Depression Community
10.5k Members
Avatar universal

Should narcotic pain medicines used to treat 'Depression'?

Ever since I was prescribed hydrocodone I have been a more productive/motivated/happy, individual. Obviously people do abuse these meds ,but by taking short breaks once a month and not taking more than 4 or so a day I have found they have changed my life. I have been on them for 4 years now and in that time I have doubled my business income, lost weight and fixed some problems in my relationship with my girlfriend. I've entirely stopped drinking alcohol and were now talking about having a child together. I know I owe all this (in part) to the hydrocodone, which has done for me what prozac and buspirone could not.

I'm not saying "yeah go out and get yourself an opiate addiction" But people rely on vitamins/caffeine/nicotene etc to give them the boost they need (chemically) to have a better life, so whats the difference?

And i'm not some junkie, I've worked ever since i left school at 15 but i've always been a bit lazy and felt I had more to give than I could be bothered to do. These pills have changed that for me.

Used responsibly, I would say opiates CAN be used to treat slightly lazy unmotivated people like me...I would however, be interested as to what some actual doctors think about this.
11 Responses
585414 tn?1288944902
It doesn't help on bipolar. You aren't a "drug abuser" because you are not taking it for recreational purposes but that's officially drug misuse. That's not healthy either. Its self medication. Its not intended for that purpose and not used that way in studies. It will mask some of the symptoms of bipolar but not help it. What is it prescribed for in you? Does your doctor prescribe it for bipolar? If you are taking it for the purpose it was intended as a pain releiver and need it at those dose that's one thing. But if not its a bad idea as it is addictive.  I know what medications are experimental for bipolar. Here's a list of FDA approved medications used off label for bipolar:
The anti-cholesterol medication Lovaza is being studied as well as well. I am on an anti-psychotic agent that is in Phase II FDA study. Science is still determing the results. Its an unknown quantity. But there are FDA approved medications that could and would be prescribed off label for bipolar by a mood disorders specialist. What you are taking masks some of the effects of bipolar but doesn't treat it and is in the long run is addictive. Your doctor can't legally prescribe it as a mood stabilizer and lets' hope they are not. If you are taking it for pain relief fine. If not attend a recovery group to get off it and there are many good options for mood stabilizers as well that could help you.
"Depression Central" is a good website to learn about that.
Avatar universal
Controlled substances like the one you are on is never used, nor any pain killer used for depression. Do you have chronic pain? If that's the case when it eases up sure you wil feel better, but if you are taking it to feel high, it's  not a good thing, whether its one pill a day - or when you just want to feel good. You are abusing the purpose of the med.   There are a ton of  pyschoparmaceutical meds out there that do work.  If you are addicted, you need to seek help. I used to pop Tylenol 1's like candy when I was really stressed out at work, and I would get a nice buzz going for 4 hours or so.  Get a referral to a psychiatrist if you don't have one, or if you do, you need to come "clean" about what you are doing. Addictions will turn and bite you in the butt with liver and kidney damage among other things.  Have you checked out the addiction forum? It might be a good idea,
best of luck,
Avatar universal
I take it for pain but it doesent just get rid of the pain, it also gives me the 'perk' I mentioned above.

Its really just  a question I had been wondering about for a while, im not 'reaching out for help' and I have already discussed the matter with my girlfriend, psychiatrist and doctor. I am well informed concerning the health effects of abusing this med and had a liver biopsy recently which showed a perfectly healthy liver (except for having hepC)

Oh, I was not insinuating that it could be used to treat bipolar disorder. Just mild depression.

Was just hoping to start an interesting debate on the possible benefits of hydrocodone.

585414 tn?1288944902
Yes its understood then. So if you take it as prescribed for pain you are not abusing it then. But if people read that you believed it could work in that fashion it might encourage some of those people. People post specific information as regards their own recovery (that in no way supercedes a psychiatrist's understanding of them) but a "debate" is not a good idea. If you want to know what medications are being studied for what what purpose feel free to look them up on PubMed or another clinical source but if you want to know what medications might be helpful for you (and this includes clinical depression) a website such as "Depression Central" might be of help. Many medications have a mild anti-depressent effect. That doesn't mean they will ever be used to treat clinical depression. Any issue regarding a pain medication is best talked about in the pain management forum but if you still have a problem with (even mild) depression there are many approved anti-depressents that you could speak to your psychiatrist about as options.
Avatar universal
I've been wondering about this myself, specifically for suicide prevention.  Mostly due to the fact that I had a prescription for hydrocodone last year to manage the pain from a sports injury until physical therapy got the upper hand on the pain, which ended up being coincidentally timed with receiving the worst news I could ever dream of.  How something managed to be worse than immediate family dying I'm still in shock over.

Put simply, that hydrocodone prescription kept me from killing myself three months ago.  I know that for a fact, as I had a sudden, powerful, primal urge to end myself that's only ever been rivaled by my urge to mate.  As it was, it was a close call and it took all the willpower I had to force myself to stand still (I couldn't force myself to sit), take three pills (instead of just one or two normally needed to manage acute pain), and stand there waiting the hour it took to take effect, instead of loading a firearm.  After half an hour of standing and quivering the physical effects were felt and I managed to sit down and start playing a video game even though I needed to be studying, since that was the week before college finals and I'd been procrastinating the entire semester.  Bad timing for bad news.

