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balanceislife: Tapering off Invega & Depakote by treating Alcoholism


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I was referred to this site by a friend in AA who had recommended it. I am a 31 year old male who lives in Boston. I graduated from a good college in 2004 and then things started to go downhill. I was raised with good health insurance by two parents, particularly my mother; who believed medication was the solution to everything.


From the mid 90's to 2004 I was on and off medication, always substituting drugs and alcohol to self-medicate myself. Every situation I was involved in called for a high. All this time I was treated by Doctors who would even re-prescribe me high dosages of Adderall after leaving the hospital for being treated for it, often because I manipulated them. In 2004 I had a psychotic episode thinking I was God while under the influence of a HEAVY combination of alcohol, marijuana and Adderall. From 2004 to 2011 there were 5 more episodes & hospitalizations, all related to heavy use of drugs and alcohol. The only exception was the last one in 2009 where I got fed up with all the medication I was on and came off Depakote and Risperdal in the period of about 2 months.


Last year I finally realized I was alcoholic. It is my opinion that they have mis-diagnosed alcoholism for bi-polar psychosis. The 12 steps have truly transformed me. I have treated the alcoholism and achieved 8 months of sobriety for the first time since I started using at 18. I am now confident, balanced, well-received by others and anxiety has disappeared. I fit the profile of an alcoholic to a T, understanding without my dependence on a higher power I am selfish, dishonest, self-seeking, fearful and inconsiderate.


Last spring I was put on a combination of 1200mg of Neurontin, 9mg Invega, & 750mg Depakote. Since last spring under Psychiatrists supervision we have come OFF the Neurontin (we started lowering in in September and recently stopped it all together) however the Depakote and Invega are left. The Depakote is now at 500mg and the Invega at 7.5mg. The Psychiatrist has told me the Depakote is not reaching my brain at the 500mg dosage, and so I am led to believe I am only on it is for a placebo affect at this point.


My goal is to come off the medication all together. They affect my spiritual well-being, have side effects, leave me confused and dull my personality. My problem is I am fearful of my current Psychiatrist who has known all my episodes since 2004. He was witness to my first psychotic episode I mentioned above and all others. He has been treating me since 2009 when I had my last episode. He is very intimidating, even though he tries not to be. He is the Chief of Psychiatry at a respected Boston Hospital and frankly puts a lot of thought into medical minded solutions treating my "diagnosis" as if I were a machine. Although he is very intelligent, I believe he puts very little stock in a spiritual solution as outlined through the 12 steps and other disciplines I have engaged in.


My thought is to find a new psychiatrist, but with Masshealth as my current insurance it is proving exceedingly difficult to find someone who will treat me. Most good psychiatrists are not accepting new patients and I believe those that are don't think to highly of taking someone they haven't known off of meds. I would like to do this with the SUPPORT of a psychiatrist. As I mentioned my current provider is intimidating, and will say things that discourage me such as "You will end up in the hospital if you do this, and I don't agree with it". Although it has been suggested to continue treatment with someone who knows my past, it is VERY discouraging to "fight" with him during an appointment and end up leaving with a resentment. It is one of the few resentments I have left that can leave me sour for a whole week.


I have a huge support system, including the wonderful women who referred me here. She had a very similar experience. All thoughts, suggestions, and ideas are welcome. I am also open to referrals or conversations. It should be noted that I have had some very powerful learning experiences in the past year. I have been meditating for five years and sobriety has added a new dimension to that. I have had healing done through a reiki practitioner, this has been powerful. And I have had acupuncture done. My acupuncturist thinks I am a normal alcoholic. He demonstrated how much energy I stored in my stomach that wasn't being released to the rest of my body. When he performed a diaphragmatic exercise my breath literally was taken away leaving me in shock. A surge of energy lifted joy throughout my body. Apparently addicts and alcoholics close off the breathing from their chest to their stomach. Exercises he provided me and and and three part breathing have proved valuable and balancing.


Thank you for reading,



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  • Administrator

Hello, balance. Thanks for sharing your experience.


