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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 11:16 am 
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Hello all, I am definately new here, just signed up after seing one of the videos posted by the Dr who runs this site. I wanted to post what I've been through for those that are going to jump into this and I also had a few questions for anyone who might be further along than me. So here goes!

First my backstory. I have been on and off pain killers for about 4 years now but was on them day to day for over a year with a spike in January of this year due to a spinal fusion I had in December. I tried to stop taking them but found that I couldn't. My surgeon referred me to a detox specialist who put me on Suboxone. Only problem was that he wanted me to also attend an IOP. I couldn't afford it with neither my money or time. He had mentioned that if I wasn't in the IOP by the next time I saw him we were going to have a problem. I got a final prescription of Suboxone (1/2 an 8mg 3 times daily) and decided after speaking with my family and friends that they all agreed that every person who told me I had a problem big enough to go get intensive treatment stood to profit if that was the case. Every person close to me said that they saw that I had a problem but felt it was a dependence problem and not an abuse problem. So I decided that I would taper myself off of the suboxone and just grit through the withdrawals whatever they may be after having only been on it for such a short time (2 months). Now I know this is not the suggested route to take and after going through what I went through I would NOT recommend it. The only reason I have made it as far as I have is because of the support of my family and even managers at work.

Another note I would like to make is that from what I have seen and heard from talking to other people who have dealt with withdrawal (some I met in NA meetings) this timeline as well as symptoms can be different for everyone. Some I spoke to felt withdrawal much sooner than I and some lasted much longer. Which may make my questions harder to answer but I am just asking for what you may have experienced, not to tell me exactly what it will be like for me.

Day 1: Didn't feel any different at all.

Day 2: Started feeling a little sluggish but not bad by any means.

Day 3: Same as day 2

Day 4: Same as day 2 but starting to feel "weird"

Day 5: First signs of withdrawal start to come on, hot and cold spells, pain, intense sweating, restless legs, nausea, and loss of appetite.

Day 6: Everything from the day before but more intense. Add in diarhea, intense depression, insomnia. Can't come out of the fetal position at times while legs shaking uncontrollably. Started taking OTC sleep aids to sleep.

Day 7: Same as day 6 but a little stronger.

Day 8: Worst day by far. Everything from before along with what seemed like convulsions while trying to sleep. Contemplated going to the ER at this point but decided that all they would do is pump me full of the kind of drugs I am trying to stop taking so decided to wait it out and see if they came back. If they would have I would have gone to the ER but they never did. Went to an NA meeting to reassure myself that I am doing this for a good reason.

Day 9: Actually felt a little better this day. Didn't have the intense depression, only mild, and the restless legs started to diminish a little. Still taking OTC sleep aids and ibuprofen for pain. Doesn't help much. Decided to go work out today to keep my mind off it.

Day 10: Felt decent in the morning, GREAT in the afternoon, then back to crap in the evening. Feels like it takes twice the energy to do anything. The pain in my back (which is where most of my withdrawal pain is located, upper back, not near my spinal fusion which is in my lower back) doesn't seem so bad compared to the sore muscles from the workout the previous day.

Day 11: A couple of the withdrawal symptoms, which happened to be the worst of them, are now gone. No more restless legs, no more depression, craving of pills is getting weaker, pain is starting to weaken but comes and goes in intensity.

Days 12 - 15: Each day gets a little bit better but I am still having the hot and cold flashes, intense sweating, diarhea, pain, and still feels like energy is low so I am taking a caffeine pill a couple times a day to help with that. I went to workout again and found that once again I felt REALLY good the following afternoon. Starting to go to workout more often now to duplicate this. I am also eating healthier at this point.

Now to my questions. How long can I expect these remaining symptoms to last? From what I have read it looks like they could last a couple months. Is there anything that you have found to help with the pain (asside from opiates of course)? I have been trying to throw in some tylenol with the ibuprofen but it doesn't seem to help much. I miss playing with my two year old son. That is the only reason my mind keeps going back to wanting pills. I remember being able to pop a couple and feel fine to be able to go outside and chase him around. Now I can't do anything like that. I get past that by telling myself that I didn't just go through two weeks of hell to go back to what put me there in the first place but it is still hard.

