Fioricet is the name of a combination medication that contains acetaminophen, butalbital, and caffeine.
Unfortunately, many of the people who take Fioricet abuse it for its ability to create a euphoric high.
The drug can be beneficial when taken as prescribed, but when abused, it can become habit-forming.
According to the DailyMed, "This combination drug product is intended as a treatment for tension headaches." The acetaminophen and caffeine found in the drug are both substances one can obtain over-the-counter, but butalbital is a barbiturate and is also the substance present in this medication that is capable of causing euphoria when taken in high doses.
As a result, Fioricet itself is considered a possible drug of abuse, and individuals who are prescribed it are strongly warned against abusing it. Sometimes, the drug is available in combination with codeine, but even Fioricet on its own can be highly dangerous if misused.
Signs and Symptoms of Fioricet Use
Being on Fioricet doesn't create very many severe signs and symptoms, although this can depend heavily on the dose. Drowsiness is common, mostly because butalbital is a stronger barbiturate than caffeine is a stimulant, and patients are advised against driving or participating in other activities requiring immense concentration while on the drug.
According to the National Library of Medicine, some of the other common side effects associated with Fioricet are:
- Upset Stomach
- Stomach Pain
Patients can usually take another medication for treating gastrointestinal issues, especially if they become very uncomfortable, but most of these symptoms tend to be mild. However, like with all medications, taking Fioricet can cause certain risks.
Risks of Fioricet Use
Fioricet can possibly cause an allergic reaction, so it is very important to talk to your doctor immediately if you are experiencing skin rash, itching, or difficulty breathing. The more mild acetaminophen and caffeine do not normally cause serious issues for someone taking Fioricet, but butalbital can create some problematic effects.
Like with many other habit-forming drugs, taking Fioricet consistently can lead to dependence and tolerance. While these are both normal occurrences associated with the use of this type of substance, one should be very careful not to let their tolerance to the drug lead them to use more in order to counteract it. You should also avoid ending your use of Fioricet suddenly, as it can create severe withdrawal symptoms, such as convulsions and delirium.
Overdose is also a serious risk. Someone who abuses the drug in large doses is likely to experience respiratory depression, lowered blood pressure, and sedation. In this state, the user could potentially fall into a coma, suffer brain damage from lack of oxygen, or even die. The acetaminophen in the drug can also cause coma as well as convulsions and jaundice when overused (NLM).
And if a person is drinking while taking the drug in large doses, dangerous results are even more likely (National Institute on Drug Abuse).
Still, many people abuse Fioricet for the high it can cause. This is why it is often considered a last resort for the treatment of tension headaches by doctors who would rather utilize a less intense drug with a lower potential for abuse. Many people do manage to get ahold of Fioricet for the purposes of getting high, and this can quickly lead to addiction. Because two of the drug's main ingredients are ones many people know and recognize and are often not concerned with the side effects of which because they can be purchased over-the-counter, Fioricet is not always recognized for as dangerous as it is. Those who abuse it, though, for whatever reason, can quickly become addicted.
Fioricet Addiction and Treatment
Fioricet addiction often begins with the patient being weaned off the addictive drug in the medication so that they will not experience extreme withdrawal symptoms. Then, the individual will require behavioral therapy in addition to any other services necessary to their full recovery (be they psychological, medical, occupational, social, etc.).
Those who abuse Fioricet are putting themselves in serious danger, often without realizing it. This is why it is so important to take your medication exactly as it is prescribed to you and why you must never share it with anyone else.