Very glad to hear of your addressing your alcohol dependence.


Many people here are distressed about the relationship they have with their doctors. All of us (except the doctors) agree that being afraid of or belittled by a doctor is not a good therapeutic relationship.


It may be worth it to you to pay out of pocket for a doctor you can trust. We have a couple of doctors in the Boston area whom Surviving Antidepressants members have seen and suggested:




What was the method of your Neurontin taper? Did you have any withdrawal symptoms? Why did your doctor prescribe it to you?

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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Thanks for the reply. I will look into those doctors.


For me Neurontin was initially a mood stabilizer, though it had little effect. It did help reduce fear. We added in Depakote last April after getting up to 1200mg of Neurontin. That helped me in early sobriety.


The Neurontin taper started around August when I was at 1200mg. We went down to 800mg in September. 600mg in October. Then 500 in November. In late December we went down to 300mg. Then during the month of January we went down from 300 - 200 - 100. Then stopped it a few days ago.


Going from 300 - 200 - 100 was the toughest. From 200mg to 100mg I experienced agitation and anxiety. After that went away and I was just left with 100mg, we came off it. This past tuesday was the last day on it. Since then I have mostly been flat. Today there was a lack of joy.


My hope is with the exercises and alternative treatments I am utilizing (including continued stepwork) I will be joyous again. Once I have established a period of "happiness" I would like to seek out a doctor who can help me taper off the Invega and Depakote.


My current provider agreed to come off Neurontin because I expressed I wasn't experiencing any anxiety. I think that was the primary purpose of the Neurontin during treatment.


Thanks again for your reply.

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Hello Balance,


I am resonate with a lot of your story. I had a psychiatrist who has arrogant and bullying but in an insidious way. It turns out he acted aloof and superior, I believe, to keep others at a distance. Because, though he is a highly intelligent man, he is an addict who has been in and out of relapse over the years -- disciplined 3 times by state medical boards, changed from emergency to medicine to psychiatry after 2nd crackdown. Anyway, it's HIM who is weak and uses the bullying to hide his OWN problems.


Maybe I should get paid to treat him!


Anyway, I also have spent a good deal of time in AA, though I am no longer having problems with alcohol abuse. I am attending meetings and staying in touch to help use some 12-step principles to overcome challenges in withdrawal, specifically sugar/carb cravings that emerged after a complication in my recovery from psych Drugs.


I wish you well. I don't know much about MassHealth but I often order labs for myself, outside of insurance, and I know that the online sites say they can't take patients from MA, so I imagine it's a different animal.


I talked with a doctor working at a place called Advocatesin Framingham who seemed like a reasonable person and someone who could help or offer a referral. Also, you might want to contact a dual-diagnosis inpatient rehab. I'd look one up online and see who the psychiatrist is, then call during business hours, ask for the doc's email and write a short, polite, deferential email explaining your situatioin and asking if he, the doc, might have a referral or be able to help. I've found most doctors working at rehabs are in recovery themselves and tend to be giving of their time so long as you don't ask too much of it.



"Well my ship's been split to splinters and it's sinking fast
I'm drowning in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it's light and it's free
I've got nothing but affection for all those who sailed with me.

Everybody's moving, if they ain't already there
Everybody's got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interesting right about now."

- Zimmerman

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  • 2 months later...

I had been on Depakote on and off for the past two or three years. Most recently, I was on it for a year. In the last couple months I was on it, I was on 750MG then 500MG now nothing for two months. I am treating alcoholism as I have been misdiagnosed as manic depressive the past ten years. I am almost a year sober.


Since I came off the Depakote two months ago I have been very tired. Especially the past two weeks. Also, I am not waking up with an erection nor having the usual heightened sexual drive I have been used too. My energy level is very low. This has all been consistent for the past two or three weeks. There have not been any "manic" episodes.


I am still on 7.5MG of Invega & 300mg of Neurontin daily.


Does anyone have any thoughts? Supplements to take to help? I am in between psychiatrists and my next appointment is not till the end of May.





