Starting Antabuse

I started antabuse the other night and have been sober ever since of course.  Starting this drug is naturally a huge deal.  I went into it thinking I could go off and on it so I could drink on special occasions but that won’t be happening.  By taking this you commit to at least six months of sobriety.  Most scripts last three months, this one lasts a year.

The potential side effects of this drug are so serious that my doctor made me sign a contract stating that she had explained the seriousness of it all to me.  So what are these potential side effects?

According to DailyMed,

“Disulfiram plus alcohol, even small amounts, produce flushing, throbbing in head and neck, throbbing headache, respiratory difficulty, nausea, copious vomiting, sweating, thirst, chest pain, palpitation, dyspnea, hyperventilation, tachycardia, hypotension, syncope, marked uneasiness, weakness, vertigo, blurred vision, and confusion. In severe reactions there may be respiratory depression, cardiovascular collapse, arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, acute congestive heart failure, unconsciousness, convulsions, and death

 

So.  This drug can kill you.

All the websites I’ve looked at recommend not taking it less than 12 hours after drinking but my doctor said 48.  She also said if I wanted to stop taking it it would be a week before I would be safe to drink but I found some websites that said two.  If and when I do decide to go off it I will wait two weeks just to be safe.

I received the script on Thursday but, as I had been drinking the night before I was unable to start that night.  The pharmacy I go to for my scripts is a bit of a drive away so I wanted to make sure they had it before I went and got it.  When I was talking to my psychologist about going on it she told me that antabuse is fairly rare and they probably wouldn’t have it sitting on their shelves.  So I figured I could call them that day, and if they didn’t have it, I could get them to order it in by the time I was headed that way the next day, and could start it that night.

I called them, and they did in fact have it.  They said they would reserve it for me, not something I was aware I could do at the pharmacy.  Clearly there are a few problem drinkers in that area.

When I went to pick up the antabuse the pharmacist said “now I don’t know if you’ve been warned but if you drink on this you’ll get all the effects of a hangover without the fun part beforehand.”  Well that sounds positively tame compared to what I found above doesn’t it?  I told him I understood and I paid for it.  And oh my god it was expensive – $79.99 for…I’m not sure how much is in there actually.  It’s either one months’ worth or three months’ worth.  So it’s not on the PBS.  Pea thinks that’s because the government wants to make up all the alcohol tax they’re losing from the sober problem drinkers.

I started taking it that night, with my nightly seroquel.  Pea thought it would be funny to lick one of my tablets then have a beer.  I was a bit worried about him, but he had no bad effects come of that.

I’ve been taking it for three days now and I feel fine.  I do have a morbid curiosity every time Pea opens a beer wondering if I should take a sip just to see what happens.  But I’ve been told by enough people that would be a bad idea – mum tells me I will want to die.  My psychologist told me about one of her patients who started drinking on antabuse and after only one beer was so violently ill he need to go to hospital by ambulance.

I’m aware that I haven’t talked much about my problematic drinking on this blog (they don’t like to label people as alcoholics anymore) and that’s mainly because I don’t know what to say.  I don’t know when and how it started, I don’t know why I do it and I don’t know how this will affect me long term.  Being in hospital didn’t help, it just dried me out for a little while then I was back at it again.

I had a blood test yesterday to make sure I haven’t damaged myself with all this irresponsible drinking.  I had one in hospital and I was fine but I’ve been doing it heavy since then.  I won’t find out the results until later this week.

Not drinking for five days hasn’t caused me significant distress, ok I cried the first day but only because I had a crutch and now it has been taken away.  I wasn’t experiencing any dependency symptoms apart from that withdrawal episode I had last Tuesday but nothing like that has happened since then.  Antabuse is a prick of a way to get sober because the control is taken away from you.

But I was out of control before.

 

Mac

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The Strange Episode Explained

So I went to my doctor yesterday.  Dad was meant to come with me but he was late because he went to the old address that he has in his address book at work.  Which is funny because my psychiatrist has been there for six years but oh well.

After my episode on Tuesday night, Dad sent my doctor a fax detailing what had happened, concluding with the statement that, in his professional opinion as a doctor, I was on too much seroquel.

She asked me if I was still drinking a lot and I said I was.  She said that, in her opinion as a psychiatrist who has dealt with many problem drinkers on seroquel before, my Dad’s conclusion was incorrect.  What he described, she said, sounded like delirium brought on by alcohol withdrawal, compounded by seroquel on top.

