This has been addressed in this forum once before, but I saw someone say to start a new thread because the other was very old. Here's my situation:
I'm 54 years old and have been on permanent disability since 2003 for degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia and spinal stenosis. My pain is almost constant. Even when I take my pain meds, they never totally get rid of it, it just goes down to a dull roar. I had back surgery in 1982 (laminectomy). That lasted a good 10 years and then the pain returned. I've been told by my orthopedist that my back is "as bad as it gets". Anyway, I've been on Vicodin (generic) since at least 2001, as well as Flexaril. My sleep has always been horrible (lifetime insomniac), so I'm also on Trazodone. A few years ago, I developed restless leg syndrome and my doctor prescribed Klonopin and wow, that really works for RLS! Now, despite all of these meds, I still don't sleep. I'll go days sometimes without getting even a minute of true REM sleep. So, a couple of years ago, I started to take Unisom. Actually, I get the Costco store brand which contains doxylamine succinate. Back in the 90's, I had taken Unisom and it was a big help, which is why I thought I'd take it again. I started out taking like 2 pills a night. It worked for a while, but for some reason, when I turn off my light and lay down to sleep, regardless of how sleepy I am, the minute my head hits the pillow, BAM! I'm wide awake. I try and ignore it and sleep anyway, but the frustration of not getting sleepy is just horrible, so I get up again. So, I started taking more Unisom. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but as of now, I sometimes take in excess of 12-16 pills over the course of the night on top of my pain meds. I don't take them all at once, I take 4 pills with my regular meds. If I'm not asleep within about 2 hours or so, I'll take 4 more as well as maybe an extra Vicodin or Flexaril. I wait another couple of hours and then take 4 more. When/if I do finally fall asleep, I'm practically comatose, sleeping in excess of 12 hours or more. I'm still in pain. I've tried alternative methods to get rest. I've been a meditator since the 70's. I try and do things to make my eyes tired, like reading and I sometimes just lay there in the dark for hours hoping sleep will come. I'm terrified of overdosing. There have been a few times that I was getting up to go to the bathroom and fell asleep literally sitting on the edge of the bed and I've also fallen asleep on the toilet. I'm also worried about what sort of damage the Unisom is doing to my body. My liver is already toast because I also have NASH (non-alcoholic steato-hepititis). Mine is stage 4, which is cirrhosis. That's from all the years of Vicodin. I'd love for them to switch me to a different pain killer, but I've tried them all and Vicodin is the only one that helps at all, including oxycontin. I've had the cortisone injections too many times to count. They say they can do another back surgery, but they'd have to fuse my spine and my doctor says that my quality of life will be less than it currently is in my current state. I'm also in a tremendously stressful situation right now because I'm losing my house to foreclosure and can't find a place to live, but the Unisom abuse has been ongoing since before the foreclosure process began, but I do know that one of the reason's I'm currently not sleeping is due to this stress. Okay, this has become fairly long-winded, but you get the idea. I want to talk to my doctor about it, but I'm terrified that he'll take me off my pain killers. Despite how much I over-use the Unisom, all of my prescribed drugs I take as prescribed. If I could just get off the Unisom, I think I'll be okay...well, MY version of okay. I honestly don't want to die here, but I'm afraid of accidentally overdosing. Suggestions?