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Sobriety and Dental Drugs

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Emily Frederick

Junior member
Joined
Dec 27, 2019
Messages
8
Location
Portland, OR
Hi, I have a question about sobriety and the dentist.

I am 11 years sober and am concerned about being sedated. In the past, when I was still drinking and taking drugs, I had terrible panic attacks while under the influence of psychoactive drugs like weed and mushrooms. I'm very sensitive to substances in general, and the anxiety I experienced under them has actually caused me to have dissociative episodes, which were hard to recover from.

This is the main reason why I have been avoiding the dentist for about a decade. Now I am at the point where I know I need treatment -- likely surgery. I've been reading this forum, doing exposure therapy and even met with a dentist today. He says that he sedates patients with Halcion.

My question is, is this sedative psychoactive? Can my anxiety "fight through" it and cause me to dissociate again? I'd welcome any insights that anyone can share, espeically if they're dentists or sober people who've gone through surgeries.
 
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Ilovemydentistreally

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
88
Location
United Kingdom
It is psychoactive, Emily. It's a sedative though and does pretty much the opposite to weed, mushrooms etc. Your anxiety should effectively be "switched off" while on this medicine. Also, you won't get addicted through a single use. My anxiety can sometimes surface , even through this class of meds, but I have used it for years, rendering it ineffective, sometimes. If you consider it a risk to your sobriety, maybe you could tell the dentist. He may then offer gas as an alternative? Or he may be able to explain better than I can, why it will be safe and effective for you.
Anyway, well done addressing your fears regarding the dentist. Don't fret too much about the Halcion; he can't force you to take it. It's totally up to you. It's not the painkiller... just a relaxer, to make you comfortable and perhaps induce amnesia.
 
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Emily Frederick

Junior member
Joined
Dec 27, 2019
Messages
8
Location
Portland, OR
Thank you! My hope is that I'll be able to take it without my brain going into PTSD mode. Since I need teeth out, I'd prefer not to be conscious for that. I'm not worried about addiction so much as being high and anxious at the same time (a feeling which is very hard for me.)
 
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Ilovemydentistreally

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
88
Location
United Kingdom
Well, technically, it's the opposite of high. All your senses get suppressed, sort of hypnotized really. I don't know that it knocks you right out. (I am not a doctor though...) But it does depress the central nervous system and stops all those excitable neurons from firing. Good for anxiety.
 
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Emily Frederick

Junior member
Joined
Dec 27, 2019
Messages
8
Location
Portland, OR
Now to worry that the dentist will judge me for not having been in for a decade!
 
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Ilovemydentistreally

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
88
Location
United Kingdom
You shouldn't really worry too much about that. :) It is pretty common, as you will have seen from reading around in here. The main thing is that you are deciding to get seen now. I'm sure the dentist has seen people who have been absent longer than you. (I was 23 years!)
Easier said than done though... to not worry. Some of us are just hardwired for it, it seems. It is tough to change completely, I think, but we can retrain to some extent. You've already done the hardest part: meeting with the dentist. That initial hurdle is likely the biggest. Take some comfort in that. Best of luck to you!
 
Enarete

Enarete

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 18, 2017
Messages
2,460
Hi Emily, I second @Ilovemydentistreally - you would be surprised how often dentists deal with people who haven‘t been for a long time. It is not a reason to judge but to celebrate and encourage and try extra hard not to mess thing up but to make them as comfortable as possible!
I can see why you worry about the drugs and your past experiences sound nightmarish and it is a good thing that you want to have reassurance. Does your dentist know about your past and about your worries in this area?
 
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Emily Frederick

Junior member
Joined
Dec 27, 2019
Messages
8
Location
Portland, OR
No, I haven't talked to him about that. I interviewed him yesterday to see if we'd be a good fit. The interview was in the waiting room of his practice (but at closing time) so I felt kind of constrained.
 
BoxerMom

BoxerMom

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 23, 2019
Messages
152
Location
Us
It’s important that you communicate your concerns and questions before you commit to having this dentist start any work. And I agree that a meeting in the waiting room at closing time is not an appropriate location for any kind of discussion. Talking and being heard will help both of you. I think what helped me the most in the beginning was that my dentist called me on my cellphone before the appointment to talk about any concerns I had and to go over my dental phobia issues. I really felt that he cared and had no judgement, and I knew he wouldn’t be surprised by my reactions.
 
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Emily Frederick

Junior member
Joined
Dec 27, 2019
Messages
8
Location
Portland, OR
Just interviewed another dentist. It was really embarrassing. Although the person who manages the practice's Facebook said the dentist deals with phobic people all the time and would be glad to meet with me prior to an exam, the receptionist acted quite surprised by my request to set that kind of "meet and greet" appointment. I started panicking a little and then she said, "Let me put the dentist on," which also freaked me out.

He said that it would be fine for me to come by at lunchtime some time, but again, he seemed nonplussed by my request. I guess what I should have done at that point was explain that I haven't been to a dentist in many years and need a lot of work, but it seemed like he was in the waiting room on the receptionist's phone, so I felt embarrassed. Instead, I said I was phobic, and he was kind but also reassuring in the manner of a person who assumed I just had a few cavities or something.

He asked if I wanted to set a specific day to come by at lunch, but I said I needed to talk to my partner first. I was feeling ambivalent and anxious, and didn't want to commit.

I think he is a kind person most likely but I didn't like the level of casualness in the interaction; I didn't feel like they were taking me seriously. I'm someone who really wants medical practitioners to respect my privacy, confidentiality and autonomy. It's hard for me to trust others if they aren't willing to do that. Am I just being a fraidy cat or is this a bad fit?
 
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Ilovemydentistreally

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2019
Messages
88
Location
United Kingdom
Emily, no. You are not being a fraidy cat. Okay, you may be afraid but that is not the same thing.
You are looking for help and that shows you are facing fears - the very opposite of a fraidy cat!
Did you take it further with this dentist? He might not be a bad fit. It is hard to gauge these things instantly. What do your instincts say? Your description of him sounds encouraging.
(Sorry took so long to respond. I hope you have some good news by now. :) )
 
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comfortdentist

Well-known member
Verified dentist
Joined
Jul 19, 2009
Messages
2,869
Location
Miami, Fl
I think that you need a real controlled approach that has been carefully thought out for your personal needs and not some that's how we do it here. I don't know you well but that's the vibe that I'm getting from your posts
 
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