Haloperidol anyone?

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by zeh, Sep 21, 2009.

  1. zeh

    zeh Registered User

    Sep 19, 2008
    My husband is shuffling anxiously round the sitting room, rolling up the carpet, throwing the cushions off the sofa, picking up magazines and repeatedly telling me that we've got to get this paperwork sorted. It's exactly the behaviour I described to the doctor and he gave us a prescription for Haloperidol to calm him down. I've given Geoff this 3 times and whilst it's difficult to be sure, I think the pills certainly calmed him down to the extent that he was catatonic for an hour or two, could barely stand and then suffered hallucinations a few hours later. I'm trying to resist giving it to him (and as I write, I think I have managed to pacify him)because i'm not convinced that the net result is worth it. He has been on Aricept for a year, and more recently on Trazodone at night to help him sleep.

    Does anyone else have experience of this? I realise everyone's reactions to drugs can be different, but any comments much appreciated! (He's also on antibiotics - does that influence how these drugs work in anyone's experience?)

  2. foxhound

    foxhound Registered User

    Jun 26, 2008
    Two quick thoughts:

    Firstly, you sound wonderfully together and in command - no small achievement in the middle of such upsetting behaviour!

    Secondly, my (layman's) impression is that Haloperidol is a fairly old-fashioned, blunt instrument sort of thing. Newer anti-psychotics such as Risperidone do seem to work in a rather gentler way. I do think there is some concern about increaed stroke risk from long-term use, but... I think it would be well worth asking yr GP to try another drug - or to get in touch with yr psych consultant to the same end.

    My mother has been on Risperidone for a while now, and it seems to (generally) work well without directly attributable side effects.
  3. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    If you have any doubts or fears about the medication Zoe, do not hesitate to get back to the doctor who prescribed it.
    I know it is early days yet but even if the doctor says this reaction is to be expected, it will reassure you.
    If the reaction is too severe, the doctor might decide to reduce the dose.
  4. zeh

    zeh Registered User

    Sep 19, 2008
    Thank you both of you for your helpful comments. My worry with having pills to give Geoff 'when he needs them' is that if I leave it too late his behaviour might reach the point when he refuses the medication. Tonight, an hour after I posted my first message (and having decided not to give him the Haloperidol) he was sitting at the dinner table with me making pleasant, if slightly nonsensical, conversation.

    As for sounding in control, I'm not so sure! Geoff has gone downhill suddenly so fast I'm literally taking each hour as it comes and refusing to look at the bigger picture.

    Gotta go - he's refusing to go to bed until I do!

  5. Nebiroth

    Nebiroth Registered User

    Aug 20, 2006
    Haloperidol is one of the older drugs and, I believe, it's one of the more powerful of it's class. As you've noted it can have an immediate effect, which is why it is often used for (say) people in a "manic" phase of mental illness.

    If I were you I would go back to whoever prescribed it and express your concerns. It does sound as though it's acting far too much like a "chemical cosh" with your husband becoming almost comatose, this being followed by hallucinations.

    This might be because he is sensitive to the drug or that the dose is simply too high - it is not achieving a desireable effect.

    Also, is your husband under a consultant? GP's are not founts of all knowledge, someone who specialises in dementia, psychiatry or geriatric psychiatry might be more appropriate (you do not say how old your husband is). There might be more effective ways of treating the agression - with a long term, lower dose of one of the newer antipsychotics, for example, which don't act like "knockout drops" and generally have fewer side-effects.

    In any case, I think that someone in your situation should be under the supervision of a consultant and a CPN (Community Psychiatric Nurse) - it's really not good enough to just give out emergency "calming pills" with no followup or regular monitoring.

    It would be unusual for someone with dementia not to be referred to a specialist, or to be left under the sole care of a GP - they are not really trained or equipped for it.

    If your husband is under a consultant, then it might be more productive to speak to him/her directly.
  6. windyridge

    windyridge Registered User

    Apr 7, 2009
    I would second this! Unless GPs have a special interest in dementia, or have a nursing home on their lists, they can often be out of their depth. We have found the consultants very accessible, in person and by email, and mostly the back up from CPN has been intelligent and wellinformed.
  7. DIL

    DIL Registered User

    May 30, 2009
    My MIL regularly takes halipridol as that is the only thing that has been found to calm her (she is very aggressive and agitated when unmedicated). However, it did take a while to get the dosage, and timing of the dosage right. We did find at first that it made her like a zombie and then disturbed her sleep later. So she now has smaller doses, but twice a day. It seems to work better and for longer that way, rather than waiting for a flash point and then whacking a heavy dose - which is what your GP seems to have advised.

    I would ask to discuss it with him again, explain about the effect it had on your husband and suggest that the dose be altered.

    You could of course try an alternative medication but remember that with all of them that the timing and the dosage need fine tuning for each individual. Believe me, we've been through several!

