Someone with an addiction to Fioricet will sometimes go to extreme lengths in order to get the drug. The addict may not get high or really have any good sensations from these prescription painkillers, but might need them in order to overcome chronic pain. A day or two after stopping the drug is when the withdrawal symptoms kick in. These symptoms, such as migraine headaches or vomiting, can be so bad that addicts will do just about anything to get the drug in order to get rid of the detox symptoms.
What Is Fioricet?
Firoicet is a combination of caffeine, acetaminophen (also called paracetamol), and butalbital. All three of these substances can become habit forming, but it’s the butalbital that really hooks someone in. It’s a barbiturate similar to Phenobarbital, which helps to relieve pain by making the person feel sedated. Ideally, Firoicet is only supposed to be used for the short term, and only when other kinds of painkillers have failed.
There is a caffeine-free version of Fioricet, but not a barbiturate-free version. For extreme pain from trauma or surgery in hospitals, they also have a type of Fioricet that is combined with codeine. But the drug is mainly prescribed for people with severe headaches, or for severe migraines. Although there is an injectable version of the drug available, most addicts get hooked on the pill form, because that is what is typically being prescribed for headaches and such.
It turns out that most people with a barbiturate addiction usually have a serious chronic pain condition that started them on this path. Unfortunately, barbiturates only give a short term fix for the pain. And of course, the body gradually gets used to the medicine, so over time, more needs to be taken in order to get the same pain-killing effect. People may not understand why doctors are so reluctant to prescribe these medications after they seemed to initially work, and this tolerance effect is a big part of the reason why.
The body also gets used to acetaminophen and caffeine. The body is always striving to come into balance (or homeostasis) and soon figures that certain daily doses of medications are normal. If it doesn’t get these drugs, it sends out distress signals in the form of withdrawal symptoms. Ironically, these may be headaches or migraines, which the patient was probably trying to combat in the first place.
It is not unusual for someone who is hooked on this drug to doctor shop in order to maintain a supply. The addict will often have accounts (sometimes under different names) with several different doctors and pharmacies throughout the state or county. Another way to maximize the use of the drug is to simply combine it with alcohol, which is an extremely dangerous combination. The sedative effects of alcohol combined with this medicine can be extremely potent and dangerous to someone who is trying to alleviate pain.
What can you do?
The best solution for this type of addiction is to get professional help at a drug rehab center, followed by a frank discussion with your doctor that is attempting to manage your pain. What you might have to do is find another doctor who is experienced at treating pain in recovering addicts. Such doctors do exist, and they use a variety of holistic techniques and non-narcotic medications to help manage your pain. Certainly worth investigating in order to regain control of your life.