side effects not all bad

these days, so many people take a prescription drug or two just as a matter of course every day. you don’t have to have any sort of major disease even – some people take them for (easily avoidable – let’s be honest) heartburn, or other “lifestyle” issues that they could take care of with a bit of dietary or activity adaptation. don’t get me started.

many people have themselves on prescription drug regimens as a means to deal with health issues that would seem to stem from simple aging, although there are those who would insist that there are no predetermined health issues that automatically come with “old age,” that those issues are due more to lifestyle than simple old age. well, i’m no doctor – i don’t even play one on tv. so i’m not going to wade into any of those discussions. maybe we can age with better health by taking better care of ourselves in youth or middle age – it’s probably true to one degree or another. i don’t know, and my little brain doesn’t want to go there.

but anyone who has ever brought home a prescription drug has probably (i hope you ALL have) taken a gander at the list of side effects. granted, the vast majority of those are at best unlikely. they are there in the same way that coffee shops have to print “caution: contents hot,” on the sides of their take-out cups, so that when some idiot pours the coffee on their lap, they can’t sue the coffee shop. the shop can just say, even though they shouldn’t have to, “we told you it was hot.”

but believe it or not, not all of those side effects are necessarily bad. for a little while, i was taking baclofen to ward off muscle cramps at night. it didn’t seem to work as well as another medication that i am currently using, but the paper that came with the baclofen (covered in infinitely tiny printing) mentioned, along with an extensive list of very scary possible side effects, the possibility of “strange or vivid dreams.” i don’t think i’ve ever had a dream that wasn’t strange (though dreams that seem perfectly normal can be considered strange simply because they are NOT strange). but i love dreaming. it is said that we all have 3-5 dreams every night; we just don’t tend to remember them. i did some work several years ago with a therapist that involved a lot of dream analysis, and for some reason while i was working with him, i seemed to remember a lot of my dreams. (perhaps he cast some sort of spell over me?)

anyway, this is a long way of saying that not all side effects are bad. when i was taking baclofen, i not only seemed to remember my dreams, waking up several times during the night with vivid recollections, but – and this is the weird part – these dreams all included vast numbers of people. not people i knew, or even people who were involved in the story line of the dream itself, but as extras, like in a crowd scene in a movie. i don’t know that it would have made any difference to the dream if these people were not involved, but i thought it was fascinating that they were there at all, and they their presence seemed to be directly linked to the drug.

i’ve stopped taking baclofen, finding another combination of medications to be much more effective. but i do miss those dreams, and i still have a bottle of baclofen. i know this is not really a good idea medically (the side-effect documents refer in several places to the dangers of sudden withdrawal), i must say i am tempted to take a dose or two of baclofen if only for the really cool dreams.


Author: stephen

stephen harris is a writer, painter and a photographer who lives with his family in maine.

One thought on “side effects not all bad”

  1. I remember someone telling me that after they stopped smoking weed, they started having vivid dreams. It was so long ago that I quit that I don’t remember whether I dreamed as a smoker or not. I do know that I have them now. Sometimes lucid ones too. Really empowering stuff, those lucid dreams.

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