I’m on 50mg of seroquel at night.  By accidentally doubling it I had taken 100.  That is a lot for me but, as she explained, not a high dose of sedatives at all.  That alone wouldn’t account for the sleepwalking.

She asked me I if was getting any other symptoms of alcohol dependence like shaking. I said I wasn’t, but that I felt anxious on days where I wasn’t drinking.  And when I do drink, I can’t stop at one.  So I thought that I would have to so something that I have been putting off but now I feel like I’m out of options – go on antabuse, the drug that makes you violently ill when you drink.  She said that if I’m going to do that we need to talk to Dad about it because to take a step like that you need family support.

At which point my Dad entered, apologising profusely for being late.  She reiterated what she had told me about her diagnosis of my episode.  He shot an accusatory look at me and asked if that meant I had been drinking at home.  She said no, I was experiencing withdrawals from drinking heavily at Pea’s place the night before.

We talked to Dad about me going on antabuse and he was a little taken aback but agreed that I needed to take that step to stay sober.  She said that taking this drug meant that I was committing to six months of sobriety, and laid out the facts – I can’t start it until 48 hours after my last drink, and I can’t start drinking until 7 days after to stop it.  And if I do drink while on it, the effects are life threatening.

Because taking this drug is such a big commitment she made me sign a contract stating that I understood the nature of this drug and the ramifications of drinking on it.  That’s a new one – never had to sign anything for any of my meds.

My doctor ended the appointment by telling me to come back in three weeks and telling me that if anything goes wrong, she could get me in that day if need be.  She thanked my Dad for his involvement and told me I was welcome to bring any of my family members to my appointments, including my mum (I’m not sure I’m ready for that.)

Afterwards Dad and I went for lunch at the pub on the corner of the street my psychiatrist’s office is on and I had the most amazing burger (huge beef patty, crispy bacon, American cheese, onion rings, pickles, barbecue sauce and ranch dressing.)  Dad was joking that I should have one last drink but I wanted to start antabuse the next night.  I couldn’t start it that night as I had been drinking the night before.

Well, that’s all for now.  I will be back to talk about my experiences when I start taking the antabuse.

 

Mac

A Strange Episode

I woke up this morning to the familiar sound of my fan humming but something didn’t feel right.  I opened my eyes and sat to see that I was in fact in my sister’s room, in her little single bed, not my own.  I can’t remember how I got here.  Ominous.

My dad came in.  “oh you’re awake.  Do you remember what happened last night?”

“no…”

“I think you’re on too much seroquel.  I want to go with you to your doctor’s appointment tomorrow to talk about this.”

He left me, still feeling confused and I went into my room.  The sheets had been stripped off the bed and there was a towel on the floor.  I went to take my tablets…and found that was impossible because my whole medication drawer was missing.  Someone had taken it right out of the cabinet.

The presence of the kitchen scissors on top of the cabinet gave me pause for thought.  I used these scissors to cut my seroquel, but I remembered putting them away.  Yet I got them out again.  It looks like I might have accidentally taken a double dose of seroquel.

I went downstairs and found mum with my medication drawer sitting on the kitchen bench.  She told me what happened last night from her perspective.

Mum and dad got home to find me trying to get out of my bed room but the wardrobe doorknob was jammed under the door handle so my door wouldn’t open.  My dad fixed the door from the other side and opened it to see why I was unable to do it myself and realised that I was…not awake.  Mum said “Mac, go sit on the bed”  Which I apparently did, then Mum noticed where I was standing there was a puddle.  Of urine.  I pissed myself and now I was sitting on the bed in my wet pjs.

Due to all this activity in my room I started to wake up, but I was groggy and not talking sense.  Mum found some dry pjs and sent me into the bathroom to get changed which I did.  They decided to put me to sleep in my sisters room.  As they were taking me in there, Dad said something about me being on too much seroquel and I said “oh I need to go take my seroquel” to which they both said NO!

Mum took the medication drawer because she reached the same conclusion as I had; that I had taken and accidental overdose.  She wants to keep my meds with her until they can fix me up with a Webster pack or something.

I’m not sure why but I’m surprised my parents aren’t mad at me for peeing on the floor.  I guess it wasn’t really my fault – well it kind of was, if I was more on top of my medications that wouldn’t have happened.  But still, I’m a little old to be wetting myself.  I guess what I’m feeling is embarrassment.

I will see my doctor tomorrow and Dad is either going to come with me or write a note, he hasn’t decided yet.  I’m hoping he isn’t going to try and convince her to take me off it because apart from this episode I have been sleeping well on it.

I will be back tomorrow with more.

Mac