There are many medications on the market that treat epilepsy and control seizures. While variety is helpful, having more than some 20 or so ones to choose from can make finding the right one as well as the right dosage challenging, the Mayo Clinic advises. One of the medications available is Mysoline, which contains phenobarbital, a potent barbiturate drug.
This ingredient alone makes it hard to quit using suddenly. It also makes it difficult to avoid addiction if it is abused and taken for longer periods and in larger amounts than prescribed. All users are advised to consider quite a list of things before taking this medication. But for those who abuse it for its barbiturate effects, which are like those of alcohol, they may find it too late. It’s possible that they have developed a dependence on it that is difficult to overcome without professional help.
Mysoline is the brand name for primidone. Primidone is an oral anticonvulsant medication prescribed to control several kinds of seizures, including:
The medication, approved for use in March 1954, is used alone or with other seizure medications. It works by controlling abnormal electrical activity in the brain that happens when a person has a seizure. When ingested, the drug converts into phenobarbital, a barbiturate, and phenylethylmalonamide (PEMA) in the body, according to MedicineNet.com.
Barbiturates are separate from benzodiazepine medications, but they act in a manner similar to those. When phenobarbital is abused on its own as a medication, it acts on the central nervous system and increases the strength of the gamma-Aminobutyric acid, or GABA, a neurotransmitter. This brain chemical keeps the body calm as it blocks stress, fear, or anxiety. It also blocks electrical activity that can trigger a seizure.
Abusing this drug too much causes the brain to stop production of the chemical on its own. That’s because it now looks to an outside source to get it from. This becomes a problem when users quit phenobarbital.
People who are allergic to phenobarbital should not take this medication. People who have the genetic disorder porphyria, which is a blood disease, are also advised not to use it. A physician should also be alerted to whether a person has liver disease or lung or breathing problems before this medication is prescribed.
When used as prescribed, the medication is taken in tablet form three to four times a day or as directed by a doctor. It is highly addictive, which is why some doctors no longer use it as a first choice medication for seizures. If used outside of a doctor’s guidance, Mysoline users can develop an addiction. This is particularly true for people who have a history of substance use disorder. Users are advised to talk to their healthcare provider first before stopping their Mysoline use.
Common side effects of Mysoline include experiencing problems with walking and moving and having feelings of dizziness, spinning or swaying, which is also known as vertigo. People who use this medication should avoid drinking alcohol or using other drugs when they do so. Pairing Mysoline with other substances can worsen its side effects.
As the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, addiction is “a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite adverse consequences.” When someone is battling an addiction, they are working hard to combat the effects of their brain being changed as a result of their frequent or heavy substance use.
When it is difficult to stop abusing Mysoline, it is a strong sign that a psychological dependence has developed. Here are common signs and symptoms that indicate addiction is underway:
Regular Mysoline users are strongly advised to avoid quitting this medication suddenly in attempts to go cold turkey. There are serious side effects associated with this drug. Abrupt withdrawal of this medication increases the risk of having a seizure, so it is important to consult a physician before stopping use.
According to information presented by MedTv.com, stopping an anti-seizure medication also can result in users having seizures that are different from the previous ones experienced.
Other withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, irritability, shakiness (tremors), hallucinations, confusion, and insomnia. Trying to handle these symptoms without professional help can be risky. A licensed drug rehabilitation center can help ease this process of Mysoline users who want to stop using.
Mysoline is a barbiturate, which means it’s in the wide category of central nervous system depressants. Depressants are the most dangerous drug category when it comes to withdrawal. When you become dependent on a Mysoline, your brain chemistry will adapt to include the drug into normal functions.
For depressants, that can mean increasing excitatory chemicals to counteract the drug and producing fewer inhibitory chemicals. When you stop using the drug, it throws your brain chemistry off balance and your brain takes time to readjust. During this time, you will feel the consequences of the chemical imbalance in the form of uncomfortable symptoms.
However, depressant withdrawal symptoms can be more than uncomfortable. Quitting suddenly can send your nervous system into overdrive.
Nervous system overexcitement can cause you to feel jittery, anxious, shaky, and irritable, but it can also cause more serious symptoms.
