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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:09 am 
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Hi, I just joined hoping that my story might help anyone who might be feeling overwhelmed by the sub, or tired of dealing with the constant pain of withdrawal. This story is especially for you if you have underlying depression/anxiety that tends to raise its ugly head when you're trying to taper or detox. PLEASE DON'T LOSE HOPE!!!! I used to come online, googling so many different questions about sub tapering, the effects and after-effects, PAWS, etc etc... I felt like I would never see the end of it. Everyone's posts are informative and helpful, but it can be pretty depressing reading through all those painful stories of people struggling. So I just want to tell my story so hopefully you can gain some perspective. It's not the prettiest story but it has a happy end! *****You can skip the next three paragraphs if you're not interested in the details of my addiction&taper, but please read the ending! :)

I'm ten days off sub today. I was using heroin daily for two years, probably a shorter time than most. (Fwiw, I would have 2-3 hits daily, up to 2g a day). I tried to detox in rehab twice and failed. Last September I checked into a clinic for the last time, and that's when I got on sub. Originally I was on a pretty high dose (which I understand is controversial), 24mg. I "stabilized" on 20mg when I was set free into the world again and stayed on that dose for a few months. The ONLY thing I gained from using Suboxone is that it completely took away all cravings for heroin and broke that cycle of abuse. Apart from that, I felt like being on sub changed my personality, took away any and ALL happiness or colour in life, left me lethargic and fatigued, extremely easily exhausted... exacerbated my depression by about 300%. I somehow felt like I was constantly in a mild state of withdrawal, if that makes sense. I let myself go physically, i.e. wouldn't shower for days (even taking a shower would completely deplete my energy; it was like I'd become an old woman), stopped brushing my teeth properly; stopped doing chores around the house... it almost felt like the only difference from being a junkie was that on sub I wasn't high... all the other negative effects were there. I wasn't working so I only left the house if I REALLY had to, i.e. go get my dose (I had to go every day at first, then twice a week), and walk to the grocery store for necessities... otherwise I'd lie in bed all day. I'm not an athlete by any means but I used to love physical activities like dancing, walking, and sex (obviously). Being on sub I lost interest in all those things. The thing that probably hit me the hardest was the fact that I lost all interest in music and art. I couldn't listen to music anymore, and I hated being around people who were listening to it because it reminded me of how I used to be. I'd make pathetic attempts to revive my interest in art, but it always felt so forced. Btw I should probably mention that I was/am on 150-200mg endep, as I've lived with depression/anxiety for 10 years and SSRIs don't really help me and I can't go back to benzos as I was addicted to them for eight years.

Sometime this year (can't remember exactly when) I decided that enough was enough, and that I would taper myself down. So I did. Depending on how I felt, I'd cut my dose by 1mg either every day or every few days. So I guess it was pretty rapid. I had some mild withdrawal symptoms like restless leg syndrome, body aches, and temperature fluctuations (hot flush/cold flush and extreme sweating) but it was nothing as horrible as full-blown heroin withdrawal. Mood-wise, I was extremely unstable. I would have full-blown panic attacks for which I had no xanax, that I had to ride out with breathing and mindfulness; I'd have severe crying spells that would start at the drop of a hat and last for hours, suicidal ideation, and of course the constant fatigue and loss of interest in anything. My partner who is struggling with addiction himself actually got tired of me at this stage and said he needed time apart. I took it really hard as he was literally the only friend I had left by this time.

