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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:52 am 
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Dear Dr. Junig,

My story actually goes back to around 1979 when I first became addicted to heroin and morphine. Where did I get access to these opiates? I was a chemistry major at UOP in stockton, CA, and I researched a novel method to convert a more available opiate into morphine. From there using standard methods I went on to produce heroin, and about either process I decline to elaborate as I would not want anyone else to fall into the same black hole that I fell into. Suffice it to say that the experiment continued until 1984, two years after I dropped out of school as a senior chemistry major, until I fell into the hands of the DEA on charges of manufacture of a controlled substance,i.e. heroin and morphine.

I spent the next two years at the Federal Prison Camp in Lompoc, CA, followed by 5 years of special parole with drug aftercare, including regular testing and a year on naltrexone after the inevitable multiple relapses. For two decades I remained abstinent although I found out in 1996 that my earlier injection drug use had resulted in infection by hepatitis C. The 1990s for me was the decade that I discovered methamphetamine and this I found to be a cake walk compared to opiate use, so I became a dealer and in 1998 was again rearrested and convicted of possession for sales of apporoxamately one ounce of methamphetamine and given a year in state prison at Jametown, also in California. Upon release I managed to really clean up my act, got a job in a homeless shelter ( the state of california is so cheap they actually use the homeless shelter system as an inexpensive halfway house). About my year in prison only for nonviolent drug offenses I have this to say: We live in a barbaric and inhumane society that exploits its addicted population to keep itself in business, and the government has earned my eternal contempt. While I managed to survive both experiences in one piece it was in no way thanks to this repulsive system. They took what was essentially a promising college student with no experience of the prison system and threw him in with convicted murderers and God knows what else!
To continue, while working at the shelter, I made contact with a Sacramento Co. Supervisor Social worker, who asked me why I was working at the shelter, when it was obvious that I was well educated. He, acting in my behalf negotiated the release of my transcrips, which had been held since 1982 by the University of the Pacific due to defaulted student loans. This was a trick I could not seem to accomplish on my own for twenty years. So I went back to school at CSU Sacramento and graduated in 2004 with a BS in Biochemistry. But synthetic organic chemistry was my passion and I applied and got accepted into the Organic Chemistry program at UC Riverside.
I am now advancing to candacy for a Doctorate degree and am hoping to graduate next year. Last year, I decided to try a second treatment for the Hepatitis (the first one failed after 6 months due to viral outbreak). So I exercised, drank copious ammounts of water and watched my nutrition in order to lower the viral count to 1 million RNA copies of the virus in preparation for the treatment. And at first I was thrilled to see the viral load plummet to undetectable levels within the first two months. To treat the side effects, my doctor prescrbed Epogen for anemia, Neulasta for the lower white cells, and 5 mg of oxycodone as needed for pain, and believe me there was pain. The strategy was to avoid dosage reduction of the interferon and ribivirin by treating each side effect at full strength and the strategy seemed to be worth the struggle until I went in for blood tests after 8 months into treatment and that damned virus had returned again. Also I will say that as long as I used the oxycodone as directed I, and I had hope of a remission I didn't experience opiod dependecy, because I was only using 5-10 mg once a week. But following treatment failure I became extremely depressed and you guessed it, I escallated my usage and then began supplimenting that with oxycotin bought off the street. By this time my daily consumption of oxy was about 80-180 mg plus xanax, and I was crushing the oxycotins and xanax and snorting them. When I found I couldn't stop without precipitating an acute excruciating withdrawal I signed up for mehadone detox but at the end of the detox I was back on oxy again. This was repeated one more time and to my utter dismay I found myself back on oxycontin again, but now I was in a state of sheer panic and terror. I was so incredibly ashamed of myself and had used up that resource. Here I was a 5th year PhD student in Chemistry and I saw the distinct possibility of derailment. The prospect was too unbelievably retched and I was left with little hope in terms of a cure. Finely in desperation, I called the school mental health center, after they convinced me that what I told them would be held in strict confidentiality and that they could refer me for suboxone. So I went in for medical detox with suboxone and had to start at a relatively high dose of 24 mg. It is possible that this dose may have been too high and that I had not waited long enough for the suboxone to fully kick in, but after what I had been through, all I wanted with for the withdrawals to stop and they did. Within a week I was able with little difficulty to reduce th dose to 16 mg and then down to the small 2 mg tablets. Then began my present dossage reduction status. I went from 2 to 1 to 1/2 mg and that is where I presently am. You would think that at that modest dose I could just jump off but I am finding that even at that dose if I stop I experience some withdrawals. So my next step is to use a razor blade to cut the quarter 2 mg tablets into 1/8ths starting tomorrow. I watched both your videos on suboxone withdrawals and really appreciate your insight. Also it does really help having access to this forum as I can not stand the present 12 step format and that effectively shuts me out of support. I have found the 12 step system to chock full of so many mindless bumper stickers and refusals to accept responsibility for their own addiction or recovery that I simply cant go to meetings. I could go on for days about my own personal problems with this system but if it works for others then that is fine. It just doesn't work for me and I resent that they politically took over domanace of the reovery program system and ran Rational Recovery off the face of the planet! Anyway thats my story. Thank God we chemists finely came up with a drug for the humane and intellegent treatment of the opiate addicted population. And if our hands were'nt so tied by the DEA we could probably come up with even more efficient treatments!

