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Long Term Opioid Addiction - Questions on Post Detox
  1. #1
    artgal is offline New Member
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    Question Long Term Opioid Addiction - Questions on Post Detox

    Hi all,

    I posted this earlier to Pain Killer Addiction but can't seem to find it anywhere. I think that sub-forum isn't very active. My apologies if my post shows up twice.

    I was a member of this forum about 10 years ago and I'm sorry to say I didn't follow through with breaking my addiction. I'm back because I will have to do it this time. With the new administration's war on opioids, pain meds are slowly becoming unavailable to most, with the exception of cancer and other terminally ill patients.

    Brief history: A botched back surgery in 1984 started me on Percodan. From there to Propoxyphene, which was discontinued, and now to Hydrocodone Acetamyacin 10-325 which is where I've been for several years.

    I've wanted so much to end this addiction, it's just been so hard. I've had some progress, though. Over the years I've I have cut back drastically (8 pills a day to 2) but when I try skipping a dose now, the withdrawal, especially RLS, is so awful and I give in, just to get some sleep.

    The federal opioid program has apparently begun. I saw my Dr. 2 days ago and was given a prescription for 25% fewer pills. The nurse told me the quantity will continue to be cut. I wish I'd had the willpower to quit years ago. The prospect of going through this now scares me on many levels: I'm much older now (68), I'm widowed with no family nearby to help. Also I'm in the process of downsizing and it's a huge job I'm trying to do alone (house hunting, packing, etc). I don't know where to begin. I know I'm going to have to do it this time and would be grateful for any support I can get.

    A question that keeps bugging me is this: After 30+ years of prescription pain medication addiction, will I ever be able to get back to feeling like I did before the addiciton? I know the added aches and pains of age will be there but I'm talking about feeling "normal"? Or have I permanently damaged my ability to produce the endorphins & dopamine necessary to function without feeling lethargic?

    Even more than the pain, I guess I have this fear of what I'll feel like into my post-detox future ..a fear that I'll lack the energy to manage my life properly. If there is anyone here who has recovered from a really long-term addiction I would love to hear from you and what I can expect.

    Thanks for reading.
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  2. #2
    Catrina is offline Diamond Member
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    Welcome Artgal!!

    You have landed in an awesome place to get advice and support on your journey toward the rest of your life. I took and abused pain medication for the better part of twenty years. I did manage a few very brief clean spells during that time but they were short enough that I shouldn't even mention them. At my worst, I was taking upward of 200mg/day of percs, hydro's, you name it and I'd take it and I'd take as much as I could lay my hands on.

    Your fear of what you are going to feel like post detox is well founded. We all share the same fears. Certainly, it's true that detoxing is the easier part of this. It's no fun by any means but the worst of a cold turkey detox will last for around five days. After that, you'll be mostly comfortable physically but the mental battle will begin. We are all just a little different so it's impossible to guess just how long it will take for you to bounce back. I can honestly tell you that things will get much, MUCH better after just a few weeks. The worst of it is the inevitable insomnia. The best and most important thing you can do to endure this is to get your head into the right space. Keep moving!! It's really the very best thing you can do. There are some supplements, all a part of The Thomas Recipe that may help some with sleep and energy levels. Just Google the Recipe and get yourself to the store and stock up.

    The short answer to your question is YES! I don't care how long you used or how old you are, our brains and bodies are remarkable and it will heal itself. It will be a really good idea to change things up and make healthy life style changes including exercise and diet. These are good habits to replace the bad. We don't "break" habits, we replace them so you may as well make those changes healthy ones because you'll feel much better for it.

    Don't fear what's in store for you. Instead, get excited. Find and keep a refuse to lose attitude. Don't scoff at that advice because it's what will sustain you when you think you can't make it through another day. You can and you will.

    Keep posting here and use this thread as a journal so that you can back up are be reminded of what you have accomplished. There will be others around and they'll share with you too. Ask questions. You are not alone. Oh! I should mention that after my twenty years of abuse, I am now over 8 and one half years clean and sober and going strong. I sleep well and have plenty of energy. I'm 65 years old. My active addiction is all but a distant memory and it's sometimes hard for me to believe that I lived that way for so very long. I also know that if I ever let my guard down, if I ever indulged in one pill, I'd be lost all over again.

    Welcome again!!

