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hydrocodone improves focus?
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hydrocodone improves focus?

Background for a seemingly bizarre question... For many years I had been diagnosed with ADD based on symptoms of lack of focus and difficulty in task completion, particularly in writing. This led to me pulling 'all-nighters' for the last fifteen years between academics and work tasks. The challenges I've faced have really interfered with my life, so fed up, I did formal ADD testing last spring understanding it would be a precursor to defining a course of appropriate CBT for my ADD. Following testing, I was shocked to hear that I did not have ADD after all and through sessions with a therapist, the therapist concluded i had anxiety and perfectionism issues that manifested in ways that looked like ADD.

Enter hydrocodone... I was prescribed this medication on two occasions...once for a general back injury and once following a car wreck. On both occasions of use, I noted that unlike the side effects suggested (as well as anecdotes from all the friends I knew who'd used it) that instead of making me extremely tired and 'foggy minded', the hydrocodone made me extremely alert and focused to a greater degree than i ever feel in my daily life. During the time i was taking the medicine, i was able to take on many organizational tasks that had previously been overwhelming and also could quickly accomplish tasks that normally take me forever such as writing simple emails more efficiently (most of the time i tend to obsess a bit and even must edit casual emails before i can bring myself to press 'send'). Though I know it's inappropriate to take medicine outside it's intended use, i admit that twice in the last year, i was in such a bind with work projects that i found it worthwhile to give taking half a hydrocodone a shot to see if it could help my focus in the same way it had previously... and it completely did!!! I really don't attribute this to some sort of placebo effect given my expectations from how the drug worked before, because the difference in my clarity of mind and ability to complete tasks was night and day.

Given this information, here are my questions: Is there any known influence that hydrocodone has on the brain chemistry or otherwise that is associated with anxiety or perfectionism disorders that might have caused this rare focus/clarity in me? If so, is there any equivalent sort of treatment that i could use that would simulate this effect and be medically advisable? I am quite clear on the fact that I should not be taking hydrocodone unless necessary, but I'm desperate to figure out how i could achieve the same outcome that taking it causes, because having that sort of focus on a day to day basis would be completely life-changing!
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi.  After a neck fusion, I was on pain pills for a long period of time (hydrocodone, oxycodone).  When I quit taking them, I did notice a huge increase in my anxiety.  I had always been on xanex for anxiety, but I found that when I took the pain pills, my anxiety would also go away.  Mainly I found that out by stopping the pain pills.  I don't know about focus (although with anxiety sometimes I have difficulty concentrating).  However, I don't think anyone is going to prescribe you opiates to deal with anxiety or focus.
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299912_tn?1341626700
I am no doctor and have no experience with this myself, but I know anxiety and think it may be related like this:

When a person has anxiety, it is hard to focus because our minds and bodies really are racing. There are times when I have had anxiety that I could not concentrate at all and felt as though I had ADD. However, when you take a medicine such as hydrocodone, it has a somewhat sedate effect, which slows down the brain - since it seems as though you are sped up a bit usually, this may bring your levels down a notch to were you feel as though you can concentrate better. Do you take anything like xanax or any other benzo? These drugs have a similar brain effect (when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety). Unfortunately, I do not think the hydrocodone method is viable due to the dependancy and other harmful side effects. Interesting observation though.

Mike
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480448_tn?1397235344
Hydrocodone, or any opiate for that matter certainly DOES improve clarity and focus for a lot of people, and that is simply due to the "high" basically.

People who end up with an opiate addiction say they were never so effective and organized than when they were using.

Unfortunately, that I KNOW of...other than the ADD meds out there (like Ritalin)...there aren't too many other meds that mimic that opiate clarity effect.

And, without a DOUBT.....using the meds for that reason is NOT what the meds are intended for, and you could certainly end up with an addiction problem.

Talk to your doctor about the options out there for increasing your focus and clarity...I'm sure there are treatments/meds that would be very helpful for you.  I'm only familiar with the meds like ritalin.

Good luck!
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Avatar_n_tn
Thanks for the feedback.  All good points.  .  I'm just pretty ignorant about medicine and was hoping i was missing out on something.  I have certainly contemplated Xanax and the like and that drug wasn't ever even mentioned to me until I finally was officially ADD tested and they said i DIDN'T have it. I'd even had a doctor prescribe  Zoloft to me in the past, because she's the one that diagnosed me with ADD as a child and when i got continually more frustrated as a young adult, she stated that anti-depressants were a common way to treat ADD in adults. I didn't take it long (a few months), b/c i didn't like the effects (mellowed me out TOO much).  Then years down the line, I talked to another doctor about the approach of anti-depressants for adult ADD, and she looked at me like my previous doctor was nuts for prescribing Zoloft, so then i was really lost on what to think. When i came to find i had anxiety issues and not ADD, Xanax was mentioned to me, but i admit, i wasn't too interested in trying any kind of drug treatment again until i did finally get this exposure to the hydrocodone.  seems like a winding path to get there, but if there's a chance that a xanax type med (i've been told ritalin wouldn't be effective since they said i didn't have ADD?) could help me achieve such a similarly positive affect (albeit via a very different channel), I think my mind is a lot more open about trying a prescription again.  Will see what the doc says and I will know better to ask more questions this time!  Thanks again for the responses.
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480448_tn?1397235344
Just be sure to fill the doc in on your complete medical/emotional history, and together, I'm sure you guys will come up with a good plan.

