Miltown, Equanil (Meprobamate) Addictions

Meprobamate Addiction

Miltown, Equanil (Meprobamate) Addictions

Meprobamate AddictionWhen Miltown came out in 1954, it was a miracle drug. Miltown, along with other newly invented “minor” tranquilizers introduced in the era, enabled half of the patients in America’s mental hospitals to be released and lead everyday lives, saving taxpayers billions of dollars. At that time, Americans had not yet become cynical about drugs. “Staying calm” was a virtue when nuclear war was a threat. Indeed, the U.S. Civil Defense Department advised the public to keep a supply of tranquilizers in their fallout shelters.

Within ten years of its introduction, Miltown was America’s number one addiction after cigarettes and alcohol, and it represented one-third of all prescribed drugs. It was a blockbuster drug among the Hollywood crowd, and considered safe, harmless and useful. Demand was patient-driven — people learned about its wonders from neighbors, friends and even Milton “Miltown” Berle, a popular TV comedian. By 1966, 80 million Americans had tried Miltown and 200 had committed suicide with it. It was becoming evident that Miltown was addictive and eventually, the U.S. government had to declare it a Schedule IV Classified Substance.

In January 2012, the European Medicines Agency suspended the use of all products containing meprobamate, the ingredient in Miltown, because of serious side effects. The agency noted that “its benefits do not outweigh its risks.” Today Miltown and other meprobamate drugs are still available and widely abused in the United States, even though they have been mostly replaced by better and more modern tranquilizers.

What Is Meprobamate?

Meprobamate is a tranquilizer that doctors prescribe for anxiety, tension and insomnia. When first introduced, meprobamate was considered a “tranquilizer” for nerves. In 1966, the Senate held hearings about Miltown and changed its classification from tranquilizer to sedative with addictive qualities. In 1970, Miltown came under the control of the Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule IV Controlled Substance, which means it has some medical uses but a moderate potential for addiction.

Meprobamate comes as a white powder with a characteristic odor and bitter taste. Its chemical name is 2-methyl-2-propyl-1,3-propandiol dicarbamate.

It is not known exactly how meprobamate works. It may bind to brain cells that are receptors for a chemical abbreviated as GABA, interrupting communication between neurons in the spinal cord. Meprobamate affects many different parts of the central nervous system, including the thalamus and the limbic systems, producing a calming effect and an altered perception of pain.

Medical Uses For Miltown And Equanil

Meprobamate drugs are for the short-term relief of anxiety. They are not supposed to be prescribed for everyday stress or on a long-term basis. In fact, they may stop being effective after three or four months.

The most common brands of meprobamate are Miltown and Equanil, made by Wallace and Wyeth respectively.

Miltown and Equanil both come as tablets in 200mg or 400mg strength. Equagesic and Micrainin pills are round with pink and yellow layers, and contain aspirin as well as 200mg of meprobamate, and they are prescribed for pain with anxiety. PMB pills contain estrogen and meprobamate, and are for menopause. Other brand names are Equanil Wyseals, Equazine-M, Heptogesic, Medi-Tran, Meprogesic, Neuramate, Novo-Mepro, Probate, Sedabamate, Trancot, Tranmep, Acabamate, Apo-meprobamate, and Epromate. Some are extended release pills.

Meprobamate takes up to two hours to be effective. A typical dose is 400mg three to four times a day or 600mg twice a day. The extended release dose is 400mg to 800mg in the morning and at bedtime.

Meprobamate is not prescribed to pregnant or nursing mothers because of dangers it poses to their babies. It is not for children under six years old, and is prescribed with caution for those over 60 because they are more likely to fall when they are taking it.

Meprobamate shows up on drug urine tests within 24 hours, because 11% of the drug is excreted through the kidneys.

Miltown, Equanil Side Effects

Common side effects of meprobamate products are dizziness, confusion, agitation, drowsiness, unsteadiness, fatigue, and weakness. Less common are vomiting, paradoxical excitement, euphoria, overstimulation, slurred speech, headache and vertigo. You should contact your doctor if you experience bloody noses, easy bruising, or tiny purple spots.

Some people will experience life-threatening reactions the first time they take this drug. Symptoms may be closed throat, swelling, fever, abnormal behavior, rashes, itching, chills, and difficulty breathing. These people should be taken to an emergency medical facility immediately.

How Miltown, Equanil And Other Meprobamate Products React With Other Drugs

Combining these drugs with alcohol is the most common reason meprobamate users show up in emergency rooms at hospitals. This combination can cause death.

Miltown, Equanil and other meprobamate products react with 602 name-brand drugs. Any drug that depresses the central nervous system or causes drowsiness can interact with meprobamate in a way that threatens your health. These might include anti-depressants, sedatives, tranquilizers, muscle relaxants, barbiturates, anti-histamines, cold and allergy medications, any opiate painkiller, illegal narcotic drugs, sleeping pills, seizure medications, benzodiazepines, and anesthetics, even the ones for dental surgery.

