WTF? My GF Took Meth?
December 12, 2012 8:59 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend caught a horrible cold a couple days ago (I'm sure if I get it I'll get it sooner rather than later). She normally doesn't get sick, so this is a new thing for her. Here's the complication... Normal medication such as ibuprofen and aspririn don't affect her. She got a pretty bad cold. Went to the pharmacy for help. She's been taking psuedephredrine, ibuprofen, mucinex, etc. (she normally doesn't take anything ever) At this point she's a bit out of her normal mindframe. I'm looking for suggestions that will keep her focused until tomorrow when she comes down and we can discuss what happened.

I'll be up all night trying to keep her focused on non-destructive tasks. I'm just looking for suggestions to keep her focused and occupied.
posted by krisak to Human Relations (49 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
posted by KokuRyu at 9:02 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

i'm not exactly sure what the question is here. what's she doing now? While pseudoephedrine is indeed used to make meth it's like comparing codeine to heroin. Is she restless and having trouble sleeping? Maybe watch some TV.

There are no side effects from ibuprofen or mucinex unless she ate a whole bottle or enough to cause liver damage. In which case, go get her stomach pumped.
posted by GuyZero at 9:04 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wait, did your girlfriend actually take Methamphetamine, or just Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)? What exactly happened that you need to talk about? I feel like I'm missing something here...
posted by JuliaIglesias at 9:05 PM on December 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

or, if you have some codeine on hand, take one of those. Man, that stuff would make a great commercial sleeping pill if it wasn't addictive and everything.
posted by GuyZero at 9:05 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am more than a little confused with the title of this post. It seems like she caught a bad cold, then took a slew of different cold medications (including sudefed?) and is now very out of it possibly due to the cold medications and/or the actual cold?

I think that if she just has a bad cold, she needs sleep, fluids, oj, and chicken noodle soup. If she took meth then well......she needs something else.

Sudafed does not equal meth.
posted by ruhroh at 9:07 PM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

>At this point she's a bit out of her normal mindframe.

It's likely that the mix of mild, over-the-counter drugs, lack of sleep, and her generally sick, weakened state have perhaps made her seem a little out of sorts (by the way, she is technically speaking, "out of sorts"), but she just has a cold.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:10 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

also, sudafed/pseudoephedrine can nideed have side effects in some cases but this is unusual and probably not life-threatening.

In my limited non-doctor experience the two most common side effects are "feeling restless or excited" and "sleep problems (insomnia)". But neither of these is comparable to taking meth (at least I hope not) and if she's too restless to sleep just... do something else. Google "insomnia" or "TV Tropes".
posted by GuyZero at 9:15 PM on December 12, 2012

we can discuss what happened.

Wait, what? What happened?
posted by Sassyfras at 9:18 PM on December 12, 2012 [29 favorites]

Yeah, medications + cold make people out of it. If you're insurance company offers a Nurse's Hotline, feel free to call it and ask about this. It sounds a lot more like you need calming down and non-destructive activities than she does.

Last time I was on drugs that made me wonky I spent a long time playing video games on easy.

Don't watch Breaking Bad.
posted by NoraReed at 9:18 PM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

My parents gave us Sudafed all the time when we were kids. It's not meth. I don't know why you have to "discuss" this tomorrow. Make her a cup of decaf tea, and have her take a warm bath. Then set her up on the couch with everything she needs and a couple of movies.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:19 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Finally she burned out and went to sleep...

I appreciate the concern (trust me, I've been with this community for a long long time as a lurker and occasional answerer - I appreciate the heck out of this community.)

I think rohruh has the answer.

I was concerned because she's never been this scattered and hyper focused before. I've had to deal with meth users in the past, and they were very... task oriented. So I was a bit paranoid that her combination of cold pills may have strayed into that area.

I guess I was a bit surprised by her behavior tonight. Mostly I was looking for a way to calm her down and keep her focused on non-destructive tasks. I found a number of tablet games that she could focus on.

