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Midway through taper
  1. #1
    Anonymous Guest

    Default Midway through taper

    Hi guys,
    First post for me, but I’ve used this site many times to ID rogue pills and such, and found my way to the forums on many occasions when looking up various WD cures/seeking support in general. I’m finally ready to get off this stuff for good, but it has been a LONG process.

    (TL;DR: Long backstory, but need titration advice. Skip to the bottom for that question.)

    A bit about me: Started developing worsening pain in my very lower back in the early 2000s. Back then you could just scoot up to the urgent care every so often and get a script for Vicodin and Valium.

    Then my primary physician began prescribing 90 vikes/mo starting in 2005. They never lasted the whole month, but I didn’t get WDs hardly at all in this stage. I would also occasionally buy extra pills from a friend. Finally, my doc referred me to a pain clinic in 2009 and that’s where things really took a turn.

    I moved to a new city and googled pain clinics, ending up at one run by an anesthesiologist. Walked out after a cursory exam with a script for 180 norcos/mo. I was so grateful I called my friend excitedly from the parking lot.

    This clinic turned out to be less than scrupulous. They were only interested in pushing pills and the outpatient procedures they did at their attached surgical center. Now that I had so many pills at my disposal, I gobbled them up every time they started to wear off, so it didn’t take too many months before I was going thru my script in 3 wks, then 2, then 1, then about 5 days, feeding my habit the rest of the month with what I bought from friends. I knew this was absurd and NOT what I was supposed to be doing, but I felt desperate bc the pain kept getting worse and the meds worked less and less effectively. I also had a rhisotomy (sp?) that made things worse. Pain doc at one point suggested I move to fentanyl patches, but thankfully I declined due to a nightmare experience my mom had with them in the hospital.

    He eventually added 45mg of MS Contin 3x day on top of the norcos, which I would only take when I ran out of/couldn’t find hydrocodone. I lost my insurance benefits when I lost my job in 2011 (not bc of the pills ironically, tho they surely influenced the situation) and worked freelance gigs until I found FT work w/ benefits in 2014.

    My pill popping by this time was totally out of control—spent every last dime on pills, constantly bummed money from my bf (now husband), and rifled through every medicine cabinet I found myself standing in front of with no shame. I stole pills from my parents, aunt and uncle, friends, friend-of-friends, even strangers. I lied to all my docs. I couldn’t travel longer than a weekend bc the cost of gathering all those pills in advance was so high, and I couldn’t cross any borders with all those pills. I felt like an unrepentant dope fiend.

    I was sick all the time from running out, it was miserable. Got a tramadol script from the free clinic, the only place I could afford, in a vain attempt to stave off WDs when I’d be broke and out of everything else. (They were not yet scheduled back then.) Then my freelance gig became FT w/ benefits, so I finally had insurance again. I was so excited, I had plans to get to the root of what was causing the constant pain in my lower back. I could finally start getting the shots and procedures again, and I wouldn’t feel so scared I was about to be dropped from my pain doc, who was temporarily letting me pay cash. Then the Bad Year rolled around.

    In late 2014 I suddenly found myself having to take care of a parent very ill w/ dementia and Parkinson’s—my only sibling had just had her first baby and was totally out of pocket, so it was my burden alone and I had never faced such a task so had no idea what I was doing. I was frantic with worry and stress. Then I go in for my monthly pain appointment in early 2015 and the staff is acting hella weird. They gave me the first urine test I’d had since my very first appointment in 2009. I was in shock b/c I had been dabbling w/ legal medical marijuana for extra pain control and knew I might be in trouble. But they gave me my scripts and said to come back in 2 wks. Hmmm, that was odd, but ok.

    Keep in mind I had never had an issue w/ Med non-compliance. I’d usually be at the 24-hr pharmacy right at the stroke of midnight on refill day, but I never tried altering scripts or other shenanigans to get an early fill.

    So I’m back at the pain doc after 2 wks and he very rudely dumps me as a patient, saying that he got a letter from my insurance co telling him I had filled opiate rx’s from two different docs. I was so confused so they pulled out the letter—d’oh, I hadn’t realized tramadol’s scheduling had changed in late ‘14. He refused to give me advice on titration and said he wouldn’t be able to help with meds anymore but I could still see him for procedures (thanks a lot, buddy). I happened to glance down at my chart laying there and saw the copy of my urine test results, they marked that I tested positive for marijuana and a drug I’ve NEVER taken before in my life (MDMA), but strangely the doc didn’t say a word about that, nor did I. I walked out mortified with shame and anger at how he treated me, like a dope fiend without any integrity, and it bothered me to my core bc I didn’t want to think of myself that way. And panic bc I now had only a 2 wk supply of meds with no steady source for the foreseeable future.

    So my life is cratering all around me with a sick parent who had nobody in his life except me to manage his care and newly cut off from meds I’d been taking daily for 5+ years. I tried cold turkey with no prior research and felt worse than I’ve ever felt in my entire life, like I’d been hit by a truck. That lasted 3 days before I caved.

    That kicked off almost 2 years of pure misery, ping-ponging between spending my entire monthly paycheck after rent/bills on pills in a matter of days and being sick when they ran out. Went online and tried everything ppl suggested, even getting a giant box of poppy pods shipped a couple of times. Finally found a bit of stability with kratom but only when I couldn’t get pills; soon as I could, I was right back at it.

