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 Post subject: My relapse off sub
PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 12:35 pm 
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Sorry this is such a long post. I have never really sat down and talked about my relapse in detail, and it felt so good to type it out...feel free to skim, some of the writing may have been as much for me as for you.

A couple people have asked about my relapse, so I thought I’d just make a post about it in general, instead of trying to answer everyone individually and repeating myself. I moved it to this forum so that the "introduction" topic didn't get too long.

Background: I went on sub in August, started at 8mg a day. I was on 8mg/day for 3 weeks, then began to taper…my doc wanted to down to 4mg. It was super easy for me to taper (1mg/week), so I continued the taper down to 2mg…that too was pretty easy….so my doctor suggested that I try to taper off (since I felt like I could). WARNING!!! Here comes the addict behavior…I had a really hard time getting down to 2mg. When my doctor would ask how I was doing (we had bi-weekly appts, and I can call him whenever to check in), I lied and told him things were great because I decided he wanted me off….I have since earned that I do this a lot…I decide what people want, and try to please them (but, I never actually ask them what they want…I just assume) :roll: . So, I ended up off sub in November (because he thought I was doing so well)….and really shaky.

So, I wasn’t on sub very long,wasn’t at a really high dose, and have always been able to "feel" drugs, even at low doses….I think this effected my ability to use full opiates later. I had been off sub for about 6-8 weeks when I relapsed.

Relapse: I (and a lot of people) struggle during the holidays. Also, at the time, my marriage was falling apart (turns out, addiction isn’t good for marriage….who knew???). We have since gotten a lot better, but things were dark at that time. I was getting the Christmas decorations out of the attic, and I found a pretty large stash of pills ( I used to hide pills all over the house, in case I got caught, so I would always have a backup…problem was that I was high when I hid the damn things, so I usually forgot about it later). WARNING more addict behavior…rather than give them to my husband (who I was fighting with), my doctor (who I was trying to please by lying to him), or flushing them (hey….if I could do that, I wouldn’t need the sub…right???)…I set them aside. For me, this was the beginning of my relapse; it was inevitable at that point.

A few weeks later, my husband and I had a HUGE fight over holiday plans (he was out of town, so we fought over the phone). I was home alone and mad, so I took a few Vicodin (I had 10mg pills, I think I took 3). I remember being shaky and angry and opening the Ziploc bag…I didn’t even think about it. It was like my instincts took over and, as an addict, my instinct is to use. It wasn’t planned, I didn’t “think about it”, I just did it. At first, I thought I was going to feel really high (30mg of hydro after 4months clean….time to party!!!), but I didn’t get that high…I didn’t feel as shaky, and I was pretty tired, but I didn’t feel the rush, know what I mean?

The next day, I freaked out (but still didn’t throw the pills away), and swore I would stop, that it was a one time event. I stopped for a few days, had another bad day, and used for a few days, stopped for a few days, something good happened, celebrated for a few days….and so on and so an….

I went to my Mom’s house for Christmas (she live in Nashville, as does my sister). I didn’t bring any opiates, so I could stay clean for that week. Instead, I stole Vicodin, Percocet, and tussionex from my Mom, sister, and nephews (one had had pneumonia earlier in the year). :oops: They were hidden, but addicts are great at finding hiding places…aren’t we?? I was able to get pretty high after being back on full agonists for a while, but my tolerance was WAY higher than it had been before. I mentioned before that I have always been able to get away with taking low doses, so this was different. Take the hydro for example. B/f sub, I needed at least 30mg to feel anything, and more to feel good. After sub, I needed at lease 50mg to feel anything (but, as I stayed on full agonists, my tolerance seemed to “level out”).