Thanks for your time!


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:17 pm 
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I wanted to add my method of tapering (which was incredibly fast and IMO did about the same as cold turkey would have).

As I mentioned I was on 1/2 an 8mg sub three times a day so 12mg daily. I dropped this down to 1/2 a sub twice a day, so down to 8mg daily. I kept this up for about 3 weeks. I then dropped down to 1/2 a sub 1 time a day. I continued this for about a week but then jumped back up to 2 1/2s a day because of pain. This continued until I started running low on them at which point I dropped back down to 1/2 a day (4mg) for about a week which is when I ran out.

And to anyone going through the worst of their withdrawals and finding it hard not to go back to using I wanted to share with you the best words of encouragement I received. A man I met in NA told me that he was at an in patient detox and after day 2 was having the same symptoms I was having at about day 7 or 8 and was ready to walk out when another patient who was finishing his treatment told him "How many times in your years of using have you gone a few days without anything to take and dealing with this same withdrawal? You know you had em, you can't ALWAYS find something. You survived those didn't you? Well if you just push through this for another couple days you don't have to worry about those days of not being able to find anything ever again." Those words got me through those hard days. Now my days still aren't filled with sunshine and rainbows but yesterday I laughed so hard I started crying. I couldn't tell you the last time that happened without pills in me.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 1:01 pm 
Congratulations ThisGuy on the progress you have made! I wish I had the answer to your question as to how long it would be until you feel good again, but I do not. I have been on Suboxone for only 2 1/2 months and as yet do not know how long I will remain on it. I have done a lot of reading on the subject, however. You're on the right track with your eating well and exercising. That seems to be key in getting better.
I am sorry for your experiences - the back surgery and pain related to that are terrible things to have to go through! Sounds like initially getting on Suboxone was a good plan. I don't understand why you were absolutely required to attend IOP. That is crap! It is very expensive (been there, done that) and time consuming. Don't get me wrong - it is a great thing, helpful to anyone open to going and participating. But with your particular situation - being one of the many who began as a pain patient and subsequently developed opiate dependence, I don't see why IOP was your only option in order to continue Suboxone treatment. You've obviously been attending NA and that is a generally well-received treatment modality.
I hate to think that your Subox doc has something to gain by forcing his/her patients into IOP. Oh well, I best not go into all that! Again - don't misinterpret what I'm saying and surmise that I think Suboxone alone is the answer to opiate addiction no matter how you got here. I just think every person seeking treatment deserves to have such treatment that best suits the individual's needs.
I pray that coming off Suboxone so soon does not come back to bite you. As most of us know - getting off opiates or Suboxone is pure hell. But it is staying off that's the hardest part. Especially when you have legitimate pain issues. If you find that stopping your Sub was a bad idea - please do a search on the manufacturers website and find yourself another doctor to prescribe your medication.
For most of us - a couple of months of therapy is not going to be enough to keep us from relapse. I sure don't want that for you.
Take care of yourself. Hopefully someone else will post who has stopped Sub and can tell you some time frames you're looking for.


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 Post subject: Thanks for your reply
PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 1:30 pm 
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Well I have to clarify that while I do agree that IOP is benefitial to a lot of people I didn't feel it was for me because I just couldn't invest that much time and money into something that I feel is a mental game that I am very good at playing on my own. NA itself is an excellent resource for building those foundations of thought that you need to get and stay clean. I actually called to offer to my detox doctor to attend NA meetings several days a week and get signatures to prove that I had been there but he was unresponsive to this.

