I Won’t Try That Again

Last fall I was in my doctor’s office with a list of problems only a hypochondriac could appreciate. Topping that list was my chronic fatigue, brain fog and my inability to lose any weight. My most bothersome symptoms raised enough red flags for her to explore more. She ordered a battery of blood tests, including thyroid, A1C, B-12, and vitamin D.

The results from the blood tests were fairly unremarkable. My thyroid was normal, my A1c was sort of within range, my B-12 and vitamin D levels were both low (as they have been historically).

To address the lack of weight loss, she advised I visit a nutritionist and recommended the book The New Sugar Busters: Cut Sugar to Trim Fat. I was already familiar with the book. In fact, I read an older version years ago at the height of the no-carb craze. She also mentioned a new weight loss drug called Contrave and asked if I was interested.

Feeling desperate – and if I’m being honest, also depressed – I was definitely interested.

She explained that Contrave worked differently than previous weight loss drugs that had once been FDA approved. Contrave was made up of bupropion and naltrexone which affected the brain chemistry and not the heart. She even thought that the naltrexone would even help give me a boost in energy.

I picked up the prescription and put it away in my medicine cupboard. I wanted to read the pamphlet and research the internet to see if anyone had any early experience with the drug. Admittedly, I was worried about taking bupropion again. Bupropion is an anti-depressant and while I didn’t have nearly the problems weaning from Bupropion XL as I had from Effexor XR, I was still apprehensive in messing with anti-depressants again.


But, I woke up Thanksgiving morning and decided that it was time to start the Contrave. I had just received the blood test results and that A1C level really bothered me. But that’s for another blog post.

I took one pill as advised and set forth on our day. The plans for Thanksgiving were a lazy morning, a long family walk, small lunch and early dinner with family.

I felt great at first. I don’t remember eating breakfast that morning but guzzled a coffee while out on our walk. By lunch, I was hangry and a little bit nauseous. I chalked it up to not eating anything. An early Thanksgiving dinner ended up being later than expected and I felt downright miserable. Even after eating, I remember feeling just plain awful. I suffered silently the whole car ride home and just wanted to get in bed. Nauseous and dizzy. I lay in bed that night telling myself that I would feel better by morning knowing that what I felt was not normal.

That experience made me feel awful enough not to take Contrave again. Until last weekend.

Like childbirth, we are able to forget horrible feelings. I knew that my first experience with Contrave wasn’t a great one but maybe I did something wrong. Like, not eating breakfast. Drinking too much coffee. Or waiting too long to eat dinner. I definitely knew I would try again but wanted to make sure it was a day that I didn’t have commitments, in case it made me feel yucky again.

Last Sunday morning, I decided it was the day to try it again. Desperation and depression continue to be really great motivators for me.

I ate a good breakfast and popped one pill. I didn’t drink any coffee that morning. I felt tons of energy at first, did a bunch of house chores and then sat down to work on the computer. After about two hours, I started to feel a little bit shaky. I noticed it was close to lunch. I wasn’t feeling hungry but knew I’d better eat something considering my last experience.

Well, lunch came and went, if you know what I mean. I was dizzy, sweaty, and horribly nauseous. I was so sick the entire rest of the day. There I was again, laying in bed, vowing to never take Contrave again.

There is something about my chemistry and this drug that just do not work together. The Contrave site does list the side effects with nausea, headache, dizziness and vomiting being the most common.

In the end, I should have known better. I know that there isn’t a quick fix for weight loss. There isn’t a magic pill, even one prescribed by a doctor. It’s maybe time to visit that nutritionist and exercise regularly and stick to a plan.


  1. Thank you for sharing your experience – I haven’t heard of that before. Sorry it wasn’t the magic pill. Wouldn’t a magic weight loss pill be, well, magical?! Maybe someday in our lifetime!

  2. P.S. For the record, I think you look gorgeous as you are!

    • wendy nielsen says:

      I appreciate the kind words. :)

      • I’m so glad I found this article! I’m sick right now just from pill#1 and it’s horrible. I’m sweating and feel strange. This is my last pill….

        • wendy nielsen says:

          That’s exactly how I felt too, Kathye.

        • After the first pill, I felt sick. I layed down for a few minutes. Then got up and drank 2 bottles of water. I felt a lot better! Now, I drink water after I take the pills and don’t feel ill. Thought I would share my experience it might be what you need.

  3. I took contrave for about two and a half maybe three weeks. The weather was getting warmer so I thought I was just sweaty because of that. Then I painted my son’s bedroom and the sweat was POURING off of me. You would have thought I had gone in the shower with my clothes on! Then yesterday while at jury duty I had sweat dripping from my face in the stuffy jury room the entire morning. Very embarrassing especially noticing I was the only one sopping the sweat from my face and neck. I also had lower abdominal pains on and off. I don’t think this medication is for me. Plus I haven’t noticed a significant change in my craving for food nor have I lost weight. Back to low carbing it…that’s what works for me.