I got back home, swore I would stop (it was New Year’s). Two days later, I was way sick with wd, so I set up a “taper” with the hydros I had left (sound familiar?). I was totally out by that Thursday (Jan.7). So, I figured I would use the weekend to detox (sound familiar?). By Saturday, I was crawling out of my skin. I agree with Setmefree…the mental stuff is the worst!!! I called an old “friend” (see “dealer”) that I knew could “help” me, but she was out of town (THANK GOD!!!!) So, I was getting dressed to go out.**** Oh yea, btw, while I was clean, a new urgent care center AND a new independent pharmacy opened up in a mile radius of my house….can you believe that shit??? On a side note, does anyone else notice those kind of things when your driving??? Like, oh yea, a pharmacy that doesn’t know me….gotta write that down*** So, guess where I was going?

I don’t know what happened…I just had a moment where I looked at myself and realized that I was about to enter full-on addiction again. Up to this point, I had convinced myself that I was playing around. But now, I was going out to actively seek drugs….that was real for me. Something made me realize that this decision would probably end my marriage, any hopes of a teaching career, and maybe even my life. I can’t explain what stopped me. I went into the living room, turned off the TV, and told my husband what was going on he later told me that this is a big part of the changes in our marriage, he said he felt like he could trust me again because I came clean with him). We talked for a while, I threw up a few times, we talked some more, I cried and threw up….you know the scenario. I called my doctor, he was out of town, I spoke to his useless partner who refused to call ANYTHING in for me (no sub,no clonidine, not even anything for nausea). He basically told be that I was sol, getting what I deserved, and told my husband that I was in grave danger during the wd phase (that really helped things). I decided that since no one would help me, I was going to use, my husband took my keys, phone, wallet, and sat 4 feet from me for the rest of the weekend….and sat with me Monday morning when I called my doctor and told him what was going on. He immediately called in a prescription for sub, my husband went with me to pick it up, 30 minutes later, I was sane again….I slept for the whole day. The rest is history….I came clean with my doctor about having trouble tapering, started going to NA meetings again, got back into this forum, and started over.

I started back on sub at 4mg/day, but was still having wd and cravings, so I went up to 6mg/day for a few weeks. Over th next 8 weeks, I tapered down to 2mg, and was struggling. This time, I called my doctor, and he put me back up to 4mg, added Effexor (When I was using (before August), I stopped taking m SSRI because I am an idiot, when I first started sub my doctor wanted to give me time to adjust b/f we started back on the SSRI, I was doing well so we didn’t start back up until now) , and told me to stop worrying about getting off the sub. I know that he isn’t really into the idea of life- long term maintenance, but he has also never pressured me to get off the sub, he just wants me on the lowest dose possible to manage my symptoms.

I really think that my doctor and husband are a big reason that my relapse wasn’t worse. Even in the middle of withdrawal, I knew I could trust them, that they would help me….I was so lucky to have a place to go for help….most people don’t have that option. I was thinking about that when I first logged in this morning. Last night I went out, had a great dinner with my husband, went to bed at 12 (I am a party animal), woke up at 8am feeling great, and went to a meeting. Things would be very different if I hadn’t gone back on the Subutex, and I don’t even want to think about what my morning would have been like in that situation. But, this morning, things are good...not perfect, but pretty good! :wink:

If you read this far, thanks for listening. If you didn't, I don't blame you...

E

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Subs Not Drugs!!!

"Don't hope for a life without problems. An easy life results in a judgmental and lazy mind."
- Zen Master Kyong Ho


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 1:05 pm 
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I did make it through the whole thing. :) Your writing skills are terrific which made it an easy and pleasurable read. It sure sounds like you've achieved a great deal of insight since your relapse. I'm so glad for you that you had your husband and doctor to trust and turn to. It's great that your marriage is back on track. I know what it's like to be the addict that threatens one's marriage. It's a tough road back, especially when it comes to trust. I know my husband experiences triggers that remind him of my old using days. We're finally learning how to deal with them.

I'm so glad you had suboxone/subutex as an option to stop that vicious cycle, but more importantly that you were able to see where you were headed and stopped before it got out of hand.

So glad you've jumped back into the forum with us.

