A Very Sober Christmas

I got my antabuse script refilled for the first time the other day marking my first month on the drug.  That makes one month into my six month sobriety challenge.

My sleeping has been amazing.  I seem to need to do a lot of it, and will sleep between 11 – 13 hours a night.  When I was drinking I would go to bed around 8 and wake up around 1 in the morning.  Sometimes I would go to bed on my own, sometimes I would need to take the other half of my seroquel tablet.  I don’t get much of a hangover any more, but I was experiencing dry mouth.  That has stopped now.

My mood has been up and down.  I’ve been stressing out because of this time of year and all the things I need to do and I find I’m taking seroquel to sleep and to calm down.  I’ve also been skipping meals due to being busy and this has a major effect on my mood.  I cannot cope when I’m hungry.  I get edgy and light headed.  The other day I had a hair appointment at 11, which lasted until 3, and drove straight to Pea’s house which in holiday traffic took the best part of an hour.  On the freeway I started to feel lightheaded and was wondering why then it hit me – duh, I haven’t eaten today since having a protein bar at 8 in the morning.

To combat my low mood my doctor has increased my fluoxetine from 10mg to 20mg but I won’t start seeing the effects of that for a few weeks. This is done cautiously because some antidepressants can cause rapid mood cycling in bipolar patients.  So far it hasn’t done that to me, and has been a huge help with my anxiety but we’ll see what an increased dose will do.  The doctor says the detrimental effects of binge drinking on my mood can take up to six weeks to lift.

As for temptation, it’s hard to be sober at this time of year.  On one hand, the control has been taken away from me; it’s not really a matter of self control as there are real life threatening consequences stopping me from drinking.  If I were to stop taking the antabuse I would still have to wait a week to start drinking.

Alcohol is everywhere.  On Friday Pea and I went to his company Christmas party.  They had booked a restaurant with a bar that served a variety of cocktails that I would have been all over had I not been on Antabuse.  Instead I drank my mocktails and found I couldn’t have too many of them as they were so sugary.  As everyone at the party got drunker I found it hard to join in on the conversations and ended up retreating into the corner on my phone.

We had parties at my parent’s house on Christmas eve, Christmas day and boxing day.  There was and abundance of beer and my dad’s sangria.  And one thing the antabuse has done is made me suspicious of food.  I’m not sure to what extent that alcohol evaporates out of food when it cooks but I don’t want to take any chances.  But still I get caught out.  My sister passed out some rumballs on Christmas eve and I nearly ate one until mum stopped me.  Luckily I didn’t have to forgo trifle as my aunt doesn’t put alcohol in hers.

New year’s eve is approaching and that will be another challenge but I guess I have to pull out the mocktail recipes I amassed when I was in hospital for new years two years ago.

 

Mac

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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

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