She and I will have a long, calm, relaxed discussion tomorrow.
posted by krisak at 9:22 PM on December 12, 2012

I'm super confused. Pseudoephedrine is not meth. Did you leave out an imp detail or are you very confused?
posted by Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes at 9:22 PM on December 12, 2012 [10 favorites]

She and I will have a long, calm, relaxed discussion tomorrow.

I am so confused. What am I missing here? She took some cold medicine. What's to discuss?
posted by Sassyfras at 9:24 PM on December 12, 2012 [23 favorites]

Response by poster: Oneirodynia - If she lived with me, that's pretty much exactly what I would do at this point.

I think what happened is that stress + cold = unpredictable results. So I will be suggesting she take a week off where I can take care of her.
posted by krisak at 9:25 PM on December 12, 2012

Don't know where you guys are but here in the Hudson Valley of NY there's a nasty little virus going around that's like the head cold & cough from Hell. I'm going into my third day of it and am calling my Doctor in the AM (OTC meds provides temporary relief at best). A pharmacy tech friend says that it's taking a couple rounds of antibiotics to knock this thing out for most people. I would recommend rest and a visit to the Doctor or Urgent Care.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:32 PM on December 12, 2012

Response by poster: Okay... Let me clarify.

I've dealt with multiple meth users in the past.
I've appeared to be a meth user in the past (I'm social retard, and get focused on my projects)
My GF does not do any drugs other than the occasional glass of wine
My GF has a high resistance to medication. Any ibuprofen dose under 1600 mg doesn't affect her. At all.
She is normally extremely healthy.
She caught a cold last weekend, and has been fighting it since.
Her responses tonight were what I'd expect from a meth user.
My goal tonight was to keep her entertained, home, and harmless.
Turns out that she combined ephedrine with other cold pills and was a bit... out of her mind. Again - we'll be discussing this next time we talk.
posted by krisak at 9:36 PM on December 12, 2012

But she's not a meth user. She's someone with a cold who took some medicine and got a little loopy, probably because she's sick and hasn't slept well. She doesn't need a long talk, she needs a long, restful sleep.
posted by thank you silence at 9:39 PM on December 12, 2012 [94 favorites]

So, she was hyperactive and loopy and broke some things? What exactly are you asking for help with here? You still haven't said what she's done, what you're discussing, and why she would need to take a week out of your lives so you can take care of her. It's just a really bad cold, right?

Ibuprofen and other normal people medicine doesn't have any effect on me. When I have a cold I rest up, rock some chicken soup, and use a neti pot until I'm back to normal. No reason for a come to Jesus meeting.
posted by loriginedumonde at 9:42 PM on December 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you, um... thank you silence.

You're right, she probably needs more rest rather than an ominous discussion. So I guess I can do what I can for her and we'll sort it out from there.
posted by krisak at 9:43 PM on December 12, 2012

I wouldn't mention it to her, what are you hoping to gain?

If I felt worse than I ever had before and was strung out on cold meds I don't think I would appreciate my loved one saying to me the next day... 'Honey, I know you're really sick but last night you reminded me of a meth user, how do you feel about that?'

I think I'd tell you to get lost to be honest.
posted by Youremyworld at 9:44 PM on December 12, 2012 [17 favorites]

I also want to throw out there that if you plan to have a "long, calm, relaxed discussion" with her tomorrow about her reaction to OTC cold medication, while she may still be sick it might possibly seem paternalistic. If my bf did this to me I would laugh him to the door, honestly. When people are sick (and it seems with an especially bad cold) they usually get a few free passes on loopy behavior.
posted by ruhroh at 9:45 PM on December 12, 2012 [14 favorites]

Response by poster: lorginedumonde - I was looking for suggestions that would help entertain and focus someone who was a bit.. chemically altered.

