Dear Dr. Haroutunian, Your reputation as the "physician's Physician", or the one to go to if you are a physician, is nationwide. I am a practicing physician, and was prescribed Xanax for anxiety. I am now taking 6-8 mgs. per day, and have reached the point where I am a better physician with the Xanax than when I run out. Where does this end? Will my dependance on Xanax just increase? How can I get off the roller coaster? Is it normal for a physician in a lot of stress to need such medicines? Please help me. I want to be normal again.
Though you feel that you are performing better with Xanax than without it for your anxiety, the fact still remains that you are treating patients while under the influence of benzodiazepines. As you also know, 6-8 mgs is a huge dose and may indeed increase with further tolerance and dependence. Monitored detoxification from long-term benzodiazepine usage is mandatory, and as you may know, both benzodiazepines and alcohol have the ominous complications of potentially fatal detoxification, unless medically guided. I appreciate the candor and honesty it took for you to acknowledge your problem and encourage you to seek guidance from a certified addictionologist in your area.
I am also a physician in recovery, now celebrating 5 years. Recently, while on vacation in Europe, I took some Restoril for sleep. I took it two nights. I have had no cravings, no other relapse signs. Is this just a slip, or is this a relapse? My excuse was the "jet lag". Should I report this single incident to my treating psychologist?
A single dose of Restoril won't kill you, but secrets will. Only you can say if this is a slip or a relapse. Relapse is an abandonment of recovery principles and/or a weakening of your program, which ends in the use of the drink or drug. Relapse is not an event, it is a process. I would report this incident, re-evaluate your program, use your sponsor and work those Steps. If you need to strengthen your recovery, consider an evaluation or a recovery enrichment program. A short stay in treatment or a weeklong workshop may be just what you need. Most importantly, congratulations for taking this first step and discussing your concerns with me.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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