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Fioricet Abuse
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Fioricet Abuse

A number of people here have endured butalbital addiction and have given some pretty dismal portrayals.  I'd like to echo what "confused" has stated.  I've been taking fioricet since about 1988 because of chronic headaches.  In the mid-90's I even took myself off of them for a couple of years because I didn't think they were helping me that much ( and at the time, I was able to manage my headaches without it).  
Over the past three years, my Dr. has also started limiting me to 30 pills every three weeks. He has also said that I shouldn't take more than 2 in a day.  
As of this point in my life, these are the only pills that help me manage my headaches and help me to function normally when I have a headache.  
I've recently been told that my sinuses are so bad that I will have to have a third surgery.  I've known that I am in pain and that fioricet helps me to deal with the pain, so during these painful times, I have a very hard time making it three weeks to my next prescription.  But there are also plenty of times when I will go a week or more without any at all (either because the pain is manageable or because I am all out and cannot refill).  There do not seem to be any rebound issues and I cannot say that I've experienced anything like the addiction stories told here.  
I would think that I would have a pretty high tolerance for this medicine by now, but I've never taken more than two tablets. You would think that two tablets would have become ineffective by this stage in my life, but they still work for me.
I'm sorry if others have suffered because of this drug, but I would suffer without it.
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28 Comments Post a Comment
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340590_tn?1290955741
Welcome to the forum.  Are you planning to get off the pills?
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi there!

Gosh, reading this scares me for you!  I have (MANY times) thought that a med was helping me to lead a normal life.  (Tramadol was my "feel normal but not high" pill.  It's sneaky.)  Anyway, I have seen people on here who started taking their meds as prescribed, built a tolerance and before long..........BLAM.....addicted!  

Did you know that you can have a seizure on one of the occasions that you run out of pills and can't get a refill for another week?  Scary.  I had one while driving before.  It was horrible.  I have a rod and plate in my arm to show for it.  And a car that I can't tell what it is in the pictures.  

Just be careful.  The people here will support you if and when you decide to stop. I couldn't have done it without the support and advice I found here!

Best of luck to you!  

TH
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Avatar_f_tn
Tram~ You're absolutely right!!

Genuis(Genius)~    Be very,very careful. Please.  You say it helps and you have no problem...but it begs the question:  Why did you come on a substance abuse/addiction forum?  Just to tell us how much this helps you?  Hmmm...Don't mean to be rude at all but this is a very scary drug.  It will bite you bad!

Vicki
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1135275_tn?1326582465
i feel very comfortable in saying i can really relate to you. there was a time many years ago when i took these things by the handful...literally. there were a few times i was inches from death. once i was so high and in such a dream like daze that i thought i could see heaven and i could feel my breathing start to stop. everything felt white...all i could do was smile and wait to die...that high almost cost me my life. thats the closest i've ever come to death. somethign that night made me take a picture of myself. i still have it and i truly look like i was at deaths door. i've never been so pale and the shadows under my eyes have never been so dark. i have NO idea how many pills i took. anyway....that addiction started exactly the way yours is.

i got sober for nearly 10 years...not by choice. doctors made me and i was underage so i couldn't doctor shop, or i would have. thank God for that! i would be dead otherwise. unfortunately as an adult i only held on to sobriety for so long. about 3 or 4 years ago, i got back on my meds...but amazingly, i've kept my dose at 2 a day.

currently my doctor limits me to about 30 every 20 days and so i too end up running out. it's a terrible existance but making the final leap is sooooooooo hard. if you're able to, i suggest you seriously discuss trying alternative medications with your doctor. this medicine GENUINELY helps many people...but at a very high risk. the risk ISN'T worth it if you can find other meds to help wtih your pain. more importantly butalbital is a barbiturate...barbiturates INCREASE sensitivity to pain and because of its very long half life, this pain would carry over to the next day. also it causes rebound migraines when taken daily. this med really does work, but not when abused. it simply CAN'T work when it's abused...literally it can't. the effectiveness goes down to that of baby asprin and you're left drunkish and in more pain that you started with...plus addicted. the nature of barbiturates prevents them from being used every day.

in any event, there are this who've been successful in getting off this horrible drug. vicki is one of them who's had a fair amount of clean time recently. i will echo what the others have said, this is a dangerous drug and better left alone unless it's really the ONLY thing that will help with your pain...and even then it should be used with great caution and a with doctor who will not allow it to be over used.

i know you're on a fairly low dose...only 2 tabs a day. if you decide to get off it, i'd speak with your doctor and see if he wants a taper or just stop. you mention this drug helps with a lot of different things for you....if i were you i would wonder what it would be like to spend a month or two with out it and see if you still suffer those same problems. it may be the drug itself has turned on you...or it may be that if you DO still have those problems, there is something far safer your doctor would recommend as an alternative.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you all for your support.  I guess my reasoning for seeking out this forum was to try to understand where my dr. is coming from.  I think you've all helped in that regard and I have more information as I try to treat my conditions.
I understand that most of you would have to think that I am addicted to this medicine and perhaps "addiction" is an appropriate term. (Although I am still reluctant to apply it to myself). I'm sure physiologically I've built up tolerance; I know that the medicine does not "hit" me as hard as it used to, but as I stated, I have never taken more than two.

