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    Old 11-24-2003, 09:25 AM   #1
    Emjaybee
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    Lightbulb What constitutes "addiction"?

    This one has been a thinker for me ever since my doctor put me on Xanax (1mg a day). I was worried about getting addicted to it, but then I started thinking, what does that really mean?

    For example, I have been taking asthma medication all my life, every day. Without it, I can't breathe. Does that make me addicted to my asthma meds? Is a diabetic addicted to insulin?

    Do you see what I'm saying here? When, exactly, does Xanax become an "addiction"? If I am taking it exactly as prescribed and it is helping me, am I addicted to it?

    I appreciate any responses or thoughts on this matter. Thanks.

    Last edited by Emjaybee; 11-24-2003 at 09:25 AM.

     
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    Old 11-24-2003, 10:29 AM   #2
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    Re: What constitutes "addiction"?

    Addiction is more of a social/psychological/euphora/drug-seeking thing. If you only take drugs to feel unusual, or euphoric, that's addiction.

    However, there is a physical side to taking pills that effect the brain; that's called dependancy. Dependancy is no good either because as the brain adapts to the chemicals, it may raise a fuss like creating tolerance(drug will stop working) or cause paradoxial (opposite of desired effect) or rebound effects when the drug wears off too soon. So benzos can actually worsen an original anxiety or sleep problem when one develops a drug dependancy or tolerance. Sometimes all this can develop in a few months or a few years. When it does, the person is worse off than before.

    Diabetes is not an accurate comparison, because blood sugar can be measured accurately, whereas the brain neurotransmitters can not and alot of the use of meds has been born of finding out that some drugs (former street drugs) have desirable side effects despite the fact they are neurotoxic..

    People usually do not develop tolerances to insulin; but they do to benzos and antidepressants. Tolerance is the way the brain fights off unwanted chemical intrusion, a sort of self-defense. As far as dependancy, the body had been proven to need insulin for proper sugar metabolism; there is no proof that the brain needs benzos or it would also be accurate to say it also needs alcohol, because alcohol and benzos work on the same neurotransmitter system, GABA.

    I heard one doctor say benzos are just a pill version of alcohol; around 1 mg. Xanax is the equivalant of 8 ounces gin.

    These are all facts to consider when deciding if benzo use will be for life or not. Look up the Ashton Manual for more information.

     
    Old 11-24-2003, 11:21 AM   #3
    monkyfunky
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    Re: What constitutes "addiction"?

    1111111111111111111111

    Last edited by monkyfunky; 02-28-2009 at 03:15 PM.

     
    Old 11-24-2003, 12:32 PM   #4
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    Re: What constitutes "addiction"?

    I'm not here to argue with anyone, but I have to agree with Jennita on this one.
    And totally disagree with you monkeyfunky.
    Because I'm the exception to everything you said.

    I took Xanax everyday for 7 years, I never took more than 1/2 a MG. a day.
    I never felt the need to take more, I never felt shakey between doses.

    I tried other things and they are they only thing that worked for me.
    I did gain complete freedom from my symptons, in fact I'm weaning off of the Xanax as we speak...I'm down to 1/4MG every other day.

    Yes, you COULD have a seizure...if you don't wean properly, but if done correctly, with the help of a Doctor, you shouldn't have a problem.
    You can't stop taking it cold turkey.

    Yes, some people become TOLORANT or DEPENDENT on them very quickly while others don't.

    Emjaybee, take Jennita's advice and look up the manual she suggested.

    Like I said, some people do become dependent or tolorant, others never do.

    I'll tell you what my Doctor told me.
    He said just because the bottle said I COULD take up to 1MG a day, didn't mean I needed to.
    I never did...I had the ability to talk myself out of a lot of my attacks, I couldn't always do that, and when I couldn't I took 1/2 MG and that worked for me.

    In the end the decision is yours to make, just make yourself aware of the draw backs this drug has for some, but not all people.

     
    Old 11-25-2003, 10:37 AM   #5
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    Re: What constitutes "addiction"?

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by monkyfunky
    That's not true. In fact quite the opposite is often the case, where people are taking drugs to feel normal. Benzo addiction is very real because benzos are highly addictive drugs.

    Why are they so addictive? Because they act on a number of reward pathways for the brain hence allowing for an association to develop between the drug and feelings of low anxiety. There may be feeling of euphoria experienced, but the truth is that most people on these medications don't even gain complete freedom from their symptoms whilst on them.

