Monday, July 06, 2015

My Trip Through the Polypharmacy Blender

A long story by Rory Tennes on the Risx website, describing his descent into psychiatric hell.

We only present a few snippets, and recommend reading the full article.

I was asked by David Healy to write my own story after he read my comment on another RxISK story. I agreed but have been surprised how hard it was to sit down and do it. I knew the story, the words were in my head. Yet I avoided getting started. Perhaps it was because of the painful emotions I knew it would bring to the surface. Or maybe because it reminds me of the pain and suffering my family had to endure, how much we lost and the fact that I may not be able to do anything about it. Or it could be my frustration from the cognitive difficulties I still have, making writing a difficult task that drains what little energy I have.

My trip started this way: I was ill, injured and in pain. I went to my doctors for help, and they proceeded to drug me into oblivion. My PCP or “family doctor” diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. I don’t think he really knew what I had, but once he put a name on my symptoms, he started throwing drugs at them. I was in constant pain, chronically fatigued and began to have severe bouts of anxiety. For four years I saw doctor after doctor but none of them could tell me what was wrong, or why I was getting worse not better despite all the drugs. It turns out I had autoimmune arthritis. I’d had it for 30 years, and since it was misdiagnosed and untreated for so long, my spine was a total wreck.

I have worked in construction for 38 years, as a skilled tilesetter with my own business. I love the work but it can be rough on the back. I am now on disability due to a combination of my disease and the multiple toxic “treatments” I was put on.


Before my trip through the Pharma looking glass began, I had quit drinking altogether. I had been sober for five years, solidly sober and liked it. In October 2010 I was on Trazodone and Wellbutrin. When Flexeril and Naprelan were added, within weeks I suddenly had strong urges to drink, which had been totally absent until that point. I now know that Flexeril (cyclo-benzaprine) acts just like a tricyclic antidepressant and should never be mixed with trazodone or Wellbutrin. The urge and the thoughts of drinking came on suddenly and very strong.

I made two trips to alcohol rehab, attended AA regularly but could not stay sober to save my life. I had numerous run-ins with the law as well. My behavior had become so bizarre, unpredictable, unstable and dangerous that I thought I had lost my mind and myself completely. I had no control over my thoughts, emotions or behavior, no matter what I did or how hard I tried. I watched my family suffer horribly in fear and confusion at what was happening.

Now I know why. Drugs can drive people to drink for relief from the agonizing akathisia that they cause. Couple that with the disinhibiting effect of the drugs, and it’s a recipe for alcoholism. That’s not just true for the antidepressants, but Lyrica too. The warning on Lyrica says that “People who have had a drinking problem in the past may be prone to abuse Lyrica.” It really should say: “If you take Lyrica you may have strong, uncontrollable urges to drink.” Lyrica can cause alcohol abuse, I have no doubt. So can Cymbalta, Zoloft and several other drugs I was on. I didn’t have a chance in hell to stay sober on those drugs.


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