    Peace,

    Cat
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  3. #3
    Autumnhopes is offline Member
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    Hi artgal

    This is the right place to come! There is so much support & many here have been on opioids 10, 20+ years. They broke the cycle & you can too!! I remember going to pain management every month for my Percocet (or dilaudid or morphine) I took this meds 5 years. I relied on them heavily for not just the pain I suffered but to handle life... what a mistake so easily you become dependent & addicted and then willing to do anything to get the pills...
    I know myself I lied so much to these doctors (&everyone else in my life) just to get my Pills every month it was terrible and it makes me sick to think about it now that I've been able to get off that monthly being on the meds I feel so much better so much clearer

    I have taken opioids occasionally for extreme pain or in hospital but never again daily...
    You can return to "normal" & feel better then you ever could've imagined I didn't think it was possible I thought I would always miss the pills and maybe something always wouldn't feel right but it's not true I feel better than ever mentally without them and your body does adapt and so does your mind you will feel so much better believe me!!!

    It's tough to cold turkey but it's really the best way. 5-6 days of physical uncomfortable symptoms (nausea, diarrhea, RLS, fatigue, etc..) it may be hard to sleep though it wasn't for me. Some of the symptoms like sleeplessness may last longer then a week. But you get your life back. Tapering works for some ppl but it's tough. Sometimes I feel it just drags out the discomfort & symptoms instead of getting it over with.
    There are things to do to help yourself... have you heard of the Thomas Recipe? It has a lot of good things to have before you begin detoxing from the opioid (Though I'd skip the benzo, that is addictive & can just cause another problem)

    Let us know what you're thinking. Keep posting! Others will be here to help
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  4. #4
    artgal is offline New Member
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    Cat and Autumn - Thanks so much for your replies. Every word is gratefully taken to heart.

    Yes, I'm familiar with the Thomas Recipe. I'd printed it out when I was here 10 yrs ago and still have it. I'd even purchased all the ingredients and gave it a try back then, but chickened out before I even got through day 2. The RLS was awful. Plus I was taking twice the dosage of pills I am now. I may not do the Thomas Recipe this time, I prefer to do a very slow taper, but since my last attempt I've been diagnosed with Neurothapy and have access to a prescription of Gabapentin. I hate the way it makes me feel ..dizzy, uncoordinated, and foggy so I have quite a stockpile of it. I've read that it's quite helpful for RLS when detoxing.

    Cat - I was so encourged the learn that you are also in your 60s with a long history of use and you made it. Congratulations on your 8 years clean!! What an amazing accomplishment, it must feel so awsome! You mentioned that you now have plenty of energy. At 65, that in itself is amazing but I'm curious, after your initial detox, how long did it take you to get to that point of feeling energy on a daily basis? That continues to be one of my biggest concerns. All my life I was never a high-energy person. I had to push myself and envied those with high energy. If "chronic fatigue" isn't just a medical fad, I probably have it! Even so, it was much better than turning my life over to a little pill and I would gladly go back to the way things were. I'm just hoping that is possible. Thank you for your encouragement.

    Autumn - I know exactly what you mean about the lying. At this point I really don't think my back pain isn't manageable with Aleve. Yes, I get some pretty bad pain if I overdo but I let my family and my Dr think I'm in a lot worse pain than I really am, all to justify the need for prescription opioids. Shameful to admit, but when I've picked up my meds at the pharmacy, I've even wheeled up in a mobile grocery cart, just to look the part of a person in severe pain. As for my detox program, I really prefer the longer, slower method. I've decreased my dosage over the years and on some days can take only 1 pill (split in half) so I believe I have the willpower. Today I'm purposly witholding my 7am dose till 11am. It's 10:30 and I'm really feeling it! I'm so encouraged to hear you say that your energy and mental outlook on life returns. Did it take a long time for you to get to that point? And do you feel as though you've recovered to the point of being as energetic and mentally fit as you were before the addiction?

    Cat and Autumn - I admire both of you tremendously for your perserverence. But just as admirable is you willingness to stick around in an addiction forum and recovery centers to help others. One would think you would want to be as far away from any reminders as possible. I only hope that, when I emerge on the other side of this nightmare, my heart will be as generous as yours. Thank you both for your caring hearts. It means the world to so many of us.
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  5. #5
    Autumnhopes is offline Member
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    Hi artgal

    I’m glad you’re hanging in there! I’ve personally been dealing with some serious ups & downs.. my life has been a roller coaster lately, but what can you do? I’m glad to be helping others.

    It took honestly for me about 3 weeks to a month to recoup mentally & get my energy back. I dealt with a lot anxiety during my detox that lasted longer then most physical symptoms. I had severe anxiety for about 2 weeks. But after a solid month I felt my energy, my life my spirit soaring again.