    Benzo's are also addictive because they create withrawal symptoms. In fact benzo's create worse withdrawal symptoms than heroin. Put simply, you can die from benzo withdawal by having a fatal seizure.

    Benzo's are the ultimate cover up drug. As you said correctly, they are basically dry alcohol. If you are taking benzo's to help your anxiety then you are adding to the anxiety trap and not breaking the cycle. I don't blame you, because it can be extremely difficult to cure anxiety, but please ask yourself whether you have really exhausted every other alternative.

    Benzo's aren't a long term solution. Your tolerance develops quite quickly, and some users find themselves on 8mg of xanax a day. That's a hell of a lot of drug to quiet those voices, and in all the time it has taken you to get to that dose you are unlikely to have achieved much real progress to cure your anxiety. Plus benzo's cause brain damage. Not a great deal at lowder doses, but at higher doses it may pose a threat. If you don't believe this then it's time to become aware to the real effects drugs have on you.

    First of all, thanks Gracie!(and your doc is awesome).

    Monkeyfunky, but it is true. You are simply mixing up "dependancy" with "addiction". As you said, some people take them to "feel normal".....that's dependancy. Addiction is for the unusual, over-desirable, euphoric feelings.

    I don't blame you because dependancy and addiction are interrelated and I used to assume that they were one in the same before too. Usually, when talking true street/addictive uses, benzos are simply used to "come down" from the more popular euphoria drugs like cocaine and heroin.

    In the world of psychiatry, they are often used to counteract the over-stimulating adverse effects of SSRi's (hmm, why not just stop the SSri..) But soon they can lose their effectiveness for that purpose too.

    I have heard of some people who at first get a "drunk" feeling from benzos if they are only taking them to "abuse", not for a condition, but that seems to be rare, since alcohol is more readily available for that! (and mixing drinks seems to be alot more fun and social!) I mean, if you want to get drunk, why not just go buy some vodka.....no prescription required. For addictive behaviors, benzos lose out to alcohol hands down.

    Anyway, I do agree with you, Monkeyfunky, about the brain damage issues and tolerance development issues concerning benzos. They really aren't a long-term solution for some people and I have heard about those large doses. What gets me is that there are still some doctors out there who think these drugs are like prescribing aspirin, but then turn around and blame the patient for tolerance and high doses when maybe it was their prescribing habits that lead the patient there to start with!! Ugghhhhhh!

    When I developed tolerance to Ativan, it was my DOCTOR who wanted to DOUBLE my dosage, not me!!!! Well good thing I had finally found Ashton's Manual and the websites or I'd be one of those high-dose-into detox people, ironically without an addictive bone in my body...(I've never even had a full alcoholic beverage; no cigs or drugs).

    So I dumped the benzo and the doctor, much to his surprize. I'm doing soooo much better now drug free. And ironically, the initial cause of my sudden mysterious symptoms(which then benzos were given for) turned out to be a reaction to codiene for a cold...

    If only I knew that at the time instead of following the usual criterias of the medical community; it would have saved me from alot of the suffering I went through in protracted withdrawals! Double Uggghhh.

     
    Old 11-25-2003, 12:03 PM   #6
    monkyfunky
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    Re: What constitutes "addiction"?

    11111111111111111111111

    Last edited by monkyfunky; 02-28-2009 at 03:15 PM.

     
    Old 11-25-2003, 09:40 PM   #7
    Some12
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    Smile Re: What constitutes "addiction"?

    I believe there is no such thing as the word "addiction" when it comes to something you have to have to stop symptoms of a disorder that you can't live with without the med. I take 4mg xanax a day. I think the only word you should worry about is "abuse". The norm for minimum dosage for panic attack is 4mg a day. If a person is taking less, all the better. I have been on xanax for over 7 years, and I do not beleive the effect wears off and you have to up the medications. You just have ups and downs and have to learn to just deal with them. Not taking sides, just my view of necessary medications, when you have no choice to live a somewhat normal life or just get through each day. Bless you all.

    Sickman

     
    Old 11-26-2003, 10:51 AM   #8
    Jennita
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    Re: What constitutes "addiction"?

    Monkeyfunky,

    A very good question!!! I know the answer but it is sometimes hard to express or for others to get, especially in cyberspace. I'll give it a try.

