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Epinephrine inhaler/Primatene Mist addiction
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Epinephrine inhaler/Primatene Mist addiction

I have a strange question with strange circumstances. To start, here's the basis of my question: Is it possible to be addicted to an Epinephrine inhaler (Primatene Mist)?

The short story: I'm an asthmatic smoker (trying to quit, trust me). I lost my insurance several years ago and had to start using Primatene Mist to control my asthma as doctor fees and prescriptions cost way too much when you're without insurance. As you may know, Primatene is going off the market December 31st of this year (2011) so I was in a quandary. Eventually, and with the support of a great family, I've been able to get in to see a doctor and have gotten back on prescription asthma controller medicines (and have been making great strides in my goal of quitting smoking within the month).

Since I've started back on maintenance medication, I've noticed that I don't feel as good as I did while on Primatene. I have a lot more tightness in my chest (not terrible, but noticeable) that one puff of Primatene would have taken care of. This got me thinking about how often I actually used Primatene and it was an ungodly amount. I know how horrible this is, but I would go through  one inhaler over 2-3 days. One Primatene Mist inhaler should last at least three weeks to a month. It was then that I realized I may be addicted to the Epinephrine. But I can't find anything about Epinephrine addiction, worst case scenarios, etc.

I know I don't need the inhaler anymore (since I have safer, doctor prescribed inhalers to address my asthma), but I feel the constant need to take a puff.

This might all sound silly--maybe I'm over thinking this, but I'm concerned because I need to be able to not have this stuff (since it's leaving the market) and, if it is that bad, I shouldn't be doing it. I've never had an official problem with any kind of addiction, though I did drink heavily for a few years and I smoke regularly. Thankfully, a fwe of my old drinking buddies realized their problem and sought out help which, by transference, helped me quit drinking since I had no one to drink with. But this Epinephrine thing is different because most people I know, even close friends, don't know that I use the inhaler. I don't know who to talk to about this and I don't know what my situation really is. I've never told a doctor how much I used the epi. inhaler--I was hoping to just stop using it and be done with it, but now that I'm trying to, it's showing how much I used it and feel like I need it.