She didn't break anything. She's a great person. Mostly I was looking for suggestions as to how I would focus someone who's not exactly on the same plane as I.
posted by krisak at 9:46 PM on December 12, 2012

Man, you know what kind of stress would keep me from getting better during a cold? Dating a dude who thinks it's his place to lecture me about cold medications.

You're letting your own issues cloud this in a way that has nothing to do with your girlfriend's immunities or general healthiness, and it's not only preventing you from thinking of ways to take care of her very well while she waits out this (perfectly ordinary) cold, it's making you all controlling and weird.

Stop thinking that your fear of addicts and personal hangups around being treated like an addict make you turn around and treat her like one too. And don't stay up all night trying to entertain her. Tell her to wake you up if there's an emergency and get some rest. You're acting a little bit weird and controlling because she triggered something you're afraid of, and while that's an understandable reaction, it's a really unhelpful one, and you not sleeping is gonna make your mood and instincts go even more off-kilter than they already are. Plus it's gonna compromise your immune system and make you a lot more likely to get sick yourself.
posted by NoraReed at 9:47 PM on December 12, 2012 [87 favorites]

This is hilarious. She's sick and loopy from cold medicine, meth batteries not included.

Ditch the "long" convo for some chicken noodle soup.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:48 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

we'll sort it out from there.

There is nothing to sort out. She took some cold medicine. The end.
posted by Sassyfras at 9:48 PM on December 12, 2012 [14 favorites]

krisak, you're over-pathologising. Your girlfriend is not a meth user. She took cold medication that made her wonky. She's not going to be jonesing for a fix tomorrow; she's going to be happy she had a good night's sleep.

Comparing taking cold medication to using meth is kind of effed up and I'd really recommend not bringing that up with her. If you're bothered by how your girlfriend responds to cold medications consider that that is your problem, not hers.

I could write essays about the weird shit my ex would do in the half hour between taking a sleeping pill and falling asleep, but I never once compared her to a junkie.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:49 PM on December 12, 2012 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: Ah, another good point, ruhroh.

Any time she is at all sick she is welcome to stay with me. I will take care of her, give her hot soup, make sure she was a warm bed, change the sheets every day, etc.

If she's anywhere as humble as I was when I got called out for getting drunk and not getting my Jeep fixed, we're good (she's probably one up on me...)
posted by krisak at 9:51 PM on December 12, 2012

Response by poster: no regrets, coyote - thank you for a very cognizant summary of the situation.

You're right. It's not comparable to meth, and I'm a bit ashamed for associating it. Although mostly I really just wanted to find something to engage her. She finally passed out...

And the half hour between the sleeping pill you ex used to take between it and falling asleep? That's why I don't take sleeping pills - too many hallucinations. It was... scary.
posted by krisak at 9:58 PM on December 12, 2012

Getting drunk and not getting your Jeep fixed is irresponsible.

Taking cold medication and having a normal, if unpredictable, response to it is not.

I understand that you're kind of freaked out--I've also dealt with meth users, and it's not at all pretty, and seeing anything close to that behavior in someone you love is terrifying and stressful. It's important, though, that you realize that you are projecting and overreacting.

The only conversation you might--and I stress might--want to have is "Hey, honey, I don't think that you react very well to Sudafed--you might want to try something else next time." And you have that conversation if and only if you legitimately think that she was being actively destructive--destroying property, attacking you, injuring herself... Anything shy of that (weird behavior, distractedness, twitchiness, hyperactivity, etc) is relatively normal for someone who's taken Sudafed. It's not ideal behavior, but neither is it problematic.