    A drug itself can be "addictive", or meaning can create physical dependancy....this doesn't mean the patient becomes an addict, or abuses, or is addicted like someone is addicted to the highs of cocaine. It means the brain becomes accustomed to the presence of the chemical doing certain things. The brain then does not try to do those things anymore on it's own.

    When a psychoactive chemical invades and effects/controls the brain on a regular basis, the brain becomes dependant on that chemical, or in other words, simply gets used to the chemical taking over certain functions of the brain. The person starts actually "needing" the chemical because taking it away would cause upset of what has been routine for the brain, and withdrawals will result.

    Sometimes withdrawals are mistaken for original condition, but all the research over the years has confirmed the withdrawal syndromes of certain meds, since the withdrawals are usually more intense than original condition, or new symptoms that weren't present before develop....and a whole lot of people who did decide to withdraw no matter what, found after some time they felt better.

    Take your Paxil for example. People were not only more anxious than originally upon withdrawal, but had things they never had before like brain zaps and dizziness. So Paxil is confirmed as a drug that causes the need for habitual use or the person will get ill simply from stopping the med....habitual use or something taken as habit is one definition of "addictive", and thus the ruling for Paxil, since it carried a distinct withdrawal syndrome which defines drug dependancy.

    There are no highs. Just a brain that becomes dependant on the action of the chemical. Doesn't sound so bad, right? Well, it can be. Because a dependant brain stops trying to make the chemicals it needs, becoming lazy. This can effect the rest of the body, as we know the brain controls alot of the body functions.

    It also has a sense of striving for homostatis or balance, and control. Our brains are different than other organs in that sense...it's smart. If it can't control, it starts a defense. I think this is where the development of tolerance begins. It starts to set up opposing neurotransmitters to the chemicals. This could take months or years, depending on drug, dosage, etc. So eventually you have a lazy brain which also has set up abnormal amounts of opposing neurotransmitters....a true imbalance. This is my explanation of research I read on the internet that a biochemistry phd/addictions specialist wrote whose father died from cold turkey Xanax withdrawal. I don't know if I conveyed it correctly.

    If a drug still works, you have not developed tolerance which is good, because with tolerance comes withdrawals while still on the medication. Tolerance is horrible because now not only is the brain dependant, but it is unbalanced. Stopping the drug at this point will be devastating, since now you have such imbalance(those opposing neurotransmitters) that it's like electrical storms are unleashed in the brain without the control of the drugs and the drugs themselves are no longer strong enough to control.

    If you are simply dependant, symptoms will usually only come upon discontinuation or between doses when the drug starts to wear off. Sometimes those wearing off symptoms are mistaken for original condition too. I know some people who weaned off drugs, survived withdrawal symptoms, then awaited the return of original condition, only to find it never came back! It's strange but true.

    But tolerance can develop at any time, even after years so one must consider the possibility at some point. If dosages get too high, doctors will sometimes freak and stop upping the dose. Some doctors don't and will drug a person into obilivion, although lately most doctors are getting more cautious about these drugs being over-prescribed, so trends will probably be changing.

    Of course, doctors do have a whole arsenial of drugs to use before that time. Unfortunately, if they get into the antipsychotics(the kings of brain control), they must later weigh the increasing of those drugs against the possibility of tardive dyskinesia. That can be an irreversable, disabling nervous system disorder.

    Even when one does "well" on ADs or benzos, there are also many physical ailments/diseases connected with them, like parkinsons', heart/kidney/liver problems, diabetes.

    One must weigh all that, and also realize that the imbalance/anxiety/depression theories resulted from LSD experiments in the '60's and other drug experiments....they realized some drugs had mood lifting side effects and thus concluded that anyone with mood problems must be lacking in the chemicals the drugs enhanced. Well, too bad they have no way of testing the brain for those chemicals, so it's all just a guess! There is no guesswork in serious disease like diabetes. Meanwhile, excess of those chemicals may be harmful to the brain and body, but who cares....??? Well, I do and I think good health is too precious.

    But to sum it up (way too late), a drug can be addictive (dependancy-habit forming) but not cause true, compulsive/euphoric/drug-seeking behaviors.

    And by no means if one develops tolerance and needs more of the drug for the same effect, are they an addict of any sort!

    Last edited by Jennita; 11-26-2003 at 11:03 AM.

     
    Old 11-26-2003, 10:53 AM   #9
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    Re: What constitutes "addiction"?