Unfortunately I didn't keep a record of my taper until the very last month (May). In the final month it became harder for me to decrease the dose, but I did because at this point I almost felt like I had nothing to lose. The first week of May was mostly 1mg/day. Second week: mostly .75mg. Third week .5mg. Fourth week I fluctuated between .25mg and going back to .5mg. On May 27th I jumped off. Withdrawal symptoms peaked on the 30th, and they were mostly muscle and joint pains, and insomnia. It REALLY was not as bad as I was expecting!!! By June 3, I was sleeping 4-6 hours a night (keep in mind, while I was on sub I would sleep about 12 hours a night, in a way "forcing" myself to sleep so that I could escape reality). Right now, I can get to sleep quite easily but wake up at around 4am. Because I've done the drug withdrawal thing before, I know that my body will adjust in a few weeks. I haven't had any cravings yet, but I also think that's because I take steps to ensure I don't. For example, I deleted ALL dealer numbers (which should be a given); I didn't change my number but the few times I got fishing texts from them, I threatened that I would call the cops if they contacted me again. Cut all lines to dealers; I mean it. Also, this really blows but I don't allow myself to view, read or listen to anything with drug references. :( That takes out the fun in a lot of things for me, but it's working. I still think about using, once or twice a day... I know that as time passes, this will become less and less frequent. One day I might be able to watch movies and listen to music with drug references, but for now I tell myself that my recovery, everything I worked for and went through to achieve, is SO much more important than a few minutes of fun reminiscing about old times. Art glorifies drugs anyway... you only see the pretty fun side and not the dark ugly shit that exists in reality... even the depictions of the ugly shit becomes poetic and meaningful on screen. There is no meaning in addiction; reality is brutal! Anyway sorry about the tangent..

Now I have had ten days "clean" time, and I know that I'm far from recovered. But, I feel better than I've felt in months. Years, if you include the time I was a junkie. Sub worked strangely for me; as I understand it's different for everyone, but having scoured through dozens and dozens of posts about depression, anxiety, fatigue, malaise, etc etc etc while on suboxone, I know that I am not alone in experiencing this. If you're reading this because you experience similar effects, you need to remember that too: you're not alone. And if you take only one thing from my post, I want it to be this: IT WILL GET BETTER... probably a lot sooner than you think!!! I know it's so cliche (and so hard to appreciate when you're in the throes of misery) but I swear to god it's TRUE. I know it can feel so lonely and hopeless sometimes... what if you never feel better, right? So many people online seem to be struggling, and you're reading about all these negative effects that your doctor probably didn't mention to you, right? This is my take: The vast majority of people who go through sub detox and succeed aren't going to come online posting their happy sunny success stories. Most of the stories you read online are going to be of people who want answers because they're still struggling/suffering. It doesn't mean that you will have the same experience. Don't have a black or white mentality; just because someone suffers from acute PAWS doesn't mean you will too. I'm not saying you shouldn't prepare yourself mentally, because if you're prepared for the wors, you might be pleasantly surprised. Just don't doom yourself unnecessarily! Be cautious, but KEEP HOPE ALIVE! The peak of my physical wd symptoms was NOTHING compared to cold turkey. NOTHING. The change I feel in myself today is very drastic. A week ago, I couldn't walk for 10 minutes without feeling like I wanted to call an ambulance so it could carry me home. Today, I walked a total of 3 hours outside while listening to and enjoying music... this is massive for me. I'm still on anti-depressants and probably will be for a while. I predict a lot of emotional turbulence in my future. I won't be surprised if I experience PAWS, because I'm prepared. Even if my life gets really shit tomorrow, this one good day I've had will stay with me as a reminder of how it feels. I really want you to take and keep this with you too!!!!!

Ok, now the good stuff that helped with my taper:

*Obviously if your doctor is ok with it, get valium!!! This wasn't an option for me. I was given clonidine though, and as you probably know, that helps a lot.
*For aches and pains, NSAIDs didn't do anything for me but a painkiller called Ponstan helped immensely. My doctor gave it to me for my super painful period cramps I get once every few months... I think it's OTC in most places. You wouldn't think so but it WORKS. I would take 500-750mg and feel better within 20min for wd pains.
*The tricyclic anti-depressant I take, Endep: it has both painkilling and sedative effects. Google endep for sleep, so many people swear by it. It's also the only anti-depressant that works at all for me, but you don't have to be depressed to have it prescribed for pain or insomnia.
*Sleeping with a body pillow or even a normal pillow between your legs if you're a side-sleeper can help with the restless legs.