Here are some potential symptoms of Mysoline withdrawal:
Seizures can be dangerous if you go through them alone or if they happen suddenly. They can cause serious injuries, especially if you are standing up, walking, or driving when they happen. People going through depressant withdrawal may also have a condition called delirium tremens that’s characterized by extreme confusion, terror, tremors, and chest pain. This condition can lead to coma or death without immediate treatment.
Because life-threatening consequences can happen suddenly when you are going through withdrawal, the safest way to quit Mysolin is with medical help. Your doctor may taper you off the drug to keep you from some of the most extreme symptoms. You may also go through detox in a hospital setting or a medical detox center. Detox can help you avoid medical complications and ease discomfort as much as possible. If you’ve cut back or stopped using a depressant and you are starting to feel uncomfortable symptoms, it’s important to seek medical help immediately.
Mysoline abuse that has turned into an addiction can be addressed in a professional drug rehab. The first sign that addiction is underway is if the person can’t stop using addictive substances. If use does stop, withdrawal usually starts, and that period can be uncomfortable. A treatment facility can help you address withdrawal symptoms with the help of healthcare staff and addiction specialists.
Substance treatment typically begins with a 24-hour monitored medical detox that weans Mysoline users off the drug gradually as they manage withdrawal in the care of professionals. Detox usually lasts three to seven days, but it could last longer, depending on the severity of the addiction. This process is important as it helps users avoid a dangerous relapse and return to using Mysoline or other drugs. Medications also may be administered during the detox period.
Clients who have achieved medical stability after detox ends are now ready to enter a recovery program. This program should be based on their needs and unique situation. These programs allow recovering substance users the time they need to address their addiction with minimal distractions. Treatment will not look the same for everyone, so the program chosen depends on the person.
Common recovery options include inpatient treatment, residential treatment, and outpatient treatment. Residential treatment requires at least a 30-day stay or longer, which means the commitment runs longer than an outpatient program.
Each treatment approach provides recovering substance users with behavioral therapy and strategies and tools that promote sobriety and help them achieve their goals. Sometimes, a longer treatment period is needed.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends that recovery takes place in the treatment environment for at least 90 days, or three months. A longer treatment setting can increase the chances of stopping drug use for good.
Once clients have completed treatment, they may continue receiving outpatient services as they make the transition to the outside world. Or, they may go it alone but with the help of supportive friends and family. Either way, their efforts at managing their dependence do not end.
Many people who are recovering from substance abuse find they have to manage post-acute withdrawal syndrome, known as PAWS. Depression, drug cravings, and other symptoms can happen during this period. An inpatient or outpatient treatment program can help users figure out how to best manage PAWS as they move forward.
Aftercare services, which include joining a 12-step program, are helpful. Many people attend support group meetings and align themselves with people in a treatment alumni group. Some also enter transitional housing with other sober people as they transition back to the real world.
Abusing drugs can lead to long-term consequences, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Mysoline is usually prescribed at low doses to help reduce the side effects that come with them. Using the drug outside of those amounts or outside of a prescription is risking psychological problems that could end in permanent injury or death. Because it is a barbiturate anticonvulsant, users who abuse it can experience barbiturate intoxication, which is akin to alcohol intoxication. Common signs of barbiturate addiction are:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises that Mysoline users who experience the following to call their health care provider immediately.
Signs of Mysoline overdose include confusion, breathing trouble, and uncontrolled eye movements.
FDA. (July 2010). “Medication Guide: Mysoline.” from https://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/UCM222370.pdf
Mayo Clinic. (March 2017). “Primidone.” from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/primidone-oral-route/before-using/drg-20065638
Mayo Clinic. (March 2017). “Grand Mal Seizure.” from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/grand-mal-seizure/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20364165
MedTv. (n.d.). “Primodone Withdrawal.” from http://epilepsy.emedtv.com/primidone/primidone-withdrawal.html
NIDA. (July 2014). “Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/drug-abuse-addiction
Ogbru, Omudhome. (n.d.). “Primidone.” Medicine.net. from https://www.medicinenet.com/primidone-oral/article.htm#what_is_primidone_mysoline_how_does_it_work_mechanism_of_action
Pietrangelo, A. (2016, October 31). Central Nervous System (CNS) Depression: Know the Facts. from https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/cns-depression
U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2019, January 10). Delirium tremens: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000766.htm