The reason he had suggested that I attend IOP was because of a few behaviors I had described to him during my initial consultation. First off, I have been on a lot of different medications over the years for different problems. For instance, I used to have a habit of flying off the handle and putting holes in walls with my fists. It was when I broke my hand putting a dent in my new jeep and then subsequently hit the jeep four more times to cause enough damage that I needed surgery to straighten my boxer's fracture that I was prescribed Xanax. I took Xanax as prescribed. I was also prescribed Valium after my surgery to control muscle spasms. I took this as prescribed as well. However; with my pain medication I did not take it as prescribed because as prescribed it did not aleviate my pain whatsoever. I did not take the medicine to get "high". I took it to be "normal". Now I know that a person who is an addict and has a real problem will convince themselves that they don't have a problem so I spent a lot of time analyzing my behaviors and relaying this information to those closest to me to get their opinion and they confirmed my guess that while I do have a problem it was a physical dependence. My detox doctor did not agree with this though saying that I went after that Xanax and Valium to abuse them and I subsequently abused pain meds as well. This is not true, the xanax and valium were medically necessary (which I should probably still be on the xanax for aggression/OCD but have chosen not to take any "dangerous" meds).

I understand your concern in my potential relapse while attempting to do what I am doing in the way I am doing it. It has crossed my mind several times. One positive sign is that I was offered a Vicodin while going through my withdrawals from a neighbor because she could see that I was in pain (not knowing it was withdrawal pain) with no one else around to know that I accepted I politely declined.

Even now when my mind trys to trick my body into thinking that it needs them with what I call fake pain I just tell myself that my brain is trying to take advantage of me during a hard time and push past it. I am a VERY strong willed person and will stand my ground. I didn't know two years ago that I was an easy target for narcotic dependance but this is knowledge that I now have and it will be a cold day in hell (or the operating room) that I accept narcotic pain meds again.

To my wife's surprise I have an appointment for a vascectomy coming soon for which I have instructed the doctor not to prescribe any narcotic pain medication. I'm sure I'm in for a world of hurt there but this is something I feel very strongly about and while I have seen several people around me give into their tricky addict minds my addict mind isn't going to win.

Thanks for your reply!! I am really hoping that 1. I can find out if anyone knows what I can expect over the next couple weeks and 2. My experience can inspire someone going through a rough time to push through it and look inside themselves for the strength that they need (or to god if that is your cup of tea) and get through it.

Oh, one final note. I do think that Suboxone is a great alternative to using. If I had to choose between sub or norco I'd take sub any day. If I had to choose between sub and being completely drug free and saying goodbye to my pharmacist forever I choose completely free.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 1:58 pm 
I love that - goodbye to my pharmacist forever!! I like that alternative too! And I love your determination! My best suggestion is to keep up your good work! Sometimes it helps me to remember that it took a good deal of time for my dependence/addiction to take ahold and it's going to take a good deal of time for me to get back to the person I was before that! Our bodies and brains literally need time to heal from the damage that opiates did to them. We have to get used to getting through stressful times, negative feelings and so on without the help of meds and that's not going to be easy at first.
I agree with you, though, strength of character and determination helps a lot, but there is so much more to treating addiction than that. If it were that simple, none of us would have trouble getting clean when we want to. As addicts, we demonstrated a lot of determination to get those pills after all!
Your support group meetings will help and a supportive family will help as well. I sincerely hope that it is enough to keep you clean! If so - more power to you and keep posting to let us know how you've made it work!
While I can't really disagree with you about IOP and the reasons you have chosen not to go, I wonder if you've thought at all about getting some individual counseling. In that setting, you could address your chemical dependency issues as well as your anger management and OCD. It seems that people with an underlying disorder such as depression, ADD, OCD or the like will have difficulty with their addiction (self medicating) until those issues are addressed and treated. Just a thought.
Whatever road you choose - I wish you the best!


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:13 pm 
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LoL You said something that made a really good point that I completely forgot to mention. Self medicating. When my doctor told me I had to go to IOP I went for the consultation. After talking to him he said that exact same thing, that he felt that maybe I was trying to self medicate to treat those underlying issues. Ironically I relayed this to my detox doctor and he said that he thinks that the term self medicating gets thrown around too easily as psycho babble to mask the real problem of addiction and dependance. Not that he didn't believe it was a problem but that it was too often talked about. I COMPLETELY disagree with this. I know more than one person who self medicate whether it be with pills or pot.