Also, though I hesitate to say this, you may want to back off on the paternalism here. You're not married, you don't even live together. You're going to talk to her about her normal, legal, healthy medication choices? You're going to suggest she take a week off so you can take care of her? She has a cold, and unless there's a lot that you're not telling us, you're overreacting. Take a few breaths and a step back.
posted by MeghanC at 9:59 PM on December 12, 2012 [24 favorites]

Mod note: Folks maybe give the back and forth a rest? OP you don't need to threadsit.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:02 PM on December 12, 2012

My SO has had an unpredictable reaction to prescription medicine before. I don't even have the background with drug users that you do, and I found it terrifying. It was like he morphed into a completely different person. I totally understand the desire to talk to your girlfriend and reassure yourself that she is still the same person. But, I think the other folks who responded have it right when they say that such a conversation will probably make her feel worse, even if it makes you feel better. There's also the chance that she won't remember it the same way that you do, which can make it even worse.

I do see the value in MeghanC's advice to broach it as a practical, medical issue, so that she is aware for next time she gets a cold.
posted by cabingirl at 10:57 PM on December 12, 2012

I don't get sick very often and as a result I am deeply offended when my immune system lets me down and take just about everything that I can find. This is obviously not a good thing to do, but I suspect that's what happened in your girlfriend's case. So maybe once she feels a bit better you can approach it lightheartedly and talk about how you're not actually supposed to try and hit a cold with a blitzkrieg of drugs, without mentioning quite how out of it she was.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:31 PM on December 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think a good lesson here is that it's not all just "medicine," and I think there might be a little medical-illiteracy here. Aspirin and ibuprofen are pain killers, sudafed is a decongestant, mucinex is an expectorant. If she's congested, the Mucinex, sneezy, Sudafed, achy, Aspirin/etc. Nyquil-type products have all of these things in one gulpable liquid, Robitussin etc. a bit more, which might make them a good thing to keep around (store-brands are fine). Beyond that, I'm pretty sure there's a Flintstones or Two and a Half Men that deals with cold-based changes in personality. Also, yeah: chicken soup. Drink lots of water and sleep. PRN.
posted by rhizome at 12:31 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

So I guess I can do what I can for her and we'll sort it out from there.

But... there doesn't seem to be anything to "sort out"? I mean, she didn't do anything harmful, illegal, or unethical. She took some cold medicine and it made her a little loopy. That's it. This is not a moral failing; it's just a physiological reaction that happens to, I dunno, untold thousands of people every cold season.

That said, does she have thyroid issues (specifically, is she on thyroid hormones, or is she possibly hyperthyroid)? If so, that may make her predisposed to react to pseudoephedrine a little weirdly. I've been on thyroid meds since my 20s and I always have to be really mindful when taking decongestants, lest I start feeling like I'm on crack. (In fact, my strategy is never to take any combo cold medication when I'm sick; I take individual OTC meds separately for each symptom so that I can calibrate my intake of each, so that I usually wind up taking a child's dosage of decongestant and a regular adult dosage of everything else.)
posted by scody at 12:34 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Hi. I'm a person who responds very, VERY poorly to pseudoephedrine. For me, taking 1-2 tablets can trigger insomnia, crying jags, a desire to self-injure, and other super-unpleasant mental/emotional side effects. Several of my family members on my dad's side react to it in a similar way. It can be pretty scary/confusing to watch or experience. I'm sorry that you and your girlfriend had to deal with this, on top of the general crappiness of her having a head cold for the first time in a while.

Extrapolating from my own experience, I think it's likely that once your girlfriend is feeling better, her behavior from tonight might seem very foreign and unsettling to her, and she'll likely agree with you that it's not a mental state she wishes to experience again. Once she's feeling like herself again, I think it's totally appropriate for you to sit down with her and say something like "Hey, you really didn't seem like yourself when you were sick the other night, and I felt frightened/concerned when you did [insert behaviors here]. I read some anecdotal evidence that some people just have a really strong negative reaction to Sudafed. Do you think that could have been a factor? I was really worried."
posted by arianell at 12:50 AM on December 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

This is amusing because I am currently in the midst of a cold, and I literally texted the following to someone yesterday evening:
And I fully intend to spend the entirety of tomorrow blazed off my ass on sudafed.
But yes, as others are saying, this is not a Big Talk-worthy situation. Your girlfriend is sick. This is a sit on the couch under a blanket sipping soup while watching Romy and Michele's High School Reunion situation. No one has done anything wrong here. Taking cold medicine is not irresponsible or a moral failing.
posted by phunniemee at 4:01 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

I had a similar reaction the first time I took pseudoephedrine. I was jittery, unfocused, heart racing, shaking, emotional. I spent most of the night pacing around my tiny studio apartment until I wore myself out and passed out on the couch.

