An extra word of caution about supplements - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information
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Old 02-15-2016, 09:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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An extra word of caution about supplements


A few weeks back in a thread about withdrawal and insomnia, Dee reminded us all that reccomending supplements or otc medications to people in recovery is considered giving medical advice and should not be done. I took this at face value and did not offer any more advice on supplements.

Well, fast forward a few weeks... I had been taking an amino acid supplement to help with cravings early in sobriety. I started to have a slow descent into depression and anxiety, which I just attributed to early sobriety and my pre-existing anxiety disorder. Then last week, I had two days when I couldn't even get out of bed, including a dissociative incident when I didn't know where I was for about two hours. Yesterday, I went in to my pharmacy to pick up a prescription, and I gave my pharmacist a list of supplements that I take to check for possible interactions. As it turns out, that amino acid supplement is known to cause mania and psychotic episodes in people with neurological and psychological conditions. Anxiety disorder is one of those conditions.

So now a few days later, and a day and a half without putting that supplement in my body, I am beginning to feel like myself again. Fortunately, my wife encouraged me to stay out of bed and get some food and exercise over the weekend, which probably sped up my recovery.

But, the point of all of this is, the desire to self medicate without regard to the risks went beyond my addiction, and it got bad enough that I was almost taken to the psych er. So find out from a professional what you are taking before you take it. The human body is delicately balanced already, and adding in withdrawal/recovery makes it even more sensitive to new chemicals.

Be safe.
Be sober.
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Old 02-15-2016, 09:35 AM   #2 (permalink)
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That's good advice. Thanks!
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Old 02-15-2016, 09:40 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you, SweatyHands.
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Old 02-15-2016, 10:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks, SH....

Good advice and reminder.

I have been self-administering a series of supplements for a few months to help with my seasonal effective disorder (at least, that's what I feel like it is). I did speak to my doctor about them and he didn't see any issue with the regimen I was using - which I'll abstain from listing to avoid any suggestion of advice.

However, in follow up to that, my Dr. ordered bloodwork and I'll be going back to discuss the results with him and ensure there's not something different we need to be doing, or any concerns with those supplements.

Anecdotally, I have noticed a bit of a decline in the benefits I'd seen for the first month or two. It makes me feel that my body is becoming "tolerant" to the supplements and I'm concerned that it could be a diminishing return which just locks me into an expense and a new sort of "addiction" that isn't worth the benefit. I'd really like to get to a point that my diet and exercise provide what my body needs, unless there is a clear and diagnosed deficiency. That may mean I need to consider going with a prescription anti-depressant for at least part of the year.... because at least prescription drugs are researched and controlled and there are more 'known' aspects than in the uncontrolled, unregulated, largely unproven context of the supplements market.

Already, I feel a little addicted mentally to them and that concerns me.
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Old 02-15-2016, 10:55 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm glad you're feeling better.
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Old 02-15-2016, 10:57 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Good advice & I'm happy you feel better SH
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Old 02-15-2016, 11:28 AM   #7 (permalink)
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That is a good reminder.

Many people believe that taking supplements is completely safe because they are "natural". I know that some supplements that help with depression can be deadly if you are also taking some antidepressants. It is best to do your own research and check with your doctor and pharmacist.
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Old 02-15-2016, 12:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I always thought that between my library of naturopathic and nutritional healing books and the library, I was going in to these elective supplement additions with good information, but the fact is, if you are on any prescription or are in recovery from any substance, your body will do completely different things with seemingly innocuous compounds.

Literally, I was about one minute away from asking my wife to call 911 because I didn't recognize my house, and when I tried to get up to get water or use the bathroom, my mind and my body were in two different places. I was completely aware of my body sensations, but I felt like there was another mind in control of it.

Scary stuff.
I will repeat:
Be safe.
Be sober.
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Old 02-15-2016, 03:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm really glad you're ok SH - and thanks for sharing that message.
It really is important IMO

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Old 02-15-2016, 06:23 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks for sharing your experience, SH.

Mayo Clinic has helpful information about supplements that can be found here:

Herbal supplements: What to know before you buy - Mayo Clinic
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Old 02-15-2016, 06:46 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Unfortunately not many doctors are educated in herbal supplements. It's still important to follow your doctor's recommendations.

There isn't as much research into herbal supplements and remedies, there's not a lot of money in it like in prescription drugs.
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