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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 7:45 pm 
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I'm new to the forum, but an old hand with Suboxone at this point. This post could stretch on forever, so bear with me.

I have been taking Suboxone "off and on" for about eight years now. The last six years I have been clean off everything, including benzos or muscle relaxers. The last two of those six years, I have been tapering off Sub. My drug of choice was heroin, and eight years ago I was using more than one gram per day. Before that it was OxyContin, but back then it wasn't as available as it is today, and heroin became a better and cheaper alternative. That's the quick version of my history.

I realize I have used Sub for a very long time, but even before the years passed I always knew that when the time came I would need to very, very, very slowly take myself off it. I take Paxil in conjunction with the Sub, and battle with depression like I'm sure most of you do. Depression definitely plays a factor in the use of this drug, and the desire or (in)ability to get off of it. I've seen and heard every opinion under the sun about this drug, and honestly I don't care if non-addicts can't understand. I also do not care if you are some superhero ex-addict who went all cold turkey with meetings. Good for you if you did, but thankfully I am not you. I also stopped trying to explain things to non-addicts a long time ago.

Anyway, around here and in my previous dealings with Sub users, it seems there is a certain mentality or "group opinion" that suggests or outright says you need to get off this drug ASAP and return to your "normal" life. That's just not going to happen for 90% of you. In fact, most of us relapse and end up right back on it. I see threads where people are talking about their third or fourth time going back on Sub and I have to ask, why even stop in the first place? I understand the economy is hard, but for now I don't want to turn this post into an economics discussion. Your health and family is more important than money.

I realize this drug isn't like insulin or something you have to take for life, and I don't know how doctors are explaining it to people, but it seems a lot of people (or their families) have unrealistic expectations of Sub. Remember this drug is brand new in terms of studies and public use. In fact there aren't any lengthy studies out on Sub because it's so new. When I first started taking it I was told it was a 30-day drug. That is also how they used it in rehab facilities. Looking back now that is sadly comical and wishful thinking. Another major factor with this drug is getting the proper mental health care in conjunction with it. I am guilty of slacking on that end, but there are free clinics everywhere that open on weekends to accommodate patients for no cost. If nothing else your county has a behavioral health clinic you can check out.

Suboxone isn't a "miracle drug" per se. It can work miracles for you if you do it right, listen to your doctor (or find a better one) and take care of yourself and your life. It's a very long road to get clean and you and I will never be "normal" again. You cannot ever use opiates again, and you cannot control your addiction without help. Suboxone is a wonderful tool that, for some people, needs to be used for long duration. It's up to YOU and YOUR DOCTOR (but mostly YOU) to decide what the best course of treatment is and how long you need to use Sub for. There is no law about duration of use, and you cannot let anyone else in your life dictate your treatment plan. Your family cares and needs you back, but all that support is usually mixed up with wishful thinking, hopes, expectations, and their love getting in the way of reality. I know younger people just cannot afford to live alone and pay for medication and that leads to getting help from your family with the expenses. But no matter how much money your family can help you with, just know they have no idea what you are going through or what this drug even does. I've known people who let their parents or sister or brother have an opinion during treatment and help dictate the course, and that's a mistake. Involve your family, but do not let anyone pressure you. If you need one year, then so be it. Two? That's perfectly fine if your doctor is on board. It's infinitely easier to do that than it is to relapse for the third time and have those same family members find out their money is missing or wonder where all the spoons went and then have to deal with you nodding out at Thanksgiving. I know that sounds funny to people like us, but I mean it seriously.

I don't mean to come across like I'm on a soapbox here either. These are just my honest thoughts about this, and I expect to get as much agreement as argument over what I've said. That is normal for the internet, and that is also why you should take this post and any other with a grain of salt when it comes to determining what is right for you. I very much doubt anyone here wants you to fail and relapse, but everyone here is different than you. My experience and thoughts on this are mine alone and only mere suggestions.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:08 pm 
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I also wanted to add where I am today with my own tapering:

I take about 1/5th of one 8 mg. strip per day. I pick up 15 of the 8 mg. strips every 62 days. The amount is so insignificant, yet I cannot break away from it completely. I said it in another post, but the idea that you cannot ever take pain medications or benzos or narcotics ever again is a tricky thing to get your head around, even if you've been off the drugs for several years. I am as addicted to this 1/5th of a strip per day as I was to doing the heroin, if that makes sense. I am speaking of the mental part of addiction here, not the physical withdrawal.

Over the last two years when I have gone down another level I usually experience a week or two of mild withdrawal symptoms. To speak bluntly, my sex drive goes way back up, I might have some minor sweating around my neck at night during sleep, but beyond that it isn't much to complain about. I've gotten used to "stepping down" now and know I might need to take some Tylenol PM for a couple days, but man that is NOTHING compared to actual, real withdrawal off Suboxone. And yes, you will withdrawal from Sub just like heroin or Vicodin or Oxy. That's the whole point of a very slow taper. The trick is to go as slowly as YOU need to go. Do not let someone from the internet or your wife or mother dictate some kind of Taper Chart for you. Sorry, that isn't gonna work. And do not quit cold turkey - I don't care how many Xanax or Valium you "procured" from someone, you will be right back at square one when you run out. The idea is to get off, never use drugs, and never need Suboxone again. That's very simplistic, but that's the whole deal right there. It's how YOU go about that that matters.


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

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