Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Your Drug and Alcohol Lesson for the Evening

Note: I wrote the following blog late last night and am getting a lot of flack from alcoholics and non-alcoholics alike regarding it, saying that I'm fooling myself if I think I was *not* taking the NyQuil just to get a buzz. That wasn't the case at all. As I said in my last blog, I was purposely taking the NyQuil to get stoned. That being said, I'm also receiving a lot of support for what I wrote in these last 2 blogs, primarily from MY SPONSOR, who's opinion I value very highly, and from some other trusted recovering alcoholics I am friends with.

I took the first dose because I had pneumonia. I bought another bottle and took approximately 6 more bottles of it because it got me wasted, and I wanted to get wasted. That much I freely admit. Kate's larger point, as she is mentioned in this blog, is that I should still be proud of the almost 4 years I DID stay sober, and to quit hating myself for having relapsed. I told Kate that it was all semantics and that I did break my sobriety by taking the NyQuil because it indeed does have alcohol in it. That's the bottom line. I'm not trying to bullshit anyone or make excuses for myself for having consumed alcohol on purpose. I did that. I'm just trying to explain in the blog below that the other ingredients in NyQuil, in combination with all the other drugs I take, considerably compounded the hallucinogenic and erratic behavior I felt, that didn't, to ME, how I FELT, feel like when I was drunk on alcohol alone. There was more to the story than pure alcohol abuse.

I would direct anyone interested in an extensive take on NyQuil to this site:
It contains a wealth of articles on the other active ingredients in NyQuil as well as what the alcohol content in the drug does. For a more detailed drug profile of what's in NyQuil, visit Wired Magazine's article at


I was talking to my layman pharmacologist/insanely intelligent best friend, Kate, last night about the NyQuil debacle on the phone. We talked about the alcohol content in NyQuil, which in relativity, is quite small, at 10%. The other active and inactive ingredients in the drug are dextromethorphan HBr and doxylamine succinate, a cough suppresant and an antihistamine respectively. This does not negate the fact that I consumed alcohol; rather, it reinforces the fact that when I mixed the NyQuil with Zoloft, Lomotil, Propranolol, Estazolam, Lamictal, Geodon, Neurontin and Mirapex, funky shit started to happen and I was looped out beyond belief. The anti-bipolar drugs, restless leg syndrome drugs, benzodiazepines, tachycardia meds to slow down my heart rate, diarrhea stoppers, anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, and nerve blockers aren't contraindicated when taken together, as checked thoroughly by my trusted pharmacist. But when you mix the ingredients of something like NyQuil in a mass quantity, it obviously intensified the effects of all of those drugs and made it like I was overdosing on literally EVERYTHING I was taking.

To say I was scared shitless is literal, not figurative. When I think back to how I *felt* on the NyQuil, it wasn't my typical "drunk" feeling. It was more hallucinogenic and other-wordly. I was talking to Luke about things that made little or no sense (which, as aforementioned in yesterday's blog), he managed to capture on video, I stumbled around, and was just--there's no other word to describe it--looped the fuck out. 10% of alcohol, even having taken half to 3/4 of a bottle of the NyQuil wouldn't have made me that drunk. Pour me a Tanqueray and tonic and we'd have a far different situation on our hands.

RISD grad, Harvard and Brown University trained Kate's argument, and her Harvard-trained professor husband agrees, is that I abused a cold remedy, that I didn't necessarily relapse on alcohol. I both agree and disagree with this statement, because whomever *made up* the rules of sobriety (probably Puritans) declared that anything with alcohol in it, whether it's a medication or a piece of tiramisu is a no-no and turns into a relapse. (Funny, I had a piece of tiramisu the other night and didn't think twice if there was alcohol in it or not--hey, maybe I relapsed twice in one day! Wowzers!)

I'm not, by any means, excusing myself for abusing a substance. Don't get me wrong. I'm saying that when mixed with all of my medications, the other active ingredients in NyQuil fucked up my brain chemistry something fierce. Kate's tired of me hating myself for what I did, and frankly I am too. Did I fuck up? Yeah, after taking NyQuil for pneumonia relief and then after I was cured of that, in a large quantity. Should I punish myself for it for the rest of my life and assume all of my loved ones will hate me? God no. I don't know what I'm so worried about.

