Addiction: Living with an Addict Community
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Avatar universal


My husband is addicted to Excedrin.  He now gets diarrhea a few nights a week and when he doesn't take it he says he gets an unbearable headache/migraine.  He says he can't quit because the headache is too unbearable.  So instead he just pops immodium to help the diarrhea.  How can he quit this?
74 Responses
Avatar universal
Maybe just grin and bear it? I, myself, haven't been able to quit. I always come close, but just go back to the Excedrin. I don't even know why anymore. This is so dumb. I need to grow a pair, take a vacation, and "detox" that way; I would be able to be at home the entire time w/no obligations and just sit there and deal with the pain. Something strange keeps telling me that it will take a major upheaval in my personal life to force what should otherwise be such a simple thing for me change/control. I hope that won't be necessary. Getting off the stuff on a vacation/downtime sounds much more appealing. Best of luck to any and all that are struggling with such a lame addiction.
Avatar universal
I too was an addict for 20-25 years, more or less.  A couple of weeks ago I decided I was getting too many rebound headaches and although I started each day with Excedrin, I still would suffer occasionally from pain.  I cut back my "proactive" 1-2 tablets in the morning and got to .5 per day and wouldn't allow myself to take any for headaches when they came.  After a week I stopped completely.  I'm on 0 for 2 weeks and having give my stock; from upstairs, downstairs, the gym, work .... to another addict because I'm not going back.  I have had some headaches since.  In the end they go away and I've convinced myself each time that Excedrin wouldn't help this one anyway... since like I said I had pain anyway.  Some days I wake up and don't feel my head at all and it feels like a real luxury.  I was feeling very tired but think I've gotten over that.  And it's early to tell but I believe my sleep is higher quality.  Oh, I am also obsessively drinking water throughout the day.

I'd like to get to a point whereby I get a headache once in a while and can take some OTC (not Excedrin of course) without thinking of it and without it happening more than say once a week.
Avatar universal
ExcedFree, do you notice memory improvement, increased sensory perception, lower anxiety levels, clearer mindset and better focus? These are all things that I believe taking so much Excedrin causes me. And is your better sleep from not having so much caffeine in your system, do you think?

Avatar universal
My Mom has been taking excedrin for years she swears he help her aches & pains. She can not take it, for 2 weeks she is having surgery. By not taking it can they be zapping her energey level?
Avatar universal
Well, I seem to be doing better.  Three weeks of being excedrin migraine free!  I don't plan on going back.  The best part about it is my blood pressure has come down tremendously!  I just kept telling myself I had to stick it out no matter how bad the pain got.

Thanks for the support!

To those trying to quit....hang in there!
Avatar universal
I have been on excedrin for over 30 yrs..no harm yet but I do feel like I need it to perform better. I take it when I go skiing and I recover faster...I took it instead of Vicodin after a surgery and it was a cheaper and less addictive alternative...I take one at a time, about 3 a day. I dont get as many colds or flus as my friends..and in trips to foreign lands I didnt fall ill to many things my companion did....miracle drug? or is it something that is not dissolving completely in the kidneys?...could it cause stones in bladder or kidneys? that would be my only worry.
Avatar universal
I am believe my addiction to Excedrin is/was (I hope) mental for one very good reason: Taking a similar tablet and chewing it (as I did with Excedrin) at the same times during the day seems to help. I chew an M&M or a Lifesaver at about the same time I used to chew Excedrin tablets.  Vitamin C tablets seem to work best.  I chewed (no water--part of the addictive habit) one Excedrin at least five times daily till blood showed up in a urine test and I knew I had to do something.  Hope that helps.
Avatar universal
I have been taking excedrin for about 5 years. I chew 1 dose per day.
I was able to quit for about 5 weeks, but then started it up again. I think most of it is mental.  I usually don't have headaches, but the excedrin always gives me some energy (which I don't get from coffee or soda). I keep telling myself that 1 dose a day is not bad, but I'm sure it is. I take a dose at work in the late morning or early afternoon. I usually don't take it on weekends. I am addicted to the energy boost it gives me.  I quit before by lowering dose and taking 1 dose everyother day. Good luck to all.
Avatar universal
You guys are missing the whole point - you are only skimming the surface. I am 31 and took probably 8 Excedrin a day in truth, but I'm clean, detoxified, and healed. Its not an "additction" its quite literally a spiritual problem - its deep seated insecurity about life you are trying to stuff it down by popping a pill to give yourself some sense of security. Watch the moments when the craving comes up. When you get really honest about that, STOP going to doctors (this whole health care system is what gives you the idea that problems can be solved with pills), you dislodge and shift those beleifs, and your body heals itself... its NOT THAT HARD and honestly, when you do it this way, there are much less side effects. I tried for years and this is the only way that worked. You just have to be brave enough to look at your own inseucities and face that, cry a little. I recommend seeing a science of mind practioner or even AA.
Avatar universal
I have been taking Excedrin for almost 30 years now...sometimes I take one in the morning and sometime two..I am 56 now and I would say that I am in good health, 6', 190 lbs. Sometimes I suffer from a bad migrane but I take excedrin mostly to get a feeling of "well being" in the morning...no soreness, no pains etc. But here is the deal: Excedrin acts as a fast energizer because the aspirin and acet. content allows for a fast entry of caffeine into the system.
Excedrin IS addictive but so is coffee drinking or a 5HR Shot or a Red Bull.
Any of these caffeine intakes are going to play games with your body.
I found that coffee with powder creamer and substitute sugar is just as bad or worse than Excedrin when it comes to Kidney or any organ damage.
Interesting though, that although I am addicted to Excedrin I am the only member of my family never to have heart trouble or a kidney stone. Nor do I suffer from frequent colds or flue symptoms as the rest of my brothers, wife, sisters etc. This comparison tells me that my Excedrin intake is not dangerous when you consider that I do not  or rarely drink liquor, I am not a smoker, I do not expose myself to dehydration but I also do not drink a lot of water and I exercise and watch my weight. In other words, I am vain and finicky about my appearance so I watch myself. So..Excedrin is got to be a poison for some people when OTHER issues are also present..such as alcohol or diets rich in sugar or fat, or no exercise, because 30 years and not one single visit to the hospital have to say something, right?   (I hope I am not speaking too soon and tmw I have an Excedrin related issue. lol)
Avatar universal
I too have taken Excedrin for a number of years (25) and haven't had any serious health issues.  I just take 1 pill instead of 2 at a time - usually end up taking a total of 3 or 4 pills a day.  Sometimes I get a little heartburn, but just if I take it on an empty stomach.  I too eat healthy - no refined or processed foods and I exercise and have a low BMI and weight.  I also take Excedrin PM at night.  My PCP told me that over the counter sleeping aids are not addictive, although you can build up a tolerance to them.  I did quit Excedrin at one point - and while I did have some serious withdrawal symptoms, even after the withdrawal was gone, I still received headaches that turned into migraines and Tylenol and other pain relievers were not helpful.  Therefore, I went back to Excedrin.  When I was 16 I started taking it because of the same kinds of headaches that would often turn into horrible migraines.  Excedrin works.   I figure if I had a brain tumor or other serious condition like that - it would have presented itself in a more serious manner at some point over the past 25 years.  Lots of people remain on medications for migraines for life - so I don't see the difference between that and taking Excedrin to hold them at bay.  
1666434 tn?1325265950
Everyone's body's are different.  I developed an ulcer from taking things like Excedrin and some of the migraine medicine I was prescribed.  So eventually I stopped taking all of it and my ulcer cleared up and the headaches were able to be controlled with just Tylenol.  Excedrin also has caffeine in it so when you stop taking it you can get caffeine headaches as well.   Keep us posted on his progress I will be interested to see what works for him.
Avatar universal
with personal problems. Researchers caution that long-term use of acetaminophen can have serious side effects, such as liver damage, and the authors say more research is needed to verify the drug's benefits on reducing emotional responses to breakups and social snubs.”
Avatar universal
I have used Excedrin without aspirin for many years.  I suffered from migraines and was taking Fiornal and then Fioricet for the pain.  My daughter suggested that I try Extra Strength Excedrin, and I did.  It worked very well.  Although I took other medication (i.e., amitriptyline), I continued to use Excedrin and still do when I get occasional headaches.

