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Nyquil abuse and changes in behavior

My husband was a recovering alcoholic up to about 2 years ago.  He began abusing over the counter medication, unbeknownst to me.  As the abuse got worse, the signs became apparent.  He was always sneaking into the bathroom or rummaging in a closet, etc.  His drug of choice is Nyquil and I have found over twenty bottles strewn through my house over the last month or so.  His behavior has changed radically.  He has become nasty and impatient, he often hibernates with a headset and CD, no one likes to be around him.  Could you tell me what's going on? An important side note:  my husband is bipolar and is treated with Depakote(he sometimes hides his meds) and Prozac Weekly.  He explains that the Nyquil rests his mind which I think is understandable (but misguided) for a bipolar in manic phase, but obviously not the best choice for controlling his disease. His spending habits are still out of control.  Before he was diagnosed and treated for bipolar, he landed us in $30,000 debt. His habits improved when he began his  medicine regimen, but returned when he started abusing over-the -counters. He has recently experienced mild seizures while sleeping.  I have begged him to seek help.  He tells me that I exaggerate his condition.  Also, he has developed a very large lump (emlarged lymph node)on his neck which is being biopsied next week.  These things may not be related, but because of the damage that alcohol is capable of, I wonder if they are.His psychiatrist is very concerned as is his family.  I repeat:  What's going on with him?  How will this disease progress?
26 Responses
Avatar universal
A good portion of Nyquil is alcohol, as you probably know. The other problem with Nyquil is that it is FULL of acetominophen (tylenol). I think that 4 shots of the stuff a day is the equal of 8 tylenols - which is the maximum anyone is supposed to take. After that, the liver allegedly gets poisoned, can't process it. Everyones' liver is diferent though. Still, it doesn't make sense to use Nyquil to get high - unless one is in utter denial, and are using it because it's "medicine". I hate to say this, but he might be better off just drinking Jagermeister.
Avatar universal
I just read the comments posted to this question..thanks.  But let me repeat something.  What's up with this horrible and moody behavior on his part?  Is there an explanation?  Are addicts who are using, in denial and all that other stuff prone to extreme moodiness.  Another good issue that you raised was the acetaminophen content in Nyquil that I hadn't thought about...I remember that when my husband was telling me about alcoholism (this is when he was recovering, sober and clear-minded):  tylenol is a no-no for alcoholics, and Nyquil IS equivalent to drinking/using.  He denies now that any of this info is true, he says it quite an exaggeration by alcoholics...
Avatar universal
" Are addicts who are using, in denial and all that other stuff prone to extreme moodiness"

-I don't know if addicts are prone to moodiness, but I know that I am when I am using. There is tremendous selfishness, guilt, and denial. Living with those three emotions all at once is more than ayone should have to bear, but many addicts live with all three all the time, and it doesn't leave much room for the good parts of them to get out.

I don't know much about the pycological problems hs is dealing with so I won't comment on that.

I will say that you might want to look at what's in the Nyquil, and offer to get him all the ingredients that the stuff contains, seperately, without the alcohol. If he still insists on drinking Nyquil, he should have a hard time at that point  denying that he is doing it for one reason: the alcohol.
Avatar universal
From my past experiance with alcohol the hiding of the bottles is shame. Hes trying to hide his drinking, and at the sametime thinks its ok cause its only nyquel(sp).I went through a 12 step inpatient for my alcohol and pill addiction. Although I havent drank since I did just get off the pills again. There is nothing you can do at this point he has to admit he has relapsed. But from the way you descibed the situation hes in total denial at this time. My suggestion would be for you to contact his Dr. and let him know your concerns. Also get ahold of alanon for your own support and understanding.I hope everything works ouy for you my friend.. Ill be here if needed.         Bless you in your time of need..       J.E.W.
Avatar universal
Response to PhD. comments:  This relationship is very important to me.  BUT, I am not willing to remain married to this stranger for much longer.  What is the severity of the problem that I'm facing? Can you grade it?  These may sound like silly and reductive questions, I have a lot of difficulty remaining objective and keeping things in perspective when the addict is whispering silly nonsense in my ear. He downplays my reactions, comments, etc.  For him to sober up, I imagine that he would have to lose practically everything...Is this a relapse? And should I consider all behavior(nasty and likewise) offshoots of this relapse?
Avatar universal
Im so very sorry your having to deal with this right now. But I will tell you one thing. My husband is an acholic (sp) and used to take a ton of nyquil. So I can understand where you are coming from. Everyone is right though he has to hit rock bottom and realize what he is doing to himself. Forcing someone will make them want to do it more. At least mine did. So I just sat back and watched and then I would leave. It hurts alot I know, but they have a mind of their own. I hope I didnt upset you in any way I can just realate and I will think about you and hope it gets better. You also dont deserve to be treated the way that you are. Neither was I. My heart is with you.
Please take care---
Avatar universal
Sorry to tell you Shutter .... that is not a good thing. I would be pretty moody myself if I was loooking forward to a biopsy. My brother had a lump on his neck and it turned out to be Hodgekins limphoma. Your husband is probably going through alot right now. Try to get the book "One day at a time in Alanon" .... daily readings that really put things into perspective. The sooner he get's the biopsy over with the better you will both feel. My thoughts and prayers are with you .... Goldie
Avatar universal
IMHO, your husband is definitley relapsing.  Any type of alcohol, including nyquil would be proof of a relapse.

