Patient: I’m trying to quit alcohol . It’s only been 24 hours . I took two Tylenol with codeine tonight hoping it would help me sleep . When it started wearing off I started to become very anxious . So I took a shot of alcohol thinking it would calm my nerves and that I should be tapering off and not quiting cold turkey . I’m now very nervous , I have extreme thirst . I typically have bad anxiety and drink to help with it . So I’m not sure if I’m having severe withdrawals or reading too much online and scaring myself . Please help
Doctor: Thank you for writing to us.Monitor you heart rate and breathing. If it gets out of control, go to the ER. If you ar e on Disulfiram/Antabuse, rush to the ER. Make sure you have a person beside you right now and until you settle down. Try not to sleep. I think that you had a combined reaction of alcohol with codeine.What you are describing before you had the alcohol shot seems to be delirium tremens. This is a condition where a person starts to get shaking movements in the fingers if he does not have alcohol. It would have helped if you had written your age and the state you belong to.This is because the state can help me to advise you the right treatment options available to you.Anyway, here is what you can do. To fight the anxiety that you are having, you can take some drugs that act on the same receptors as alcohol. These, however, cause a milder degree of action compared to alcohol and thus, you start to go Turkey on the treatment because you are in withdrawal. But, the withdrawal is slow and not a fast process.You need to talk to a Doctor to get this medication. It will definitely help you a lot. Also, consider getting Antabuse tablets to help you stop taking alcohol. You should not take Antabuse if you may drink alcohol. Taking both will cause a severe reaction in the body and also lead to death. Do not try this at all.Lastly, consider joining an AA group or it’s equivalent in your country. Social support allows people to quit drinking more easily. Hope this helps you.All the best.
Comments / Follow Ups
Patient: That answer was not helpful at all
Do you think I had a reaction to alcohol and codine or do you think I’m experiencing alcohol withdrawal?
And your saying don’t go to sleep ???
I feel better now but am nervous I may experience withdrawals . I’ve quit alcohol (mostly by tapering off it ) several times with no seizures or dt’s and only minor anxiety and irritability , is it safe to say that I will have the same experience this time while quitting ????
I took the Tylenol with codine 3 because I had oral surgery , I took two instead of one hoping it would put me to sleep and I wouldn’t think about drinking . Now that they have warn off my tooth is in pain again . Do I take another ? Drink so I’m not nervous of seizure or dt or death??
Patient: I always have anxiety so I don’t know if it’s because I’m not drinking or just getting myself worked up .
Patient: Telling me not to sleep is giving me more anxiety ! It’s 5 am and now that I feel a little better I want to try to sleep . I’m in USA and 37
Doctor: Thank you for the follow-up.
The reason I asked you to stay awake is because you have take 2 drugs which cause depression of the body. These are alcohol and Codeine. I do not want you to have a problem of a breathing difficulty while you are sleeping.
I do not think that you should take another drink of alcohol at any cost. Also, the nervousness could be because of the pain, the natural tendency to anxiety that you have or because of the combination you have taken or the withdrawal from alcohol. It is also possible that you have it from all these factors in varying degree.
Check on how to take pulse/Heart rate and if it is between 60 to 100 you should be ok. It is better if the pulse/HR was less than 80 though. Also, check that you are not sweating and you are not confused.
A simple way to do this is to answer these questions:
What is the name of the President of the USA?
What is the day today?
Answer these from memory and not by looking it up. From your writing, I do not think that you are confused.
If your heart rate and breathing rate is within limits(15 to 20 per minute), then you can try to sleep. It would be best if there was someone near you at the moment.
Also, in future never take any alcohol when on any medication and tell your Doctor when you are tapering from drugs/alcohol.
I hope you understood what I have been trying to say.