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Breathing and Anxiety Problems

Sun Apr 24, 2016 11:55 am

Hi, I've posted here before regarding the same topic, mostly breathing. I've been on Subutex for about 6 years until about a year and a half ago I suddenly felt very bad after taking some Subutex. The way I would take it is I would break a 2mg pill up into 4 quarters and take 1/4 pill every few hours. I don't take more than 3/4's of a pill though, so I would only end up taking 1.75mg per day. The reason I stopped taking the Subutex for a couple months was because I started having breathing problems. So, quit the Sub after about 4 years at around a 2mg a day cold turkey. I started back up again after a couple months and it seemed like the breathing problems started back up too. This went on for a little over a year and a half until I stopped again...this time I tapered down until I was down to .25mg a day. I stopped on January 20, 2016 and was off for 3 months.

The whole reason I stopped was because of the breathing problems. I had some ED issues too, but it was mainly the breathing. The breathing got so bad that there was a span of 3 days straight where I had constant breathing problems and much of the time I felt like I was going to die. It felt like I was not getting enough O2, yet my pulse ox stayed around 95 to 98% which is great. Despite that, it felt like I was suffocating and I felt like I had to manually breathe in order to get enough and even then, I felt extremely uncomfortable. The ONLY thing that seemed to help was taking a beta blocker "Propranalol" 10mg. It went away for a while but then came back.

When I went off at the end of January I thought this would go away, but it didn't. Then I thought...well maybe it's withdrawals and BTW, one of my questions is while taking the Sub, I seemed to have withdrawal symptoms. I would start sweating at various times of the day like you would in a withdrawal. I would get very edgy and have tingling and numbness in my hands. I'd also have severe allergy-like symptoms like you do when you withdraw from an opiate like sneezing and constantly clearing my throat. I had all this for 3 months. This makes no sense when it takes no more than a couple weeks for the physical symptoms of withdrawal to go away. I was taking no other opiates either. Is it possible to have withdrawals like that for 3 months or more after stopping Subutex. Not only that but I'd have severe depression and anxiety. I have Bi-Polar Type II, but this was different and felt like depression related withdrawal and anxiety.

The worst part is the breathing problems though. I was also taking Seroquel 200mg (originally) and was taking Ambien CR and Lunesta (not at the same time). So I started stopping all meds in order to find out what was causing t he breathing issues. I made a mistake by jumping off the Seroquel at 100mg dose and I thought I was going to have a heart attack and just felt so very bad. I'm back taking a 50mg dose of Seroquel and will do so for a month and then go down to 25mg for a month and then stop.

So I'm really worried that somehow the Subutex really screwed me up because the breathing problems never went away. They would get better, but I could always still feel it. I went back on Subutex this past Tuesday April 19, 2016. The sweating, runny nose and sneezing went away, but I still have the breathing problems. It does seem to get better during the early morning and stays better for a few hours, but then usually slowly starts getting worse as the day goes on. I'm only taking 1/4 of a 2mg pill a day; however I've taken 0.5mg today so far and want to try to take another 1/4 dose. I'm afraid because before I stopped taking it this last time, it seemed like the less I would take, the better my breathing became.

I'm really REALLY scared because it's gotten so bad and I have it almost every day and it feels like I'm going to die. All the doctors I've been too including the ones at the ER, which I've seen a few times think it's some sort of Panic Disorder, but then they say panic attacks only last from a few seconds to a few minutes. I'm not exaggerating in the slightest when I say I've had it last for days straight! The intensity can vary a little, but I've had it last for days HONEST TO GOD and it's been the worst thing I 've ever experienced and it seems I 've had the worst panic attack of anyone I've ever heard or read about, even online. I sometimes take Propranolol up to 14 or 15 times a day and yet my blood pressure stays around 140/100 and a couple days ago, it got up to 171/123 and stayed high like that for a long time.

I don't know if it's the Subutex that's causing the breathing problems or the Seroquel or a combo of both. I've been taking the Seroquel as long or longer than the Sub, but if it's the Subutex, why didn't the breathing problems abate after I went off, but then also....why was I having withdrawal symptoms while on the Subutex? Finally, how can a panic attack last hours and days without stopping? I've been to my psychiatrist and my main doctor many MANY times. The Subutex used to work brilliantly and I never used to have any breathing problems. Oh and when my breathing is real bad, if I go to exercise, it makes it worse. If it's not as bad it does help though. I was working out 4 days a week for years until about two months ago when the breathing go so bad. The Subutex also seems to make my blood pressure go up, but my pulse go down. My pulse is usually around 75 - 85 bps, but the Subutex drops it down to 60 - 67 bpm.

