Fioricet Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment
Many people experience tension headaches, which are characterized by pain on the sides, front, or back of the head. Unfortunately, some people may suffer from a dozen or more of these headaches in a single month. People who get chronic tension headaches may rely on Fioricet for relief from the pain.
Fioricet is a prescription combination drug that contains acetaminophen, butalbital, and caffeine. It is used to treat chronic tension headaches and works by relaxing muscle contractions that cause headache pain, stimulating the brain’s production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (also called GABA), increasing blood pressure to improve blood flow, and reducing the activation of pain signals in the nervous system.
Butalbital, one of the main active ingredients in Fioricet, is classified as a barbiturate and acts as a sedative in the body. It is a Schedule II drug in America, meaning it has a relatively high potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction. The other active ingredients in Fioricet are caffeine, which is a central nervous system stimulant, and acetaminophen, which is a pain and fever reducer.
Fioricet is generally taken by mouth with or without food every four hours as needed.2 People who take Fioricet may be at risk of developing tolerance, physical dependence, or addiction, especially if they take the drug excessively. It can also cause dangerous side effects or an overdose if it is abused. Due to the high risk of addiction, many doctors will prescribe other over-the-counter headache relief medications before prescribing Fioricet.
Butalbital is also sold under the brand name Fiorinal (aspirin, butalbital, and caffeine) and may sometimes be used to treat migraines.
The following terms are street names or slang for barbiturates, such as butalbital:
- Red devils
According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an estimated 6.4 million people ages 12 or older misused prescription tranquilizers, including barbiturates like Fioricet, in the past year. That’s equivalent to 2.4 percent of the population.3
Although the risks of becoming addicted to Fioricet are low, especially if you take the medication exactly as prescribed, it can still happen. The risks of addiction rise significantly when a person becomes physically dependent on Fioricet and develops a tolerance. At this point, he or she will need more of the drug to get relief from headaches. However, continually taking larger or more frequent doses of Fioricet can cause addiction.
Consuming large amounts of Fioricet can also produce a high that feels similar to being drunk, which may serve as motivation to misuse it. Some people use Fioricet recreationally by taking large doses of it to get high or by using it with opioids or prescription painkillers to enhance its effects.
Misusing Fioricet to get high or using it in any way other than how it was prescribed can have serious consequences like tolerance, dependence, addiction, and withdrawal. Once you are addicted, it can be very difficult to stop using it.
Short-term effects of Fioricet abuse may include:4,5
- Mood swings
- Impaired balance and coordination
- Slurred speech
- Memory problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Aggressive behavior
- Irregular heart rate
Long-term effects of Fioricet abuse may include:4,5
- Strong cravings to use Fioricet
- Liver damage or liver failure
- Respiratory depression
- Excessive sedation
If a person is addicted to Fioricet, some of the most common signs are:
- Going to multiple doctors to get Fioricet prescriptions
- Taking more doses of Fioricet to treat headaches
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after taking a lower dose or missing one
- Feeling unable to function normally without Fioricet
- Being obsessed with getting more Fioricet and taking it
If you have taken Fioricet regularly for a long time, you are likely to experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. Fioricet withdrawal symptoms usually include:6
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid heart rate
If you are experiencing Fioricet withdrawal, it is highly recommended that you detox under the supervision of a doctor or at a medical detox center. This is especially important if you are severely addicted because your withdrawal symptoms may be severe or even life-threatening.
Medically-assisted detox is not only safer, but it’s also more effective because you are much less likely to give in to cravings or use Fioricet to get relief from withdrawal symptoms.
12 to 24 hours after the last dose
Early withdrawal symptoms often include tremors, anxiety, headache, insomnia, increased blood pressure, and increased body temperature.
16 hours after the last dose
Withdrawal symptoms become more severe and may include severe disorientation, hallucinations, seizures, and delirium.