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 Post subject: welcome
PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 6:44 pm 
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Hi ene,

I have not had the opportunity to welcome you back to the forum, so welcome!! I have read several of your posts on different threads and wanted to tell you what an awesome writer you are. Your posts are easy to read and you seem very knowledgeable of sub, and often give very good advice. I find it difficult to express myself properly when I write, but I can relate very much to several different things you have been through, including your relapse, why it happened, how you felt, etc.

I live in Ontario, Canada and when I discovered suboxone, I had a lot of difficulty finding a doctor to prescribe it as it had only been approved in Canada for a year, and most doctors had not even heard about it. I eventually thought to just ask my family doctor, and went to see him armed with a ton of information. At the time he was prescribing me 12 mg of hydromorph, 5 times a day, and was more than happy to help me with the sub. He has been my doctor for over 20 years and knew about my struggles with addiction.

I had many struggles stabilizing with sub, went thru precipitated withdrawals 3 times, and I was in a ton of pain and almost gave up. I relapsed several times for may different reasons, but mostly because I was in so much pain and sub was not helping that at all. So, after reading through hundreds of posts on different forums was finally able to dose sub differently so it both managed my pain and helped with my addiction. I have only been stable on sub for a few months and am happy to report that I am doing a lot better. I think, for me at least, the biggest problem I was having was like you, just being honest. I told my doctor I was doing well, when I wasn't, I suppose because i was afraid he would stop prescribing it. My husband thought sub was a miracle drug and was so happy that I was doing well, when I wasn't. I didn't want to disappoint anyone, when really I was just disappointing myself. I had lied so much to everyone for so many years that I started to wonder if I would ever be capable of telling the truth again. I did things and went places that I would never do, or go to, it's really scary to think back to some of the things I did. Anyway, I am doing a lot better and when I find myself telling a lie now, am getting better at going back and telling the truth. Before my addiction I thought of myself as a pretty honest person and very rarely lied about anything. I am a teacher, have been for 22 years, and have always strived to be the best I could be, that is until I got addicted to opiates and everything went downhill from there.

I am happy to hear that you are doing better now, and have been able to be honest with both your doctor and your husband. It is always such a relief to get through a day, or a week, even a month being honest, and not to have to worry about being found out. It's hard to gain back the trust when I couldn't even trust myself. It must be such a relief to you to be back on track, and to have been able to pull yourself out of the vicious cycle of addiction before you got in too deep. I was also very surprised when I relapsed at the amount of oxy I had to use to even feel it, let alone get a rush from it.

So, for today I am glad things are good........not perfect, but good! There was Never a good day when using!

Looking forward to getting to know you,
Ginger


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 8:49 pm 
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Thanks for sharing your story and yes I read the whole thing. You know when I was doctor shopping and going to urgent cares and ER's all over the courntry cause I travel. I think towards the end I enjoyed the whole going into an ER, Checking In, getting called back and treated by the nurses.........the big lie to the doctor......then x-rays....then the results. I remember being so shocked I had a broken elbow (seen for it over 20 times) because it was the kind you didn't put in a cast but a sling till you could see an orhto......of course it would be at least a week before I could get back home to see an ortho and I know I am going to be in so much pain till then...therefore requiring the doc to write a larger prescription. I couldn't take my eyes off that prescription pad.....sometimes I felt like I was helping the doctor write the prescription in my head.

I think we get so used lying to our doctors that we just can't seem to be honest with them. I am sure doctors reading this forum would prefer the truth so they can do an accurate diagnosis. I made a promise to myself that once I told my story to my doctor to get sub that I wasn't going to lie anymore. This is too important to me. We have to own our recovery and that starts with honesty. I hope those that read your post and are not being truthful with their docs will do so going forward because your story is the perfect example of what can happen if we don't. I am glad your back and better....and that your life is so much better.....

Jim


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 9:21 pm 
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You write well and that was a very easy and interesting read. I know what you mean about writing sometimes just for yourself more than anything. I do that a lot and I learn a lot by doing it. Your story sounds VERY familiar and also very honest and humble. I like that.

