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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 10:39 pm 
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There are a lot of threads in this forum about what to do once you get down to the sub 4mg doses.

I'm curious as to how long people spent on their stable dose before commencing their initial taper. I heard from my first doc that you should go 6 months without any lapses or slips before beginning your taper. This sounds too short to me. I'm aiming for 12 months at least.

Seeming as I had a number of lapses early on in this year while I was on a medication that made me metabolise my Subox incredibly fast (was even considering switching to methadone because of it), I won't be beginning my taper any time soon.

But it would still be good to have some kind of ballpark end-date.

What do you guys think?


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2011 11:12 pm 
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Hey T,

You need to be lapse free for 14 months, 8 days, 13 hours, 25 minutes and 35.25 seconds before commencing your taper, I thought everybody knew that?? Just teasing bud!!

T, I was on Suboxone for 2 years and 8 months before I quit. During that time I had ZERO lapses. That's what worked for me.

Now, as far as determining some kind of "time since your last lapse" before it's safe to quit Suboxone, Hmmmm, that's an extremely interesting question. I don't know if the answer is so much time related, for me it was a matter of KNOWING I was ready to live life without a safety net. I'm gonna say instead going by some kind of time based approach, you use that noggin of yours, be honest with yourself and start your taper when you KNOW you're ready to.

As far as some kind of minimum time one should spend on Suboxone before attempting to quit, that would depend heavily on the nature of their addiction, the length of their addiction and, in my opinion, how old the person is. Young people seem to be more prone to lapses.

I look forward to reading the responses to your question and seeing what seems to have worked for others. This is a great subject!!

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 7:31 am 
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I'd have to agree that there isn't any specific numerical formula for the amount of time you are "lapse free" before you decide to taper off suboxone. I think every addict is different and we all need to do such a thing under the guidance and care of our doctor and especially, I think, a qualified substance abuse therapist who has had experience working with tapering people off suboxone.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:38 pm 
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For me it was less a matter of the length of time I'd been lapse-free on Sub, and more a matter of having reached certain goals I set for myself in my recovery program. Like I had made a goal of learning different ways of coping with my major triggers, getting in better shape physically through exercise, making sure my depression was managed, etc. I also had life-goals, like stablising my finances and getting back into school. When those goals were met and I felt comfortable with my progress, then I started thinking about tapering.

