Prozac, Xanax, Klonopin, Risperdal, Abilify, Effexor, Concerta, Vyvanse, Adderall, Atarax/Vistaril.
Over the course of a year’s time, Dan took all of these medications, in various dosages and combinations. At times he was prescribed up to five medications at once, and since many of them require dosages two or three times daily, a good part of Dan’s day revolved around taking pills.
I look at this list and I can’t believe it. As a mom who would think long and hard before giving her children a decongestant, how could I have allowed this to happen?
I know the answer now and I knew the answer then. Desperation. Dan was in such bad shape that my husband and I were willing to try anything. The doctors assured us that we just needed to find the right combination of medications for Dan, and I touch on this in a previous post: Trial and Error and Error.
We never did find that elusive right combination. The wrong combinations kept piling up in his system and the side-effects worsened until I finally said, “Enough is enough.” Weaning Dan off of all of his medications was the best decision we could have made.
I never felt comfortable with Dan taking so many drugs and more than once asked the doctor if they might be the cause of some of Dan’s problems, not the solution. I remember as clear as day, Dan’s psychiatrist’s patronizing look as he obviously thought I was in denial over the severity of Dan’s OCD. “He needs the medications now,” the doctor said. “He is a very sick young man.”
The side-effects of these drugs are well documented, and the additional effects of some of these medications on teenagers and young adults are also known. So why didn’t Dan’s psychiatrist even consider the possibility that the pills were having a deleterious effect on Dan?
The multiple medications were started when Dan entered his residential program for OCD. We were told he needed the drugs in order to function well enough to participate fully in his Exposure Response Prevention Therapy. I believe this is probably true. When he left this program after nine weeks, I feel he should have been weaned off of most, if not all, of these medications. Instead, other meds were substituted, different combination and dosages were tried, and more drugs were added. There is no doubt in my mind that at this point, all of the pills Dan was taking were doing him more harm than good.
It’s kind of ironic to think that now, at age twenty-two, Dan won’t even have a beer with his friends. He says he already knows what it’s like not to think or feel clearly, and he prefers being in control.
Wow. No drugs. No desperation. And he’s in control. We’ve come a long way.