How to Kick an Excedrin Addiction

Three Methods:Kicking the Habit YourselfSeeking Medical HelpSteering Clear of Caffeine

Excedrin is an over-the-counter drug that contains aspirin and acetaminophen. It is also habit-forming. Commonly used to treat headaches and migraines, Excedrin can cause dependence both as a pain reliever and because it has about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, which speeds up the action of the acetaminophen and aspirin. It is important to act if you start to develop a habit to this drug. Takes steps on your own or with medical help to kick the addiction, while reducing your intake of caffeine at the same time.

Method 1
Kicking the Habit Yourself

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    Note telltale signs. Most people start taking Excedrin to control headaches. But you can develop a dependency very quickly. What happens is that Excedrin shuts off pain receptors in your brain, and these receptors become more sensitive the more you use the drug. This means that you get “rebound” headaches without the drug.[1]
    • You can develop a dependence on Excedrin by using it as little as 15 days a month.[2]
    • Excedrin also contains about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. So, with regular use you can develop an addiction to caffeine, as well.[3] You may therefore have two addictions: one to Excedrin as a pain reliever and another to caffeine.
    • Do you get headaches most days and often in the morning? Do these headaches go away with medicine but return once the medicine wears off? These are common signs of dependence to a pain reliever. [4]
    • Listlessness, nausea, memory or concentration problems, and irritability are also symptoms.
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    Try to wean yourself. Nip your habit in the bud if you notice that you are becoming dependent on Excedrin. There are different ways to go about this. You do not have to stop taking the drug entirely, as your body will need to adjust, and can slowly wean yourself. There is also the harder “cold turkey” method.
    • To go cold turkey, just stop taking the drug. You’ll be able to kick the habit quickly this way and will see just how much your body craves Excedrin.
    • The cold turkey method is very hard, though. Prepare for severe withdrawal headaches lasting days or even weeks. You may experience a loss of productivity because of them. Many people give up under these circumstances.[5]
    • To wean yourself slowly, reduce the dosage of Excedrin you take each day. The idea is to do this gradually so that your body becomes used to less and less until you are no longer taking the medication. While the process will last longer than cold turkey, your withdrawal will not be as bad.
    • Expect your rebound headaches to improve 6 to 12 weeks after you’ve stopped taking medication entirely.[6]
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    Ask family members for help. Ask family, friends, or your partner for help if you are having trouble reducing your dosage of Excedrin. Their help might be for moral encouragement or more practical, like if you are in withdrawal. They will be more than happy to do so.
    • For example, you might have a family member or friend be your “pharmacist.” They can hide the pills and only allow you a set amount for that day.
    • Kind words and encouragement from family and loved ones is a great boost. It also helps that they know what you’re experiencing, and why you might be irritable or not your usual self.
    • Loved ones can also help you with the weaning process. You may be in bad shape for a few days with withdrawal. Ask family or friends if they can provide food, for example, or pitch in with your errands.[7]
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    Avoid Excedrin in the future. To prevent a relapse, stay away from the drug in the future once you’ve successfully detoxed and weaned yourself. There are alternative over-the-counter medications that are less likely to cause addiction, such as Ibuprofen.
    • Talk to your doctor about other possible painkillers if you continue to have headaches or migraines. She should be able to suggest an alternative.
    • Read drug labels in the future to see if they have addictive qualities, as well.