    Good Luck.
  8. Bobi

    Bobi Registered User

    May 1, 2009
    Malage Spain
    My husband has been on Risperidona for approx. four weeks and it seems to be working satisfactorily. He had been becoming a bit aggressive but since taking this medication he has calmed down considerably so in his case I think it definitely worked. I know every case is different but am glad it worked out well for him and hope you find something that will work for for your husband! Incidentally, he was on Haloperidol for a month prior to changing to Risperidona but the neurologist thought it better to take him off Haloperidol.
    Hope you find something agreeable in the near future.
  9. sad nell

    sad nell Registered User

    Please stay clear of Haloperidol, the side effect can be horrendous, i do not just mean the knocking out effect, but it can cause muscle spasms and my husbands head was bent double onto his chest for months whilst on this drug if i had not fought to have him taken off this it could have become permanently so , and took many months to completley leave his system, but his head is now upright again, ask your gp about theses side effects, no one warned us, i think you are so right to be wary of using halpoperidol. ebixa has been the best with no side effects at calming my husband with out knocking him out, hope this helps pam
  10. jojo54

    jojo54 Registered User

    Dec 19, 2008
    I would agree with Sad Nell re Haloperidol, it can give awful side effects, my mum was also prescribed it by her GP and she too had her head down onto her chest, (mind you the GP prescribed too high a dose:() it builds up in the body and can take a while to clear. It worked at first but after several weeks mum became very ill.
    Mum is now on Quetiapine as her neurologist was very anti haloperidol.
  11. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    I personally did not like the effect Haldol had on my mother. She developed Parkinsonian symptoms and it only slowed her down physically, without making her mentally calmer. We've since switched the medications. I think you should have a consultation with a pharmacist, as they are more informed about drugs than a GP. You can also inform yourself about drug interactions and side effects, which can be another dangerous point.

    Sometimes, nearly always actually in my experience, drugs need to be tweaked to have the best possible effect. My mother's drugs needed tweaking quite a bit at the beginning. Now she's stable and I won't change anything until she changes.
  12. nellbelles

    nellbelles Volunteer Host

    Nov 6, 2008
    It seems we are unusual in this, Tom takes a heavy dose of Haloperidol and has done for maybe 7 years, in fact many Docs ask does he have it every day,

    Well he has none of the side effects mentioned and i think he is better on it than off, although it has made me think that maybe I should reduce the dose to 2 capsules a day instead of 4 and see what happens.. the packet says as required, so I presume that with care I could try and reduce the dose and see what happens.
  13. zeh

    zeh Registered User

    Sep 19, 2008
    What a wealth of information. For everyone's comments, thank you. Now I realise why his hands had started to shake so badly. We have a consultant but could not contact him at the time hence went to the GP. Having now spoken to the consultant he agrees its a very blunt instrument and best avoided if at all possible so I shan't give Geoff (75) anymore unless he becomes dangerously aggressive.

    Thanks again.
  14. JayGee

    JayGee Registered User

    Aug 23, 2009
    kilmarnock ayrshire

    Hi Zeh
    how big a dose of haloperidol has your gp given you?
    I look after Sidney as most wives do i.e.24hrs no help as yet.
    my husband has been getting more and more aggressive so only 2 days ago I finally went to my doctor at the end of my tether and asked for something to calm him She put him on 500micrograms of haloperidol I was told this was a small dose to start.
    the difference has been incredible already I have become such a pessimist over the last 3 yrs but I cant quite believe this result -
    we have had the last two nights undisturbed this is unheard of and the last two days he has been in a much happier mood. I have noticed I am not being asked 100 times a day where are we? and where do the family all live ? he didnt threaten to break the front door down when he found it locked to keep him safe!!
    He is not in a dze he hasnt even been napping but the anxiety seems to be almost gone from him.
    I noticed there was an hour last night when I got a nasty reaction to something I said (the norm) and I reckon the first pill given late morning had run out and I should have given the bedtime one an hour sooner to cover the whole 24 hrs. I wonder if your husbands pills are too big a dose.I expect to have to adjust my husbands pills to cope - its trial and error but
    maybe this will give you hope -something I havent had for the last 3 yrs
    take care
  15. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    This is why we shouldn`t dismiss drugs out of hand. They work for some and for others they don`t. But when we are faced with very challenging behaviours sometimes strong medication is the only option.
    As long as they are well monitored and not given for the wrong reasons I feel they can be a big help to both carer and cared for alike.
  16. Sandy

    Sandy Registered User

    Mar 23, 2005
    Hi Zoe and jaygee,

    I don't think your posts are in conflict as individual reactions to drugs can vary widely.

    It's important to treat each person's response to a drug individually. If a drug produces side effects in one person at a certain dose, it might not produce any side effects in another person, even at the same dose.

    This is true for anti-psychotics as much as for the anti-dementia drugs such as Aricept - side effects for some and not others, effective treatment for some and not others.

    Some day there may be a way of looking at a person's individual genetic make-up before prescribing medication:


    Until then we just have to be vigilant to monitor the effects of drugs and work closely with the medics involved.

    Take care,

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