If you take meprobamate with stimulants, even caffeine, you will reduce its effectiveness.

A drug called carisoprodal, sold under the brand name Soma, turns into meprobamate as it is metabolized. If you take Soma with Miltown or other meprobamate products, you run the risk of an overdose.

Dangers Of Miltown, Equanil And Other Meprobamate Products

The main risk of taking these drugs is addiction, which can occur relatively quickly. Addiction puts your lifestyle at risk because you will have to seek out your drug, even in illegal ways, if necessary. A meprobamate addiction can harm your body, your career, your relationships, and your finances. You will build up a tolerance to Miltown and need more to achieve the same effects. When you try to quit, you can experience withdrawal symptoms, some of which can be life-threatening.

Allergic reactions and drug interactions can be life-threatening (see above). Many have died from meprobamate overdoses (see below).

Miltown and other meprobamate products depress the central nervous system and can exacerbate depression. Because this drug is metabolized in the liver and excreted through the kidneys, it can damage these organs and should not be taken by people with kidney or liver diseases. It can pose a serious hazard for people with porphyria. If you are addicted to a product that contains aspirin with meprobamate, you run the risk of permanent stomach damage.

Even at doses as low as 10mg, meprobamate can cause you to be too impaired to drive. One study of 21 cases of those driving under the influence of this drug found that they appeared drunk without any odors to police officers, showed poor coordination, balance, and reflexes, and were groggy, dazed, or sleepy. Some subjects did not even realize they had hit trees or other cars.

Miltown, Equanil Overdoses

Records kept about suicides and suicide attempts in the United States indicate that it only takes as little as 12mg of meprobamate to be fatal. However, some people, probably those who have built up a tolerance to this drug, have been able to survive 40mg.

Blood levels of mepromabate between one and two percent are therapeutic; three to ten percent are moderate overdose levels; and at over 20%, more people die than survive.

Symptoms of a mepromabate overdose are lethargy, stupor, slow breathing and heartbeat, collapse, coma and (then death).Actor Bruce Lee died this way.

Miltown, Equanil Withdrawal Syndrome

Several psychiatrists testified before a Senate committee in the 1960s that “people become very sick” when they stop using meprobamate. This is still true today, and certain symptoms, such as hallucinations and seizures, can be life-threatening if you try to withdraw alone. Doctors are supposed to gradually wean patients off Miltown and other meprobamate products by slowly decreasing their dosages over a few weeks.

The withdrawal syndrome will begin 12 to 48 hours after you take your last pill, and can last up to 48 hours. Symptoms can be anxiety, abdominal cramps, vomiting, ataxia, tremors, headaches, vomiting, muscle twitching, confusion, chills, convulsions, and hallucinations. The severity of the syndrome depends on individual factors such as how long you were addicted, what amounts of the drug you were taking, etc. Some doctors prescribe extended release barbiturates to patients in withdrawal from mepromabate.

Why Do People Abuse Meprobamate Products?

Addiction typically starts with a prescription for meprobamate to manage anxiety. The person keeps increasing the amounts they take without medical supervision, and then continues taking it after anxiety has subsided. Some people feel euphoria after taking meprobamate, and that feeling can lead to addiction. Once they become physically dependent on the drug, they keep taking it just to feel normal and to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Some people can take sedatives like Miltown on an occasional basis and not become addicted –for example, the drug has been popular among musicians as a remedy for stage fright. Others who experiment with these drugs rapidly become addicted to them. Some addiction experts believe that it is more dangerous to experiment with minor tranquilizers like Miltown than major ones like Thorazine because the minor ones have few side effects, giving the impression they are safe.

About 44% of those who entered treatment for addictions to sedatives and tranquilizers in 2007were white females, 48% were over 35 years old, and 29% had twelve or more years of education. Almost 60% were using these drugs daily, and 71% were using them in combination with other drugs.

Signs You Are Addicted To Miltown, Equanil Or Other Meprobamate Products

If you answer yes to two or more of these questions, it may be time to consult your family doctor or local mental health clinic about your dependence on meprobamate.

  • Are you using Miltown, Equanil or any other meprobamate product without a doctor’s prescription?
  • Are you using meprobamate at levels higher than your doctor prescribed?
  • Are you obtaining your supply illegally? Do you worry about the legal consequences of doing that?
  • When you try to quit using Miltown or Equanil, do you experience withdrawal symptoms?
  • Do you think you cannot handle everyday stress without drugs? Do you think your life is more stressful than the average person’s?
  • Have you tried to quit using tranquilizers unsuccessfully?
  • Do your family members or friends criticize you for using drugs?
  • Does your abuse of Miltown, Equanil or other mepromabate products interfere with your performance at work, school, or home?
  • Have you embarrassed yourself by appearing drunk because you use Miltown or Equanil?
  • Are you using Miltown, Equanil or other mepromabate products along with other drugs? For example, do you use such sedatives to counteract stimulant drugs or as a substitute when you cannot get heroin or opiate painkillers?
  • Do you feel guilty or ashamed about using Miltown, Equanil, and other drugs?
  • Do you feel life is passing you by because of your drug use?

