Mirapex Side Effects for Restless Leg Syndrome: A Trip to Hell
RLS and Mirapex
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a not uncommon condition wherein the person has an almost uncontrollable urge to move their legs. It very often results in a severe loss of sleep; people suffering from RLS often spend the night simply pacing the floor to alleviate the symptoms.
Mirapex, or Mirapex-ER, is manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals and is widely used to help combat Parkinson's Disease and RLS. The primary ingredient is Pramipexole, which has a decided effect on the dopamine receptors of the brain. The exact mechanism of the drug is unknown.
Unfortunately, Mirapex has quite a range of side effects, many of which are quite unpleasant.
Mirapex Side Effects
The side effects of Mirapex are numerous and varied. The web site of Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals lists the following possible side effects:
- nausea or vomiting
- muscle weakness
Many other side effects are listed, as well. Other sites, such as drugs.com, list additional side effects, including a propensity to become addicted to gambling. It is this addiction that has prompted this article.
RLS runs in my own family and my sister has suffered for years from this condition. She has taken Mirapex for years with generally good luck in controlling the symptoms. Unfortunately it has also led to a gambling addiction. It has been a most insidious evolution, proceeding so slowly that it was not noticed until far too late. It has been a most unpleasant experience.
Our strong family relationships have helped my sister through her trials to the point that she is now recovering, although at tremendous cost financially, emotionally, and physically. She has asked that her story be told in the hopes that even one other person be saved from such an experience.
In this article, I share my sister's journey into her personal hell. There are also some suggestions for alternatives to Mirapex. If you are taking this dangerous drug, please take note and consider discussing a change with your doctor.
A Bad Trip With Mirapex Side Effects
A few weeks ago I received an email from my sister (let's call her Sis) to the effect that she wanted the rest of the family to know she was in trouble. We all knew of her RLS, but the bad news was that she had become a compulsive gambler. Sis lives only a few miles from a casino and visited often with her husband, mostly for a good meal. Gambling was never a reason to go there but that all changed.
Gambling was now the major, if not the only, reason to visit the casino. All-night stays, while telling the family she was working late, were not uncommon. Completely unable to leave until every dime was gone, she soon gambled away nearly everything she and her husband had worked for over the years. Bankruptcy was imminent.
When her gambling was discovered it nearly cost her her marriage—but her husband has stuck it out through the trials. Eventually the connection between Mirapex (Sis had been taking it for several years) and compulsive gambling was discovered, and that has helped the family situation. It is difficult to believe or understand how a drug can cause such a radical change, but both her immediate and extended family have come to understand and support her. Other similar tales posted on the internet have helped all of us understand the problem a little better.
Nevertheless, the shame of the constant lies and sneaking out to gamble, the financial wreckage the gambling has caused of her life, and the overwhelming depression caused by no longer taking Mirapex has been debilitating. You see, Mirapex is very addictive and the sudden loss of dopamine results in severe depression as well as other serious withdrawal symptoms. Of course the RLS has come back as well, and Sis is trying to put her life back together on just three or four hours of sleep each night, while simultaneously suffering through withdrawal from the medication.
At this point in her recovery, Sis is in a very dangerous situation. She walks the floor for much of the night alone, in pain from constant headaches and severely depressed. She has had one relapse of gambling after thinking she'd conquered the addiction—and that certainly doesn't help the depression nor the shame. Even knowing that such activity is caused by the drug, it is still impossible not to feel that shame, and this worsens the depression.
It is a living hell that Sis is going through right now, and it is likely to continue for weeks or even months to come. The symptoms are expected to gradually lessen, but they will likely be with her for a long time to come.
Alternatives to Mirapex
There are actually quite a few alternatives to Mirapex, including non-drug options. Stopping smoking, decreasing or eliminating use of alcohol or caffeine may all help. Hot baths, gentle exercise (mainly stretching exercises) and massage may give some relief. Many home remedies such as apple cider vinegar, blackstrap molasses or baking soda have been reported as viable options to drugs.
If prescription drugs are necessary, however, there are still several options to mirapex. Ropinirole has been approved by the FDA for treatment of RLS. Gabapentin has been found to be helpful and there are many others that are useful for intermittent symptoms.
If your doctor refuses to consider any treatment other than a drug that can alter your mind and personality to the point that you throw away everything you own in compulsive gambling then run, don't walk, to another doctor. This strange and terrible mirapex side effect is well documented; this article is but one of many from people that have lost everything to a mirapex side effect of compulsive gambling addiction.
The mental changes that Mirapex can bring about are stealthy and subtle, including both cognitive and personality changes. No one really questions a decision to buy a lottery ticket this week, but next week it might be a couple of them. Over years the urge for this kind of reckless spending increases deceptively, a little at a time, until cars, homes and even families are lost. Loved ones cannot understand just how it happened or why, and neither can the gambler. He or she just can't get up from the table until the money is all gone. Shame keeps them quiet and hiding it at the same time as they keep losing more and more until the destruction or loss of everything they have is complete. As a drug side effect it is something few people would ever consider but Mirapex has made this dangerous side effect a reality for far too many people. Please don't become one of them; if you are taking Mirapex find an alternative that works for you. It may take time, it may require some physical discomfort and it may be costly, but none of that compares to the hell that a compulsive gambler and their family goes through.
© 2011 Dan Harmon