And then, as Romeo pointed out, there just came a time when I KNEW I was ready. It was kinda funny actually - I got my Sub through Medicaid and there was supposed to be a 12 month limit and at the 12 month mark I really did not feel ready to quit. I was prepared to pay for my meds out of pocket if I had to...and then I somehow got a 6-month extention on my coverage, which my doctor and I never quite figured out how that happened. That extra coverage was just the right amount of time for me to be ready to quit.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 1:46 pm 
Hi Tearjerker. I'm glad you brought this up, as I've been wondering the same thing! I am almost at the 2-year anniversary of my Suboxone start date. I can't believe it's been that long! Anyway, like you, I've had some 'slips' or 'lapses' during that two year period. At one point, I had tapered down to one milligram or less per day without too much difficulty. That is, until I realized how 'easy' it was to cheat (overcome the blockade effect by taking a hefty dose of oxycodone.) So, I have done the dance (that's what I call it) with Sub and agonists off and on for a good part of that two years. I have never come completely off Sub, however. After my last brief lapse with oxy, I decided I'd finally had enough of it. I do not have access to any of my DOCs anymore, for one thing. But mainly, I'm just tired of it all. I decided to give myself a real serious shot at getting this right this time. For whatever reason, I am no longer interested in trying to cheat this anymore. I feel like I've spent the last 2-3 years trying to outsmart my addiction.....trying to figure out if there was any way for me to 'use' successfully and with no consequences. I knew better all along.....knew it would never work, because I was told by professionals I couldn't. I learned by participating in this forum that I couldn't. I had all the head-knowledge in the world about opioids, buprenorphine....how all this stuff works. I knew plenty about addiction and how it works, etc. But for me, knowing it did not equal completely believing it. I think I just held out some false hope that all those rules might not apply to me. I'm sure I'm not alone in these ideas.
Anyway, after my last lapse, I began individual therapy with a counselor who specializes in addictions. That was something that until now, I had not tried. I had completed an intensive outpatient treatment program, attended NA at least 3-4 times a week for nearly a year, followed by my Suboxone treatment program. But I hadn't done one on one counselling. So I have begun that process and thus far, I'm finding it helpful. I think I have finally reached the point of full surrender. I thought I had before, but in hindsight, I know I couln't have. I still had some reservations, whether I could admit or not.
So here I am, on Sub for a good year longer that I ever expected to be! I truly believed that six months to a year would be plenty. I can't do a thing about the past, can't change the fact that I've been on this drug longer than I wanted to be. All I can do is move forward and try again.
So, to answer your question, tearjerker, as best I can.....I'm sort of treating this as a "do over"......as if I had just started the Sub again. So when I initially started it, I thought 6 months to a year. My hope is that with 6 months to a year of really working hard on my recovery, taking Sub and only Sub, no slips, no lapses, nothing, I'll be ready to come off Sub. As I go along, I will likely lower my dosage. I started back on after my last lapse at 12-16mg/day. That was about 6 weeks ago. I'm now at 8-10mg/day and will probably go on down to 4-6mg/day in the coming weeks. The main reason I don't want to stay higher on my dose is side effect related, but it also is a cost issue and just a personal issue for me (I believe strongly in not taking more of a drug than is necessary and I believe, for me, dosing more than is necessary is an addictive pattern that I don't want to fall into again.) The other thing I have learned is that, again, for me, even the higher doses of Sub have not completely extinguished my cravings. So, that's my plan.
I think all I just did was agree with what you and Junkie and Romeo said! I wouldn't presume to tell anyone exactly what to do in regards to answering your question about tapering. It does sound like you're thinking along the same lines as myself though. I would like to be at 4mg/day or less by the time I've got six solid months of no lapses. Then, as long is all is going well with my therapy, life in general, etc, I will hope to do the serious taper to zero at some point after that 6 months, in hopes of being off by the one year mark, which would put my "hope to be done" date somewhere near April of next year.
I hope you feel as I do, tearjerker, as far as being real committed to my recovery now. Perhaps since you're now not metabolizing the bupe so quickly, it will work better for you. If you're anything like me, you must want recovery pretty badly and you must be as tired of the "dance" as I am! I believe we can do it if we just keep the faith and keep working on it. As Romeo has said, I don't think we can know exactly when we'll be ready to come off Sub. It's more a matter of working on our recovery, with Sub being only one of the tools we're using. Over time, perhaps Sub will become a tool we will no longer need. That is my sincere hope, personally. As for others, maybe even you, Sub will be a tool that is necessary for the long-haul. And I think that's fine, as there are some who's quality of life is so much better on Sub than off of it, that it's absolutely best for them stay on it forever.
So thanks again for bringing up this topic. Hopefully some others will chime in with their thoughts on the issue. Keep us posted on what you decide to do regarding tapering.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 10:13 pm 
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Crap, I forgot to mention how vital my work with my addiction counselor was to me being ready to quit Suboxone. I only remembered after reading Junkie's, DoAQ's and SetMeFree's replies. For me, it is critical to my success to date. I didn't have a clue in the world what addiction really was all about. I had no earthly idea how powerful a foe addiction truly is. My counselor helped me understand addiction, how it might try to screw me in the future and he gave me some tools to maintain my sobriety.

Unfortunately, as you know, I got complacent in my recovery and it bit me in the ass. I know you know this, but I'm gonna say it anyway, quitting Suboxone is only a piece of the puzzle, keeping your recovery in good shape continuously is another huge piece of the puzzle!!!

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 18, 2011 11:30 pm 
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Thanks for your input everyone.

I'll definitely sit on my dose for a while longer, don't you worry about that. While a number of my goals have been achieved - I'm studying, my finances are in order (but I still love to spend), I'm in an awesome relationship, I'm writing music again (without drugs!). There's still a number of things I really need to go through before I even consider a taper.

Firstly, to go on this liver treatment for 6 months while tapering would be suicide. So I gotta get that outta the way. Then, getting back into the gym is a must, or even swimming. I'm hoping that once I finish the liver treatment that I'll have some more energy. At the moment, I need to sleep so much. This may be a combo of my condition and the Subox though (12mg). My organisational skills are a bit hazy, and I've missed 2 appointments with my counsellor.

Plus, in my heart, I don't feel I'm ready to taper. I've been getting some winter blues lately, and with it comes temptation to escape a bit.

So IMO it'll be at least another 12 months before I consider tapering. Most people I've read about who've done it successfully have stayed on it 2+ years. It's nearly 12 months for me now. Gotta just keep on keepin on.

Thanks, T.


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