Treatment For Miltown, Equanil And Other Meprobamate Addictions

Getting your body completely clear of mepromabate is only the first step in recovery. What may happen next is a severe episode of clinical depression, which should be treated by a professional. Other former meprobamate addicts have experienced recurrent anxiety, insomnia, and anorexia once they stop taking Miltown or other meprobamate products. These problems can last for months, especially if you do not get professional help.

The vast majority of meprobamate addicts are using the drug in combination with other drugs or alcohol, and they also have comorbidities, or psychiatric problems that “travel” with addiction but do not necessarily cause it. These might be depression, anxiety, social anxiety, borderline personality disorder, and so forth.

If you enter a good residential treatment program for meprobamate addiction, after you achieve physical withdrawal, you will be evaluated by a psychiatrist who can find undiagnosed comorbidities that need to be addressed in a protocol separate from your addiction. You may need medication and specialized therapy for your individual problems. Because meprobamate causes a “rebound effect” in that depression and anxiety can come back even worse than before you took drugs, this must also be taken into consideration.

Sources:

Cant, Gilbert. “Valium Craze,” The New York Times, February 1, 1976.

Dokoupil, Tony. “How Mother Found Her Helper,” Newsweek, January 21, 2009.

Ibid.

Tone, Andrea. The Age of Anxiety. New York: Basic Books, 2009.

“U.S. Opens Inquiry on Tranquilizer,” The New York Times, June 28, 1966.

Griffith, Winter (MD), editor. Complete Guide to Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs, 2009 Edition, New York: The Penguin Group, 2009, page 532.

“U.S. Opens Inquiry on Tranquilizer,” The New York Times, June 28, 1966.

“Meprobamate,” Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/mtm/meprobamate.html

“Meprobamate,” The Psychweb, see http:www.psyweb.com/drughtm/jsp/meprob.jsp

“Meprobamate,” Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/mtm/meprobamate.html

“Meprobamate,” Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheet, National Highway Safety Administration, see http://www.nhtsa.gov/

“Meprobamate,” Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/mtm/meprobamate.html

“Meprobamate,” PubMed Health, The National Institutes of Health, see www.ncbi.nlm.gov/pubmedhealth

Griffith, Winter (MD), editor. Complete Guide to Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs, 2009 Edition, New York: The Penguin Group, 2009, pg 532.

Griffith, Winter (MD), editor. Complete Guide to Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs, 2009 Edition, New York: The Penguin Group, 2009, pg 532.

“Meprobamate, Oral Route,” The Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR00891

“Equanil, Miltown (meprobamate),” The WebMD, 2012, see http://www.emedicinehealth.com/

“Meprobamate,” Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/mtm/meprobamate.html

Griffith, Winter (MD), editor. Complete Guide to Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs, 2009 Edition, New York: The Penguin Group, 2009, pg 532.

“Meprobamate,” Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/mtm/meprobamate.html

“Equanil, Miltown (meprobamate),” The WebMD, 2012, see http://www.emedicinehealth.com/

“Meprobamate,” Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/mtm/meprobamate.html

Ibid.

Ibid.

“Meprobamate, Oral Route,” The Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/drug-information/DR00891, see also  “Meprobamate,” Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheet, National Highway Safety Administration, see http://www.nhtsa.gov/

Griffith, Winter (MD), editor. Complete Guide to Prescription and Nonprescription Drugs, 2009 Edition, New York: The Penguin Group, 2009, pg 532.

Meprobamate,” Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/mtm/meprobamate.html

“Meprobamate,” Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheet, National Highway Safety Administration, see http://www.nhtsa.gov/

Meprobamate,” Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/mtm/meprobamate.html

Ibid.

Loftus, Joseph. “Abuses Charged in Ads for Drugs,” The New York Times, January 23, 1960.

“Meprobamate,” Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/mtm/meprobamate.html

“Meprobamate,” Drugs and Human Performance Fact Sheet, National Highway Safety Administration, see http://www.nhtsa.gov/

Sobel, Dava.  “For stage fright: A remedy proposed,” The New York Times, November 20, 1979.

Treatment Episode Data Set 1997-2007,  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, see http://www.samhsa.gov/data/DASIS/TEDS2k7AWeb/TEDS2k7AWeb.pdf

“Meprobamate,” Drugs.com, see http://www.drugs.com/mtm/meprobamate.html

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