What would happen if I stopped taking fioricet?  As I mentioned earlier, I've voluntarily gotten off of it before quite easily, so it is hard for me to see that it would be any different now.  I also frequently go a week or more without the drug and it is not always because I run out of pills.  If my conditions (sinusitius, migraines) are under control, I don't need the drug.  
I really believe this.
But my conditions are severe enough (I think I mentioned a need for another sinus surgery) that when I am in pain, it is clearly from blocked sinuses or sinusitus that has inspired a classic migraine.  (These can be daily issues for me.)  I don't believe that this medicine is related to my conditions, but it is an effective treatment.
I certainly do not want to be disrespectful to those who struggle with this drug; or try to portray it as "safe",  I am simply trying to learn more about it.
Thank you for all your help.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi~  As I said,this drug will eventually bite you.  I know all too well how it relieves pain.
But,remember,you're taking a barbiturate that is highly addictive.  And,after all these years,I'm certain you are addicted to it on some level.  What to do?
Tell your doctor of your concerns.  Ask him to suggest a way to stop taking it,as in a
taper plan.  Use other meds for pain:  Fioricet contains apap and caffeine. You can suffer withdrawals from that as well. But,a cup of coffee and some Motrin or Tylenol might help your headache. Take Sudafed.      You stopped taking this before but went back to it. Do you see a problem with that?       This is just a horrible drug long term
and you've taken it way too long.     Do what you can to get off of it.
All the best~
Vicki
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Avatar_f_tn
Ditto!  Do what you have to do to stop it and find an alternative for your pain.  


Say it is the best case scenario, and you are not addicted.  OK......how much longer before you are?  It is a controlled drug for a reason.  Barbiturates are habit forming.  You will eventually find yourself doing anything you have to do to keep it in your system.  I know this, not because of reading I have done, but because I have been there.


I don't want to see you get in bad shape over this!  I would definitely talk with a doctor.  Your doctor knows of the danger, or he wouldn't limit your intake to the amount he gives you.  Right?  


Good luck to you!!!

TH
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Avatar_m_tn
I'm learning a lot.  But as long as I've been down this road with Fioricet, I've tried a lot of other drugs and other treatments, even stronger narcotics which I didn't like.  Getting effective relief is really the first order and this has seemed to be the least of all the evils I've tried.

At the same time, I'm not blind to the possibilities.  I've always tried to be safe with the drug and I'm here to learn how to be safer.  I understand that it is not a good situation.  But to me it is comparable to the fact that I can't go a month without being on antibiotics for a sinus infection.  This is also a dangerous long-term position to be in.  At some point in my life they will also fail to work for me.  But what can I do?

With all this bieng said, what signs of addiction should I watch for?  There are a number of general warnings here that the drug will "bite" me or "bam" I'll be addicted, but what form do these things take?  In twenty two years with this drug, I really have had no bad experiences.  As I said before, I am not trying to be a smartass, I'm just trying to learn.
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Avatar_f_tn
And I would love to teach you.... :)

Signs of addiction to Fioricet:

Running out of rx early~
Thinking about it~
Thinking about where else you could get it~
Loss of appetite~
Anxiety~
Taking a pill first thing in the morning~
Taking a pill before you have pain to"prevent pain"~
Feeling shakey (shaky) if you've not taken a pill~
Never leaving the house with a pill~
Feeling nervous about running out~
Counting pills~
Not wanting to go away/out of town unless you have pills~
Not wanting to take anything else for pain relief because"Fioricet works the best"~
Taking it on a daily basis~
Feeling reassured when you run out that you can always get it filled again~

Just to name a few things...

The thing is...Fioricet is not a good Migraine medicine. It never was. It's good for a tension headache but so is aspirin.    For sinus problems it's really not a good choice.
I'm not sure why your sinus problems have not resolved in 22 years.  There's so much you can do for bad sinuses and there are meds that are far better for pain relief.  

Let me ask you this:  Do you think you could throw that bottle of Fioricet away right now and never take it again?

Let me know~~~
Vicki
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Avatar_m_tn
I think I've learned all I can here.  I've tried to be respectful.  I'm not sure you understand (or have tried to understand) my pain issues or my condition.  Most of the addiction concerns you've listed would simply apply to someone in severe pain.  So the fact that I'm in severe pain means that I'm addicted?  And you're saying that this drug cannot be taken responsibly?  