10 to 14 days after the last dose
The majority of withdrawal symptoms typically dissipate by this time, but you may still experience strong cravings, feel depressed, or have suicidal thoughts.
The timeline above is helpful and can give you a general idea of what you can expect during Fioricet withdrawal, but it’s important to know that the severity and duration of drug withdrawal can vary greatly depending on certain factors, like:
- How long you’ve been taking Fioricet
- How much Fioricet you take each time
- Your diet
- If you take or abuse other drugs
- How frequently you exercise
- Your physiology
- The method you used to quit Fioricet (cold turkey, tapering, etc.)
Fioricet addiction is a medical disorder that requires ongoing treatment to overcome. Although a medical detox program can help you get sober, staying that way will require further treatment.
Research has shown that long-term rehab that lasts at least 90 days provides the best opportunity for lasting, genuine life change and recovery. While many 30-day rehab programs promise success in sobriety, staying in treatment longer greatly reduces your risk of relapse.7
During drug rehab, you’ll learn how to overcome your Fioricet addiction for good by:
- Attending educational lectures about addiction and recovery
- Engaging in a recovery program such as the 12-Step Program
- Learning how to recognize and respond to triggers, cravings, and high-risk situations
- Gaining important life skills that will aid your recovery
- Taking the time to heal physically and emotionally from the effects of substance abuse
Clients in drug rehab often work with addiction recovery professionals to achieve the objectives listed above with an evidence-based treatment program that addresses co-occurring disorders for well-rounded care. This often consists of different types of behavioral therapy, individual counseling, group counseling, family therapy, and peer support.
If you are searching for a drug rehab program for Fioricet addiction, many different treatment options may help you achieve your sobriety goals. However, two of the most common types of drug rehab are inpatient and outpatient programs. While both types of treatment are heavily focused on the principles of recovery, they differ in several ways.
In residential rehab, clients:
In outpatient rehab, clients:
Most often, if you are heavily addicted to Fioricet, an addiction treatment specialist will recommend that you attend an inpatient drug rehab, as this type of program provides a safe, sober environment, 24/7 support, treatment for co-occurring disorders, and a heavy amount of structure throughout treatment. However, talking to your doctor or an addiction treatment specialist directly is the best way to determine which type of program is right for you.
The cost of drug rehab varies greatly depending on the program and recovery support services offered, however, many rehab centers also provide several different payment options to reduce the financial burden. You may be able to pay for rehab by using:
- Health insurance benefits
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
- Financed healthcare loans
- Credit cards
- HSA funds
After completing rehab, you may also want to consider enrolling in a continuing care program such as sober living or aftercare. These types of programs offer ongoing recovery support services to people who are newly sober, in transition, or have recently relapsed.
Sober Living Programs
If you don’t have a stable home to return to after rehab, a sober living program can provide a safe and supportive substance-free environment where you can thrive in recovery.
Sober living homes are shared group living spaces that are designed to help men and women who are recovering from addiction by providing a transitional home where they can adjust to living a sober life outside of rehab at their own pace.
Many sober living homes offer recovery support services to ease the transition, including:
- A structured living environment
- Recovery programming
- Drug and alcohol testing
- Educational planning
- Employment assistance
- Family support
The cost of a sober living program will vary depending on the home’s location, amenities, and services, but payment is generally collected once a month.
Aftercare programs are geared toward alumni of drug and alcohol rehab programs who are adjusting to life outside of rehab. Aftercare groups meet weekly and provide a supportive, honest, and open environment where people can come to discuss ongoing issues related to their recovery.
Group discussions in aftercare are educational, informative, encouraging, and supportive and they offer a safe space where clients can openly share life’s challenges with their peers in recovery.
If you’re ready to shed the toxic lifestyle you’ve been living and finally overcome your Fioricet addiction, the professionals at Nova Recovery Center are here to help. Call (512) 605-2955 today to learn more about our addiction treatment and recovery support services.
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