I suppose he has a lot of misguided feelings right now, most importantly denial.  He may be trying to convince you that it is OK for him to partake in this behavior, but ask any detox center.  They say to stay clear of any form of OTC meds that contain alcohol.  The amount that he is taking, surely demonstrates that he needs more than the "active" ingredients.

Once you face this fact, you can get help for only yourself.  You can't control him.  You can make him aware of the fact that YOU ARE AWARE of what he is doing.

As far as the mood swings, any alcoholic can be what is called a "dry drunk".  What was his behavior when he was noticeably drinking?  Did he have mood swings?  It could be as simple as he is feeling w/ds from not having his fix.  Alcoholics and addicts are similar, that when they are using, they tend to have multiple personalities.

I hope that you can educate yourself enough to keep yourself healthy and not be brought down by him.

Good luck.
Avatar universal
Hi There!
As you can tell by my name i too am the wife of an addict.  My husband is addicted to codiene.  Well pain meds.  But all he has taken in vast amounts is percocet and codiene.  Anyways, i know how you feel.  I would hate to be put back to that day when i found out about it.  First of all, when i found out he quit the next day and went into an in-patient rehab for 21 days.  Which gave me a much needed break from him.  I was constantly on his back, following him, not giving him money or car keys etc.  Horrible, nightmare, aweful.  Anyways, i have been going to meeting for families of those addicted.  It has helped me alot and the number one thing i learned was to take care of myself, first.  Because if he relapses i can't go down again with him.  I can't.  If my Husband hadn't of quit, i don't think we would be together right now.  I just couldn't handle it then, and i can't say i would be able to now.  But now he is clean and now everything is great.  When he was using, he was a completely different person, he was lazy, rude, unclean, unshaven, dirty, slow, unintelligent, MOODY!, mean, nice, mean, nice.  Ahhh i could go on forever.  It was horrible.  So i understand where you are coming from and how you want answers.  I do recomend Alanon.  I am going to start going to those meetings myself, as they have helped alot of families deal with this problem.  The focus is on yourself, not the addicted.  You can't help the addicted until you help yourself.  And you can't make anyone stop what they are doing, unless they want to for themselves.  Anyways, i hope this made sense, as i am really tired and need to sleep, but i felt the need to write to you as i too am a wife of an addict....and maybe we could talk more.
Take Care of yourself,
Avatar universal
How are things? Been thinking about you and your situation. Hope all is well. Im sure your under a tremendous amount of stress, but know we are all here. This forum has really saved me with the support and friendship. My thoughts are with you lady.
Avatar universal
Hello, well today is day two for me being off of hydros I tossed and turned all night long, I finally got up at 4:30am this morning. because my legs were very restless. When I got up I felt very sick, and I threw up. I dont have a appetite at all, and my body aches and my bones hurt. So I went to the Doctors this morning and he precribed me some clonidine but I havent taking it yet. And when I got home from the Doctors I got sick big time. but beside of the withdrawals I am glad to be off of the hydros I am sick and tired of them running my life, WAS running my life, Not no more. I dont even want them because I cant stand the thought that they took over my life, I am married and my husband is very supportive and I have three children and Im not doing that with my children anymore, They are the most inportant thing in my life. and NOT the pills. and I wouldnt be able to be this strong and have this much strength even it wasnt for Gods help. and of course all of your help. Thank you so much. Sweetusa29
Avatar universal
Hi, Darlin'  How are you?  I am soooo PROUD of you!!  You are the queen of quitters.  You are so cool.  You are the bomb!  hee hee  Did it make you laugh?  Don't forget to do that, along with eathing well, lots of hydration.

Have a fabulous day tomorrow.  Just think, by this time next year, you will be celebrating an anniverary!!

Love ya, Connie
Avatar universal
rember what  it says on all the money,
its on every american coin and dollar.

Avatar universal
Your bf is being extremely insensitive.  Can you get him to read some of the posts here?  That might shed some light on this for him.

It's funny that a lot of people who have an addiction and go through withdrawal and everything start to realize they are in a relationship that isn't good for them.  I read that a lot here.  Either we really change, or just see our partners more clearly - I'm not sure.