What occurred (and still does) when I took Excedrin is that I felt better mentally.  I thought I was totally insane.  I must add that I suffer and have suffered since my 20s from clinical depression.  The Excedrin snapped me out of the low feeling for awhile.  It was wonderful.  

In the January 11, 2010 edition of the Orlando Sentimental, I read the following article.  And I know it says Tylenol, but it is acetaminophen, too, and I don’t like Tylenol.  

“We often use the same words to describe physical and mental pain -- headaches and heartaches, broken bones and broken spirits.  Recent evidence suggests that physical pain and the feelings associated with social rejection extend beyond metaphors.

Over-the-counter painkillers that alleviate physical aches also can ease mental anguish, according to a study in the journal Psychological Science. Researchers found that acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, may have an off-label benefit.  The experiment involved 62 healthy volunteers who took a daily dose of acetaminophen or a placebo. Hurt feelings decreased over time in those taking acetaminophen, researchers found, but not in those given the placebo.

In another test, researchers gave 25 volunteers a double dosage of acetaminophen or a placebo, but this time they participated in a computer game rigged to create feelings of social rejection. Acetaminophen reduced neural responses to mental anxiety, while the placebo did not.

"People trivialize the pain of rejection," said University of Kentucky psychologist C. Nathan DeWall, who led the study. "This research has the potential to change how people think about physical and social pain. We hope our findings can pave the way for interventions designed to reduce the pain of social rejection and ostracism."

That doesn't mean we should fill our medicine cabinets with Tylenol to cope with personal problems. Researchers caution that long-term use of acetaminophen can have serious side effects, such as liver damage, and the authors say more research is needed to verify the drug's benefits on reducing emotional responses to breakups and social snubs.”
1666434 tn?1325265950
That is a very interesting excerpt that you posted, I never thought about it in that way but makes perfect sense.  I could see why people develop a dependence on this as it helps them cope with anguish without even realizing it.
Avatar universal
wow... had no clue others suffered with this.

thanks for everybody who shared their experience..... I thought I was being dramatic when I suggested to myself that I *may* be addicted to Excedrin.(I use the cheaper walmart generic kind)
I was basically laughing about it in my head as I googled the key words that led me to this site....  

I understand people being addicted to excedrin/tylenol PM, but OTC Excedrin? lol

I thought the FDA would've warned US about this type of thing?

crazy part is I've had access to Vicodin/tylenol 3/etc etc. and I've never let myself get addicted to those, maybe because I knew they were addictive and(possibly) destructive.   ??  

frickin big pharma...