I do plan on getting any depression/OCD/Anger Management issues medicated once I am through my withdrawals. Right now I don't feel like I can tell what is real or is my mind trying to get drugs. Job 1, get through withdrawal. Job 2, Diagnose remaining problems (Real pain lingering from fusion, mental health issues) diagnosed by a physician. Job 3, find a medication with a low risk of abuse to treat those problems. Still working on job 1 right now ;)

You were also completely right when saying that if self determination was enough to do this that everyone could do it, but that isn't the case. I re-read my initial post and realized I did leave out a few things I did along with the mental games that helped me get through it. Hot showers/baths/hot tub, meditation, guided imagery, music, and my wife. All things that contributed to me even making it 15 days. Every person has to find what works for them. For me, looking at this as a fight between me and an illness in my head to see who is stronger was the trick. I do NOT lose and I do NOT back down. I guess that is part of where that agression and OCD problem comes from LoL

I look at any person who is fighting addiction as a strong person because it is a hard fight to fight. Any help you can get from your corner is only going to increase your chances of walking away with the W. Whether it be suboxone, IOP, Inpatient Detox, NA, or all on your own. No one way makes you stronger than another. They all have the same goal. Get and stay clean.

I'll keep you posted on how I'm doing.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:21 pm 
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Quick note (really quick this time I promise). No, I am not an NA boaster. Yes I think it is a good thing but I have found a lot of meetings directed at those that have gone through the withdrawal already and are trying to STAY clean. Some can also be heavily religious which I am not (I'm agnostic). So yes, its a good thing but for me it was just one piece in a HUGE puzzle.

I've made it two weeks, keep your fingers crossed for me these next two ;)


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 4:40 pm 
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Hello Thisguy :) I'm glad you found your way here, I too have had a spinal fusion and my opiate abuse really took off after the surgery. I don't mean to sound like I'm saying anything about you as everyone has to decide whether they're an addict or not but to quote a an often used phrase "only addicts spend time thinking about whether they're addicts or not" I'm also in no means saying what will happen to you but rather I'm just telling you what my experience has been. At first I convinced myself that all I had was an opiate dependance, not an abuse problem so I tried quitting. I was able to abstain for a couple of months and then I was right back to using again, only this time I was using more than before. I know most of the time I was using I wasn't getting high either but rather I had to use to feel "normal". This notion that I had to use opiates in order to feel "normal" really made me think....I felt that I was not "whole" without opiates. That I had to continually put something into my body in order to function "normally". It was only after I realized this that I was able to work on getting better. I hope you're successfull Thisguy and I look forward to hearing from you again soon. I really do appreciate the fact that you admitted that the majority of the withdrawals were caused by your very abrupt tapering method, alot of times people who quit taking Suboxone blame their doctors or the medication itself which in reality is just silly in my opinion. I'm always happy to hear others sharing their experience rationally :) Hang in there and I will be hoping things start getting better for you.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 10:43 am 
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Day 16: Took a turn for the worse yesterday and spent most of the day sitting in a recliner reading to keep from thinking about it. Something about dinner didn't settle right and spent a short while on the bathroom floor expecting to vomit but didn't. Went to the store and bought some green tea to start chugging down at my wife's suggestion. Hoping it makes this Day 17 better.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:09 am 
I'm sure sorry you had such a rough day! I understand you had your reasons for stopping Suboxone and I admire your determination. However, reading about your experience just confirms for me how important it is to plan a long, gradual taper. It just seems unfair for anyone who has worked so hard on their recovery to have suffer so much. I know it has been said that we've all got to "pay the piper" at some point, but you know, I feel like I've paid enough!
Addiction costs us so much in our lives and then to finally break free from all that only to suffer some more just sucks! I'm grateful that this forum exists so that I can learn from the experiences of others - good and bad.
You know that I wish you the very best and I truly hope that the worst of this is behind you, but unfortunately the liklihood is pretty high that you have some more rough days to get through. I hope that if it gets too difficult, especially if you're tempted to restart opiates to ease the process, that you'll consider going back on Sub at a low dose and try a slower taper. Please know that doing so would not mean you've failed. What is most important is that you take care of yourself, keep yourself safe and don't go back to the pills!
Let us know how it goes!