  4. Dawn Sullivan says:

    I am also very glad to have found this article. I took pill#1 this morning. After about 20 minutes, I felt lightheaded and jittery. I knew I needed to go lie down. I have had diarrhea and nausea all morning. I feel awful! I just wasted $70 but I don’t care. I never want to feel like this again!

  5. I am now into week three and glad I stuck it out. I didn’t have the same day 1 issues that you describe. I did feel a little light headed about an hour after taking it but that resolved. Day 2 was worse. Tiredness, dizziness, hot flashes, and diarrhea. I took two days off then modified my own start. I took it every other day for a few days. Then moved to every day. Seemed to work much better. I moved up to twice a day (where I am now) and the worst side effect is dry mouth…. which is good bc it helps me up my water intake. I am really starting to see the benefit of this med now. I feel no temptation to eat most bad for you foods. Actually, I have to force myself to eat at all. Which means small healthy snacks through the day (if a cookie and a Greek yogurt both hold the same appeal, of course you will eat the yogurt). I am down 9.9 lbs. And I am so glad I gave it another shot when I really wanted to write it off. My side effects don’t sound nearly as bad as yours. I probably wouldn’t try again if I felt as bad as you did. But the ones I did have did subside. I don’t think I will go up to the two tabs unless I start to feel the one twice a day isn’t working. But for now, it’s great!

    • Glad to hear this is working for you, Sally, and glad to know it may take a while. I just got a prescrip from my doc, and I want so badly for it to work. I tried Saxenda recently, and it made me feel like my blood sugar was low. It actually made me want to eat more. I look forward to trying Contrave and pray for good results.

    • We’re you able to sleep when you started taking the medication twice a day and what time did you take the second pill each day?

  6. I had all the same symptoms from the use of the pill when I began. My doctor advised me to try to get through the nausea and the first month. I got through the first two months and no side effects after that. The pill has really helped me lose weight.

  7. I started this, first pill monday, i have felt like total crap for 48 hours, its just now wearing off. I cannot believe how poorly i feel.

    • Nausea, spacey, feeling like my hands dont work, like the worst case of hypoglycemia ever for 2 days straight. Ugh.

  8. I had the exact reaction! I have been on it for a week now. Each day after I take a dose, I feel dizzy, nauseated, sweaty, exhausted, and flu like symptoms. I am supposed to go up to 2 pills a day now but can’t handle the 1. For the last 2 days, I have taken it at night, an hour before bed. It makes me so tired, I thought this would be best. It doesn’t keep me up because I am alert, it keeps me up because I am so nauseated.

    • I have been taking Contrave a few weeks and yesterday had to start two in the morning. I have felt dizzy and yucky previous weeks but stuck it out until yesterday. I have the worse migraine,nausea and vomiting and can get out of bed. I am beginning to become fearful more is going on since it is now th next day and headache is raging on.

  9. D Won't stop - anyone? says:

    Has anybody had non-stop diarrhea after trying Contrave? I started day after Tgiving. Day 4 stopped after abdominal cramping as intense as labor pains. Nauseau didn’t let up until about a week ago. I have had D 3-4 times a day since. Went to the doc and treating it like an infection but no luck.

  10. I just started Contrave yesterday, on day 2 and the main thing for me is the mild come and go headache, pressure and a “weird” feeling, almost lightheaded. I was taking 37.5 of Effexor for mood related to perimenopause and my MD said I can continue taking it, but I’m not sure. Worried about when I increase to higher dosing. I can’t find anything specific about them not to be taken together, but anyone have any experience with this? I need to lose 30+ lbs! changing my diet and getting more walks in but really hoping this gives me a boost.

    • My doctor just prescribed my Contrave and I also take Effexor 75 mg twice a day. I am worried about the side affects. My doctor nor the pharmacist was concerned but I am still not convinced. Have you received any feedback recently?

  11. Bepositive says:

    I was taking Contrave for 4 months – I started gradually as directed and it was actually quite effective. I wasn’t hungry and lost almost 20 pounds! I had some minor side effects (occasional diarrhea, slight dizziness, occasional nausea), but this past November 22, I had a seizure while at the gym on an exercise bike!! I ended up in the ER! The ER doctor, my primary care doctor and the neurologist all feel that it was caused by the Contrave. I have no history of seizures nor is there any family history. Although it is recommended that this medication be stopped gradually (just as when starting), I had to stop “cold” as per my doctors’ recommendations. The result inside effects were not great – extremely “foggy” and feeling “out of it”, memory issues and general malaise. I had a CT scan and a 48 hour EEG and both were fine, confirming in my mind that the seizure was indeed caused by the Contrave. Due to the seizure I am now not allowed to drive for 6 months….kinda tricky for someone with a full time job! I do not want to scare anyone, but I want people to learn from my scary experience and have some serious conversations with their doctor(s) if currently taking or thinking about taking Contrave. Please be careful!