1666434 tn?1325265950
Yes that could be why, when we take things over the counter we don't always think of the possibility of dependency.  It makes total sense though.  I have to pay attention to OTC just as I would anything.
Avatar universal
I am reading these articles in amazement.  I have been a headache/migraine sufferer for 12 years now.  I've been through every test possible and tried many different medications.  I have a headache daily.  I finally searched the internet to see if Exedrin is addictive.  I've read some articles in different health journals that suggest that taking these drugs long term can actually cause you to feel pain differently.  You are actually feeling withdrawal headache.  I always wondered what was wrong with me, but I now feel its the medicine itself.  I am going to take the weekend and try and get off this stuff.  I hope I can.  Usually it sends me to the hospital.  I am going to try.   Wish me luck!
1416133 tn?1351126817
Good luck! :) (I didn't want your post to be overlooked) - and although I never had an addiction to excedrin, I understand anything is possible.

Hope you're feeling better soon.  :)And try doing some research on rebound headaches.  That might be what you're experiencing.
Avatar universal
Best of luck lorig69!!! I posted earlier in the thread and still haven't been able to wean myself off of Excedrin. I'm letting myself down but I'm going to give it another go here in not too long. Take a focused week off and try to stop. It shouldn't be so hard but I don't know...when I try to stop, the headaches (withdrawal) make me feel like all the veins in my head are going to explode at the same time and I feel disoriented and incapacitated. It is a major goal of mine to get off this stuff--permanently. It must be similar to trying to quit other addictions.
Avatar universal
Boy,  I just want to cry after reading all these posts.  I have been on Excedrin for 25 years and never a chance of getting off because the few times I tried the pain was unbearable,  always wished they could just put me under for a few days until the pain was gone.  I really don't know how people make it through that kind of pain.

And,  recently I had a migraine that took me too the emergency room with loss of speech and  cognitive understanding.  Really scary.  The neurologist did tell me some things I would like to share:

One of the problems in getting off Excedrin is that the pain is from the withdrawal and rebound headache,  but most of the time medications they can give to help migraines are useless until you get through that.  That rebound headache will break through almost any medication they have.

The preventative and many times the immediate relief drugs they have to help migraines are not very effective if you are in the chronic Excredin taking phase, somehow that lessens their effectiveness.

She put me on a preventative medication because the migraine was so severve and wanted to try and keep that from happening,  but warned, you are going to have to weene yourself off Excedrin or these preventative medications will not be very effective.

Very lucky for me, for some reason,  I have been able to pare back a good deal on the Excedrin without a big flare.  This morning only 1/4 tab to fend off the creeping headache.  That's like a miracle for me.

What I have noticed, is that I have chronic back pain that is sometimes better and sometimes worse.  Although I wasn't taking the excedrin for this,  I noticed, especially today,  that the back pain is really bad.  And I wonder if I'm not having that same re-bound effect.

Also,  the neurologist told me that you could take excedrin up to 3 days a week without getting into the rebounding.  Limited to 1 tab.  Unfortunately,  I'm not sure most  of us who are addicted can take 1 without taking 2.

Avatar universal
My son reports that he uses OTC medicines (like Excedrin Migraine) and left-over prescription meds (Oxycodone) to help with his back pain.  BUT, I am very concerned that he has become addicted to these drugs.  He won't tell me how many he is taking but I just found another empty bottle of Excedrin Migraine in my car and I'm scared to death.  I will share some of these posts about liver and kidney damage, as well as the addictive properties of Excedrin with him, in the hopes that he will listen to someone besides me.
It's incredibly scary to think that a 18 year old might have a substance abuse issue but this forum gives me some additional information to tackle this problem.  THank you all for sharing your stories!
Avatar universal
I have been taking Execedrin fro 40 years.  I did not know it was addictive. Any time I have brought it up to a Dr. they have told me just to stop. My headaches get so severe I always go back. The first thing I do in the morning when I get up is take 2. I used to take about 6 in my younger days but I thought I was doing better now by just taking 2 in the morning and every once in a while 1 in the afternoon. I have had Ulcer surgery but the worst thing are these headaches if I do  not take my Excedrin. Thank everyone for your posts.  I know I have to stop.
2039566 tn?1345592952
I, too, am addicted to excedrine. I hate to admit it, but sadly, it's true. I am really ashamed by how many excedrine I take in a day. Honestly, I don't really know. I buy the generic walmart brand, the double pack. It has a couple hundred pills in a box. I buy a couple boxes every 1-2 months. I take 2 pills in the morning, 2 more a couple hours later, more a while later and before I go to bed. I also wake up during the night most nights and have to take 2 more. I hate having headaches all the time, but even more, I hate taking all the pills. I have stomach issues, get diarrhea, constipated, feel tired all the time, my memory isn't as good anymore. I have talked to a doctor before about seeing if there was something he could do to help me get away from excedrine, but he didn't seem interested. I also get bad migraines and have TMJ.
2039566 tn?1345592952
Has anyone found any other OTC Meds to help with the headaches while weaning themselves off of excedrine?
Avatar universal
I cannot remember a time when I did not have migraines, although up until I was about 30 yrs, I did not know that's what they were.  I thought everybody had them, just part of living.  They were so bad, they would literally put me down.  In my youth, my Mother tried to treat them with aspirin, which just made me sick to my stomach, or Tylenol, which did absolutely nothing as far as I could tell.  NOTHING would touch my headaches, and because of this, I grew up thinking that all medications were worthless.  The only thing I could do for my headaches was hide in a dark room, curl up on a bed or couch, cover my head to keep out noise and light, and SUFFER!

When I married, my wife would try to get me to take drugs to help with headaches or other illnesses, but I refused because I knew they didn't work.  After a couple of years, I came down with a cold or flu and was running a high fever.  For 3 days this went on.  Finally, my wife got tired of me laying in bed while she babied me.  She came into my bedroom with a cup of water and a single aspirin, and told me I was going to take it even if she had to cram it down my throat.  So, I took it just to please her.  I was amazed that within a half hour, my fever had broken, and I was up and around.  I recovered from that disease very rapidly after that.