I misinterpreted your original post, too, I apologize, I thought you said you still DID have an ADD diagnosis.  That will definitely be important in choosing the right medication for you.

It's a shame that opiates are physically and mentally addictive, because they sure DO make you feel good temporarily!  :0)  After my gallbladder surgery, I was only taking them very sparingly...and I felt like I could move mountains.  LOL.  

Good luck to you...let us know the outcome okay?
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Avatar_f_tn
I think the main thing about all the meds is the social stigma of the time.  Antidepressants do not have the social stigma that the opiates or the benzos due.  Therefore, doctors love to prescribe the antidepressants as they are not supposed to be as addicting as the opiates or benzos.  Trust me, though, the benzos are even more addicting than the opiates.  Also, it is much harder to discontinue using something like xanex as opposed to hydrocodone.  In fact, the antidepressants are supposed to be the easiest to come off of although they have their problems too.  In my experience, the antidepressants do nothing for anxiety, yet doctors want to prescribe them and, I guess, for some people they work.  Just be careful if you go on a medication like xanex or any other benzo as they really are harder to get off of than any opiate as they have to be tapered off of over a period of many, many months.
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480448_tn?1397235344
I agree with you about the addictability of some benzos.

Luckily, for me...I disagree with the fact that AD's do not help anxiety...they have been a Godsend for me on several different occasions.  I REALLY wish they helped everyone.  I know they do not, though.  :0(

I also agree that some meds carry such stigmas, which makes it harder for the patients who genuinely need, and would benefit from  taking them.
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480448_tn?1397235344
Woops!  Finished my thought prematurely.  LOL

What is really crazy is during a bad period in my life...I was taking prolly 4mg Ativan a day for a few weeks, then 2 mg for several months.

I tapered for maybe 2 days and then just stopped taking them.  While I would certainly never recommend that, I never had ONE w/d.  I was very surprised.  It just shows you how different everyone is when it comes to meds.
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Avatar_f_tn
I'm sorry I said that ADs don't help anxiety.  What I meant was that they don't help MY anxiety.  The doctor I see did say that I was unusual in the fact that the antidepressants don't work for me.  I really, really wish they did.  I cannot take as much medicine (benzos) that I need to control my anxiety.  All I can do is take the amount the doctor gives me to get through a few hours of the day without anxiety.  And yes, I continue to have CBT without much help.
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Avatar_f_tn
Hi! wow it is sooo wild to see someone n such a similar situation as me. i have always had focus issues and anxiety bad, especially with big changes n life and sometimes even the smallest things set it off.  I am not "diagnosed" with ADD but have brought it upon myself to learn as much as possible. N e ways i have been taking percocets and loratabs for a year bc they make me feel so much more talkative and energetic. i get so much more done at work!! And i just feel so much more carefree. usually i am worrying about the smallest things that surely other ppl dont even care about. i guess wat im gettin at is ur not alone! however if ur not taking them regularly and can stop i definitely would try if i were u, bc ive tried quittin sooo many times and the withdrawls kicked my ***.
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Avatar_n_tn
I was EXACTLY like you.  I am now completely addicted and going through withdrawal.  Hydrocodone will ruin your life.  Don't think that you are different and can handle it.  No one can.  Because of the chemical function of Hydro., you will gradually (or sometimes not so gradually) have to raise your dose to achieve the same effect.  Eventually, you will just take them to feel normal with almost no benifits at all.  

Don't do it!  Withdrawal is horrible.  Most describe it as the worst experience in their lives.
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Avatar_f_tn
I can proudly say I'm an ex-addict(any pain med or benzo) TODAY 3 YRS!  CLEAN!!! Don't touch any of that crap. I PROMISE U that IF U KEEP USING THAT CRAP U JORGE WILL B AN ADDICT!!!  ITS HELL AND ONE DAY U WILL NOT HAVE ENOUGH TO TAKE OR RUN OUT OF THE MED AND...... U DONT KNOW WHAT ITS LIKE TO BE "drug sick" but I can assure u.... U WILL WISH UHAD A GUN TO USE ON YOURSELF.
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