Dextromethorphan, a cough suppressant, can cause hallucinations when overdosed. Combined with Doxylamine, can cause an elevation in body temperature, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion. Those were more the symptoms I experienced while on high doses of NyQuil as opposed to a drunk on alcohol feeling. It wasn't a happy high by any stretch of the imagination. Not a pleasant buzz. It was hyper-sensitivity to EVERYTHING. Thinking people were in the room who weren't, rambling on about random shit to Luke that made no fucking sense, and trust me, nobody wants to watch the video Luke shot of it. I had a hard time with it. I can only imagine the terror my 12-year old had in filming it, but he wanted to show me when sober what I was acting like, and for that, he serviced his Mom well.

My mom is terrified that I'm going to die. But I lucked out. AGAIN. Once again, it was not my time to go. Just like my Keith Richards t-shirt says that I received as a gift from my best male friend, "Too tough to die." Kate said tonight, "So you did not break your four hard earned years of sobriety, which is an amazing achievement considering all you are going through. You are so strong, Andrea. You are a rock." I take that to heart. I DID work hard at my sobriety for four years, and I should still at least celebrate that much. I made a mistake in mixing a drug that contained alcohol in it with other dangerous ingredients in it with my medications and abused it for a couple of weeks. I shouldn't hate myself and think I'm a failure because of that.

I have never taken acid, but I know plenty people who have, and have personally witnessed folks who've had bad trips with frightening hallucinations. I liken my experience with NyQuil more than the sensation of being drunk on alcohol.

Nothing seemed real at the time. And nothing was real. I was in another world. I saw things that weren't happening, people who weren't there, and kept insisting to my 12-year old that I was just really tired, but nothing gets past that Luke. He's seen his mother go through more in his lifetime than any kid should have to witness. He knew I was messed up on something, he asked me why I was taking so much cough medicine, because I'm not smart enough to hide things like that from him and he's too wise to fall for my bullshit. That much is certain.

He pretended to call his dad at midnight to tell him to pick him up and that he didn't want to live with me anymore. He said he was tired of having to walk me down the stairs and watch me shit my bed constantly and having to take care of me when I'm the adult and he's the child. He was tired, period. He said that he was thinking of the most creative way for me to tell him that I loved him and wanted him to stay with me. A "concentration test" he said tonight. Because when he asked me if I was drunk, I told him I wasn't. So he pretended to call his father in order for me to say "I love you" and he said that it worked. Luke's one smart fucking person. The next day in school, having had only 2 hours of sleep, he fell asleep in religion class, which is my fault. I feel horrible about that. He said he kept asking me "Did you comprehend what I just said," and I always exuberantly said, "YES!" when, in fact, I had no idea what he was talking about. I was hallucinating.

So once again, I barely cheated the Grim Reaper. Barely. God has other plans for me.

A lot of people would disagree with me on this whole theory, other recovering alcoholics and straight people alike. But to me, it all makes perfect sense. The information I Googled on NyQuil came from the trusted source of Lance Armstrong's Livestrong web site as well as other trusted medical references.

I think all in all, I will celebrate my sobriety in some form or fashion next week, the 3.9 years of it that I DID have and the week I will have had by then sober yet again. You all seem to forget that right around now, 3 years ago, was the last time I took a steak knife and sliced my right arm open, hence the whole I WANT A TATTOO ON THAT WRIST IN PARTICULAR. (That's why I'm so hell bent on the tattoo, Tatus.) I will get to see my Tatus, and my family and friends. I will go to AA and continue working the program because I need it. I thought I was on such an even keel, that I didn't need the support of the therapy I do get out of AA anymore. The women at AA all laughed wholeheartedly when I said I broke my sobriety on something as ridiculous as NyQuil. But nothing's going to stop me from living a long life, whether I end up diagnosed soon with MS or some other funky disease that my neurologist is worried I have because of the fucking holes in my brain. I'm the poster child of survival.

The Offbeat Drummer is still drumming for her life.."A smooth sea never created a good sailor...."

‎"Sometimes, my feels like fiction. Some of the days, it's really quite serene. I'm living proof of all life's contradictions. One half's going where the other has just been." --George Harrison

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