Thanks for the forum.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:34 am 
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Crazy story. Opiate addiction sucks.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 2:37 am 
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Hi lightdark111, thanks for sharing your story. It's great to hear that you found help along the way & got back into school. Anything less would have been such a waste of potential.

I am also nearing the end of my Suboxone treatment. You shouldn't feel bad about it getting harder the lower your dose gets. It IS harder the lower you go. Once you get below 2mgs, you really start feeling it.

I found it too hard to cut the pills as small as I wanted, so I just dissolve them in a small amount of water. Right now I'm down to .3mgs, so I just dissolved 3mgs of Sub in 5ml of water. I take a half ml dose in the morning and I'm good to go.
In this way, I've gotten down to where I am with relative ease. Not totally symptom free, but nothing major.

Good luck with your taper, and let us know how things work out for you.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:28 am 
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If you don't like the 12-step approach you should check out www.smartrecovery.org which is very similar to Rational Recovery (actually they used to be one and the same but split years back). Rational Recovery itself is still around. Their website is www.rational.org

Good luck on the taper!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 5:44 am 
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Thanks so much for sharing your story with us,
I especially wanted to comment on how completely I agree with you about how we've chosen to treat drug addicts in our society. While I realize we've never been treated with much respect throughout history it's time we start treating them as any other group of diseased patients with a potentially fatal illness. I've seen time and time again former friends sent to jail/prison over non violent drug crimes only to come out hardened criminals and I for one and tired of it and in the long run it ultimately only serves as a destructive force in society. Maybe someday things will change, but unfortunately I don't think it will be in the immediate future.

I'm glad to hear that you may have found a more successfull way of tapering off of the Suboxone but I would also like to suggest that you at least stay open to the idea of staying on it more long-term. While I do not have the same exact story as you I too have been through too many relapses and each time my life got progressively worse. Staying on long term Suboxone maintenance has given me my life back and I no longer have to worry about how bad things will get the next time I start using again. I feel both more normal and safer from relapse than I have the entire time I've been using and I've finally found freedom from drug cravings which in itself is invaluable to me. If you're determined to taper off though that's certainly fine too it's up to you afterall :) I would just suggest going very slow and there are some threads around here about Diary of a Quitter's water-tapering method that seems to have greatly reduced many withdrawal symptoms as well as drug cravings I'm sure.

Either way good luck and please continue and keep us updated as to how you're doing,
Matt

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 8:46 am 
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LightDark111,

We do host support meetings here in our CHAT on Monday and Wednesday evenings at 7:30pm EST. They are not 12 step based. I am the meeting facilitator, and I would love to see you take part in them. I know how important it is for people on Suboxone and in MAT to have a support group of their own!

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:08 am 
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Thanks to those of you who responded to my post. It really helps to know that there are others out there who have gone through or are going through the absolute horror of opiate dependency and suboxone mediated treatment. I know of no one in my immediate life that I can share this experience with, and it is a tragedy that we who have become addicted are shunned and isolated at exactly the time when we would most benefit from human contact.

I was told on July 4th that I was no longer welcome at the home of people that I thought were my friends due to my drug use and proven track record of engaging in high risk behavior. So I had to spend the forth by myself in my apartment like some kind of social pariah, and this after I had actively searched and found a recovery system, i.e. suboxone. The last time that had happened was back in the early 1980s when I was addicted to heroin.