You need as much support as you can muster, so you need to do what you got to do.  You can't change him, you can only change yourself right?  You have the strength to stay away from those pills.  Keep telling yourself that as a mantra.  Good luck.
Avatar universal
The above post is open for anyone that has help or advise or anything to say as I am very desparate, there are drugs in my house and if I can justify any reason to take them, I will. Please help....
Avatar universal
It's a heavy burden taking care of someone else's kids and it is very good of you to try so hard.  It doesn't sound like he appreciates it and it doesn't sound like he backs you up when you do try to discipline.  Is he an addict also?  I'm sorry I can't remember if you said he was.
Avatar universal
Congrats on day 2...well now it's the start of day 3. The sickness & pain will be lifting real soon. You have reached a point in your life that many never reach...YOU'RE TIRED OF THE PILLS & YOU'RE READY TO MOVE ON. So many here HAVE to detox for reasons other than this such as lack of accessabilty to the meds, lack of money, those docs who actually moniter their patients med intake & cut them off etc. I detoxed for the same reasons you are. I was tired of these devils ruling my every waking moment. I had access to the meds, plenty of money & my doctors were more than willing to keep prescribing these poisons to me due to my many injuries accumulated throughout the years. I personally feel that your recovery will be a successful one. You've made a tough choice & have attacked your addiction head-on. Your motives seem to be your family as well as your health, emotional & physical so you've got even MORE incentive to stick to your recovery than I. I was over 150 days clean before my recent injuries but have maintained a very low intake & will continue to do so. I have another surgery Monday & plan on once again being med-free by the end of February should all go well. Stick to it Sweet...you're on a long hard road but luckily...your in the carpool lane with your family, God & the members of this forum. KEEP ON TRUCKING!!!


Avatar universal
You have definatly chosen the right path. The pill path only takes you further from the "real" you. Finished!! put it well. You didn't quit for lack of funds. You quit for you and your family. That is one of the srongest motivators. There are plenty of rich pill poppers out there. They are still nothing more than rich, sick, pill poppers. The life you have chosen will lead to real riches. Just hang in there it will get better. Be prepared to realize you may have changed after letting go of drugs. They have a way of doing some re-wiring to your brain. But I came out of it with much more compassion for others. And being able to truly feel others pain, grief or happiness for tht matter. Hang in there. With the support of your family you should weather this well. In a few weeks you will compleatly over wd's. Although you may need something for anxiety. It seems to be one of the lingering effects of a brain with no opiates stirring around. My doc put me on ativan, it has been a God send. I suffered needlessly before swallowing my pride and going to a shrink. This med for me, is a miracle. It gave me my life back afer thinking I had permenatly damage my emotion regulators.

Gods speed in your recovery
Avatar universal
I am posting here to you too susie cuz it said the above post is full.
I really had a rough night last night. I snapped at my BF, the kids and told my BF that I don't think I can be here and deal with his non-caring of my addiction and taking care of kids that don't listen. (They are a little less disiplined than most due to only one male parent for a couple years-their mother is a town tramp)I have come in here and cleaned a very disorganized house and cook good meals every day instead of spagetteos and tried to disipline them and for the last 30 days try to stay clean, pills and alcohol (last recovery from pills ended in a cross-addiction to alcohol and try to recover from flu/strep. (I feel like a whiner but my God how much can one person take)I lost it big time when he just thru the pills down right next to me and he is wondering now what the hell got into me and now waiting for me to decide whether I want to be here or not. I love him, I really do, he's been my best friend for at least 3 years but that was while I didn't have the responsibility of his 3 kids and now of staying sober. I am so a wits end, I don't know if I am using my recovery as a cop out to dealing with the relationship and it's baggage or what???
I tried to find an AA or NA meeting in my area and the closest one is almost an hour away. I just got laid off so I can't afford counseling....this forum has been my only blessing and support, please stay with me.....
Avatar universal
Just keep in mind what you've been through and how horrible it was.  You are nearing the light at the end of the tunnel and you can't go back now.  Keep telling yourself the pills might make you happy momentarily but you will eventually have to go through all this again.  It would seem that the threat of that would be enough but I have relapsed so many times so it didn't always work for me.  Also tell yourself you will be much better equiped to handle all the other issues like the kids and husband if you are clean and not all fuzzy.

One thought though and I talked about it in the first thread, Suboxone is now out and it can be used as a maintenance drug.  I truly believe that some addicts NEED opiate maintenance.  For me I've relapsed too many times to count, and I was so sick of failure.  Now I'm taking one pill a day and I don't have any desire (at least not much) to take anything else.

