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PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2009 4:55 pm 
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Hi. I am new to the forum - well, at least to posting here. I have been reading/browsing here and on Suboxone Talk Zone. I am an opiate addict who, after trying many times over many years to stop using, finally decided to start on Suboxone about 17 months ago. I have had a long, twisted journey so far. I have been in very inept hands and have had to try to figure things out myself. I haven't messed up too badly and, thank goodness for this site, think I will be able to get a handle on how Suboxone is supposed to be used to maximize chances of success. I will be doing a lot of reading and probably a lot of posting with questions - looking for guidance.

Just wanted to say hello and am looking forward to getting to know people here and sharing support!


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 9:39 am 
Hi VOsRose! Sorry that you've had a rough time getting lined out on your Suboxone. Glad you found this forum - it has been so helpful to me since I started Sub a couple of months ago. My doctor is super-nice and I'd say he's reasonably thorough, but there is so much to learn that most docs (even the good ones) can't cover it all. I have found so many answers right here on this forum.
I would love to hear more of your story - you mentioned being in inept hands and messing up some. What sorts of things have happened during your treatment?
Again - welcome! Look forward to hearing more from you!


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:49 am 
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Thanks for the welcome! I will try to give a very brief account of my journey to Suboxone treatment. I am an opiate addict and have been addicted for going on 15 years now. During this period I have only had very brief periods of sobriety (no recovery to go with it!) The longest period of time I went without using has been about 2 months. The roller coaster started for me in April of 1996. I had a D&C/Lap procedure and was prescribed Lortab for post-operative pain. Prior to this particular point in my life I had been prescribed pain medications on occasion for various things and absolutely HATED taking them. A bottle of 30 pills would sit in my medicine cabinet for a year and then get thrown out with only one or two having been taken. What was different this time was that I had just moved across the country from home and was very isolated with a 3 year old daughter and no husband. I was very homesick and, while I was recovering from my surgery, got a call that my parents were not going to be able to make the trip up to see us for Easter as my Dad (who had been having shoulder pain and had been in physical therapy) had just been diagnosed with lung cancer with metastasis to the bone. They were giving him 4 - 6 months to live. Whatever happened in my brain that day, as a result of that news, flipped a switch. That is the exact day that the dreaded pills (at the time I got that news I had taken one pill out of the prescription and was 4 days post-op) caused a totally different response. Instead of making me feel creepy and then sleeping for hours, they made me "euphoric" and the sadness gave way to false optimism that he would beat this. Total denial via hydrocodone. I lived in a place where the pills were easy to get. I called and asked for a refill and they called in another 60 pills for me. During this time I was taking them "as prescribed" but was taking them when I didn't need them, in any way, for pain. I have a very high pain tolerance anyway, so usually could manage pain with Tylenol or Advil.

Moving forward a few months, my Dad died almost 5 months to the day that he was diagnosed. I was home for the event and, actually, was laying next to him in bed (we had Hospice, which in my opinion is the most wonderful organization in the world) when he took his last breath. He didn't go peacefully. He had not slipped into unconsciousness prior to death. He was awake and trying to speak to my mother and brother and I. It was traumatic and horrifying and it took me, literally, over a year to be able to picture my father in any way other than dying that day. I would be on the verge of sleep (which was very hard to come by for me post death) and would sit up screaming because that scene had entered my mind again. I would spontaneously start crying at any given time during the day because the scene would flash through my mind. It was horrible for me. Several months after my father passed away I got "sick" - general malaise and also developed kidney stones (lucky me!) Anyway, the Dr.(s) I was seeing could not figure out what was wrong with me as far as the general malaise and not feeling well went. They put me on various anti-depressants, thought I might have chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, etc. Of course, they were liberally giving me Lortab at this point and I was taking as much as I could get to function (I thought.)

I was finally, in February of 2001, diagnosed with Systemic Lupus. I was put on the proper medication and almost immediately went into a remission. However, by this time I was highly addicted to the hydrocodone. I checked myself into an inpatient detox program and actually had NO withdrawal. None. I was using again within days of getting out of the hospital having convinced myself I was really addicted. Fast forward a few years - at this point my usage was up to about 30 - 40 pills/day (10 mg. each) and I again checked myself into the same hospital for detox. This time I did have pretty bad physical withdrawal, but at the end of the 5 day detox I was fine and went home and cooked Thanksgiving dinner. At this point I managed to stay off of the medications for about 6 weeks. It was at this point I was hospitalized as a result of a kidney stone that had totally blocked off my right kidney. When I was brought into the ER they did a CT Scan and found that my right kidney was twice the size of my left kidney. They told me that the stone had to have been there for some time and that they needed to do surgery to open up the kidney so it could drain and to do a biopsy on the kidney to make sure that the tissue was not dead. I ended up being in the hospital for two weeks with stents in place and had lithotripsy and stent removal for a total of three surgeries. The entire time I was in the hospital I was being given Dilaudid intravenously and then sent home with a prescription for it in pill form. I'm now right back on opiates. The internet made it easy to get them and I supplemented what my Dr.s were giving me with internet prescriptions.

