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40mg Methadone, 30mg Hydrocodone, can I just taper off?
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40mg Methadone, 30mg Hydrocodone, can I just taper off?

After feeling like crap (more like feeling neutered) while taking the pain meds above for severe back pain I told my doctor I had decided to quit.  No comment from him.  He just filed out the prescriptions as usual.

So, I just stopped.  Next day, I thought I had the flu, took a 10mg methadone just because I was having bone aching pain and figured I'd just stop again after the flu and damn if the "flu" didn't just go away.

Had another visit with the doctor and he just laughed and said "yah, that's what it feels like."  Wow.  

So...he gave me Subutex 8mg.

Thank God I looked it up because, apparently, if you take it before feeling withdrawal symptoms, it will put you into a full-out withdrawl (withdrawal) and, because it blocks other opiates, there's not much to be done.  Thanks Doc.  Double Wow.

Called the nurse at the office and she said "Oh, he didn't tell you about that?"  He called my cellphone that night; he probably thought he was going to get sued.

Since I don't have reliable info about how long to wait before taking the Subutex, I've just continued tapering.

I've managed to get down to 20-25mg Methadone and 15-22.5 Hydrocodone but the pain brings me back.  

I'm not sure, at this point, whether I'm in pain 'cause I'm in pain or I'm in pain 'cause I'm having withdrawls.

Could anyone who has gotten off this level of Methadone with or without Subutex comment?  

Should I just continue tapering off?  Is the pain just the pain that drove me to the meds in the first place, or is it just the pain of withdrawl (withdrawal)?  Does it really take 30 days to get methadone out of your system?

Anyone with any info, thanks in advance for any advice you might have.  

Obviously my doctor is going to be less than the best possible resource...

Thanks,

S
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11 Comments Post a Comment
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Avatar_m_tn
hey dude  welcome to the forum .....well I can totally relate I was put on methadone for back pain also...all the pills they tried had no staying power the 12hr would where off in 3hr so they chose methadone for its long 1/2 life I stayed on it for 6 1/2yrs went from 40mg to 150 over time...I just kicked it 67days ago...as for getting off you have to do it slowly ...the withdrawals are sever if you dont taper off...I was given a taper secedual
by a neo/natal nurse that brigs babys off heroin ,methadone oxy ,ext and I used it
it worked good for the most part it goes like this....10% taper in dose every 72hr
sometime you got to give it a bit more time to let your body adjust to the lower dose
mabe a week or so...dont taper if your feeling the withdrawals bad wait it out
if your on the 5mg pills cut them into 1/4s and go 1/4 a week till your down to one pill then just jump off.....sub is not an option if your on the methadone as well as the pills you have to have all narcotics out of your system b/4 taking the sub so it dosent sound like that will be an option for you....you need to taper off the hydros to
it sounds to me like you got your hands full with an active addiction ....you can break free of it ....its going to take some time...it took me 8 1/2 mo but I was at 150mg of methadone  as for your hydro habit just start droping of 1 pill ever 72hr till you get it down to 1 then jump off.....as for doing this...you got to want it bad...and you just got to get comfortable with the saying...'"you just got to be ok without being ok for a wile" withdrawing is uncomfortable but if done slowly it is very doable  good luck and god bless...Gnarly  
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228936_tn?1249097848
I wouldn't be too concerned about the hydro as they are kiddie drugs compared to the methadone. You could taper off of them in a matter of days but longer for the methadone. You doctor sounds like a clueless clown and really doesn't know squat about the very heavy drugs he prescribes. Subtex 8 mg and then laughs? I can't believe people like that have DEA numbers, there should be a seperate test for prescribing narcotics for DEA liscensing Do you really want to get off all narcotics or do you need them for pain? Subtex may be a bad choice. How are you doing now?
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Avatar_m_tn
Hey, thanks for the quick reply.  I guess I'll just keep tapering then.

"sub is not an option if your on the methadone as well as the pills you have to have all narcotics out of your system b/4 taking the sub so it dosent sound like that will be an option for you"

Do you have any sort of reference for this?  My doctor gave me this prescription and, if I'm reading things correctly, this would have been about the worst thing I could have taken.

I think I have enough of everything to taper down by that 10%/3 days schedule 'cause I'm sure not inclined to go back to this doctor...

Thanks!

S

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Avatar_m_tn
Yah, I'm really getting the idea that he doesn't have a clue.

If I taper off on the 10% every 3-7 days, I have enough to quit.

Thing is, I don't know if the pain I have now is because of real pain, or just the aches and pains of getting off the methadone.

I'm cutting down gradually but damn am I cranky and I haven't been careful enough about making sure I have enough ibuprofen or naproxen to keep real pain at bay, I guess I need to put them on my regular schedule and not wait 'till I hurt.

Can subutex work with methadone or is it just a no-go?  He (the clown) seemed to think that it would give the methadone time to work its way out of my system and that subutex would be easier to get off of since it's shorter acting.

At this point, I don't believe anything he told me...I think I'd rather hear it from real people who have done it.

They ought to make them get hooked on their own drugs before allowing them to prescribe them.  The more I think about it, the madder I get...

Thanks,

S
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1047946_tn?1332611629
I do not have experience in either methadone or subutex but from what I have read on here from others is that the subutex is also a bear to get off of. Many say it is just switching addictions but do feel it does have its place as a last resort. That last resort being that someone has tried everything to get off of their original opiate.
Like I said, I can't personally comment on either one but just wanted you to be aware that the sub will also cause withdrawal symptoms and can be very tough to get off of also. I'm sure more will comment here in the next few days. It has been kind of slow lately. I'm sure some of the pain that you have been feeling is from withdrawals. Our minds tend to play every trick in the book trying to get us to take more. I started using due to back problems and when I went through withdrawals the pain seemed to come back ten fold while detoxing. After about a week my pain subsided. Congrats on wanting off of the pills. It will be a tough fight but worth every second of it!! You will do just fine with your taper. Hang in there and know it gets better!
Best of luck to you!!