I'd been passively suicidal for 10 years at that point (and was on various antidepressants almost all of that time).  For several years (1999, 2004-6) I was daydreaming up to 30 minutes a day for those years about how much of a relief it would be to actually do it.  But aside from one brief instance in 1998 the desire had never gone 'active' like it did towards the end of last year, accompanied by my injury's pain skyrocketing, and physically shaking so bad that I couldn't sleep for days even with a hefty dose of painkillers in my system.

A week after the crisis started I got straight A's on my finals.  But I was still at my breaking point, and my doctor wasn't happy when I told him the painkiller prescription had saved me from being entirely consumed by emotional stress.  He put me on Xanax to keep me stable for the crisis to pass, which managed to give me worse constipation than the hydrocodone ever had.  Life is seriously messed up that way when it comes to side effects.

What I worry about is how many people would have put off suicide like I did if they'd had a bottle of 'euphoria' within arm's reach like I did when the suicide impulse went 'Active'.  As it was I was so distraught I barely had the mental capacity to consider misusing the medication like that.  And I sure wasn't happy about taking them for that purpose.  But considering the alternative, I don't think I made the wrong choice.

I'm more frustrated thinking that the person I've hated myself over losing to suicide might have been around if they'd had an emergency-brake-in-a-bottle like I did.

Frustrated more because the addiction factor is probably too much of a risk even for people that are imminently suicidal, even with medical supervision.  Life isn't fair.
585414 tn?1288944902
You had an injury that causes pain that required it. Don't confuse the two. When a person has a pre-existing physical and psychiatric disability they have to make sure to not take one medication for the other purpose. For example, I have dystonic spasms. I take several muscle relexants. They are not a controlled substances but better not to say the names of them although they are standard approved prescriptions. Before the spasms were treated, they were so bad that the pain brought on suicidal ideations. If I have spasms then it is appropriate to take these medications for them but I have them at fixed dosages I discuss with my neurologist. But if I had an episode from depression (which is an aspect of my psychiatric disability, I do have moodswings) that would cause suicidal ideations (which happenned before my current recovery) then taking a muscle relexant for it would be the wrong idea. The same applies to what you discuss.
   As for Xanax it can run out of effectiveness after a while as its generally meant for long term use. Klonopin and other related benzos are more meant for longer use. But a benzo might not be a good idea if someone is self medicating which you might be. Talk that over with your psychiatrist. That doesn't make you a drug addict. But the moment you use a pain killer for something other than pain you are using it for the wrong purpose. You should speak to your psychiatrist about all this and about having the anti-depressents you are on adjusted if you feel they don't work. But as for the pain killers if you physically don't need them ask for help in getting off them at the rate your doctor schedules because in the long run they will impeed your recovery not help it. They just numb the depression. They don't treat it in the same manner as an anti-depressent.
Avatar universal
wow. interesting. I wonder are these just random feel good stories of narcotic dependence or should euphoria be used as a treatment in a wide range of psychiatric afflictions.