One thing we definitely have in common is that both our marriages ended up stronger from situations surrounding addiction and suboxone. I went on suboxone and my husband didn't even know I was addicted. I was very good at hiding it and he is pretty naive. So after a few months on the sub, I told him. The shit hit the fan and I had to confess to everything. He stuck by my side and I wouldn't have blamed him if he had left. When I went off suboxone, it was me being extremely honest with him daily about how I felt, that I needed his help, etc. and it really pulled us much closer together. He isn't typically a very empathetic person and not emotional at all, but he really helped me through everything. Because of this, I think both of us feel comfortable telling the other anything and everything. There are no secrets between us anymore. I like that and feel very lucky.

Thanks for sharing your story. I am really glad you have been posting often and sharing about yourself. It is nice to meet new people on here.

Cherie


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 9:42 pm 
I was one of the ones who had asked about your relapse on the other thread....so thank you so much for sharing that with us. It is a great cautionary tale to all of us considering trying life off buprenorphine. I am more and more convinced as time goes by that addiction is something that in no way can be 'cured' with a few weeks (or months) on Sub. We cannot afford to be lured into a false sense of security by the feeling of normalcy that comes with treatment. I was also touched by your comments about the importance of honesty. I needed to hear that. There is nothing to be gained by telling ourselves or others that we are "fine" when we're not. For me, sometimes I do that out of fear. Fear of looking like a failure if I'm struggling. Fear of appearing weak because I'm struggling. Fear of sounding like I'm complaining.....because I don't have the right to complain. After all, I did this to myself. Man, I struggle with that.....those feelings of shame. No matter how much I know that this is a disease and that I'm not a bad person but good person who got sick, I still have trouble escaping that feeling that I deserve every bad thing I go through. So I pretend I'm fine when I'm not sometimes.
You are so right.....we've got to learn to be honest. Not just about what we're doing, but about how we're feeling. I know I can tell the truth, be honest in that regard. But it's something else altogether to be open and honest about the deeper issues like how I'm feeling in my recovery. I can see how that lack of honesty could lead to relapse....it's pretty much inevetible. Early on in my treatment with Suboxone, I kept a journal every day. There I could be completely honest with myself. Even when I wasn't able to talk to anyone about it, I could at least put in on paper. I found that it made it easier to communicate how I was feeling with my support people and my doctor. I have since gotten lazy about it and kind of quit doing it. I'm going to restart that. Maybe that's an idea for everyone else who struggles with this. It's just so important.
Thanks for reminding me!


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 11:34 pm 
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Wow…I am totally overwhelmed by all the responses!!! I really appreciate all of the positive feedback from everyone. I talk to my family and friends about things, but it somehow means so much more coming from people here who know what I am going through, and can directly relate to things. I will try to respond in a somewhat organized manner…somewhat

Ginger…I have read several of your posts as well. I couldn’t believe the difficulty that you had getting on the sub!!! It’s amazing that you first sought out the medication on your own, then found a doctor to prescribe it, then stuck with it over and over again…most people (especially addicts in active addiction going through withdrawal) would have given up and gone back to using. When I read stories like yours, I realize how lucky I am. Do you go to therapy or NA/AA groups? Do you have other support from family or friends? Out of curiosity, how is sub regulated in Canada? Can any doctor prescribe it? Is it covered under the national healthcare system? Are there really people dying in the streets while they wait for a kidney :shock: (kidding….but, that’s what some US news people say :roll: ….I seriously doubt it, but you would know better than I would).

Jim….I, too, loved the thrill of the hunt. I remember rehearsing my story as I drove to the doctor….I would try to think of what scenario would work the best. I once got an ingrown toenail that needed to be drained. I avoided having it done for weeks, and didn’t take the antibiotics, so I could go from UC to UC and get more medication….until it actually got REALLY infected. Then I got a ton of vicodin from my primary care doc. I knew that, if I took it in pain, it wouldn’t work as well and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy it. So,. I took ibuprofen for the pain, waited a few days, then went back on the Vicodin….what sane person is happy about having an ingrown toenail (or broken elbow)…you know you’re an addict when the pain of withdrawal is greater than the pain from a fracture.