In answer to your question:
I believe that I could throw away the bottle of Fioricet right now and never take it again if I had an effective alternate treatment.  I've been looking for a long time.  Any realistic suggestions that don't belittle my condition?
Take care.
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Avatar_f_tn
I am not here to belittle.  I have no desire to do that to anyone, nor would there be any benefit to that.  However, many, MANY people have chronic pain.   Me included.  We have to learn to handle it in a reasonable way.  I am learning every single day.  I have been very irresponsible.  You say that you have not.  Is it possible that you are a little bit in denial about what is going on inside your own mind and body?  I was that way for a very long time.  I was in pain and wanted something to stop it, and that was a good enough reason.  So leave me alone, right?  Believe it or not....I DO understand what you are going through.  I also believe that you have tried other meds.  But listen, you are always going to see the "big gun" drugs as the better alternative.  Why take motrin or tylenol and still hurt a little, when you can take something stronger and stop it?  Why?  Because it is addictive and you are not an exception to the rule that it can get anyone!!!  I wasn't and neither are you.  : ) BUT I wanted to be!  

Again....I DO understand your pain issues.  And many others here will too.  However, as long as you continue to take something that is harmful, rather it is an "effective treatment" or not, you will never get any better.  Rebound pain is very real pain.  I have been there.

I wish you all the best and I do hope that someone can help you with the sinus problems.  I know that is miserable.  I just had major surgery to stop my chronic pain.  Thank the Lord it worked, and I am better!  Maybe you can find someone to help with yours and get off the meds!

All the best of luck to you!

TH
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Avatar_f_tn
There would be no point for me to belittle your condition. That is just not what I'm all about. However,I'm realistic and pragmatic. I understand pain issues,trust me.
Here's the thing: You are a bit defensive about this. Fioricet is addicting.  You're saying you've been in severe,chronic pain for 22 years.  You want suggestions...I understand that. But this is a forum for substance abuse and we come from that discipline.
You need an excellent ENT who can get to the root of your sinus condition. And you need to know that Fioicet WILL cause headaches,face pain,and neck pain,in and of itself.  
Good luck~
Vicki
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1135275_tn?1326582465
well, in my experience, fioriNAL was an excellent migraine medication. it killed a full blown migraine in a half hour and i felt like  a brand new person. of course, asprin does tend to treat migraine pain better than tylenol. i think it's like the triptans as far as treating migraines...for some people they work, and for some people they simply don't work so well. for me they worked. they no longer work, though, as i've built a tolerance to their effects. now if i were to take about 3 or 4 during a migraine, i'd be on cloud 9 and pain free...but i don't allow myself. amazingly, i've got that much self control.

but as far as your pain goes, there are other drugs out there that are far less addicting...muscle relaxers. i'd stay away from soma because it's very close in its effects to barbs and benzo's. but basically this is a discussion you need to have with your doctor.

my first signs of addiction the 2nd time around were when i would come home from a hard stressful day and decide i would 'treat' myself. this happened maybe once or twice a week or even less often.....then slowly it became every day. my theory is as soon as you're using it for any purpose other than intended, it's dangerous. my theory is it's a horrible drug for chronic migraine UNLESS it's absolutely the only thing that works....it does increase sensitivity to pain. also you need higher and higher doses to maintain whatever effect it does have.

heres what i would wonder and what i think you should ask your doctor about...

are the benefits you're experiencing from taking this drug from it's muscle relaxant effects? are they because of rebound effects? or is it specific to it being a barbiturate? that needs to be explored by u and your doc.
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1135275_tn?1326582465
i should add that most effects this drug has are NOT specific to it being a barbiturate. most effects can be obtained via other less dangerous drugs. thats why those questions would be important to ask.
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Avatar_f_tn
My experience with Firocet was that it worked for some headaches but not all .  After a while on the same dosage I still had the headaches. I think I took them off and on for about 2 months.  When I went back to the Dr. he sent me for a CT scan and to a neuro .  He took me off the Firocet and put me on Immitrex, which I never took because he discovered they were sinus headaches and thought neither drug would be effective.  Well I just stop taking the Firocet and he said you may have a rebound affect.  I had no idea what that meant but , Oh did I have headaches and face pain etc for about 4 days.  It was horrible.   My Dr. mentioned after that it does have a way of making a problem worst rather than better and that is why after the 2 months he stepped it up to see what was really wrong and get me off of the meds.  My headaches were never as frequent once I was off of them .  
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1135275_tn?1326582465
I'm sorry, i didn't fully read everything earily. i must have missed this,

"So the fact that I'm in severe pain means that I'm addicted?  And you're saying that this drug cannot be taken responsibly? "

no it doesn't mean you're addicted. when a person is prescribed morphine or fentanyl or oxycontin or seconal or tuinal or nembutal, they generally aren't addicted. they generally DO have a legit reason to use them. they then become addicted. it's the danger of the drug itself.

if you are not addicted to this drug and do not have any concerns over becoming addicted, i believe you are in the wrong forum. there is a chronic pain forum and other forums more specific to your needs. perhaps there you could find alternative medication suggestions or even therapies. it seems thats what you're looking for. if you want to continue this medication as is because you feel you have no problem, then by all means continue...there's many people who do take it without any addiction issues whatsoever. there's also people who play with fire and never get burned. but i feel you could potentially be in the wrong forum though and that my earlier advice probably isn't going to do you much good.
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