My question is whether being dependent on something because it makes you feel GOOD, is a bad thing?
585414 tn?1288944902
Euphoria is not what people are seeking in recovery. When someone is manic, euphoria can be part of it. Having experienced mania I know that. Medication is not there to make you feel good but neither should it feel bad. Its there to treat depression. When a person uses a variety of substances that are not meant for depression, the actual clinical depression is not treated. All of a person's everyday feelings are numbed or shut down. When clinical depression is treated its in a very specific targeted manner. I understand your perspective but we can't discuss our own views on what should be treatment. We have to discuss medications that are FDA approved medications that are approved to treat depression or authorized by psychiatrists for off label usage for it (many mood stabilizers are not officially FDA approved for that purpose such as Clonidine which I take). But its unfair to people who do have a problem with substance abuse to discuss using pain killers for depression because in reading that post they will think we are encouraging it and that would be wrong for them. So let's just stop here. Thanks.
Avatar universal
I'm on 40 mg of paxil a day and I've been prescribed 90 mg of Percocet and 60 mg of morphine sulfate for the past 5 years in June I decided I was done with the pain meds which in 3 weeks I was Weened of but my p axil oh that was a different story just 5 hrs after not taking p axil you get clammy start getting nerve jolts nauseous stomach pain crying yelling plane madness but the narcotics  are the problem
Let me get this clear, and this is a very old thread so you might want to start a new one, did you stop Paxil cold turkey?  You should know, it's a lot easier to stop taking narcotics than it is to stop taking Paxil.  With narcotics you usually get pretty sick for a time, but then you're usually past it, but with Paxil, you can get mental disorders you never had before.  This isn't to say quitting narcotics is easy to do, it isn't, which is why the fact Paxil is more problematic should be an important warning to everyone.  You should, ideally, taper slowly as you need to off all those drugs, and do it one at a time so you don't put too much on your nervous system, but with Paxil, you absolutely must taper off this drug as slowly as you need to if you decide to stop taking it.  There are people who have no problem with quitting drugs, but it's a big risk to take to see if you're one of those, and you're obviously not.  If it takes a month, it takes a month -- most psychiatrists use a generalized six week taper off antidepressants, and that might be fine, or you might need six months.  But that's better than the alternative.  Be safe out there, folks.
Avatar universal
How is guessing which depression med to be put on is exact science I've been struggling  with depression for years my doc keeps putting me on different antidepressants that take monthsto get results usually I relapse into depression and left wondering what's next
I'm sorry, that's hard.  Why do you go off the antidepressant?  If you find one that helps, stay on it??  I'm trying to follow what you are saying.  Maybe I'm off base here.  
It's not an exact science.  Very little science is "exact."  Science is very little understood in our world because so many people have religious and political agendas that either exaggerate what we actually know or diminish how useful inexact information can be.  Science is the pursuit of truth through a particular method.  That's all it is.  It doesn't mean you've found truth, just that you're looking for it in a disciplined way so you know it when you find it.  Medication usually starts with scientific inquiry, but it gets to us through corporate executives trying to make as much money as they possibly can.  A lot can happen as the process moves from the original theorists to the final product.  So as to your question, people are different, and when you have differences you have variability, and when you have variability you have a harder time proving truth.  Antidepressants don't do all that well in clinical trials but as long as they beat placebo by a reasonable measure and jump through the proper regulatory hoops the FDA will approve the medication.  But this doesn't mean the medication actually is safe or effective, it means such evidence as the company releases to the FDA shows that it might be.  After it has been on the market for a while, independent researches get some data to look at, and that's when we truly find out how medication works and doesn't work.  It's a process, and there's probably no way to make it "exact" at the current level of knowledge we currently have.  Consider that we don't know yet what causes anxiety or depression, not even what part of the body.  There are theories, but nothing yet proven to be true.  So what these drugs do is tamp down the symptoms so you don't feel so bad, they don't cure anything and don't claim to cure anything.  Whether your psychiatrist explains this to you or not, and they almost never do, that's why it's trial and error -- nobody knows how a particular brain will react to a particular medicine.  Some psychiatrist do use some technology that claim to narrow down the choices, such as EEG tests, CT scans, and checking liver metabolites to see how well you're likely to absorb a medication.  But beyond that, it's still going to be trial and error.  As Mom says above, if you truly need medication to get better because nothing else has worked, if you find one that works, you stick with it until you find a way to cure the underlying problem, which is those of us with these cursed disorders don't think in a way that's productive or fun for us.  If you can change that through therapy or some other way, you stop needing medication.  Good luck, and don't give up, that's why there's so many meds out there.
794366 tn?1418012995
Wow. I am blown away by your post. Hydrocodone is a pain killer that is meant to be used for a short term and not for someone who might have depression and who may be lazy. The question that I have is what kind of doctor would continue prescribing this drug to you for such a long time.
You are addicted to this drug and the effect it is having on you. You need to seek help getting off this drug ASAP and go see a psychiatrist to treat your depression if that is what you truly have. Your doctor should be reported to the board for this.
Well, this is a very old post and I doubt the poster is still reading it or even on the website anymore.  But I'll just say that, the most dangerous thing about this drug isn't the opiate effect, it's the acetaminophen in it, which over time will damage the liver.  Pure opiates aren't that bad for you if you don't overdo them.  This poster was on it for pain control and was just saying that it also made him feel better, which is why, of course, people like all kinds of drugs.  People have been using the opium poppy, in a much weaker form of course, for all of recorded human history for this purpose, just as they've been using marijuana and peyote and all the other natural plants out there that make them feel good.  My own view is that if the acetaminophen wasn't in there, opiates are no more dangerous than benzos or antidepressants, which are also either addictive or even harder to stop taking than opiates and have been found by many researchers to have more permanent effects on the brain if taken long-term because they are completely foreign to the brain -- unlike opiates, which are found naturally in the brain.  So it wouldn't be my choice to take an opiate, but it might be the best choice for some people. I was put on a benzo many years ago, and they are much harder to stop than opiates and more likely to affect the brain's ability to adapt to stress when stopped.  Which is to say, once you decide to go the drug route, they all have some level of risk, and for some, opiates might be a lower level of risk and for others with no self-control they could lead to death.  It's a complicated world out there.
Have an Answer?
Top Mood Disorders Answerers
Avatar universal
Arlington, VA
Learn About Top Answerers
Didn't find the answer you were looking for?
Ask a question
Popular Resources
15 signs that it’s more than just the blues
Discover the common symptoms of and treatment options for depression.
We've got five strategies to foster happiness in your everyday life.
Don’t let the winter chill send your smile into deep hibernation. Try these 10 mood-boosting tips to get your happy back
In You Can Prevent a Stroke, Dr. Joshua Yamamoto and Dr. Kristin Thomas help us understand what we can do to prevent a stroke.
Smoking substitute may not provide such a healthy swap, after all.