The worst was when you waited the whole day in some crappy clinic, and then the doctor writes you a script for like 6 5/500 Vicodin….yippie. :evil:

Cherie…I hid everything from my husband as well….He is totally clueless about drugs, and hates taking them himself. One time he broke his arm, and we went to the ER. The doctor puts a cast on, and goes to write a script for pain meds, and my husband is like, “Oh, I don’t need that”. Needless to say, I made sure he got the script (in case he had bad pain and the Advil didn’t work…I am such a caring wife). He took 4, I took the rest…and he never asked me where they went!!!! Almost too easy. Like you, I wouldn’t have blamed him if he left. Things are still difficult, but so much better. The hardest part, for me, is that I have no credibility, and he has every right not to trust me. But, when I am telling the truth, and he doesn’t believe me, what am I supposed to do? The madder I get, the more guilty I look…I guess it is just going to take time. I really wish he would go to therapy with me, but he flatly refuses (he comes from a family that is very skeptical of doctors in general, and psychiatrists in particular). But, he strongly supports therapy and medication for me…go figure.

Setmefree…The lying part has been the hardest behavior for me to change. The weird part, in dealing with my doctor, is that I still get nervous about talking to him about problems, even when they are real. I think that I lied to doctors for so long that I still get that guilty feeling whenever I talk to one…like some sort of a conditioned response. I too kept a journal in the beginning of my sub treatment, and have also given it up. I should definitely pick it up again, because I think it was helpful. I hadn’t thought about it in months, but if writing on this forum is helpful, I would think a journal would be helpful as well.

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Elizabeth

Subs Not Drugs!!!

"Don't hope for a life without problems. An easy life results in a judgmental and lazy mind."
- Zen Master Kyong Ho


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 8:25 am 
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Elizabeth,

It is too bad your husband won't go to marriage counseling with you. Mine was very resistant as well but when I was using and we owned a business together, we were fighting like crazy. I actually moved all my things upstairs at one point. I ended up telling him I couldn't do it anymore. He was still resistent. I told him we could try his way for 2 more months and if we were still fighting then we got to do it my way with a therapist. He agreed. His way didn't work. We went to marriage counseling maybe 6-7 times. I went to more therapy than that. Anyhow, our relationship got SO much better. Even the few sessions we had made things better. That is where I disclosed my drug use and the suboxone use.

Just a thought....I wonder if you couldn't get your husbad to go by saying the therapist suggested he come in to help YOU with a few things with YOUR treatment. Then it isn't HIM seeking therapy. He is going to help YOU. That is true anyways. A little manipulative, but it really wouldn't hurt either I don't think. On the other hand, they say if the man is resistent they should get to pick the therapist also. Tough position you are in. I hope things get better because it sounds like you two DO love and respect each other based on what you have said.

Cherie


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:29 pm 
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Thanks for the good ideas Cherie. At first, I don't think I appreciated how angry my husband was (or that he had every right to be angry). At that time, I just saw him as unsupportive. The hardest part is that, down deep, I really don't think that he believes that addiction is a disease. He is a very controlled, logical, black and white person, and he doesn't understand how I can be so powerless to a pill. He has read literature on addiction and even spoke to my doctor about it, and he says he understands, but some of his comments suggest that he doesn't....am I expecting too much?

Can I ask you (or anyone who has gone through similar sessions) what the marriage counseling sessions were like? Not what you and your husband talked about specifically, just what the process was like. Did you meet separately, or always together? Did you have homework/activities to do at home? Was it mostly talking about the issues, or was it more learning tools? I realize that every therapist is different, but just wondering. I have gone to a lot of individual sessions in my life, and was even in grad school to be a therapist, but I never spent much time learning about couples therapy. My husband keeps asking me what it will be like (I think he envisions some doctor assigning blame and telling him that he is the problem :roll:), so it would be good to have some information to give him.

Thanks!