This showed me that medicines do work, they just didn't work on my headaches.  But, I cautiously began looking for and trying different medications in the hope I could find one that would work.  Then, in my mid-20s, I found Excedrin, and it worked!  I am not a coffee drinker or caffeine user, and the first time I tried Excedrin, I took 2 pills.  It sent me on a cheap buzz - ears ringing.  But it got rid of my headache within a half hour.  It was wonderful!  After that, I took only a single pill and it would work just as well.

This went on for several years.  It was a real BLESSING to me.  For the first time in my life, I was relatively headache free.  Then, my headaches gradually began to change.  I found I would often have to take 2 pills or another dose later in the day to completely kill off a headache.  I also started getting more moderate headaches (rebound headaches?) between the killer migraines.  The problem was I could not tell at the outset whether the headache I could feel coming on was a moderate one that I could endure, or if it would be a killer migraine.  I didn't feel I could take the risk, so I too wound up taking an average of 2 Excedrin every day.  This also went on for several years.

Then, between 2000 and 2005, disaster struck.  I experienced 3 episodes of serious GI tract bleeding, increasing in severity with each subsequent episode.  The last two, I was literally staring Death in the face.  The first was relatively mild, turning my stools black as tar for about 10 days, then just going away.  The second developed over 3 days, during which time I experienced diarrhea every 20 or 30 minutes or so of blood, almost black grape jelly-like.  I lost half my blood before I realized anything was really wrong, and ultimately wound up in ICU.  The third developed in a period of 3 HOURS, and I wound up in ICU again for 3 days.

Though the Dr.s never did figure out for sure what was causing the bleeding, they thought it could be the aspirin in the Excedrin, and told me to get off it.  The only problem was, Excedrin was the only thing that ever worked on my headaches, and I had no substitute for it.  Ultimately, I was prescribed Immitrex and Fioricet.  These both worked in some situations, but not always.  After being a guinea pig for the Dr.s for a couple of years, I was prescribed regimen of Propranalol and caffeine, which has not stopped my headaches, but it has helped eliminate the migraines.  The mild to moderate headaches I have now do respond to common OTC analgesics and are relatively easy to control.  I still have to use Excedrin, but rarely.

Was/am I addicted to Excedrin?  It would seem so because I took so much of it consistently.  But, I don't think I was or am.  What I was addicted to was the relief it provided from my migraines.  I still thank God for that.  I think Excedrin is a real blessing to migraine sufferers.  However, assuming it was the aspirin in Excedrin that caused my bleeding, it would be a good idea to find other medications that will work for you on migraines and rotate them with Excedrin to control the headaches.  This should help avoid getting addicted to any of the medications, and help avoid any adverse effects from them.

I truly feel for those who suffer such abominable migraine headaches.  I know what you are experiencing.  May God bless you and remove them from you.
2039566 tn?1345592952
Thank you for sharing!
Avatar universal
I came to this website to find out when Excedrin would again be on the shelves.  It has been gone now for weeks because of the recall. When I finally had gone through the bottles I had had on the shelf (I am paranoid  about running out) ,  finally looked into generics. Those from Walmart worked best. Like many who have posted here, I too have had migraines since I was a teenager. I have been on all sorts of perscription medications. There IS a difference between my migraines and just a headache. I started unsung Excedrin when they came out with the migraine type. It would often head off a true migraine. This was when Imetrex was costing me well over $250 a perscription with insurance.  It was hard to pay the bills. I was often on the injectable type because the pills were too slow working. Then perscription painkillers were added. Only codeine seemed to help. But that didn't't help the vomiting. Couldn't take pills for that. They just cme up again.  Then the emergency room costs began to mount up. When I found that 2 Excedrin sometimes headed off a headache before it got so bad to need other remedies, I found myself taking 2 most mornings just so I could get out of bed. But unlike many here there are days when I do not take any. Not many, but a few. I had been wondering if I had become addicted , I do know about rebound headaches. two pills seem to do it for me. It is a very rare day I go looking for 2 more. Now my Imetrex intake is way down, but I think that is because it has gone generic and I am now more able to afford the prescriptions. Psychologically, not having on the drugstore shelf is starting to get to me. So maybe I am addicted after all. The thought of going 3 or more days with migraines really scares me. I'm 65 and small. It doesn't take much to dehydrate me, thus sending me to the emergency room. I guess this is a goog time to try cutting back. Has anyone gotten results by using a fourth less each day. Or half?  I'm sure where I would start?
Avatar universal
Just went off Excedrine Migraine 9 days ago.  I am a very successful and well-educated woman.  I had been taking two pills a day for the last 4 years.  It started as a great way to avoid my migraines and then I got use to the "up" it gave me.  Well the withdrawal was horrible.  I felt like I had a concrete block on top of my head for the first 6 days....dizzy, disoriented (started my car and then was searching in my pocketbook for my keys!!), tired, pains in my neck, legs, arms, vivid dreams, woke up from one with my teeth clenched so tight I had to concentrate to open my mouth!  Needless to say....I got scared and made a Dr. appointment yesterday.  I was embarrassed and scared to tell him what was going on with me.   Well...he had heard my story many times before and said he had a patient who had to "check out of work" for two weeks to get off the stuff.  He said I am experiencing Rebound headaches.  He said my pain level and tolerance have been compromised by the excessive use of Execedrine.  He gave me some relief by telling me I should be over this within three weeks if not a little longer.  He suggested I take an Aleve to take the edge off the headache, as it would not make the Rebound headache totally go away.  It has helped somewhat.  The "fog" that I have been in is SLOWLY starting to lift.  To anyone who reads this....Do not give up!!!!  It will get better!!
Avatar universal
I guess I'm lucky. I've only been taking one tablet in the morning for the caffeine, for many years. My doc says no problem, and you're getting your aspirin too! But I hate being dependent on pills, and I only drink decaf cola, etc. never coffee . I decided to stop because the acetaminophen is bad, but stopping 250mg of daily asprin is also risky. The caffeine in Excedrin is equal to only 1/3 cup of coffee, same as a 5hr energy. So for the last few days I've taken 1/3 of a 5hr plus 2 baby aspirin (162mg), and I'll continue to cut for a couple more weeks until I've stopped altogether.

