I wanted to talk a little bit about the Haldol injections that I get. I have schizophrenia and part of the medications that I receive are Haldol injections. The long name is Haldol Decanoate or Haldol DEC for short. There are different kinds of Haldol injections. There are some that are more fast acting, and then there are the kind that I have which metabolize in my system over a 4 week timespan. So, I get the injection once every 4 weeks and I get the injection in my butt/hip area. It usually doesn’t hurt except for a little poke. If I get a bad needle or something it might hurt, but usually it is just fine. I usually reward myself with a drink from Starbucks on my way home from getting the injection. You know, a little positive reinforcement!
The reason why the shot is so good for me is that I’m an habitual drug refuser. I sort of spent about 12 years of my life on and off medications and in limbo. I was very sad. I was very suicidal. I was very crazy. I would end up in the hospital. They would put me on medications, but then when I was out of the hospital I wouldn’t take them or I’d miss taking some and then I’d get to thinking that people were trying to kill me or I’d think that the meds were poison or something and then I’d quit taking them altogether.
So, the injections for me have been a life saver. I take Geodon (an anti-psychotic), Zoloft (an anti-depressant) and Buspar (an anti-anxiety) orally, but the injection helps me to get stabilized and it keeps me sane enough to know that I do indeed need the other medications. There are no missed doses with the injection. I can’t stop taking the medicine unless I go without an injection and I’m not willing to do that.
Haldol is an older typical antipsychotic medication. Geodon is a newer atypical antipsychotic. I guess they name them typical or atypical depending on the neurotransmitters that the medications interact with. The newer atypical antipsychotics are generally preferred, because they are thought to have fewer side effects over the long term. The truth is no one knows what kinds of problems could develop, because these medications are new. With Geodon there is risk of QT interval prolongation which has to do with heart rhythms and stuff. Before I went on the medication I had my heart tested to see if I had prior problems like that. With Haldol there is a greater risk of Tardiv Dyskenisia which is a disease where the patient starts having weird spasms usually of their tongue or face or something like that. I’m really praying that doesn’t happen to me. My doctor does monitor me for signs of that and usually people take Cogentin which may aid in blocking the disorder from happening.
If you are a person with schizophrenia, or you know someone with schizophrenia who doesn’t take their medications regularly or goes off of them all together, you may want to talk to your doctor about an injectable medicine. I believe it comes in other drug varieties too, like Risperdal is another one that has an injectable form. The main cost is getting someone to inject the stuff, because the medicine itself even without insurance is not that expensive compared to a lot of the other medications out there. I have insurance and I think I pay $5 for a bottle of the stuff that lasts about 6 months! The syringes are cheap too if you don’t have to use that many and your doctor could probably provide those.
Anyway, the injection is not very popular in the United States according to my psychiatrist. He said that it is used more often in Europe for some reason. Maybe Europeans are smarter about mental illnesses! A lot of it probably is pressure from anti-psychiatry people claiming that doctors are trying to mentally castrate people when they use these injectable medicines. All I can say to that is that you need the right doctor who will work with you to make sure you don’t end up feeling like a zombie.
With anything, you need a good doctor and you need to discuss all of your options. Even though I know paranoid people have a hard time talking to their doctors sometimes, if you are paranoid, your doctor needs to know and you need to maintain an open communication with him or her at all times. I’ve had a few bad doctors in my life, so I know how hard it is to find a good one, but you have to keep trying until you can find someone who you can trust is going to do the right things for you.
Anyway, if you have any questions about the injections, let me know. I can’t really think of anything else to say about them. I’m on a fairly low dose, so I don’t get too sleepy with the medication. I also supplement the injection anti-psychotic with oral anti-psychotics. Oh yeah, and I’ve been on this medication combination for about seven years now with no side effects! Whoohoo!