Are you positive there are no meetings in your area.  I thought they were everywhere.  You could call the NA or AA hotline and talk with someone.  They have volunteer staff available to talk 24/7.  Good luck and hang in there.
Avatar universal
I sincerely don't believe that you're using your recovery as a cop-out. I believe that you have come to the realization that it's time for you to spend time on YOU. You have struggled down a hard road & have miles yet to go...though the miles get easier by every foot traveled. By your boyfriend dropping a bottle full of pills in your lap, he has basically placed another obstacle on that road for you to overcome. He may be trying to tell you in a round-about-way that he feels that you've shown too much attention to yourself & your recovery & not enough to him. That is just a possible scenario that popped into my head. I obviously don't know your boyfriend nor what his thought process was in doing that to you. You seem to have put a lot of time & effort into this relationship, the raising of his children & maybe the time has come to focus your attention more on you & less on him. He SHOULD understand this but he may not. He also may not know what kind of damage placing narcotics in the hands of an addict can produce...but I think if he's been there through your recovery thus far, that's unlikely. I'll pray for your continued strength in this situation & all to come.

Avatar universal
Will u e-mai me plz: ***@****
AA is everywhere.  Ther e is less availability to na but there must be an aa meeting closer.  Plz check again.  It sounds lke your life is oveerwelming (been there!) and that makes dealing with addiction and detox all the more difficult.  How very admirable of you to get clean with your life in such turmoil!  
U r in our prayers and just remeber you are now in "recovery"  wut an awesome process/ pathway you have chosen to follow!  When i was about to use the stadol again i was told that i will find out where i am in my "recovery" and that word really hit me intensely.         Wut a beautiful word!  The wonderful thing about it is that we never fail.. we are always at some point in our recovery once we start!  (Even if we pause to use again) Once recovery starts we r never the same even if we use.  It is then only  just a bump in the road.  WE might stumble over it but then we get back up and turn around to resume our growth after we kick that bump good!  Recovery...It is an awesome responsibility. But it is also a humbling pathway to walk and grow on.  
WE feel your struggle and know u will continue on yur path to freedom no matter wut happens!
Avatar universal
I will try to type thru the tears, I, as an addict, am a people pleaser. I do everything I can, to make people like me. When I first got involved in this relationship and the responsibility of the kids I was using and I was super-mom and everyone and the house came first and each task was rewarded with a pill. I no longer have a reward, I am lost now. I no longer have the desire or the inner strength to be the people pleaser and my BF is i'm sure not use to that. I know there is changes that he has had to deal with with me and my recovery and I don't doubt it has made him question our relationship too. BF was thrilled, i'm sure when super-mom moved in to help and now I am just a thorn in his side. WOW, this is the toughest thing I have had to deal with......I thought being 31 days into recovery that I was out of the water, hell no, physical part is pretty much over but the mental is just begun.
I have no insurance can I get the Suboxone pretty cheap or thru a gov agency. How does it help or work?
Avatar universal
Hi there. It sounds like you've got too much on your plate right now. I can't believe the total disregard for your well-being by your BF just throwing the drugs under your nose when he knows you're struggling trying to stay off of them. (And then having the nerve to wonder why you're upset?)... IMO, his actions speak volumes; the classic enabler. Do you think that in his mind, by keeping you on drugs and at a level at low self esteem that all of us users experience, you will continue the same routine by  taking care of his kids, house, etc.? Maybe he's afraid if you actually sober up and get stronger you'll take a long, hard look at your situation and not like what you see? Just something to think about. One thing I DO know - you need to take care of yourself right now. I would do only what I felt like doing in regard to the house, kids, etc., and try to concentrate on getting well.  I know you mentioned you are laid off, and I sympathize with you. Maybe you feel you have no other options right now but to stay?  That's a difficult situation in the first place, but then add trying to get clean, too, well, it has to be downright overwhelming.  People here will support you. Keep posting. Hopefully things will fall into place and get calmer.  Will keep you in my prayers. Love, Lisabet
Avatar universal
I think you would have to pay for the Suboxone and I'm not sure how much it costs because my insurance covers it.  I listed some websites you could go to samhsa.gov is where you can find a physician in your area who is licensed to prescribe it.  buprenorphine.samhsa.gov is where there is a lot of other information.

I really feel for you.  If your bf has enough money to pick up his pain pills, there should be enough money for you to get Suboxone if you need it.

I think it would be really helpful to you if you could find a meeting in your area.  You need someone to talk with.  Go to the AA or NA websites and see if you can get some more info.  I've called the AA hotline before and talked to this guy for an hour.  I felt so much better after.  If you can't get to a meeting you can at least talk with someone on the phone.

Stay hopeful.  You are doing great!
Avatar universal
I'm currently taking 20 mg of prozac daily and am having an issue with nyquil. What it does is gives you a high, not like weed, and it's not a feeling like alcohol either. Substance abuse is very dangerous and should be treated but most people refuse to accept help. It causes changes in behavior and weird habits, also can be associated with depression. What causes the 'high' feeling is DXM (Dextromethorphan), it's used a a cough suppressant. I have watched other people fall down this path and theres not much you can say that will get them, seek help, he has to want to quit.
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