Brian
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks, Brian.  I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing, tapering off.

Adding regularly scheduled ibuprofen and/or naproxen seems to have helped a bit and I'm down to 1/2 dose in only a couple of weeks so I think I'm just going to hang in there and cut down slowly.

Thanks also for the head's up on subutex.  I think it really is one poison for another.  

The rationale, as far as I can tell is that it doesn't stay in your system as long as methadone (30 days!), so should be easier to quit for that reason alone.

Thanks,

S
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1047946_tn?1332611629
Just from reading others that have posted about sub I think you are wise by sticking to your taper. I can't even count on all my fingers and all my toes of the many people that wished they would have just tapered or went cold turkey off of vicodin, oxy, etc instead of taking sub or going to a methadone clinic. Many have said it ended up being so much harder to come off of. Make sure you listen to gnarly about tapering of the methadone. I've read many of his posts and he is VERY educated in the whole process. Methadone is getting more and more popular for pain relief but is not prescribed at that high of a dose for pain compared to a methadone clinic where people go to get off of opiates. He should give you hope seeing that he was on 150 mg and is now completely off of them. Just follow the taper schedule that he posted for you. As for the vicodin, you may be able to completely cut them out since you are currently taking the methadone. Methadone is a much stronger opiate so it may mask the withdrawals from the vics. You could try and cut them out for a day or two just to see how it goes. Just let your body to the talking. You can always throw them back in to the mix if need and continue to taper those also but I think you'll be okay.
I would also recommend to start exercising as I feel exercise was by far the best tool for a quicker recovery. I would also check in to the amino acid protocol and start the supplements right away also. Just be sure to check that you can take them while taking methadone. I took all of them while on vicodin and didn't have any negative symptoms. Even  though they are just vitamins sometimes we have to be careful. Also push the fluids and eat healthy. It will help get your mind and body back on track a bit faster.
Just keep going strong. You will make it through. Be sure to read posts, post as much as needed, and respond to posts. Responding to posts has helped so much with the extra motivation we all need during this time. Just knowing a few words that I have typed may have helped someone take the plunge can really make you feel good. Even if you just answer posts just to give a few words of encouragement can be very rewarding. By posting on how you are feeling will give you something to look back on and the fight you fought just in case you ever get the urge to start taking pain meds again. It's amazing how they can sneak back up on you. I know you are not addicted, just dependent but sometimes you never know. I started off the same way but eventually they got the best of me. I've only taken them when in pain but ended up taking more than prescribed because I built such a tolerance. I'm actually still taking them but have kept my use pretty much under control. I admit that last few days I have been taking around 8 or so of the 10 mg norcos but was only taking 2 at night last week. I'm going to start tapering in a couple of days. If I don't stick to my taper I'm flushing my remaining script and just going to go cold turkey. I can't let myself get to the point I was at last year! I have a wife and two young children so I have too much to live for! Sorry for rambling. It just feels good to get things off my chest!
Hang in there buddy. You will do just fine!

Brian
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890982_tn?1259094785
Heroin was originally promoted as a cure for morphine addiction, then methadone came along as a treatment for heroin addiction.  More recently, subutex and suboxone have been used for addiction to methadone (and other opiates).  All these drugs are extremely addictive.  The main difference is in the relative availability and legality for prescription purposes.  From what I've observed from the sidelines (as parent of a methadone addict), treatment is not exactly rocket science at this point.  If my son were still around, he would be able to speak from the experience of a two-year attempt at recovery.  It's worth mentioning that there is a real danger of overdosing during recovery from methadone, because you lose your tolerance, and then if you relapse, it's very easy to overestimate the dose, as my son found out.  Although it's pretty slow-acting, methadone builds up in your system, and an overdose can hit very suddenly.  If you're alone, unconsciousness and respiratory failure can occur before you have time to get help.
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228936_tn?1249097848
You are getting some good advice here, to keep on the taper and forget about the subtex. The one thing I would really like to know is are you mainly a pain pt. or are you also a regular drug addict? There is no right or wrong answer just what it is for you. This can make a difference in the degree of difficulty you have getting off methadone or any narcotic. The other thing is, how much pain are you in and do you need narcotics for pain. Again, there are no right or wrong answers. Often here on the substance abuse board, we just assume everyone is a die hard dope fiend like I used to be. all the best
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890982_tn?1259094785
In my comment of a few hours ago, I said:

" From what I've observed from the sidelines (as parent of a methadone addict), treatment is not exactly rocket science at this point."

What I meant to say was that it was not an exact science, meaning that doctors and other authorities are not always in agreement.  The way I put it implies that treatment of opium addiction is simple to understand.  Far from it!  That's what I get for posting early in the morning. :-)
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Avatar_m_tn
Not a drug addict, at least not 'till now ;-).

Was just taking for pain, realized that I had also become a eunich in the process, decided to stop and realized that I couldn't just stop.  

Not because of any desire to take the drugs, because of the symptoms created by not taking them.

I've tapered off to about 25% of the original dose and am going slow and easy down to 0%.

I'll have plenty around to use for pain, and I can always get another prescription if needed so I'm feeling pretty lucky compared to some of the stories I've read here.

I guess there's something to that "walk a mile in the other guy's shoes" thing.

I have a new respect for anyone fighting this nasty stuff.

S
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