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 11:33 am 
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Yes, I definately look at how I am doing this as the way NOT to do it. That is part of the reason I wanted to post what I went through and what I'm going through. Like I said previously, I think that Suboxone does its job wonderfully. I was just not given the opportunity to come off of it like I was supposed to. The thought did cross my mind a few times over the weekend to look for a new doctor to treat me but my guilt got the best of me and I felt as though I would have been doctor shopping just to get the drugs (even if it is the good guy suboxone). I decided against it and continue to stand my ground that I want my pharmacist to forget my name instead of them grabbing my pills without me even whispering my initials.

Now for my update:

I had a pretty good weekend. Had more energy (which may be attributed to drinking mass quantities of green tea) but still felt wore out at the same time which was quite weird. I had mental alertness but physical sluggishness. I was able to replace the radiator in my car over the weekend though which gave me a feeling of accomplishment that I very much needed. The day after I was quite sore though. I think it was real pain and not withdrawal pain though because it was in my lower back and very sharp. Took a day of rest and it went away. Still having some withdrawal pain, irritability (short fuse), sleep problems, and the energy level rises and falls several times a day. Feeling better though.

I think the hardest thing I am dealing with now is seeing my wife grow weary of dealing with me and my mood swings and lack of energy. She is a stay at home mom and is taking care of our two children while I deal with this and even though I help when I can I know it isn't enough. I can see her wearing down and that makes me feel horrible. Anyone have any suggestions there?

From what I have read I am currently experiencing PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome). This can last anywhere from months to years in severe cases though I don't feel I am a severe case so hopefully I am just looking at a couple months.

Here we go day 20, be good to me!


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 12:21 pm 
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Still kicking here. Had a pretty good day yesterday but I think I over did my activity level in excitement and crashed in the evening. Still finding that excersise and the green tea seem to be helping with my energy level. I am now finding that I can tell when I am overreacting in stressful situations. This allows me to walk away, calm down, and come back to it.

Still sweating like a pig and have back pain through half the day but I'm either getting used to it or the pain isn't as bad because I am able to tune it out a lot of the time.

My cravings have just about disappeared at this point. Every once in awhile I'll think about them but it doesn't last long and it doesn't happen often. Only when one of my triggers happen pretty much which I am trying to avoid.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:34 am 
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Day 35:

I am feeling much better now with just a couple lingering withdrawal symptoms left. Sweating (though I sweat excessively anyways so this may not even be attributed to the withdrawal anymore, not sure), still sneezing, and still have a little bit of back pain but taking tylenol and ibuprofen help that. The lack of energy is pretty much gone now. I spent Saturday at an amusement park with my two year old and I out lasted him! I ended up carrying him sleeping to the car not to mention had to carry him through the park from ride to ride for the last two and half hours we were there.

All in all I'd have to say I'm feeling pretty good now.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 10:05 am 
So glad to hear you're doing better! Thanks for letting us know. You've made it through the withdrawals, now comes the hard part - staying clean! I know when we're in the throws of w/d, all we can think of is "sweet Lord if you'll get me through this, I'll never touch another opiate as long as I live and breathe!" We all know it's true!
However, after the horrors of w/d have passed, that little voice begins whispering, "you're hurting, it's okay to take a pain pill" or "you've been good, you've got this thing whipped, a pain pill now and then won't hurt anything!" and the slipperly slope begins again!
Please be careful! Make sure you continue to work on yourself. I want so badly to read posts from you in the future that tell us you're still clean and doing well!
All the best!


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