I think that's all for now... sorry about the atrocious length of the post. If it helps one person feel hopeful and keep going, I will be happy. If you ever feel alone or need to talk to a random open-minded stranger who doesn't judge, you can PM me and I'll be happy to help in any way I can. Good luck guys!!! I'm a major pussy and I survived... if I can, YOU CAN TOO!!!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 12:14 pm 
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Hi tigerlily, and welcome to the forum. Congratulations on your successful jump from subs. Thank you taking the time to encourage others who are jumping off of subs too!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 3:29 pm 
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good post.

most people who post about suboxone are likely posting because they've struggled with withdrawal and post withdrawal. And then they usually post only about the bad times. It's easy to get psyched out reading too much on the internet.


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 Post subject: USEFUL STORY
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:00 pm 
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Hello Tigerlily,

It is true that we hear more problems than successes, so it is a good thing you are posting this in some detail.

I understand from the post that this taper has been about a year long, starting with a dose of about 20mg. True?
And you describe the taper itself as rapid, sometimes only a few days between a drop of one mg.

But of course there had to be gaps in the tapering or you would have finished in much less time than a year. Maybe I missed it but could you say a bit more about the nature of the taper and what was dropped when during the year?

I think you also state that the "Jump" was about 10 days ago, and all is going very well. It would be most helpful if you continued to post throughout this month and even further out. Don't worry about the length, the details are very interesting and helpful. Looking forward to hearing more about how this goes.

All the best,

S


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 Post subject: few things
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:25 pm 
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Hello again,

Just reading over your post I had several questions. first, in this taper from perhaps 20 mg to a part of one mg., were symptoms covered at the lower levels, especially when the taper down was quick. Or-- did you have to put up with more discomfort when doing with a lower level?

Also, you mention that Valium would be a great help, although you did not, and apparently do not, use it yourself. This may well be the case, but is there any evidence or personal experience that would indicate valium? How do you see it specifically working in a taper?

In terms of other medications that might help during a taper and jump, Dr. Junig, of this site has a tape on Mp3 about the subject of quitting, and mentions several drugs in this context. I forget if he mentions Valium, but the more known of what works the better.

Thanks much,

S


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 Post subject: Thank you Tigerlily
PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 9:34 am 
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THANK YOU Tigerlily for your wonderful, informative post. I have been in the weaning phase of using suboxone for about 2 months. I was stabilized at 12 mg/ day after a 2 year addiction to prescription painkillers---due to a pelvis injury. At the time I rose my shaky hand and begged my doctor to get me off the Opana and the Vicodin, I was taking, in my opinion, too many opiates and it was ruining my life and not really controlling the pain.

However, I seem to be having a tough problem weaning down. As I said I was stabilized at 12 mg/day and I am now down to 8 mg/day. But I've hit a wall in that I am experiencing terrible anxiety, sleeplessness and depression in a major way. My doctor is encouraging, telling me "I am so proud of you for being invested in getting off subx"---but to be honest, I feel like such a loser and I don't feel that I am in control of this process; that the process of weaning down is controlling me.

As far as using benzos during the weaning phase, my doctor has allowed me to use both lorazepam and clonazepam to help with the anxiety---but they just don't help me out as much as I wish they would.

I am in my 8th month in total of using suboxone. When I read so many others posts and see they have taken or are taking it for much longer, in my mind I should feel that I am a step ahead---but my body quickly corrects me and I feel so lousy every day that I feel like I need something else. What that "something else" is, I don't know.

Maybe I am also a "major pussy" was written, but all I know is that I find myself looking for further answers on how to get me off the suboxone at a faster rate and move on with my life. Am I being too impatient?