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Elizabeth

Subs Not Drugs!!!

"Don't hope for a life without problems. An easy life results in a judgmental and lazy mind."
- Zen Master Kyong Ho


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:45 pm 
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Hi Elizabeth,
My husband and I have been in marriage counseling since October 2009. It's helped us so much! Our therapist meets with both of us every time. In fact she doesn't like to meet with us separately at all so that she can remain objective and unbiased against both parties. It's my understanding that that way is pretty standard, but I could be wrong. Neither of us has ever been blamed for anything - she stays very neutral. We talk about the addiction, but other things as well. Communication was a big issue for us so we work on that a lot. Sometimes she gives us "homework", but no all therapists do that. When she has, it's been to practice the communicating skills or to schedule time to spend together.
I started suboxone in December 2008, so between then and when we started counseling we weren't working on healing things, because no matter how much we tried, we just didn't know how. It probably saved our marriage. I would say the most important thing in marriage counseling is finding the right fit - someone that both of you like.

I hope this helps.

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-I'm only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.


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PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 9:21 pm 
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The lying is the hardest part in dealing with my son. It's like I can see him thinking about how to answer to get the response he wants. He came home to visit the other night and I asked him to leave. His pupils were totally pinned and I just new he was using. He went through a list of possible scenario's hoping I would buy one of them but finally left after he realized I wasn't buying anything he was saying. He was ashamed when he left ...I felt it he, and he new it. Stupid games. He wants to be clean but does not want to do any of the work it takes to reach that goal. Just a reminder to you all... do not take suboxone and sobriety for granted. Suboxone is not enough...you need to want to be clean and do the work that goes with that.


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PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 10:05 am 
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Madyson - I just wanted to mention that many people, myself included, have very tiny pupils from the suboxone. Of course, that doesn't mean your son ISN'T using, but I just wanted to point that out.

And you're so right about needing more than Suboxone to have a healthy recovery. Take care.

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-I'm only responsible for what I say, not for what you understand.


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PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 4:31 pm 
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hatmaker510 wrote:
Madyson - I just wanted to mention that many people, myself included, have very tiny pupils from the suboxone. Of course, that doesn't mean your son ISN'T using, but I just wanted to point that out.

And you're so right about needing more than Suboxone to have a healthy recovery. Take care.
I have learned to trust my gut and he was high. Pinned pupils was just the first tip off. Interestingly, he tells me he only slips up once in awhile. I am never sure how to respond to that. He seems to think his casual use does not constitute relapse. Whatever...I give up.


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PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 9:59 pm 
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There really is no way to "slip up" while on Suboxone. Not when taking any sort of a regular dose anyhow. In order to feel the effects of pretty much any opiate the Suboxone patient has to stop taking their Sub for at least two days if not three or more. In fact I am seeing more and more people here say that even after two days without Sub they don't feel the effects of opiates (most are stopping due to surgery, etc. and the need for "real" pain medication). So if J is really on Sub and telling you he is "slipping up", he is not telling you the truth. Then again, I think you already know that you can always tell when an addict is lying - it's when his lips are moving.


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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 4:46 pm 
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donh wrote:
There really is no way to "slip up" while on Suboxone. Not when taking any sort of a regular dose anyhow. In order to feel the effects of pretty much any opiate the Suboxone patient has to stop taking their Sub for at least two days if not three or more. In fact I am seeing more and more people here say that even after two days without Sub they don't feel the effects of opiates (most are stopping due to surgery, etc. and the need for "real" pain medication). So if J is really on Sub and telling you he is "slipping up", he is not telling you the truth. Then again, I think you already know that you can always tell when an addict is lying - it's when his lips are moving.
Actually what I think he does is make some kind of plan to use and stops taking his Suboxone for 4 or 5 days just for the purpose of using. Well he is out of Suboxone so he is going to be in real trouble soon or I guess maybe just a full time addict which will be a bummer because he has court soon.


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

  • Board Certified Psychiatrist
  • Asst Clinical Professor, Medical College of Wisconsin

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