If you feel the need to mention anything, just say, "Wow, you might have an allergy to pseudoephedrine! You poor thing!" She's probably going to be shaken and still sick. Believe me, if it was anything like my experience, it was not a fun time and nothing she'll want to experience again.

If she's anywhere as humble as I was when I got called out for getting drunk and not getting my Jeep fixed, we're good

That was negligent. This was an unfortunate medical reaction - an allergy outside of her control. They are not comparable.
posted by christinetheslp at 4:14 AM on December 13, 2012 [11 favorites]

The one thing that might be worth discussing is the fact that some all-in-one cold medications contain pseudoephedrine/ibuprofen/acetaminophen, and if you take those pills PLUS the cold meds it's very easy to get a much higher dose than you intended, which can be dangerous. That may be what caused this, and if she never takes over-the-counter meds, she may not be aware of how carefully you have to check the labels.

Or then again, she could just have really negative reactions to pseudoephedrine. My mother has started hallucinating on pseudoephedrine, and I have such a negative reaction to it that I haven't taken it since 1998 and there's a notation on my medical chart saying never to give it to me. It happens. It doesn't mean she's a meth head. It means she's sensitive to pseudoephedrine. (If her experience was anything like the last time I took pseudoephedrine, she'll never take it again.)
posted by pie ninja at 4:17 AM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding arianell: if cold medicine made her act a little loopy, she was almost certainly aware of feeling loopy and totally uninterested in repeating that experience. Some medicines (including pseudoephedrine, sometimes) make me a little speedy as a side effect, and it doesn't feel good. (And some medicines don't seem to affect me. Her ibuprofen tolerance can't predict her reaction to other meds.)

Let her rest. Spare her the intervention because she doesn't need one. If you want to gauge how she's feeling, say something like "you seemed a little hyper the other day. Feeling better?" and leave it alone. Do NOT follow up with anything including the word "should," or anything that implies the word "should." Cold medicine loopiness is not a problem and definitely not something that she needs help or instruction on.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:23 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

One other thing to consider: Dextromethorphan (the "DM" in cough suppressants) can also make you loopy, raise your pulse, and make you downright hallucinate if you take too much of it. It's included in some of the cold pills marked "severe" (as in Tylenol Severe Cold). So if she took those cold pills and then took a dose of Robitussin DM or Mucinex DM for cough that could make her goofy as well. I had the nasty head cold/cough a couple of weeks ago and got a little goofy myself (oops!) so I get it.

Personally I get the combination pills to use when I'm not at the house, and buy the rest of the stuff (Mucinex, sudafed, Tussin, ibuprofen) separately so I can control the dosage of each one when I'm home. That way I don't have to take extra of the combo pill when all I really need is some extra Tussin. But that's after talking with doctors and learning what my body needs when I have a respiratory virus (I'm an asthmatic so I pay close attention to respiratory stuff).
posted by MultiFaceted at 5:48 AM on December 13, 2012

OP: You had a very legitimate concern.

Your GF took a combination of drugs that resulted in loopy behavior. Mixing drugs is a serious matter, and the general public may not appreciate this. But those of us who work in areas of medicine do.