    Obviously, this is a terrible way to live. I can’t remember how much I was taking each day, but in the ballpark of 25 10/325 norcos plus 200 mg of MS Contin, all at street prices. I was given control of my dad’s money, which I was skimming from in small amounts ($100 here, $100 there). And I couldn’t find a doctor to help me because they pretty much all dismissed me as a drug-seeker or mentally unwell. The MRIs that were bad enough to warrant seeing a specialist in 2009 were now being dismissed as normal wear and tear. I was beside myself and beginning to fantasize about suicide.

    I finally went to the hospital a few months after the pain doc cut me off and begged for help. They didn’t want to touch me with a 10-foot pole, but they did refer me to a primary doc. She agreed to put me on 120 10/325s per month but nothing more. Every visit, I would tell her how bad I felt mentally and physically, that something was seriously wrong and I felt suicidal, but she was wholly uninterested aside from prescribing an anti-depressant whose name escapes me. (I have a thyroid issue too, which she was sorta managing.)

    Ffwd to the summer of 2016 and I’m supposed to be planning my wedding. My get up and go has disappeared, no doubt due to the enormous quantities of pills I was consuming, but I had all these responsibilities—work, sick parent, wedding, etc—so I went back in to see my primary for help.

    She was on summer vacation so they sent me to her partner instead, which ended up being the first step on my fight to freedom. She was pretty new to the profession, so not jaded, and was appalled at my usual doc’s nonchalance. She ordered a blood panel and changed my anti-depressant to Wellbutrin, which actually worked. My vit D levels were in the toilet, so she rx’ed me that too.

    I slowly got better over the summer once the Wellbutrin started working, somehow managed to get married (tho it was a bit of a >>>> show), and then Thanksgiving came. My pill guy left for a family trip without warning and I suddenly found myself in involuntary WDs.

    It was 5 long days before he came back, so to say I had a dark night of the soul is an understatement. I took a very hard look at myself and my life. I was exhausted, had lied to family to explain my Thanksgiving absence, and was always sick and broke. Then my sister FaceTimed me and I realized I really, really wanted to see my beloved little niece grow up and vowed that I would get myself together for real. I decided to get on the smallest amount of meds possible w/o going into WDs (which was still a lot) and work my way off them from there. And I decided to keep pushing for better healthcare until I got some answers instead of giving up and continuing to self-medicate.

    Coming to that decision was relatively easy; finding help was not. The first thing I needed was a new MRI, as it had been a decade,but this time I wanted them to look at my pelvis too. My primary doc actually called me at home after hours to try to talk me out of it. “I just don’t see how that will tell us anything new” she said. (I was lying to her about how deep my dependence was, but still. What’s the harm in an MRI??)

    She finally relents and lo and behold, the MRI reveals cysts in my uterus, ovaries and cervix. I opt to see a specialist and it is she who finally puts me on the path to healing.

    She sends me to a brilliant physical therapist (I’d done it many times in the past with no results) who works on my pelvic floor and ID’s the source of the pain, which was being referred from my pelvis and S-I joint. She gets me into the state’s top musculoskeletal practice, one I had been unable to get into previously based on my primary doc’s lackluster referral, and I get an appointment for a shot in a few months. Meanwhile, I start seeing a different woman for myofascial therapy who is also brilliant, and together these incredible women finally, FINALLY bring me the first relief I’ve felt in 15 yrs that didn’t come from a little orange bottle. What’s better, they teach me exercises that actually work to reduce pain by bringing my pelvis back into alignment. I finally got the shot last week and thanks no doubt to my physical therapist’s extensive notes to the musculoskeletal doc in the pain practice, it totally worked!!!! The pain is now mild enough that all I need is a lidocaine patch to deal, and some days I don’t even need that. It’s nothing short of a miracle!

  2. #2
    Catrina is offline Diamond Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010



    I read your entire post and I'm glad that you are getting resolution for your pain issues. I think that you forgot to ask your question though. Can you also let us know where you are at in terms of what you're taking and how much per day? That I think will help us help you with your plan. Are you planning on tapering or detoxing cold turkey? Your choice and there are those of us here who can most certainly help you if you allow us to.

    I'll watch for your response and Welcome again!



  3. #3
    Anonymous Guest


    Sorry about that! I’m taking 75mg of morphine sulfate when I wake up and 60mg 6 hours later per day for a total of 135 mg/day; my question is, is it reasonable to decrease the dose by 15mg every two weeks—is that a good tapering schedule?

    My goal is to titrate down to nothing, no opiates. So far it has been going well chopping my dose down in bigger increments, but now I need to make finer cuts w/ a scalpel, if that makes sense. I’d prefer to come off this medication slowly but I’m not opposed to a traditional detox if that doesn’t work. My last resort choice would be to go on subs or methadone simply because I don’t want to go through tapering twice, tho I’m open to it if these other methods don’t work. In an ideal world, a doc would prescribe the meds and oversee the taper, but docs in my area seem very unwilling to take on new pain patients, let alone prescribe MS Contin. Just looking for guidance and opinions from those who have tapered in the past.

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