Anyway, I am now using Diary of a Quitters water taper method starting today and I already feel fine. Being a chemist, the idea had occurred to me but only when I read it from someone else did it become validated. After running some calculations, I worked out a dosage reduction regimen at the rate of 0.1mg /2 days over a week so that by next Friday I should be free. The reason I want to taper off of suboxone is I need to see how my system feels drug free again. After all I was abstinent for over two decades, so I know I can stay drug free now that I have had another reminder of just how vial opiate dependency is again. I want to wake up in the morning not feeling ill at ease and waiting for the suboxone to kick in.

That said, I am very interested in participating in the on line chat on Mondays and Wednesday (3:30 PST is it?). Suboxone has been a miracle for me. I think I have been on it since about March, but it is hard to remember when I started since my life was so chaotic at that time. I stayed on it this long because I wanted to adjust to life beyond periodic oxycontin relapses, and it has worked quite well. It also took me this long to divorce myself from drug using ‘friends’ and connections. During that period, I did have a few isolated relapses especially when the suboxone dose got down to 2 mg and it was possible to saturate my system with high doses of oxy, but I remained on the suboxone and didn’t miss a dose regardless, and the strategy has worked.

Believe me if I see myself start to use again or experience cravings again I will resume suboxone in a minute. I refuse to fall back into the nightmare of active opiate addiction again. Also thanks to Euphemism for the info on Rational recovery.
The 12 step people believe that their system is the only way, but addiction research shows that if a person is ready for recovery, almost any program will work for them. To them, ideas contrary to their dogmatic ideology is simply 'stinkin thinkin' to use one of their bumper sticker slogans. The part I especially love is when the moderator says: The most important person in here is the new-comer and we want to hear from them so raise your hands", so you rasie your hand and they call on Bill, one of their long time 12 steppers, who immediately introduces himself with "Hi I'm Bill and I am an alcoholic or narcotic addict"! The LAST person they want to hear from is the uncoached new-comer who might say anything outside their narrow scope, like perhaps their name without the artificial label of alcoholic or drug addict attached.

But if it works for some people then it is better than active addiction and while I may express my contempt for their system, my heart goes out to all of the chemically dependent, even the ones who faithfully attend 12 step meetings. It is tragic that we become so disparate for a life without opiates or alcohol ( or what ever is decimating our lives) that we will even subject our selves to brain washing at the hands of a cult, which by definition is exactly what the 12 step system is, sorry to say and I know that by saying this many may take offense, but real recovery has got to be based on truth ( also part of the 12 step tradition), and this is the truth as I see it. Others may disagree, but I think it is time to admit that the Emperor really has no clothes! I take full responsibility for my past drug use and the resultant consequences as well as the decision to quit and to seek out a means to do it, i.e suboxone as a powerful tool, but I am the one steering this ship, not a 'higher power'.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 10:42 pm 
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Hey, let me know how that fast taper with the water method goes for you. I've been going down pretty damn slowly, like .1mg every 10 days, with a couple of reductions actually taking 20 days. I'm working from the idea that the longer I take, the more time my brain has to adjust to not having the Suboxone there. So far so good. But I'd like to know how it goes with that faster schedule.

One thing I will say is that I don't usually feel the reduction until the 2nd or 3rd day, which on your schedule would mean you'd be reducing again right as the symptoms from the last reduction kick in. So you won't have any time to adjust between reductions. I'm not saying it won't work, but it's something to think about.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2009 11:59 pm 
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I am glad you told me about your experience of the delay in onset of withdrawals. Not wanting to experience them I think in that case I will reduce at the rate of 0.1 mg /4 days especially since I made up enough solution to cover this schedule and I wont even have to throw away half of it. But I will keep you posted anyway.

I submitted a question to Dr. Junig that he is looking into since even he didn;t know the answer. My question was:

Does long term suboxone maintenance shrink the population of mu receptors as I have heard that naltrexone therapy is supposed to do? I was once on Trexan for a year and it seemed that, not only did it kill the desire to use, but felt as if it had turned the clock back to before I ever used in the first place. Is that possible? If so then it would stengthen the argument for long term maintenance.

