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Has anyone who had a drinking problem prior to diagnosis returned to drinking to try to sleep all the time?

Community Answers
  • Moira Cistola moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi Mary,
    How incredibly brave of you to ask that question! SO many in our community must have the same question in their heart without the courage to express. I had to think very hard about whether I could honestly respond and share…your honesty deserves the same. So to answer your question…yes, I absolutely have had the same experience. For me, there are several factors involved. As a RN who has spent so very many years working crazy, unpredictable hours, sleep has always been a challenge. Add to that the demands of raising a family, and the normal life challenges we all face, I would be lucky to fit 4 or so hours of sleep in at any given time. Nursing is a notoriously stressful profession, and alcohol use, and misuse, is incredibly common. I have spoken to my MD, but she is only willing to prescribe 10mg Ambien/night. She is very cautious, so not receptive to trying new things. I have known her a long time, trust her, and most certainly do not ever want to perceived as doc shopping, so I don’t want to leave her practice. I do not take any narcotics or benzo’s for anxiety, having stopped as soon as I finished chemo…I simply want to sleep at night. I’ve reached out to find palliative care in my area, and unfortunately that option appears to be limited, but I am pursing it. My oncologist managed my care during treatment, but it’s not really appropriate to ask him to manage this since I only see him every few months now. All this leaves us with…back at alcohol.
    It is crazy in this time, with all the knowledge we have regarding symptom management, that something as straight forward as sleep deprivation cannot be adequately handled, as physicians are legitimately concerned about losing their licenses if they prescribe. Pt’s are worried about being perceived as “seekers” if they ask for help. Which leaves so many patients and caregivers frustrated trying to work within an obviously broken system.
    I wish I had an answer my friend. Even with all my experience within the Hospice world, I am as frustrated and befuddled as anyone else.

  • Margot moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi @MarySmith,

    Thank you for reaching out with a question! In addition to comments from the community here, it’s important to make sure you are getting the care you need and deserve, which can take many forms. If you’ve previously had a drinking problem you may wish to speak with you doctor or healthcare team about alternatives to drinking again, or to a licensed medical professional or counselor or therapist who may have other options for you as well! Many also find it helpful to speak with a palliative care specialist, who can help manage symptoms and side effects such as insomnia in the best way for you individually, which may not be drinking if you have previously had a problem with it. This article has more tips on getting sleep when it is difficult to as well: These complementary/alternative therapies may also offer some help, and we always recommend checking in with your healthcare team before trying any of these as well: Thinking of you! Please keep us updated with how you are feeling. We are here for you.

    Margot, Team

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