Please, if anyone has any ideas I'm so open to them!

Re: Breathing and Anxiety Problems

Sun Apr 24, 2016 5:39 pm

In your entire discussion about buprenorphine, you say nothing about the indication for taking it-- which for most people is opioid dependence. It is hard to consider your symptoms in a vacuum; people taking buprenorphine products are usually deciding between taking the medication, vs. dealing with opioid cravings and withdrawal.

In the years and years of opioid use-- whether the use of opioid agonists for pain, methadone for pain or addiction, or use of other agonists, partial agonists, or antagonists for a range of conditions--- there is no evidence for residual or permanent effects. Opioids act reversibly at receptors, and neither buprenorphine nor other opioids can 'screw you up', beyond temporary withdrawal symptoms.

If buprenorphine is something you don't need for the sake of treating addiction, then I would recommend you stop it-- not because of harm, but because it only introduces one more variable to a complicated collection of symptoms. My impression is that your symptoms are related to an anxiety disorder--- but you aren't really differentiating between the period right after stopping the drug and the rest of the time. Most people have tons of discomfort during the weeks and months after stopping buprenorphine-- but after 2-3 months, the symptoms are likely from something else.

Re: Breathing and Anxiety Problems

Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:03 pm

Ok, to be clear I originally started taking the Subutex because I went off a serious Vicodin addiction. At the end before I stopped the Vicodin, I was taking up to 100 pills a day. I suffered no ill effects from that fortunately, but I think it did do something to me. I started taking the Vicodin to self-medicate for a Bi-Polar disorder that was yet to be diagnosed at that time. I noticed that the Vicodin was helping with the depression I had. Of course I stopped the Vicodin after about 14 years because I had to keep taking more and more to get the same feeling. At that time I did not have any sort of breathing problems. So to reiterate, I originally took the Subutex for detoxing off Vicodin. I had also tried various antidepressants and mood stabilizers which either did little or nothing to help. To my surprise the Subutex had an added benefit of not only squelching opiate cravings, but it seemed to help significantly for my depression and a little for anxiety. At that time my anxiety wasn't as bad as it is now.

I went off the Sub the first time because I recall taking a little more that day, only 1/4 more and I immediately got sick. I thought it was from taking the extra 1/4 dose. It turns out it wasn't. During the 2 1/2 months I was off I briefly tried other opiates such as Vicodin and Oxycontin and that is where I started having some breathing problems just slightly while taking Vicodin for a brief time. It also felt like I could feel my heart bouncing around in my chest.

So back to a few days ago when I posted that first post here. I was off the Subutex for 3 months straight using no other opiates or other illicit drugs. The Subutex does seem to help with the anxiety from the breathing problems, but maybe not so much the breathing itself. I started back on the Sub for cravings and depression a week ago. I don't know if I've been breathing a little easier or the Sub has been acting as a sedative and just covering it up.

Has anyone heard of Buprenorphine withdrawal that lasts for 3 months? Main symptoms is the breathing problems as in feeling like you're not getting enough air and/or someone is sitting on your chest constantly. The other symptoms, while much less serious has to do with sinuses. I'm constantly clearing my throat and coughing and sneezing all the time.

Re: Breathing and Anxiety Problems

Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:32 pm

Wait... did I read you correctly..you were taking 100 vicodin a day??!!! I don't think that's possible with the Tylenol. The max without going over the limit set on "safe" Tylenol amounts for a day is 4,000 mg. That's only 12 vicodin if there is 325mgs in each. Maybe I am reading it wrong..

Re: Breathing and Anxiety Problems

Tue Apr 26, 2016 3:44 pm

Once you've stopped burprenorphine, you have acute withdrawals (if you didn't taper down very, very carefully). After stopping opiates you go through acute withdrawal and then there is a chance for PAWS, Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. PAWS happens because you've taken opiates a very long time. It is not specific to buprenorphine.