Fast forward again to Spring of 2007. My usage is now up to 80 10mg. pills per day (hydrocodone) and I decide I've had enough - again. I'm sick of chasing them, worrying about them, taking them, etc. So I check myself into a detox facility for the 3rd time. (Prior to this I had, over the course of my addiction, done cold turkey more times than I can count and that always lasted only until I could get my hands on more pills.) This time I didn't think I was going to survive the detox. The hospital I was at did not use Suboxone for withdrawal. They used chlonodine and phenergan and a few other things (vitamins, I think.) It didn't matter - I was not able to keep even a sip of water down - much less swallow any pills. I literally laid in my bed for 4 days puking and having diarrhea. I was too sick to even get up to use the bathroom. The nurses would come to check on me (they had long ago given up on trying to get me to take chlonodine or anything else) and would, as often as I guess was possible, give me an injection of phenergan in my hip. I was vaguely aware of this during the last day I was withdrawing this bad. By the time I stopped the vomiting I was so weak from dehydration I could barely move. I remember a chipper nurse coming into my room (she was very sweet and upbeat, but I wasn't really in the mood) and, in a very sing-songy voice told me she had a "surprise" for me - Chocolate Ensure! YUMMY - Just what I wanted!! Anyway, she poured a dose cup full and helped me sit up. She held it to my lips for me and, to appease her, I tried to swallow some. It no sooner hit my throat than it came back up through my nose. She was so upset. It's pretty funny looking back on it. Anyway, the bottom line is, I went through absolute Hell that time. I was discharged after 10 days and during those 10 days I still was not eating anything and drinking only tiny sips of Sprite and sucking on a few ice chips. This continued for a couple of weeks. I lost so much weight I looked anorexic and was so dehydrated I looked like an 80 year old woman. My skin was dry and drawn. My energy level was zero. Taking a shower would use so much energy that I would have to take a three hour nap to recuperate. And STILL - I relapsed. That was the only time I was able to get it back under control before it got out of control, though. I used within the "prescribed" guidelines (no more than 8 pills a day) and, within a few weeks, weaned back down to nothing.

The main incentive for getting clean at that time was my upcoming wedding. I went into the hospital in April of 2007 and my wedding was scheduled for September 1, 2007. I wanted to be clean and sober for that day. I relapsed, as I stated above, briefly in June/July but was clean and sober for my wedding date. I made it through about 1/2 of our 4 week honeymoon and got sick. I thought I had the flu. I realize now I was suffering PAWS. I made the wrong-headed decision to call and have a refill for Lortab I still had available at home transferred to a local pharmacy and the rest was history. My rationalization was the pills would get me through the rest of the honeymoon and then I would, again, just wean myself back off. Didn't happen. My usage got back up to 40 - 50 pills/day within a couple of months and stayed there until I found the Suboxone clinic in April of 2008. I have been on Sub ever since.

When I stated that I have been on Sub with little to no guidance and had to kind of feel my way through it, I mean exactly that. I found a website that allowed you to enter information about your addiction/usage and it would send your info to local Dr.s that prescribe Suboxone. I didn't know much about Sub at this time and was very skeptical that it could really, really prevent withdrawal. I was terrified of going through withdrawal again based on the last time. However, I made my appointment, made sure I was in mild withdrawal and went in. They gave me one 8 mg. pill of Sub. Amazingly, within 45 minutes ALL withdrawal symptoms were gone. They then gave me a second pill to take in 4 hours and sent me home with instructions to come back in the morning for "group" and my next day's dose. I did this for 10 days. We would come in, have a "group" session (that was a joke, by the way) and then saw the nurse who gave us our day's worth of med. At the end of 10 days I was down to 2 mg. of Sub and that was it. I was then given the option of being done or continuing in their "maintenance" program. I didn't want to stay on Sub (I had read that anything over 20 days was a no-no or you would then be addicted to the Sub) so opted to be done. I had left to go out of town the next morning. On day 3 withdrawal kicked in. Not the vomiting kind, but the RLS, loss of appetite, anxiety, THAT part of the withdrawal. And to me, that is worse than the initial vomiting kind. I called and told them I changed my mind, wanted to do the maintenance, and to please call me in a prescription. They told me it didn't work that way. I had to come back in, start all over, and see a "counselor" and the Dr. I returned home the next day and did this. Their requirement was that I come in, in the beginning, once a week to see the counselor. SHE was a joke, for sure. She had NO knowledge of addiction whatsoever. She was, at best, a marriage counselor, and not a very good one. She was very condescending. Very much into her "position" of authority at this particular clinic. I knew, after my second visit with her, that seeing her was a waste of my time and money, but she was the only ballgame there. So...I went in once a week, gave them my money and they, in return, gave me a prescription. They started me on 8 mg./day of Sub for maintenance. This was doing NOTHING for my cravings at all. When I would tell the nurse this, I would be told, "you'll figure out what your 'optimum' dose is." That being said, the implied statement was, "but it can't be over 8 mg./day because that's all you're going to get."