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  • Administrator

Hello again, Balance. I moved your latest post here as an update to your situation.


Your nervous system is still recovering from the drug changes. Two months is still early in the process.


Are you getting regular exercise, such as walking, every day? Are you sleeping regular hours?

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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  • 3 years later...



It's been about 4 years now since my last post and about 4 years since I came off the medications. It was very challenging but I'm glad I did it.


My nervous system is still out of alignment. Caffeinated products  (mostly coffee) can be toxic in side effect but at the same time coming off them sometimes leaves my nervous system so depleted that I require them to function.


And sugar and carb cravings run rampant at times for me too, still. 


Finally, it would seem there are some adrenaline issues (associated more so with caffeine and in higher effect when it's in my system) My eyelids can be 'filled' sometimes, though this has gotten better as I've almost completely neared myself to my natural, flatter belly; I believe giving my inner body more room to breathe.


Does anyone have search terms I can get to the bottom of any of this with?



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  • Moderator Emeritus

Hi Balanceislife, welcome back. I think you will feel much better if you can wean yourself off coffee and  sugar, I am much much better since quitting caffeine but still haven't quite kicked the sugar, reading your post has made me decide to get on top of my diet because I've been feeling rough lately and know it's a lot to do with my diet and stress as well as withdrawal.  Withdrawal is terrible but we can improve things by taking care of ourselves. Thank you for coming back and posting, you've inspired me!  There are lots of topics in the symptoms and self care section with some very useful ones on diet. 


This topic has a list of the important topics on symptoms and self care, you will find lots of info there. http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/606-important-topics-about-tests-supplements-treatments-diet/


If you want to search for specific things it is best to use google, type what you want to search for then add survivingantidepressants.org and all posts on that topic will come up. 

**I am not a medical professional, if in doubt please consult a doctor with withdrawal knowledge.



Different drugs occasionally (mostly benzos) 1976 - 1981 (no problem)

1993 - 2002 in and out of hospital. every type of drug + ECT. Staring with seroxat

2002  effexor. 

Tapered  March 2012 to March 2013, ending with 5 beads.

Withdrawal April 2013 . Reinstated 5 beads reduced to 4 beads May 2013

Restarted taper  Nov 2013  

OFF EFFEXOR Feb 2015    :D 

Tapered atenolol and omeprazole Dec 2013 - May 2014


Tapering tramadol, Feb 2015 100mg , March 2015 50mg  

 July 2017 30mg.  May 15 2018 25mg

Taking fish oil, magnesium, B12, folic acid, bilberry eyebright for eye pressure. 


My story http://survivingantidepressants.org/index.php?/topic/4199-hello-mammap-checking-in/page-33


Lesson learned, slow down taper at lower doses. Taper no more than 10% of CURRENT dose if possible



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I'm not sure exactly, I guess I just got sick of having leading physician's criticizing me and telling me that "I'm trying to act normal". Well, okay I am sure, I just wanted to live a live free from the side effects that were preventing me from going beyond my potential. I think in my heart I always knew that deep dark day when I overdosed in 2004 from a combination of booze and speed had been at the heart of a seemingly never-ending  perpetuating cycle of poverty, lack of finances, and associations with the wrong types of persons. 


That day in 2004 I had been up 3 days straight, and once I collapsed into psychosis that evening it would seem the bond between myself and medication would be almost impossible to break. Yes, I hallucinated pretty hard that night. The physicians in the ER took on form of devils and I blacked out as it would seem one of them was biting off my ankle. 


What followed was years of side effects from being kind of pinned into and forced to take anti-psychotics neuroleptics if you will, that a times left me partially blind, paralyzed, starving for the essence of life as I embraced the fetal position, hospitalized about 14 times, and flippant in rage towards the people closest to me. All the while probably perceived as ill by those who did have compassion, I grew a reputation with job hops and my 'talk' toward individuals in the business community where I'm from. It became tough finding work within a good company. It was so bad in my perception, that a couple years ago after I found success in work I had been doing I quit the job I was at, because I thought I could do better, and left the state travelling across the country to the opposite coast.  