    Believe me, it seems like it will last forever & then u realize you’re feeling better & better!!

    Keep us updated artgal
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  6. #6
    extremetm is offline Junior Member
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    If you're interested in a taper, the link to my journal is below. I'm 73 days clean today and doing great overall. Have slight PAWS. Doesn't help that my wife had surgery and is taking Vicodin right now. But for the most part, I'd say I'm 80% back to normal. Have done more in the past month then I've done the entire 5 years I was on the pills.

    The best thing you can for yourself is the best thing you can do for yourself. A life without opiates is like being reborn and totally worth it but you just have to say enough and do it. Face what comes and do it.

    Wishing you strength.

    https://forum.drugs.com/prescription...nal-74706.html
    Last edited by Anonymous; 06-22-2018 at 10:12 AM.
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  7. #7
    artgal is offline New Member
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    extreme - I just read and re-read your journal. I found it so enlightening and encouraging. Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It's put me in a stronger frame of mind.

    We have much in common. My drug is also Norco 10/325 and prior to that Darvon 65's for many years (they stopped making them). All together I have a 30+ yrs habit and I've managed to wean myself down from 60 mg Norco daily. Yesterday I just lowered myself again to less than 1 pill a day. I've actually been splitting them in 1/4 (not easy to do). At such a small dose, you'd think I should be able to just make the jump. I don't know why but I'm feeling the withdrawal more than I want to, especially RLS at night, and it's just keeping me stuck where I'm at. More than anything I want to be off this poison and feeling energetic and clear minded.

    Just noting a few other similarities with your story: The part where you describe how, if you couldn't get your pills into Dubai, you didn't think you could go. Hows this: I lost my husband to cancer a few yrs ago. We have a gorgeous lake front home that I can no longer afford (he was the main bread winner). I'm in the process of preparing to leave our home of 25+ yrs and looking for affordable housing. If that isn't stressful enough, I've been overlooking a lot of good home possibilities because they are too far away from my pill doc. How sad is that, to choose your future home based on pills?? Well, as you briefly mentioned, the tighter laws - as it turns out it's even worse now. My Dr of 20+ yrs, who is probably the most liberal pill pusher in my state, just started decreasing my prescription dosage by 25% less each monthly visit. (120 - 90 (now) - 60 - 30 - 0) Good thing you quit when you did. No thinking about it now. Quit I must. I refuse to end up on street >>>>>>. I just wish I wasn't so stuck at this current dosage, it's so low. But I intend to work with it till it works with me.

    Thanks again for sharing your story. I believe the slow taper is the better way and I think you did a fabulous job. Very encouraging. Also great that you have such a supportive wife. I know that had to go a long way in the success of your recovery.

    Oh, did you (and your pills) ever make it to Dubai?

    ~Big Congrats!~

  8. #8
    artgal is offline New Member
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    Autumn - A month isn't bad at all to regain what it took years to loose. I think the process is just so mentally and physically challenging that it seems much longer. My hat is off to those who can go CT. I guess I'm too much of a coward

    I know what it's like when everything in your life is challenging your efforts. I'm going thought it so badly now that I've questioned my timing for doing this taper. But I'm going to push forward and hope for the best. I hope your circumstances clear up so that you can enjoy the wonderful addiction-free life you've conquered for yourself.

    Question - when everyone mentions having anxiety symptoms, what exactly does that mean? I guess the only reference I have to anxiety is when I worry over something, for example maybe finances - having to find the $ for an unexpected bill. Is it basically the same type of mental anxiety with 'post detox anxiety'?

    Wishing you a great weekend.
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  9. #9
    Catrina is offline Diamond Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by artgal View Post
    Autumn - A month isn't bad at all to regain what it took years to loose. I think the process is just so mentally and physically challenging that it seems much longer. My hat is off to those who can go CT. I guess I'm too much of a coward

    I know what it's like when everything in your life is challenging your efforts. I'm going thought it so badly now that I've questioned my timing for doing this taper. But I'm going to push forward and hope for the best. I hope your circumstances clear up so that you can enjoy the wonderful addiction-free life you've conquered for yourself.

    Question - when everyone mentions having anxiety symptoms, what exactly does that mean? I guess the only reference I have to anxiety is when I worry over something, for example maybe finances - having to find the $ for an unexpected bill. Is it basically the same type of mental anxiety with 'post detox anxiety'?

