Six Months A Slave (The Drugs Don’t Work, They Just Make You Worse)

Check out Irfan’s story over at Policy of Truth about six months of addiction to some kind of sleeping pill (I’m a mushrooms and weed man myself, so I know little about pills):

I lay there awhile, let the vertigo wash over me a bit, then popped another 12.5 mg CR Ambien, settling soon enough into another four refreshing hours of non-REM sleep. By 2 am, I was wide awake, reading Jorge Luis Borges (on insomnia), and waiting for the sun to come back up so that I could start yet another vertiginous and sleep deprived day teaching ethics, critical thinking, and aesthetics to students who seemed not to notice that anything was amiss. (Conveniently, I had managed to collapse after class had ended. None of my students saw the collapse happen; I lay on the ground an hour before I was discovered by the instructor who needed to use the classroom after me.)

Read the whole thing. It’s very entertaining.

PS: My title is a reference to a song by The Verve. Don’t ask.

9 thoughts on “Six Months A Slave (The Drugs Don’t Work, They Just Make You Worse)

  1. Hey, Ambien isn’t just “some kind of sleeping pill,” it’s “America’s most popular prescription sleep medication,” and it’s been “linked to mass shootings.”

    For once, I was doing what the cool people were doing, and look what happened.

    I didn’t mention this in the post, but I did some sleep walking and said some crazy stuff I no longer remember (stuff that’s really not suitable for public disclosure). I didn’t shoot anyone, but that’s because I don’t own any guns. When I was going through withdrawal, I had a ritual of putting all of the dangerous objects (steak knives, hammers, etc.) in the trunk of my car and then hiding the keys. A friend came over one night, walked over to the car with me, and said, “Dude, do you know how BAD this looks?” I said, “Right, but think of how bad things will be if I don’t do it.”

    Bottom line: be safe about what you consume. Stick to weed and shrooms.

    Incidentally, a psychiatrist told me that “Ambien” gets its name from Spanish: “AM-bien,” i.e., it makes your morning go well. I was embarrassed to be taking a drug with a name that stupid. Maybe they should call it “Malvida,” since it just wrecks the rest of your life.

    • Wow. That’s insane (which is why I enjoy it, of course). You can tell the “not fit for public story” here dude. Nobody reads the ‘comments’ threads but me. 🙂

      I wonder if drugs like Ambien would even survive without the medical-industrial complex. Just thinking about the reasons why doctors push drugs like Ambien makes me tired and thirsty for another cup of coffee.

    • I don’t really know enough about the medical-industrial complex to comment on it, but doctors push drugs like Ambien because they seem like a quick fix for troublesome symptoms, and patients demand resolution of their symptoms. It’s just a lot easier for a doctor to write a prescription for someone with chronic insomnia than to say, “Look, you really need to deal with whatever’s causing this and change your lifestyle, but for now, you just have to put up with it.” A patient hearing that is just going to go to a more compliant doctor.

      The other thing is that doctors–meaning primary care physicians–have no idea that the medications have such dramatic side-effects. It’s not as well known as you’d think. The dramatic cases make the papers, but seem like outliers to the average prescriber. There’s just this folk wisdom floating around that everyone’s on Ambien or Xanax or whatever, and they’re doing fine, so it’s not a big deal. There’s no strong incentive for reporting adverse side-effects, and my story illustrates why. Once I realized I was addicted, my basic aim was to get off the drug, not to report my adverse side-effects to the FDA (or even my doctor). I’ve been off for almost a year now, and reporting still isn’t a high priority for me. If it was a high priority, I’d have done it by now.

      If my experience is typical of people like me, people with adverse side-effects don’t report, in which case adverse side-effects will tend to go under-reported and treated as non-existent. Of course, part of the disincentive to reporting is that I was misusing the medication anyway. On the other hand, I was misusing because it was misprescribed. But it was misprescribed because I went into the doctor’s office and made a plea to get some. So there’s blame to go around. Either all the relevant parties take responsibility, or none do. In cases like that, none do.

      The “not fit for public consumption” story involves an ex. Despite your caveat, I can bet she’d suddenly become an avid NOL reader if I were to reproduce it here.

  2. Before my travel doctor prescribed me mefloquine, a prophylactic for malaria, he told me the story of an English househusband who murdered his wife and three children, and walked because of drug induced psychosis. Guess which drug he was on! Regardless, it was cheaper than malarone, so I took it anyway. Still haven’t murdered anyone yet, but drugs are powerful things…

    • I don’t even remember what my malaria medicine was called, but it definitely made me hallucinate (it also cleared up my skin).

      I’m as atheist as anyone, but on some of those tropical stormy nights – with no power – and having worked with shamans and witches all day…I still have flashbacks from some of the stuff I saw.

      Never got the itch to murder anybody though.

    • Was it a weekly or a daily? Dailies are doxycyclin and malarone, the weekly is mefloquine. I think you must have had doxy, because it doubles as an acne drug.

    • Doxycyclin sounds about right. Big green pills?

      By the way, I got malaria while I was the desert, not the tropics (it was a tropical strain, though). My travel buddy got malaria back in the jungle, but hers was a desert strain and she had to take some big ass pills.

      Are you back yet? Did you get malaria?

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