But the withdrawal and the coming off, the commitment to do it was made ages ago. Probably, shortly after the whole ordeal started in 2004. But the physical act of defying the logic of every physician and taking in the "me against the world attitude", the conveying of the confidence I had built enough of too stand up for myself, the actual weening off of medications, probably started around 2010 when I 'got sober'. What was in the back of my mind was that I never needed the medications and had a drinking problem. That's what got me through. There wasn't a shadow of a doubt this was the core dilemma. Looking back, I needed the medications to function because the using had made me so crazy in the fist place. In a way, they also substituted for money.


If I ever had the finances to do what I really wanted, I probably could have snapped off the meds quickly. However, predetermination, predestination are beliefs I hold dearly now and can't imagine there would have been another way for me to learn my lessons in the classroom we are here for called life. 


The single biggest component that dissolved the antipsychotic cycle was spirituality, without a doubt. I had learned my lessons about getting grandiose and as time and it's experience developed itself into my life, an awareness was there I could catch myself with that could put a stop to me going crazy. One of the best tips I ever had in outpatient was "anything less than 5 hours sleep and you're looking at a manic episode" The first thing I did was get my sleep cycles under wraps, no matter what. If I couldn't sleep, I couldn't do this. So meditation and little solutions like certain decaf teas were part of the integration. During the earlier stages, a tiny dosage of neurontin or maybe, what was that sleep med, I dunno.


I did make a list of what I had been on at one point. I presented the number of them spatting off this and that to a team of psychiatrists at a major teaching hospital where I'm from upon an admission. Well, the number of medications I had in my head. 35 since 2004. Name it, I tried it. They laughed when I told them the number when I sat before them. I had been kicked out of another major teaching hospital the day before because at that particular teaching hospital I was told if I wasn't going to take medication, their insurance wouldn't cover me. In an emergency panic run fueled by sheer determination, I took half an anti-anxiety med that day breaking my 'personal commitment' not to take meds and made my way across town entering the second hospital where they actually had compassion for how many meds I had been through. The attending noted I had been 'traumatized' and offered to 'clean out my system' There, that was easy to follow.


I left that major teaching hospital, the one that had mercy on me, in 2011. I haven't looked back on coming off the meds. Looking back though, I could have been a tad easier on myself and if it wasn't so hard on my system or thought process to take part in their own 'system', I might have taken a little something here and there to relief the pain of coming off the meds. After all I did end up on the streets. The fear was mostly one of resentment towards the therapist or psychiatrist on the other end who would suggest I needed a major med to continue on, fear they'd get in my head so to speak. I was scared I'd get so angry it would relapse myself. 


I did have adrenaline issues coming off the med. I pretty much couldn't stop eating ever. Fortunately, I have a fast metabolism. This said since my commitment my weight went from 240lb in 2010, to the 160lbs it is at now. I can tell you a couple things, I never ever once disobeyed a doctors orders. Every 'adjustment' made, everything, was with the consultation of a physician. Call it karma, or even subconscious agreement for fear of dying with my conscious thinking and desires. 


Today, well, there's no gloating. I sleep well, but after quitting my job to travel it has been difficult finding consistent work, the type that's agreeable to me. All the jobs I held while fiddling with medications were 1 or 2 year stints make me appear more rocky than I am. They were mostly linked-in to the insurance and financial industry, which is an industry I'm trying to avoid. I would get employment if I caved to the responses I do get, but I'm holding out for something agreeable with life.

So now, it's about letting my own awakening unfold. I do get a little yippity yappity at all the new age and spirituality stuff that's recycled from the better teachings, but still hope maybe one day when I don't need any praise I can do something cool on my own. 

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  • 2 years later...
  • Administrator

Hi, balance, how are you doing?

This is not medical advice. Discuss any decisions about your medical care with a knowledgeable medical practitioner.

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has surpassed our humanity." -- Albert Einstein

All postings © copyrighted.

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