I've had trichotillomania for the past 12 years, starting when I was only 11 years old. Leading up to Trich, I had a severe case of nail biting, and had major social anxiety. Throughout the years, I developed horrible coping methods for my problems and anxiety.
Over the past 12 years, I've been partaking in these behaviors at different times:
Skin picking (ongoing)
Nail biting (fluctuating)
Compulsive stealing (age 14-19)
Addiction to marijuana (from age 18-22)
Under-eating (age 13-20)
Binge-eating (age 20-22)
Addiction to masturbation or sex (18-20 fluctuating)
Hair pulling (age 11-23)
Binge drinking (age 21-22)
Smoking cigarettes (age 13-19 fluctuating)
Compulsive shopping (19-22)
And probably more I'm forgetting.
Obviously, I have an extremely addictive personality! I had tried multiple medications such as Wellbutrin, Prozac, Lexapro, and Zoloft. Along with several different vitamin supplements. NONE of them worked for me!
I think I've finally found the answer for me. I was researching heavily a few months ago, and in a book on Trichotillomania by John Stein (leading researcher of BFRBS and Trich), I learned about a medicine called Naltrexone.
Naltrexone is prescribed primarily for alcoholism and those with opioid addiction. It works by blocking opiod receptors in the brain, thus making addictive behaviors less rewarding. Essentially Naltrexone is helping rewire the brain to NOT feel pleasure from what normally would bring satisfaction.
WHY DID I TRY NALTREXONE?
According to the Trichotillomania book, it has been tested on dogs that over-groomed themselves to the point of having scabs and wounds (sound familiar?), and the dogs showed significant improvement after taking the medication.
Naltrexone is virtually harmless and has very little side effects and drug interactions. For me, the first week I was very tired and couldn't eat much (kind of a nauseous thing). But after the first week or so, all symptoms subsided!
***In the book, it also mentioned how Naltrexone shows the most promise for those with Trich who have suffered in the past with other addictive behaviors. It even mentioned compulsive stealing as an example! That got my attention, as I had struggled with that for years.***
SINCE TAKING NALTREXONE:
I have been pulling my hair SIGNIFICANTLY LESS, for the first time in my life. The urges are far less compelling, and don't feel as pleasurable as they once did! I can actually pull a hair or two now, and STOP myself from continuing. That's a huge breakthrough for me.
Over all, I find myself thinking about hair pulling less, and I rarely find myself going to that out of learned "habit" like I used to before.
I presented my findings to my doctor, and she listened and was willing to give Naltrexone a try. (I'm on 50mg currently. But studies recommended raising the dose over time up to about 150mg)
If your doctor won't listen, FIND A NEW ONE!
It is absolutely critical that you find an open-minded doctor who listens to you! Most doctors don't know much about Trich to begin with.
Please, please, TRY NALTREXONE!
Especially if you struggle with other addictive behaviors! What have you got to lose?