For the first 8 months I was in the maintenance program I saw the Dr. once. That was the first day. I bumped myself up to 16 mg./day of Sub within a couple of months and, then bumped myself up to 24 mg/day after a couple of months at 16 mg. with little improvement. THAT seemed to be the "optimum" dose for me. At 24 mg./day the cravings and constant obsessions went away. Of course, I was running out of my Sub way early since I was being given a months worth at a time and at a dose of 8 mg./day. No problem there - they would ask me every time I went in what I needed refilled. They would call it in for me as often as I told them I needed it. There was NO type of organization in this clinic whatsoever. The bottom line was not the patient for them. It was the raking in of fees. The Dr. they have is a contract physician who runs over when they call him and ask him to. He is an Internal Medicine Dr. who did the 8 hour course to prescribe Sub. No one at the clinic knows much about it. Good luck getting a question answered, for sure. In fact, I pointed out to the nurse that the recommended dosage per the literature from the makers of Sub suggest that optimal performance with Sub occurs at the 12 - 16 mg./day dose. His response was that they are just saying that to sell more of it. Of course, that then begs the question of why don't they say the optimum dose is 32 mg. then? The stupidity I've encountered is unreal.

Anyway, I knew something was wrong. I was so busy with day to day life that I was just letting things stay status quo. I finally took the time to really start researching Suboxone and reading other people's experiences with it and the physicians whose care they are under, and I realized very quickly that I am NOT in good and capable hands. I have read a lot here and have tried, today for the first time, lowering my dosage from 24 mg./day to 16 mg/day and using Dr. Jeff's method for maximizing absorption. Also, I have been taking my Sub three times during the day which, when you think about it, makes no sense. The half life is long enough that you don't need it intermittently throughout the day. As Dr. says - that's just reinforcing the addict mindset. I'm hoping this is going to help me lower my dosage and once I'm stable at the lower dose intend to begin decreasing by 2 mg. every few weeks.

I realize that's a lot of a response!! LOL

If you have an specific questions about my treatment to date with the Sub I will be happy to answer them. Again, thanks for welcoming me. I am actually on vacation at the moment with my husband and our 2 year old. We are at Disney World! I will try to be on the boards regularly once we return home, but will be checking in and reading a bunch at least once a day or so for the next week!

Good luck. It sounds like you have a Dr. you are comfortable with and that's great. I, unfortunately, feel like I'm my own captain in the endeavor and it's kind of scary!! I think with some guidance and support here, I can muddle through it and find my way to good health!


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:28 pm 
wow what a story! I am so sorry for all you have been through - losing your father in that way and your medical problems have been tough I'm sure. When you were talking about your history with pain meds, it was me all over again - only filled 1/2 the script and ended up throwing away all but 1 or 2 all my life up to age 40. Your ability to identify when that switch was flipped is very interesting to me. I have thought so much about that and although I'm not able to identify that "moment" as clearly as you have, I do remember those first few occasions where the pills "helped" me get through some of the stressors of my everyday life.
It's difficult though, because in trying to look at my life as someone outside myself, you'd have thought I had it all - the nice house, nice cars, good husband, good job, 3 wonderful kids, great parents, good health, and so on. But as they say in therapy - obviously there was a "hole" somewhere. I can see that I was way overstretched. I had been a nurse working in a very stressful area for many years working nights. I definitely wasn't sleeping enough and I was last on my list of priorities. I think I felt I needed to be the best at my profession, and the best wife and mom, and look good while doing it all! At that time, of course, my kids were getting older, I was getting older - and I wasn't liking it a whole lot!
Anyway, I've got more work to do in figuring it all out. All I know for sure is that opiates made me feel like I could handle it all with a smile on my face. Truth was - the pills were slowly stealing everything away from me.
Like you - getting clean sucked but I did it a couple of times. Staying clean however, was impossible. I felt like I couldn't handle even the most mundane activities of life without opiates - absolutely zero motivation! I was miserable. And because of that, continued to pick up the pills. Until Suboxone! I am so glad I found it. That's not to say I don't miss the feeling opiates gave me, but at least I now have hope that I can be successful with long-term recovery.
I'm so glad you have found this forum and other methods of working through your problems with your Suboxone. It shouldn't be that way - but unfortunately the way healthcare is today, we have to be our own advocate. We must educate ourselves and take responsibility for own care because there aren't that many healthcare providers left who truly care about each and every individual patient.
Enjoy the rest of your vacation. Keep us posted on your progress!


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 12:30 pm 
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Wow. That is a hell of a story! :shock: You have really been through it, but it sounds like you're really committed to getting and staying well now. :D

I hope you and your family are having fun in Disney World, and I'm glad you found us. Your doctor sounds like a total tool. Have you tried to find another doctor in your area? I just finished Suboxone treatment 5 weeks ago (I was on it for 22 months) and I can't tell you how helpful it was to have a caring & sympathetic doctor during the tapering period.

I look forward to reading more of your posts when you get back from DW. If you have any questions about tapering please let me know.

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You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.

-Jack Kornfield


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Fond Du Lac Psychiatry
Dr. Jeffrey Junig, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Board Certified Psychiatrist
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