His answer was:

I don't know the answer to your interesting question. In general, the
effects on receptors by opiates, either agonists or antagonists, are
temporary and reversible. But that is an interesting idea and would
imply actual 'healing' of addiction. I will keep your e-mail and
question so I can search for it if I ever fine the answer.

My point, when it comes down to strengthening the argument, is that all
arguments are essentially moot since there are no other options. Not
that I know of, anyway....

This would be an argument in favor of extending the maintenance period. I also don't know if it is true, just something I have heard and my suboxone Dr also couldn't answer.

Anyway thanks again for the tapering method suggestion:) and BTW today I feel great! And I did retain the solution under my tongue for 10 minutes to duplicate the effect of using solid tablets. Do you just swallow the solution or do you also hold it under the tongue?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 11:22 am 
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I wish you the best with your tapering, but remember that Suboxone is always a choice if things get difficult to a point you feel you may use again. I understand the feeling of wanting to know what it feels like to be "drug free", as I have wanted that for myself many times- however for me it is not possible. I have an awful anxiety disorder and everytime I try to be drug free, I wind up in a very bad state of mind.Where I am today with my medications has been more stable than I ever was without them.I fought with the idea, but above all else, I feel my mental well being is what matters most.
I also relate to your feelings about 12 step recovery.It was not something I could buy in to. I felt weak when I sat in those rooms, a hypocrite. The whole sponsor thing is a joke to me. I just do not feel another addict is going to help me stay clean by telling me what to do with my life. It took me months to find one and when I did, she demanded I call her daily just to "check in", but she never answered her phone. The whole idea was really dumb to me, and I opted out. The methods I have used on my own have worked better than any 12 step meeting, and I do respect the idea, it just is not for me personally.
Again,I wish you the best and remember we are always here to support you!

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 1:10 am 
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Yeah, I hold the solution under my tongue for about 10 min and then I don't eat or drink for another 20 min or so.

Glad to hear you're feeling good. And that question was interesting. I've been reading about Low-Dose Naltrexone therapy (LDN), have you heard of it?

The idea is that a very low dose of Naltrexone taken before bed will stimulate the brain to create more endorphins. I guess endorphins are made in the brain during sleep. The naltrexone blocks the receptors, fooling the brain into thinking more endorphins are needed. The therapy has been used to treat AIDS patients and MS patients, and there is research into its use for autoimmune and fibromyalgia.

Some folks on recovery boards have used LDN after Suboxone and report good results.

Unfortunately, my doctor was not at all interested in the research I printed out for him, said it was "outside of his comfort zone" to use the medication like that, blah blah blah...

Whenever I get done with Sub, if I feel like I need to try the LDN I'll look for a doctor who will try it. I have fibro and depression, and supposedly it helps with both, as well as with PAWS.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 1:13 am 
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Diary,

One thing to watch for with Naltrexone is that it can make you hypersensitive to opioids. So, if you relapse (never say never, right), just remember that your tolerance will be extremely low. I know that its a negative thing to say, but its important to know just in case the unimaginable happens.

Jim

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 2:14 am 
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diary, do u think u could e-mail me the info u wanted to share with ur doc about naltrexone? my next visit i really want to share with him this site and all the information i can find.like most of u he was unfamiliar with alot of this but compassionate and very eager to listen, ask me questions about how i am feeling on the meds and learn. he has been my 3rd dr. in 5 years and the only one who hasnt treatd me like i was gonna rob him soon as i walked in the door. thanx so much!! MACKENZY76@AOL.COM or if u dont have time u can just send me the web sites


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2009 8:33 am 
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LDN has always interested me and I hope you're able to find someone who is alright with prescribing it to you. The things I've read have made it sound really promising. I wasn't able to find any larger studies done on LDN but it doesn't sound like it would hurt anything to at least try it, I mean I'd even be perfectly happy just getting a placebo effect. Also thought your question was an interesting one Light I'd also be very interested to hear if you find an answer. Does anyone know what causes Naltrexone to lower someone's opiate tolerance? It would make sense that as similiar as bupe and naltrexone are they would cause many similiar results but that's obviously not the opinion of a neurologist but rather just little ole humble me :lol:

Lightdark I'd like to suggest that you're doing the right thing going for a slower taper I really think Diary has the right idea and ultimately will have a much higher chance of success off Suboxone than someone who is going for an uber-fast taper. Good luck to the both of you :)

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

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