I'm sorry if this post is somewhat staggered and confusing. I've been trying to get this all down coherently, but I don't want to misspeak. Any help or advice would be well appreciated (even if it's just information on the inhaler and and resources on addiction to epinephrine).
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11 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_m_tn
Love to know if you have had any luck with this? I have a similar situation and I too rely on the Primatene Mist inhaler as well. I go thru one every 4 to 5 days. I am certain, once it is out of our systems for a while we will not need it but I am sure it will not be a fun time. Any insight on any ways to break or curve the crash would be greatly appreciated.
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1831920_tn?1320861357
Are you a type A personality?  Do you thrive on having too much to do, tight deadlines, running from meeting to meeting, or are you an adrenaline junkie?  That is all that I could find that could expalain an addiction to epinephrine.  Do you get an adrenaline rush when you use the inhaler?
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Avatar_n_tn
Hi there--I'm so glad you're here. You are not an addict, but your body has been acclimated to the Primatene. Primatene is a chemical hammer! It can be deadly, too. I'm glad your loving family helped with the expense of seeing a doctor. Well, you need to make one more visit and tell that doctor what you told us. Go to him THIS WEEK. If you are having chest tightness, your asthma is still not under control. The doctor may have to change your inhaler(s) or even add another to your current regimen. Asthma is very treatable these days, and I know that if you see your doctor and are diligent in reporting any problems to him/her that you'll do well. Communication is EVERYTHING in a doctor/patient relationship! Please post and let us know how you are doing. I wish you all the best!
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1831920_tn?1320861357
Can you ask your dr about some other type of inhaler to get your asthma under control?
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for all the feedback, everyone.
I think everyone is hitting on key points with Primatene. Epinephrine is an inhaled adrenaline. You don't get the same adrenaline rush as if you injected it as not a lot of it gets into your blood stream. It is incredibly effective at opening your lungs up, though.
Anyway, I've been on QVAR as a maintenance and Proventil as a rescue since I made the initial post and I don't feel the need for Primatene anymore.
Mostly, I think this was a psychological thing as it was what I had been using for a while and the thought of it going away was fairly scary. I've definitely noticed some effects of going off of it, though. I feel less energetic, less focused, more tired, etc. This, I think, had to do with the little bit of adrenaline rush I did get.
And to Ann's point, yes, I am somewhat of a Type A when it comes to deadlines. I like having goals, achieving them, and moving on so this might have had something to do with it. But I wasn't using Primatene to get that rush, it was just a side effect. If anything, I think I've actually calmed down a bit since going off Primatene.
Mike, there isn't really a 'crash.' If you're an asthmatic you should get to a doctor and get prescriptions if possible. I basically just transitioned from the Primatene to the prescriptions. The biggest issue is that I have to get used to a certain way of breathing again. Perhaps the best part of Primatene is that you feel like you could inhale like a champ all the time. Asthmatics, even when under great control, are still a little hard of breathing at times. Also, I've been much more strict on an exercise regimen. I make sure to get my heart rate up a few times a day (to create that natural adrenaline).
I wish I could find some studies or research to explain the actual effects of the Primatene inhalers. All I've been told is that it's bad and it's synthetic adrenaline, but never why. Doctors want me on prescriptions (because they make money off that). Pharmacists, same thing. I want to know what the actual long term ill effects are of Primatene. If any one has any research to explain that, I'd love to see it.
Anyway, thanks for all the responses, everyone. It's been very helpful.
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1831920_tn?1320861357
Glad we could help.  This forum is very supportive of people that come here.
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Avatar_f_tn
Personally I think the CFC police should have left asthma inhalers alone.  NONE and I really mean not one of several prescriptions I've tried, have been as good as the CFC ones.  I have been on prescription albuterol for half my life.  I noticed the change in the CFC to non-CFC prescription inhalers.  

Some even seem to bring on an asthma attack - like inhaling a chemical that doesn't agree with you.  (I can't remember the brand, sorry.)  Currently on ProAir, but I miss Primatene (for when I couldn't afford the doc & prescription refill) and my prescription CFC inhalers SO BAD!
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Avatar_f_tn
I to miss Primatene I think they should have left things alone ever since they took it off the market I have been in the hospital twice with asthma attacks and now they have me on Albuterol Spriva and Advair plus Predsone so I will take primatene back anyday because this other crap is not doing nothing for me.The Doctors know primatene helped a lot of people and they wanted the money.I felt so much better with primatene and I hope it comes back soon.
So please put back Primatene back on the shelves........
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Avatar_m_tn
i have also used primatene for years.  i am now on proventil, and it seems not to react as quick as the primatene, nor does it last as long.
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Avatar_m_tn
Just wondering how your transition off primatene is going? I also am an asthmatic smoker, and have been using primatene for many many years. However not as often as you, I may go through one inhaler every 3-4 weeks. But I do agree that the prescription inhalers do not do as good a job. I am currently on a ventolin inhaler. I am doing ok with it however I to have noticed a little more tightness in my chest than I am used to. When I used primatene a couple puffs in the morning would last me all day. I am using my ventolin multiple times a day so there is a very big difference in the performance of the prescription inhaler. I heard that primatene mist will be coming back soon, and that they are reformulating it without the CFC's. Has anyone heard any progress on this or can even confirm the truth to it? I really hope it returns soon as the prescriptions are expensive and not as effective.
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Avatar_m_tn
This sounds like a shill for the same powers that forced Primatene mist off the market.  

Primatene worked wonderfully for me for over 55 years - better than any other product.  The removal of Primatene mist has nothing to do with environmental protection.  That is just a smokescreen.  This is about GREED.
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