No problems at all yet.
Avatar universal
Update: I drank one 5hr 1/3 at a time for 3 days, then the second bottle 1/4, 1/4, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/16 (only drops at this point). Took a single ibuprofen if I felt a headache coming on in late morning. After this regimen, I am caffeine free with minimal headaches!

Finding it hard to avoid caffeine when eating out - no DC, iced tea, etc. #firstworldproblems
2030769 tn?1343651274
Excedrin seems to be the only thing that help me when i get bad headaches and when i went to get more today, i was told by the store that all Excedrin products have been pulled from the shelf!?!?  Is there something going on?  I went to 3 different stores and found the same thing!
Avatar universal
First off, akitagurl12, there is an Excedrin recall by its producer, Novartis, because - to quote them - "the products may contain stray tablets, capsules, or caplets from other products, or contain broken or chipped tablets." Supposedly the drug will start returning to shelves in a few months, but for now its pretty much impossible to get the brand-name drug in stores - although you can buy it at greatly hiked prices on Ebay!

BUT: most drugstores carry a generic version of Excedrin, and it's pretty much the exact same drug with the exact same ingredients (Acetaminophen, aspirin, caffeine) with the exact same effect. Walmart's generic brand, Equate, calls their generic version "Extra-Strength Headache Relief Tablets", as does CVS.

Meanwhile, I have been an Excedrin addict for almost 30 years at this point, and I will post shortly about my own issues with the drug and addiction. But first I need to get some rest. It's been an extreme problem for me, and also an issue that's extremely hard to get support around - nobody takes me seriously. I'm wondering if some of the folks around here who have been able to acknowledge the problem can help me with my own struggle...
Avatar universal
I was addicted to Excedrin for many years and for a long time I thought it was probably only me, but as time went on I had a feeling I might find some stuff on the internet about it but I was too afraid to see any of it.  I didn't want to be told the truth so I hid it from myself.  Now I came across this and just as I suspected, there are many others who are having the same problem.  I want to tell you what finally worked for me.  

It was probably 15-20 years ago, I started taking excedrin when I would get a bad headache, then as time went on, I would take it when I just started to feel a headache come on, because I wanted to stave it off early.  Then I realized I was taking it more and more, just for even the thought of a headache, and eventually like so many posts I see here, I took it every day because if I didn't, I would get a headache because my body needed it.  

But I realized it was not only a physical addiction, but also a psychological addiction too.  I realized how the drug begins to feel like a friend, how I just could not bring myself to go without it, just because of the fear of the headache I thought I would get.  

Well after about 15 years, the excedrin was not working for me anymore; instead of the "energy boost" and happy feeling it had been giving me, I began to feel worse after taking it instead of better.  I felt sick and energy drained.  It didn't work as well on my headache anymore either.  I am pretty sure that I got some health problems from it.  I got the ringing in my ears that never would go away.  I eventually lost my sense of smell. I would get sore throat and sensitive lymph glands in my neck.  I was getting pain in my arms and muscles and weird prickly sensations on different parts of my skin.  Something (I thought maybe some organ) inside of my lower right side in my back, was sore... sore to the touch and just constantly sore just to move around.  I also had this feeling that the only way I could explain another thing I was feeling is my body felt like it was getting "crystalized".

Well I tried for two years to get myself off of the addiction; I tried bribing myself, tried doing it for different reasons' sake, tried praying, tried keeping a journal, tried telling myself that my "friend"(excedrin) had now become my enemy, tried everything I could, but had no success.  I now totally understand the problem of drug addiction.  If I was addicted to this "non addictive" over-the-counter drug, I could now understand the problem anyone would have getting off stronger addictive drugs.

Well I want to tell you I am now free of the addiction to excedrin and I guess I am addicted to something else in place of it, but it is at least not tearing down my health like the excedrin did.  I am actually getting better as time goes on.  I found Zipfizz.  I take one in the morning and one or two more throughout the day.  Sometimes if I really do have a headache when I wake up in the morning, I'll make a "double" right away.  They say you should not drink more than three of them in a day, but there are a few times that I have taken four in a day.  But there are days that only one does the trick and there are even some days I could go without any at all.

The hardest thing I think is really the psychological addiction.  You have such a hard time forgetting about taking the thing that you think you need.  It was like a security blanket.  It was such a scary feeling not to be doing the thing (taking the drug) that you thought was the only thing that would work, the only way you could go on and function.  
But there is good news...as you are successful to go days along without it, you slowly begin to loose the scared feeling and the security feeling about it.  I've had many days now that I actually have not even thought about it anymore.  That is such a good feeling, not to be so hooked to something.  It is the hardest battle I have ever fought.