    Wishing you a great weekend.
    Hi Artgal,

    I'm glad to see that you are continuing to post here. I did note that you were here about ten years ago. Isn't that a shame? Not just you. All of us. So much wasted time but it's never too late to get rid of this God awful burden. There just isn't an easy way to do it, plain and simple. When I stumbled upon this Forum early in 2010, it was during a sleepless night when I felt so hopeless that I spent hours searching for the magic answer to get clean without having to endure a detox. Instead, I found this Forum and spent the entire night reading thread after thread and by morning, I was excited and ready. I knew that that was my time and I couldn't wait to get started. Needless to say, I didn't find any magic cure to addiction but what I found was even better. I found an incredible community of addicts who wanted nothing more than to be my cheer leading section and to share everything they had learned for no other reason than to help me. Astonishing. Right?.

    Just to back up a little here--I think that Autumn's recollection of how long it takes to really feel like you've gotten past the utter lethargy that persists after detoxing is similar to my experience. The first five days were spent detoxing and finding a way to survive the symptoms. For me, the RLS was the worst symptom and yes, Gaba did help me. I also used two heating pads set on low wrapped around my legs as best I could and they really did give me some relief. On Day 5, the RLS and body aches stopped very abruptly. I still had to use Immodium for another week or so but it was effective so that symptom wasn't much of a bother for me. Sleep, or the lack thereof, was the most persistent symptom. For the five days of detox, I hardly slept at all. For the next couple of weeks, there were nights when I didn't sleep at all and other nights that I would be able to snatch an hour at a time. After that, I began to sleep for three or four hours. It was exhausting but I was comfortable and thankful enough that I just resigned myself to the poor sleep and trusted that it would turn around. Of course it did.

    I did want to speak to you a little about that pesky thing that we all talk about--anxiety. I can only speak for myself, but I think that whenever I got ants in my pants out of sheer boredom or when a craving reared its head, I called it anxiety. In retrospect, it really wasn't. It was simply learning how to live clean and sober and not quite knowing how to do it. I would guess that it took me four or five weeks to really settle into my sobriety and learning other ways to fill my time. Does this make sense?

    My success this time I believe is relative to my ability to go into it without dread but with excitement instead. It might have been difficult at times going on little to no sleep but I truly was high on life. I just loved the miracle of not having to dose every morning before I could begin to put one foot in front of the other. I discovered that I wanted that more than I wanted a pill and it carried me through even the toughest of days. Once those clean days began to pile up, I became less and less willing to give it up for the sake of a pill. Oh if only I had learned that many years ago.

    Finally, based entirely on experience, I can confidently tell you that the trouble you are having now is likely 99% a head game. This is not to say that you wouldn't have any symptoms if you stopped all together, but I am very confident that the physical discomfort would not be that bad AT ALL. When we continue to return to the pill bottle to avoid any level of discomfort without giving it a fair chance to see how bad it will actually get, it's the mental part of recovery that has you struggling. Having said this, it's going to be pretty hard to taper any further than you already have and I would really encourage you to stop. I don't think that your physical symptoms will last more than a few days and it'll be done. The insomnia and lethargy is going to give you some trouble even if you are able to taper further. It just makes sense to get it over with and really begin to heal. Until you are completely clean, it will delay the return of sleep and energy. So, now that you have your daily dose down to so little, I think it makes good sense to rip the band aid off. What do you think? This is your show and I don't mean to cram something down your throat that you don't want to do but on the other hand, I hope to point out the wisdom of facing the inevitable. This is exciting stuff!

    Keep posting!!

    Peace,

    Cat
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  10. #10
    Sinthetiks1222 is offline Junior Member
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    I said in another thread somewhere that I never believed the whole staying busy thing helps. I tried to CT more times than I can count over many years until this time it finally stuck. I'm 7 months now and I very rarely have anxiety or cravings. I decided about 2 weeks into detox that I would throw myself into the things I love that I had forgotten about during years of use.

    I play alot of games. I'm a chef by trade and I use the extra cash I have now to experiment with food at home. Not to mention summer in Finland is incredibly beautiful. We just had the midsummer festival which is a big deal here. Sun never sets and the temperature is amazing.

    I too recall at one point on sub wanting to visit my wife overseas before we were married. I almost didn't go because I needed to make sure i had enough sub for a month long visit. Was also worried about being allowed to cross the border with a full month of sub. Every country's laws about these kinds of meds are different. It really does tie you down. But the freedom now is incredible. I use that feeling and the memories of withdrawal and constant worry about if I have enough sub to fuel my drive to NEVER go back to that lifestyle.

    I don't know if we ever truly become "normal" again after poisoning our bodies for so long. But I do know we can function normally and live and love as normal people do. At least to me it's normal lol. Good luck and keep on keeping on.

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