I would love to hear what other folks think. I don't have anyone to talk too about this other than my doctor so I feel pretty much isolated as far as getting good practical knowledge. I would appreciate any thoughts on my situation and would like to hear from someone. Thanks to everyone for reading this!
BAMBAMOKC


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 2:08 pm 
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tigerlily,

Congrats! I've been off Suboxone for ~two weeks now (1mg jump off) and feel better every day. I'd say I'm about ~90% there. No anxiety or depression to report here, only slight body pains and difficulty sleeping for more than 4-5 hours per night. Glad to hear you're doing well!

BAMBAMOKC,

Thanks for sharing your story. I don't write this to you scare you, but rather inform you on my experience with opiates and benzos. Be careful with benzos. Clonazepam especially is a very strong drug and habit forming. It is a short-term fix to a long-term problem for anyone suffering from anxiety. It is no easy kick, I promise you. I don't know how familiar you are with benzos (versus opiates), but wanted to give you a heads up so you don't get stuck into another bind. I have quite a bit of experience with this as I got off opiates and benzos at the same time - heroin 2g/day and kpin 10mg/day.

Suboxone treatment is a process and takes time. Don't be so hard on yourself, you will know when you're ready and my advice to you is not to attempt to getting off until you are ready-ish. In my opinion, there is no right time - there are times when we are more willing though and we need all the willingness and courage we can get. My story at http://suboxforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=6749 sheds some light on my experience with this.

We do not have to do this alone and the folks on this forum are a wonderful support system. They will help you get through this.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:04 am 
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I'd like to say congrats tigerlily. Your post was really heartening. I've been wondering myself lately if it's possible for people with coexisting mental health and addiction issues to successfully taper off Sub. And hearing of your success so far has injected some hope into me.

tigerlily wrote:
I haven't had any cravings yet, but I also think that's because I take steps to ensure I don't. For example, I deleted ALL dealer numbers (which should be a given); I didn't change my number but the few times I got fishing texts from them, I threatened that I would call the cops if they contacted me again. Cut all lines to dealers; I mean it. Also, this really blows but I don't allow myself to view, read or listen to anything with drug references. :( That takes out the fun in a lot of things for me, but it's working. I still think about using, once or twice a day... I know that as time passes, this will become less and less frequent. One day I might be able to watch movies and listen to music with drug references, but for now I tell myself that my recovery, everything I worked for and went through to achieve, is SO much more important than a few minutes of fun reminiscing about old times. Art glorifies drugs anyway... you only see the pretty fun side and not the dark ugly shit that exists in reality... even the depictions of the ugly shit becomes poetic and meaningful on screen. There is no meaning in addiction; reality is brutal! Anyway sorry about the tangent.


On the topic of cravings. I've done abstinent based recovery a few times. Overall I've probably spent close to 2 years completely clean of opioids, once with 13 months clean (no alcohol as well) and another with 7 months or so.

You will get cravings. This is an unavoidable aspect of recovery. You know how people who are recovering from an injury to their body get spells where they experience intense itching on the place of injury? Even verging on pain? I equate cravings as being the addiction recovery equivalent. Cravings are what happens when your mind hits a wall and realises it's lacking something it's used to depending on. If a person doesn't succumb to their cravings, these periods are actually of intense growth and healing, but also challenging.

As you've said, avoiding cravings is incredibly important. It's important to minimise the challenges we face in recovery. But even after doing that, there are still periods of intense craving. For me, I found that around 30 days clean, 60 days clean, 90 days clean, I'd experience days on end where my recovery was challenged. The cravings would slowly build up over a few days. At its most intense I'd be having drug dreams, I'd be incredibly stressed. Sometimes I'd think the whole thing is futile. And it's quite scary how much power they can hold over the rational mind. But if you can take on the earlier periods of craving without using, as the earlier ones are generally the most intense, it does get easier from there on.

You mentioned mindfulness. When you get a period of craving, this is an important tool you can use. Google "urge surfing". It's important also not to fight cravings, as this is exactly what our addiction wants us to do. Feeding into it by fighting it creates the rising tension. It's important to identify it, acknowledge it, accept it and move on.

Good luck and stick around!


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