One other thing that I found that helped me was to keep my rectum cleaned out with water.  I bought one of those suction things you get in the baby isle to suck out noses, and I squirt water into my anus after I go poop to clean it completely out of residue or poop left behind.  I know this sounds really weird, but I would actually start to feel slightly headachy whenever I know there was some in there to be cleaned out.  I have a feeling that I was so toxic from taking the excedrin all those years.  Your anus absorbs the water from your poop so I think that by keeping it clean there was not any toxin to be absorbing into my body.  Any feeling of headachiness would usually go away if I cleaned myself out.
Avatar universal
About 12 years ago i asked a doctor if it was possible to be addicted to excedrin and he called me everything but stupid.  Well I took it for 20+ years and developed ulcers in my stomach, my stomach closed and I almost died.  They had to remove half of my stomach and some of my colon.  Then they had (as the doctors called it) re-route me.  I spent 6 weeks in a hospital and now I have a huge scar and bill.    It was from taken excedrin and yes I was addicted to them.  
Avatar universal
I use Excedrin Migraine once an a while, is the only non-prescription medicine that works for me, but I understand all the concerns.  So what I do?  I reduced the dose to one, when are just starting the migraine signs, also I take baking soda with water to control the nausea and stomach bothering.  I meditate with frequency, and I void STRESS at all cost.  That is how I battle addiction, reducing the dose and be in harmony with everything.
I hope this helps.
PS: And I drink a lot of black tea...that is why I might not have diarrhea...(!?)
Avatar universal
I am a registered nurse who took Excedrin for YEARS for  migraines. I will tell you this. Your addiction is to the caffeine in the Excedrin. And coming off of them is equivalent to tying to stop drinking coffee. The horrible headaches from not taking them is the rebound effect. You need them to stop the headache from NOT taking them. You have to wean yourself slowly. Plain and simple. And the stomach issues are common as well as aspirin is toxic to the stomach.  The only reason I had to stop taking Excedrin is because I developed an allergy to caffeine. My heart goes into an abnormal rhythm from any form of caffeine in any quantities. Sad, I know cause Excedrin was my savior when it comes to my migraines.
Avatar universal
My husband weaned himself off excederin and caffeine after 10 years. It took 2 months before there was significant improvement so please be patient.  Now that his headached aren't as frequent and he is not numbing himself with OTCs he has also discovered a number of food triggers that have contributed to his hjeadached (wine, cheese, nuts, sweetners).  good luck!
Avatar universal
WOW! It is glorious to find others who suffer with this problem as it gives me hope that I can lick this addiction.

I've suffered with migraines for over 30 yrs. I've been on every prescription medication there is for migraines and nothing ever helped.

I'm 61 now and have been using Excedrin for migraine for around 10 yrs. I can't say I have a specific amount I take but I know it is way too much. Lately I've been having too many moderate headaches, nearly every day and a bit of diarrhea now and again. I use to chalk it up to the beginning of a migraine do to the weather or chocolate as they are both bad triggers for me, but now I'm sure they are rebound headaches. Not sure if the diarrhea is a part of it or not, but most likely is.

Wish me luck! Starting tonight I'm going to try and stop taking it a little at a time as I don't think I could handle cold turkey.
Avatar universal
I'm a 68 year old male in very good health....except for daily headaches.  I do not drink coke or coffee and drink decaf tea.  I started with Extra Strength Excedren (WM Equate) about 15 years ago from work stress headache at base of skull.  That is where all my headache pain is....very tight muscles at top of shoulders and base of neck..  Do not have any migrane symptoms.  I took daily.  At max, I would take 2 pills 3 x per day.  Retired about 8 yrs ago, but I was already addicted.  Went to Headache Clinic 5 yrs ago and they said it was rebound headache but NO mention of caffine.  By chance I determined it was the caffine. For past few years, been taking about 4 Excedren pills a day....sometimes 1 at a time, sometimes 2.  Last month went back to Clinic and Dr prescribed Elavil to help get me off the Excedren (He told me about it's primary use).  Anyway, I take 20 mg each night.  Within the last month, I have reduced use of Excedren by taking straight caffine pills, generally 300mg total for a day.  For last 3 days, zero excedren and 100 mg caffine 3x per day (one early morning, one around noon and one early evening).   Headaches are generally under control with the 300 mg daily straight caffine.

So................is daily 300mg of caffine better or worse on my body than 3 Excedren pills with total of 195 mg (65 mg caffine per pill).  If equal, I get slightly better results with the Excedren and would probably switch back to that.
Avatar universal
I see the comments and it relates strongly to me.For years, I was a heavy, everyday user of Excedrin PM. Not for physical pain, but for wanting to sleep. I hated being awake because it was so depressing (still do), so as soon as I would wake up, I would take a bunch of PM (various brands, but always as strong as I could find). By the time I stopped a year ago, I was taking 20 at a time, 4 times a day. Apparently from reading here, that is a lot (and no those aren't typos or lying for effect).

By the time it was coming to an end, My weight was down below 100lbs (I'm 5ft 5), due to a lot of throwing up. One time, suddenly all of my hearing stopped in one ear. I mean everything, and that lasted a full week. My left ear still rings non-stop a bit, but I've learned to ignore it. My teeth starting weakening and falling out and I now look like a meth addict (making me pretty much unemployable). I was so weak, I would sit and shake for hours; my handwriting resembled a 3 year old drawing. My memory was shot: For example, I could be talking to someone and I would start to reply. But then halfway through I would forget what I was saying. And then I would flat out forget what I was even responding to at all. As if the other person said nothing. My eyesight started to go. First slowly, but then in recent weeks/months, it has gotten a lot worse really fast, within 2 months my left eye has gone completely useless. I coincidentally have a dr appt today about it, but my last one, they couldn't even do a reguar eye test on it. They did something called a CFF test, and I measured a CFF2, meaning I Could read fingers 2 feet in front of me (but to be honest, it was still guesswork based on shadows).