Method 2
Seeking Medical Help

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    Set up an appointment with doctor. Breaking an addiction is hard. Talk to your doctor about options if you are having trouble on your own or would prefer to seek medical help. She can set up a plan to break your habit and to mitigate your symptoms in the meanwhile. This is called “bridge” or transition therapy.[8]
    • Your doctor can prescribe a painkiller that is short acting and non-habit forming, for example. She may also give you meds to alleviate your withdrawal symptoms, like anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteriods.[9]
    • Your doctor may also put you on a detoxification program.
    • Mostly like you will not need a hospital visit. However, in some cases you may be admitted for a short stay, particularly if you aren’t able to stop on your own, are abusing other drugs along with Excedrin, or have limited family support.[10]
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    Begin a detox program. Your doctor may put you in an outpatient treatment plan for addiction. This will involve a detoxification process to remove the drug from your system, helping you to be less dependent on it.
    • Good outpatient centers are able to cater to specific addictions and to tailor a plan for you. They can also provide resources like counseling and prepare you to cope with any mental obstacles.[11]
    • Take into account the services that each prospective program offers. Also consider location. Some may want to be close to family and friends. However, people with unhealthy or co-dependent relationships may need to put distance between themselves and loved ones, at least for a time.[12]
    • Your doctor can most likely recommend a drug addiction center to guide you through the detox process.
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    Seek counseling. Some people suffer from both psychological and physical addiction to Excedrin. This means that you become mentally dependent on the drug and, without it, can experience anxiety, a feeling of being unable to cope, a mental obsession with it, mood swings, or insomnia.[13] If you think you are experiencing psychological addiction, set up an appointment with a psychologist who can work with you to kick it.
    • Your therapist will be able to alleviate any concerns that you or your family may have. You can set up a group family therapy session, too, if need be.
    • To offer you coping strategies, a psychologist may also recommend a course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The aim of CBT is to teach you how to identify and stop problematic behavior.[14]
    • CBT techniques can include discussing the positive and negatives effects of your habit, teaching you how to monitor your cravings, and developing ways to deal with cravings and to avoid “high-risk” situations when you might relapse.
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    Consider alternative medicine. Some people find that alternative therapies give relief for headaches and can complement other treatments. Since not all of these treatments have proven medical benefit, talk with your doctor before starting one.
    • Acupuncture is one alternative treatment. There is some evidence that this ancient Chinese practice can help to bring headaches under control.[15]
    • “Biofeedback” is a technique that teaches you better control over your body. You are first hooked up to devices that monitor your breathing, heart rate, and other functions and give feedback. The idea is to slowly learn your natural bodily response to pain and to learn how to reduce muscle tension, control your breathing and heart rate, and deal with pain.[16]
    • Some herbs and “natural” medicines claim to alleviate headaches, like butterbur and feverfew. However, the medical benefit of these herbs is unclear. Talk to a doctor before taking any dietary supplements, especially since they can interact with other drugs you are taking.[17][18]

Method 3
Steering Clear of Caffeine

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    Cut caffeine out of your diet. Excedrin contains caffeine and can lead to (or worsen) a caffeine dependence. Excedrin Migraine, for instance, contains 65 mg of caffeine, or nearly as much as a cup of regular coffee (about 80 mg).[19] Drinking coffee while taking it can also increase your addiction.
    • Reducing your caffeine intake will help to address a possible source of headaches – caffeine withdrawal headaches – that are unrelated to your normal headaches and to “rebound headaches.”
    • In addition to coffee, try to limit your consumption of other caffeinated substances like colas, black tea, energy drinks, and chocolate.
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    Follow a plan to detox from caffeine. You might find the concept of cutting coffee and caffeine out of your life to be painful. However, you do not have to entirely eliminate them from your life. The aim is only to reduce your intake, so that you are no longer dependent. People can safely consume coffee two or three times per week without building up a tolerance.[20]
    • As with Excedrin, you can choose to go cold turkey or slowly wean yourself. Cold turkey will be faster but involve worse headaches and poorer concentration.
    • If you decide to go slow, your schedule might look something like this. On Day 1 you drink your usual amount. On Days 2-5, make coffee that is half caffeinated and half decaf. On Day 6, blend 25% caffeinated coffee with 75% decaf coffee. At this stage, your body will be getting used to having less coffee in its system. On Day 7 drink purely decaf coffee.
    • Decaf coffee still has a small amount of the drug, about 2-12 mg.[21] If you want to go fully without caffeine, switch over to a grain or plant alternative like chicory root.
    • Teas are a great, lower caffeine option. Black and green tea have modest amounts (between 14-70 mg depending on type and how long you steep it), and will work to “cut” your withdrawal symptoms. Herbal teas are usually totally caffeine-free.[22]
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    Drink plenty of water. Stay hydrated while you wean yourself off coffee. Some people think that the less thirsty you are, the less likely you will be to crave coffee. Gulp an 8 oz. glass of water first thing in the morning and stay well-watered throughout the day.[23]
    • According to the Mayo Clinic, adult men should try to drink at least three liters of water per each day.[24]
    • Women should try to drink about 2.2. liters each day.[25]

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Categories: Drug Addictions