    Oh my god that was too long. Where was this gift of gab when I needed it for term papers in school.......

    Sorry for the sore eyes guys


    Anyway, for all the horror stories about ADs and benzos, there are the occassional ones like Gracie and her wonderful, cautious doctor who didn't give her much to start with and not on the idea of a lifelong, regular basis. She seems to be doing well enough.

    Hope I didn't offend anyone but I've been through some things related to this and have done alot of reading on the whole subject. Just though I'd pass on the info in case for those who do run into trouble with these drugs. I only wish good luck and health to everyone!

    Last edited by Jennita; 11-26-2003 at 11:00 AM.

     
    Old 11-26-2003, 12:22 PM   #10
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    Re: What constitutes "addiction"?

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    Last edited by monkyfunky; 02-28-2009 at 03:14 PM.

     
    Old 11-26-2003, 12:26 PM   #11
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    Re: What constitutes "addiction"?

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    Last edited by monkyfunky; 02-28-2009 at 03:14 PM.

     
    Old 11-26-2003, 01:36 PM   #12
    Emjaybee
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    Re: What constitutes "addiction"?

    Wow!! I had a feeling that this would spark some debate!! Keep those opinions coming, it's helping me sort everything out. Thanks so much, everyone!

     
    Old 11-26-2003, 07:12 PM   #13
    Jennita
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    Re: What constitutes "addiction"?

    Whew. I'm glad because I didn't want to confuse anyone(I get confused myself with some of this stuff)

    It's alot of semantics and alot of the lines inbetween the issues gets blurred by the medical community so we all have to look this stuff up ourselves sometimes.

    Glad I could help

     
    Old 11-27-2003, 01:14 PM   #14
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    Re: What constitutes "addiction"?

    Hey guys, if you are interested in this subject of addiction on theraputic doses of meds (in this case benzos) look at this thread from the depression forum that I have been participating in. It's a long read but me and another person have stuck with him through his problem with Xanax and Klonopin.

    If you read it all, you will realize that despite the fact he was following his doctors' prescribing, he developed tolerance. Along the way, he was practically treated like an addict by the doctors' office. He tried to withdraw(maybe too quick) and had too much trouble. He lost confidence in himself and insisted on going to detox despite some warnings that detox is usually a disappointment and quite inappropriate for non-abusers. He found that out for himself as he went ahead anyway.

    He is still trying to get off the drug but has lost alot of his will because he is afraid all this may lead to losing his job. Poor guy is having alot of trouble and his only crime was going to a doctor for some help with insomnia. He did have new symptoms when he went into withdrawal that he did not have previously, mainly breathing and heart stuff, so he's aware that the drug is causing him to feel so bad. He has been under doctor's care, detoxed and is still having problems, so he is very upset that he is still so ill. Going back to drugs will only create the cycle all over again since tolerance has already been develped. I hope he makes it.

    Anyway, if anyone cares to read his tale of woe, the link is [url]http://www.healthboards.com/boards/showthread.php?t=38468[/url]

    I need to go eat some turkey now! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    Last edited by Jennita; 11-27-2003 at 01:15 PM.

     
    Old 11-27-2003, 03:33 PM   #15
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    Re: What constitutes "addiction"?

    My heart goes out to him, what happened to him is terrible.

    I know I've said this before, but I feel like a freak of nature or something.
    As most of you know, I took Xanax for a very long time and never had any problems at all.
    I never felt like I needed to take more, never felt shakey between doses...none of that.
    I weaned off of it and never had a problem doing that, I didn't feel any different when I was weaning off than I did when I took it everyday.
    I don't understand why I was so lucky and then there are people like this poor man who have a horrible time, becoming dependent or tolorent so quickly and then have terrible problems when they try to go off.

    I guess I owe a lot of it to my Doctor.
    He told me in no uncertain terms from the very beginning that I had to be careful.
    He told me to never take more than 1MG a day, but I think the most important thing is, he told me just because the bottle said I COULD take 1MG a day, that didn't mean I needed to.
    He told me if I could talk myself out of an attack to do that before I took a pill.
    There were times that's just what I did.
    Maybe that's why I never had the problems this man has had.

    I have an appointment with my Doctor on Monday, I think maybe I should tell him just how grateful I am that he never allowed me to take more than 1MG a day, he probably saved me from what this man has gone through.

     
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