Then a year ago, I figured I had to admit that the PM were causing the problems, so I just stopped. Felt like garbage for a few days, but it was never really a challenge to stop. I just did. Now, can I say that these symptoms are all from the PM? Not at all, especially since all the teeth falling out happened after I stopped. But, there was nothing else going on in my life, and I was taking upwards of 100 pills a day on some days. In the year since then, I've seen almost no real information that doesn't sound like just generic butt-covering that too much PM could lead to these problems, so maybe it is just a coincidence. I don't know. I do still wish every day I could find something that allowed me to fall asleep as soon as I wake up.

And they really didn't help me sleep, either.
Avatar universal
Avatar universal
I am on the raw foods diet.  On the diet I still have some chronic headache pain but no migraines.  I now am feeling pretty good and have started to wean off the 3 generic Excedrins a day.  I have taken Excedrin for 39 years.  For a long time I took 12 a day.  I weaned down to 3 because I thought I had a bleeding ulcer.  Now I see red marks on my arms which my husband said are due to bleeding under the skin due to the blood thinning effect of aspirin.  The red spots then turn to brown spots.  I'm much too vain to put up with this!  I am so glad nothing worse has happened to me!  I now have 1 Excedrin and two cups of coffee a day and plan to go to just coffee soon and then wean off that.  (then maybe I can go off the prescribed sleeping medication I take due to caffeine making me so hyper!)  What a mess!  This has been so convoluted all beginning with simple coffee causing chronic headaches and migraines which were "relieved" by Excedrin!  And 39 years later!  And really...without the raw foods diet I still would not consider giving up the generic Excedrin.  I thank you all for your posts and the hope you give me. I will probably read your posts over and over for awhile.
Avatar universal
Another Excedrin Migraine addict of many years here, and a coffee drinker to boot.  This is my second day off EM but I was hurting so much at the grocery store, I picked up some Tylenol Arthritis which helped, along with a nap.  I know the evils of Tylenol but it doesn't seem as scary or addictive as EM.  Hoping to get off OTC pain meds altogether, but can't do it without a small amount of relief.  Coffee helps some but should taper off on that, too.  I'm also on omeprazole for reflux--but it's getting better already without the acid of EM.    

Rebound headaches have been awful; plus my heart would pound and I felt fuzzy-headed with low energy.
Avatar universal
I have been a reader of mercola.com for years.  I would suggest you all try eft.  It is a simple way to correct the emotional reason for addiction.  It is nothing short of amazing.  It seems weird at first, but once you do it and get results, you will also find it amazing.  You can learn it for free so this is not someone out to make a buck although there are many practitioners out there to help.  You can go on youtube and find many tap alongs as well.  Just search "eft addiction"  Here is a link from mercola.com - http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2006/04/15/a-new-way-to-conquer-addictions.aspx
I also find Robert Smith from faster eft to be a very good resource.  Search for him on youtube as well.  Many of his earlier videos are very helpful.  The cdc says up to something like 80% if physical problems have an emotional basis, this will help remove the emotional issue.  Hope you find this useful, it will change your life.
Avatar universal
I am also addicted to Excedrin  - 58 yrs old, taking one a day for about 12 years.  Did you ever kick the addiction?  If so, I'd love to know how. I thought it may help for me to wean myself by taking 3/4 tablet for several days, then 1/2, then 1/4 etc.  Would love to know if you had success in going totally off of Excedrin.  I think they should have to put on the bottle that it is very addicting.  There are no warnings that I know of.
Avatar universal
I just wanted to thank all of you on this forum. You have helped me get through a 21 hour brutal eye/skull-vice headache last Sunday after quitting Excedrin cold turkey.