I would certainly advise you continue with your plan to talk to her once she is better, and carefully explain to your GF the potential danger of what she did, and the symptoms you saw in her. This is medical education and it will benefit her for her future, and something one does for those we care about.
posted by Kruger5 at 6:25 AM on December 13, 2012

I have a related story. Sudafed apparently turned me into a weird crazy person when I was like 5 years old. So I haven't taken Sudafed since. And then I lived happily ever after.
posted by dosterm at 6:27 AM on December 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just jumping in to add that mixing cold drugs can produce very scary results so I could understand where it might have been weird enough for you to be concerned. I found out when I take psuedoephedrine I get rather scary racing pulse and loopy headedness and this imminent panicky feeling. Like a mild drug-induced panic attack. Not good when you're already sick. I avoid the stuff at all costs.

But, yes, you should take it easy and, if you do decide to say anything to your GF, phrase it from a place of concern about her health and make it about a bad drug reaction, not her imminent meth addiction (?!).
posted by ninjakins at 6:35 AM on December 13, 2012

One of my friends had such a strong reaction to DXM (in robitussin and mucinex DM) that she had to go the psychiatric ward. No joke. It caused hallucinations. The problem was that she kept taking small doses of it over a period of a couple days. It added up. Some people have sensitivities.

She actually sent such loopy emails to her friends and colleagues that she had to apologize to a lot of people after. I, for one, thought she was suicidal and went on a wild goose chase around town looking for her, contacting mutual friends, until I found her at the psych hospital.

So if your gf took something with dxm, that could be a reason.

(For drug geeks like me... DXM is in the same family as nitrous and ketamine.)
posted by kellybird at 6:38 AM on December 13, 2012

The only Big Talk that's called for here is the one between you and a therapist as to why you feel the need to be this controlling, paternalistic, and dramatic.

I was wondering if perhaps your interactions - interlocutory in tone - with your girlfriend may have caused her to seem as if she was spaced out. Stressed out people often act in ways we don't understand if we are acting in less than kind ways.

Generally speaking, it's easier to recover from a cold (even after taking legal, over the counter drugs that are generally harmless) when receiving kindness and emotional support.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:39 PM on December 13, 2012

I had a similar reaction the first time I took pseudoephedrine. I was jittery, unfocused, heart racing, shaking, emotional.

This happened to me last time I took it too -- after having had no adverse reactions to it previously. It kept me awake with my mind racing at 100mph most of the night. Scared the willies out of me.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:53 AM on December 14, 2012

I use pseudoephedrine for colds with congestion. It works far better than the replacements. I htink people are reacting to the "we're going to have a long talk" tone. I recommend taking specific medications for symptoms, not combinations, just because even over-the-counter drugs may cause reactions. Good luck I hope she feels better, and I hope you don't catch it.
posted by theora55 at 7:28 AM on December 14, 2012

I'll just add that fears about "mixing drugs" seem pretty overblown to me in this case. For one thing, the drugs the OP listed above the fold commonly come "pre-mixed" in OTC preparations. "Advil Cold and Sinus," for example, is just ibuprofen plus pseudoephedrine. Taking multiple combination drugs is not a good idea because you can potentially exceed the normal dosage of some active ingredient that way without realizing it, but that's solvable by just buying the ingredients separately, as others have mentioned. (And of course if you are on other prescription drugs, you need to check for interactions, but that's true even if you were to take a single cold pill.)
posted by en forme de poire at 9:46 AM on December 14, 2012

I once had a bad reaction to cold medication and ended up spending about two days wandering around rambling at people in between spending hours staring at my school work trying to remember what I was trying to work on. Reportedly I was entertaining to others but did not enjoy it at all. Some sort of drug abuse lecture would have been bizarre. It might have been helpful if someone had told me I didn't have to keep taking the cold pills, though, because I was so out of it that that solution had not occurred to me. I have gone on to avoid cold pills, not become a junky.
posted by sepviva at 3:09 PM on December 14, 2012

« Older How the Other Half Lives (or, you know, Murders...   |   Help Me Feed the Need to Spread My Seed Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.