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5945713 tn?1377138782

Unisom addiction/dangers

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?
11 Responses
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Avatar universal
Oh my! I don't have the answers for you but I did wanna drop in and welcome you . That is alot if unisom.  Maybe you can do anything and everything to exhaust yourself during the day so sleep comes easier at night? Hang in there. Someone with alot more knowledge than myself will be along to help soon. Best of luck to you....
Helpful - 0
3120424 tn?1347170032
That is a lot of unisom and drug mixing going on!  Can you ask your doctor for a sleep aid in place of the trazadone and unisom?  Maybe you just need something new. Because you're taking your prescribed meds as prescribed, you have nothing to hide- be honest with your doc and tell him the unisom (and trazasone?) don't work anymore- even when you take more unisom than directed.  

When I was in college i had a little stint with sleeping pills (i also was always a terrible sleeper) and it just took me nowhere fast. pretty soon, tylenol pms werent working even when i took double the dose and i just walked around like a zombie- with no more sleep than if i didnt take the pills. I was lucky to break free from them (now, looking back, I can see my addictive tendencies were already sprouting up!)

The scary thing about those OTC sleeping pills is...drs and researchers still aren't sure exactly how the main ingredient (found in almost every brand) puts you to sleep. There are many unknowns to them and they're just not safe.

The combination of drugs you're consuming is dangerous. Please follow up with your doc. Best of luck to you and keep us posted!
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I take melatonin instead of unisom and it has been life changing. It is with the vitamins at the drugstore. I but the 10mg ones I take between 4 and 78 a night. I like them because they are non addictive and you wake up with no pill hangover. You fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep. You will see they work so much better then unisom. Good luck
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I misspelled a bit in my last comment I meant to say I buy the 10mg ones and take between 4 and 8 a night of the melatonin. You will def see that they work so much better then unisom with no hungover feeling in the morning. Best of luck
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Do they have any at all side effects
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
None that I have ever had at all. It is safe in fact my sisters daughter whom is 14 was told by her doctor to take 3mg to help with sleep since she was having issues. THat was from the mouth of a pediatrician for a child, so it must be the safest way. I have no idea why detoxes and doctors don't recommend it more probably because pharmaceutical companies wouldn't make money. It has been so helpful and I know it is much safer then unisom, it is a vitamin.
Helpful - 0
5945713 tn?1377138782
I tried melatonin many times and it just doesn't do anything. I may as well be popping M&M's. I'm going to see the doctor next week and I'll see if he can prescribe a better sleep aid, but what I'm afraid of is that I'll become addicted to yet another drug. They say Unisom is non-addictive physically, but you can become emotionally addicted to anything. All prescribed sleeping pills are habit forming. Because of the way the drug laws are now, my doc knows I'm not abusing any of the prescribed drugs. I get my scrips every 30 days just like I'm supposed to. But yeah, I'll talk to him. Something has to change, that's for sure. Tonight, I've already taken 20 Unisom. I fell asleep a little while ago and woke up again 20 minutes later. It's the pain that keeps me up and also wakes me up. It can be excruciating sometimes....thanks for all of your suggestions. I'll let you know what he says. Oh, and to Brightfutureahead, Unisom is an antihistamine, which is why it makes you drowsy. I don't know about the other OTC's, but that's the reason Unisom works (under normal circumstances).
Helpful - 0
5945713 tn?1377138782
Oh, and I forgot to mention that although I've never had success with Melatonin in the past, I do intend to try it again. Thanks for the suggestion!
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
Hello. I dont have medical advice but I do know something that works. I know you said you meditate but you may not be meditating on the right thing. I am an ordained minister and I have experienced healing from having a close relationship with Jesus. My son was extremely lactose intolerant where we had to read the ingredients of everything he ate. Mostly everything contains dairy. So he had to take a minimum of three enzymes before eating anything even snacks. Sometimes they wouldnt work on certain foods and hos stomach would hurt for days. There was no med to help his stomach pains without us taking him ti the hospital. My husband and I prayed over him and one day the Lord miraculously healed him. Now he eats whatever he wants. Also, I suffered with depression for 13 years while on antidepressants. After much prayer and reading the bible, I am now healed. My heart goes out to you and others on this thread. So please take my advice. Im not trying to push religion on you but I want you to know that Jesus loves you and doesnt want you in pain nor unable to sleep. I hope my testimonies help someone. Take care.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I feel really bad that vicodin destroyed your liver.  Vicodin is hydrocodone + acetaminophen.  The pain killer is the hydrocodone, the acetaminophen is pretty useless imo, but most important of all, just should never be be used in excess of 3 grams per day.  Most vicodin tablets have something like 5mg-7.5mg of hydrocodone, and 500-750mg apap.  If these stupid doctors didn't put poison along with the pain killer, your liver would be fine.  You should really consider switching to a opiate pain killer that doesn't have acetaminophen in it, it will spare your liver any more damage.  They currently have a hydrocodone pain killer called Zohydro ER and Hysingla ® ER that are extended release hydrocodone pain killers WITHOUT acetaminophen.  I highly recommend you talk to your doctors about these medications, if you are still around that is.  That dosage of unisom is borderline suicidal, truly.  If your unisom pills contain 50mg of diphenhydramine HCl, and you take 20 sometimes during a night, that is 1000mg of diphenhydramine HCl which would literally be destroying your organs.  That is a very dangerous dose, not just because of sedation overdose, but because you are essentially poisoning yourself at that dose.

Good luck.
Helpful - 0
Avatar universal
I feel really bad that vicodin destroyed your liver.  Vicodin is hydrocodone + acetaminophen.  The pain killer is the hydrocodone, the acetaminophen is pretty useless imo, but most important of all, just should never be be used in excess of 3 grams per day.  Most vicodin tablets have something like 5mg-7.5mg of hydrocodone, and 500-750mg apap.  If these stupid doctors didn't put poison along with the pain killer, your liver would be fine.  You should really consider switching to a opiate pain killer that doesn't have acetaminophen in it, it will spare your liver any more damage.  They currently have a hydrocodone pain killer called Zohydro ER and Hysingla ® ER that are extended release hydrocodone pain killers WITHOUT acetaminophen.  I highly recommend you talk to your doctors about these medications, if you are still around that is.  That dosage of unisom is borderline suicidal, truly.  If your unisom pills contain 50mg of diphenhydramine HCl, and you take 20 sometimes during a night, that is 1000mg of diphenhydramine HCl which would literally be destroying your organs.  That is a very dangerous dose, not just because of sedation overdose, but because you are essentially poisoning yourself at that dose.

Good luck.
Helpful - 0
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