I am 46 and have had chronic headaches since I was about 30. I don’t remember when I first started taking Excedrin Migraine, but it was early on, and I do remember thinking it was a near miracle drug for being able to promptly eliminate headaches that prior to Excedrin I could never seem to control and that would last for many hours or all day or several days. I have tracked my headaches for the past 11 years and there has been a mostly steady and insidiously gradual increase in the frequency of my headaches over that time. This is the average number of headaches per week over the past 11 years: .94, .87, 1.27, 1.02, 1.94, 2.19, 2.58, 2.13, 2.19, 2.60, 2.75, and 2.91 so far this year. I normally take two EM when the pain gets to about a level five out to ten. Ten being “I’ve just been stabbed in the gut”, like post-surgery pain, and five being “OK, now it is severely interfering with work and life and I need to shut down normal activity”. Two EM almost always knocked them out. Great, except the frequency was increasing and that was troubling to me. Also, over the past year I have found that occasionally I’ll have to take a 3rd one maybe 5 or 6 hours later if there was no improvement. Again, troubling. The tricky bit was that often (like many of you have mentioned) I would get maybe a level 2 or 3 headache, what I always called background headaches. I could still work and function, but the pain would just sit there for hours or all day annoying the hell out of me and probably making me not so fun to be around. I would normally only take EM if the pain escalated to a 5, but sometimes the background headaches would just go away on their own, but not always. Damn mystery. However, if I had a background headache, and I knew I had something big coming up where a level 5 headache escalation would not be tolerable, like a concert, movie, football game or large family function, I would go ahead and take the two EM just to knock it out preemptively. And it would. Also, over the years, I have not found predictable triggers for my headaches, despite tracking them for so many years. The weather and barometric pressure doesn’t seem to coordinate, nor does time of day (I get them any time day or night), time of year, stress levels, nor food. About 8 years ago, I had a bacterial overgrowth in my small intestines that was finally cured with antibiotics, but prior to finding a cure I went on an elimination diet for about 4 months to try to determine what food specifically might be causing me GI problems. I trimmed my diet down to about ten foods. No sugar (that’s a bugger to try to eliminate), no chocolate or other caffeine (other than EM), no gluten, no dairy, no preservative or additives and on and on. Plain meats, eggs, a few vegetables and lots of rice, maybe a few nuts. I never did figure out a food that was causing the GI problems, and the antibiotic (Rifaximin) did fix it immediately, but what I found interesting was that my headache frequency stayed the same during the elimination diet, so that made me think it wasn’t a food that was causing the headaches. Even when I was on those very few foods, I would eliminate each one of those for a while and again, no headache relief. Also, location doesn’t seem to act as a trigger. I get them at home, at work, on vacation on the other side of the country. So again, I am stumped as to a trigger. I do have an annual physical and I have talked with my doctor about my headaches, but he never seemed too concerned when I was having up to and around 2 a week. This past year it ramped up to 2.75 a week and so my doctor had me try propranolol for 3 months. No effect and actually a few more headaches than before the propranolol. Then he tried upping the propranolol and adding duloxetine (Cymbalta). That only lasted a week as I was VERY nauseated taking that. So after three months of getting those out of my system, I went back to the doctor and he suggested maybe it was rebound headaches. He had suggested that in the past, but he also thought I was not taking enough to cause rebound headaches (about 5-6 EM per week). But he said, since the other preventive medications weren’t working, he thought I should try stopping the Excedrin. Uh, scary, but OK. My last Excedrin was June 8, I had the appointment when he told me to stop on June 11 and for a couple of days, nothing. Wow, cool. Ah, then Sunday June 14, 12:25 AM. Right to level five. Eye vice. Unbearable. So I got an ice pack and was determined to fight through it. Then the crazy thoughts get in my head, like what if it keeps escalating to a ten (or above), what if it never goes away. By about noon later in the day, with no relief after 12 hours, I was desperate and almost took more EM. Instead I got online and did a search for “quitting Excedrin” and found this page. Holy crap, I am not the only one dealing with this. I can’t begin to express how much reading all of your posts meant to me. So, after reading, I was more convinced I was having rebound headaches from the Excedrin and was determined to tough it out. I am very much an all-or-nothing, cold turkey kind of person. I suppose I could have tried tapering off, but that’s not who I am. Finally at about 9 PM it went way. I mean gone. Not even a background headache. Whoa, this was extremely liberating and probably the first time in 16 years a level five headache has gone away without taking EM. Also interesting that the headache never escalated much above a level 5 as I feared it would. That was reassuring. Yes it was 21 hours of hell, and I was damn glad it was a Sunday – I would have had to take off work otherwise, but it did go away on its own. I did have a background headache for about 4 hours a few days later, but it went way on its own and now it has been 8 days and no headaches. Now I’m not naive enough to think they’re gone forever, and I have no idea how I’ll handle another one like that, but for now, this is different, better, and I’ll take it. I also realize my dosage was a lot lower than many on here, but when I read your posts and look at my progression over the years, what I am reading is my probable future without some action. I am hoping now, having stopped EM, that if and when the headaches do come back, I (and my doctor) will be better able to analyze any causes or triggers without EM overuse and rebound headaches clouding the assessment. Anyway, thank you all again. Sorry this is so long. I did mention I was an all-or-nothing kind of guy. Hoping for the best for all of you.
I've had headaches and migraines all my life. I'm now I'm menopause and it's worse! I started researching because Excedrin starting hurting my stomach. I found cbd oil from a hemp store. I can't say enough about it. Please give it a try. I've quit Excedrin and went thru all that crap too but this oil is amazing. Its a roll on and they have other kinds too. Just Google it. I wish the best for you and anyone that suffers from background or migraine headaches. It has been a game changer for me!
Avatar universal
I am also addicted to Excedrin and have been for many years. I have suffered from headaches since my teenage years and when I started taking Excedrin about ten years ago I also thought...This is a miracle drug...Fast forward ten years later i've had bleeding ulcers...A blood transfusion...I still can't stop. I buy the off brand Excedrin from Walmart and take anywhere from four to six a day...I don't know how to stop bc when I do I have withdrawals! People should be aware of this very real dependency.
20621916 tn?1502144320
Have him checked out for what is causing the headaches. He could get a doctor to prescribe generic Fioricet (Butalbital/Tylenol/Caffeine).  They also have cured headaches with Botox shots that last months.
Excedrin or Excedrin Migraine has Tylenol/Aspirin/ Caffeine.  The aspirin isn't good for the stomach and thins the blood.  I had an uncle who had bad arthritis.  Doctors were no help.  He took aspirins all the time.  He got a stomach ulcer, had to go into surgery and bled to death. They should have given him a pain killer, but they are so worried about pain meds. Do no harm ?
Avatar universal
Yes I will bet he does get a headache without it. It is called caffeine withdraw. Excedrine has tons of caffeine, which is addictive, though not usually psychologically, and once your body becomes dependant on it, you will notice symptoms like headaches. Same goes for religious pop drinkers who stop suddenly.
I should have clarified. If you suddenly stop taking in these large quantities of caffeine, you will get headaches. Also depends on what kind he takes. Some has only acetaminophen and caffeine, and some adds aspirin to those. Aspirin will destroy your stomach, but if he is taking the kind without, it should not do stomach damage
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