if so, how?
  1. Is there a difference in addictive qualities between one medication for the brain and another?
    • Is there a difference in addictive qualities between a medication for the brain and a medication for the rest of the body?
  2. Does the amount of time we stay on medication affect our risk of addiction?
    • I.e., more time, more addiction?
  3. What are other fears re: the risk of addiction with psychotropic medication that you have or think others may have?

Fears can be anxiety provoking filling us with dread and avoidance, including fears of medication addiction.  However, they can also promote a more deliberate course.  We can use our fears to get friendly with ourselves.  We can use our fears.  Fears can be a the energy we needed to do the work, to gain clarity about what we need to consider fair warning and what should be thrown out.

Self-Care Tip #284 – Use your fears as a tool to clarify what precautions are worth keeping and cleanse your stigmas otherwise.

14 thoughts on “Fears of Addiction To Medications for Brain Illness

  1. I don’t fear addiction as much as I fear the inevitable dip I’ll take when my doc decides it’s time to take me off Cymbalta. I guess he’ll know how to deal with it.

  2. Lamictal and Wellbutrin combo seems to help. I depend on them but as they are not opiate based(I think) I am not addicted. Why would responsible MD’s prescribe Librium, Valium or Xanax?

    • your meds sound like a gift for u carl and i celebrate what healing has come. your question however, sounds like a hook w a worm on it and i’m about to turn into a fried fish. lure. glub glub. i do prescribe benzodiazepines. (ahhh! the hook!) they are useful but require (wearing my fish crown) skill, knowledge and wisdom to use. (unhooking now as best i can – i’m out!)

  3. I also don’t fear addiction as much as “change”. Starting a new medication or the possibility my doctor will say you have been on your anxiety meds for too long and take me off of them. I wonder if being on the same medication for years we somehow become desensitized. I just have to take a breath and trust in the relationship I am beginning to build with my Doctor.

  4. 1. Do you have this concern of becoming addicted about psychotropic medication?
    No concerns, really. Any meds have side effects, something as simple as tremors, or more complicated such as addiction, like in the case of Xanax.

    2. How do you see prescription medications for brain illness in comparison to illicit drugs?
    Both are meant for the brain. While prescription medications for the brain illnesses are for the purpose to treat an illness, illicit drug are meant to create a false sense of ‘pleasurable feeling’.

    3. Is there a difference in addictive qualities between one medication for the brain and another?
    Yes, some anti-anxiety medications, for example, can become addictive for the patient. Also, a patient can develop a higher tolerance to a medication requiring to either increase the dose or change to a different med, as it was the case for me when I took Ambien to help me go to sleep.

    4. Is there a difference in addictive qualities between a medication for the brain and a medication for the rest of the body?
    I have heard that there are some pain medications that can be addictive.

    5. Does the amount of time we stay on medication affect our risk of addiction?
    I have never tried an illicit drug in my life, so I don’t have a point of reference to go on. However, as I mentioned before, I body can develop a tolerance to a certain medication, hence the need to move on onto a different med.

    6. What are other fears re: the risk of addiction with psychotropic medication that you have or think others may have?
    I am more concern that the meds will loose their ‘power’ and I will need to look for a different med. This happens every few years I am on a med.

    Doc, will it be fair to say the addiction is nothing more than a well developed tolerance to a substance regardless whether it is an illicit drug or medication?

    • thank u so much LV for your comment. one through six. your thoughts r resounding through the comments i am reading and u r not alone. the question u ended with… good one. long response but not to be passed by. for now though, would u be tell me if there is anything of use in the blog-post, “Are Your Meds Safe?” http://bit.ly/lh1cBh? always luv the feeling like i’m self-promoting. ugh. hugs despite the flush.

  5. My doctor put me on Paxil but failed to tell me if I go off I will get brain Zaps…so now I am seeking to get off it…. only been on it for three months….Lexapro does not do this…but I was less social on it….I am addicted to paxil because if I go off the brain zaps are horrible…praying I can go back on lexapro without a problem. Do u know?

    • Paroxetine (Paxil) has a reputation for being difficult to come of because it is metabolized so fast. the thought is that our receptors that paroxetine hits don’t have enough time to aclimate to the changes and we go through a discontinuation syndrome. a discontinuation syndrome is very different from dependence or addiction, though, uniquely horrible to experience. it can b done. gentle, low and slow does it, is what they say on the sidewalk at least…. Let us know.

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