    • After two weeks on the drug I also ended up in the ER , for excessive vomiting, stomach pains and dizziness . It’s been three days since I stopped taking the drug and I am still experiencing dizziness and sweating. I can’t even take my dog for a walk.
      My thought is that that the dizziness will go away (I can’t drive and have trouble sleeping). Should I see another Doctor for the dizziness ? I am starting to worry that it may not be temporary .

  12. I have been taking Contrave for two weeks now, and feel awful. Horrible sweating for no reason, my skin turning very red at odds times, and absolute exhaustion. I really hoped it would help me lose weight, but it’s just not worth it. ?

  13. I need to lose weight but I just waisted $70.0 because contrave belongs in the garbage. The only side effect I had was I broke out in a rash on my arm and it was itchy. I don’t plan to take contrave ever again but I will do the scale down program. I call the doctor that prescribe this junk and she didn’t even call me back.

  14. I was very nervous to start contrave so I decided to cut it in half an tried one half for 3 days, today I started taking 3/4’s of the pill and I feel just a little bit shaky and noticed I haven’t had any cravings for chocolate! I’ve been eating a little cause I’m not very hungry like I used to!I think I’ll stay on 3/4’s of the pill even though we r not supossed to cut it!!!

    • I know this post is older, but I wanted to know how everyone made our using Contrave. I am dizzy and not myself today, Day 1. Wondering if I should drop to half, or take one at night before bed instead of the morning. Suggestions please.

  15. Sorry you got sick! I did the print ad for Contrave in 9/14. It took me til 4/15 to find a Dr and start the journey. I spent 2 days with people from the company and learned lots. I will say this for anyone starting. Read the web page. There’s tons of info. As for
    The nausea. It helps taking it with a protein in morning dosages. Eating greasy fatty food can or will make you sick. So can drinking hot liquids too soon after. The grease /fat and hot liquid dissolves the time release coating on the pill. It releases more medicine in your system at once. That’s what makes you sick. The concept of the drug is healthy lifestyle change. Rid the processed stuff. Treat yourself once in a while. And exercise. that Naltrexone helps ditch the cravings like an addict craves drugs. It’s a great tool and if you stay focused it works. Slow and steady wins the race :)

  16. Day one of Contrave shall be my last. I haven’t been this sick since I had the flu when I was 12. I have lost 6 lbs today but all I have done is lay in bed,run to bathroom and hoping I make it . Let’s just say I’m on my seventh change of clothes today. This is horrible.

  17. Julie Triano says:

    I am on day 6 of Contrave. I have 60 pounds to lose and I am so determined. I have dropped 10 pounds of water weight. I have started by taking one at nighttime. I woke up with energy and not hungry. I also got a bonus. I have fibromyalgia and I am always in pain. When I woke up the pain was gone. I am blown away. I have had a little spaciness and if I eat too much I get diarrhea. I pee more but I also drink more water. So far I am happy. I hope it works. I am familiar with both of these drugs as I work as a drug and alcohol counselor. My only concern is that I might get addicted. Oh , I drank a hot broth last night and I drank too much of it and I did get sick. I can’t over do any type of food or liquids. Well, that has been my problem. I eat beyond being full or when I’m not hungry. Kims comment really helped me to understand why

    • Julie-
      How is it going so far? Are you still taking Contrave? I have a similar amount of weight to lose and just started today. Feeling a little queasy, but hoping it will not last longer than a couple of weeks.

  18. Kristi Kaylor Martin says:

    I took my first dose Thursday night. I woke up Friday morning so sick and dizzy I couldn’t drive to work. I haven’t missed work in 4 years. Done. I can’t imagine taking another pill. I can’t walk a straight line. It’s Saturday and I am still dizzy. This is awful. I have lost 40 lbs on phentermine, but dr felt like I needed a boost since weight loss has stopped. I’d rather be fat.

  19. My first day on Contrave was wild. No one told me caffeine did not play nice with Contrave and I took a 5 hour energy ending up in the toilet vomiting up everything I’d had to eat that day. I noticed I do not have any cravings (can walk past anything with sugar and not even a second glance). I am not experiencing most of what others I’ve read experienced, but maybe that comes later with higher dosages? Wary of the ER anecdotes. I’m going to keep taking Contrave, walking and weight lifting as well as tapering my food. So far this is day six and I’m doing pretty well.

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