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Keep tapering? Use Suboxone? Need advice please!
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Keep tapering? Use Suboxone? Need advice please!

For several years I’ve been taking painkillers. More specifically, for the last 8 months, I’ve been taking at least 15 Norco/day. UGH. To avoid cold turkey withdrawals, I have started tapering down my intake. Four days ago I cut myself down to 6 Norco/day and that’s where I am currently. This jump hasn’t been easy – I’m definitely still feeling the withdrawals. From here on out, I am planning on tapering a lot slower. But! I also have another option. I have a bottle of 8mg Suboxone pills just sitting in my medicine cabinet (RX’d to me between surgeries). Now I’m wondering… should I skip doing the Norco taper and just switch to Suboxone and taper off that? I’ve heard Suboxone is really potent and can cause some pretty major withdrawal symptoms after you stop taking it. Any thoughts on which is an “easier” or “better” taper? Or if you were in my position, is there one you’d prefer over the other? Or is there a chance I’ll need the Suboxone after I’ve totally get off the Norco? I just want to make sure I’m doing this “get clean” detox the right way! In two months time or less, I don’t want to be on ANY medications at all. Any insights would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

(Note: I gave myself two month’s time because I’m three weeks post knee surgery and need some pain management during my physical therapy)      
Tags: norco
11 Comments Post a Comment
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4113881_tn?1401895587
I think this is a very interesting article that addresses your whole question. I provided the link to the whole thing underneath this section I clipped for you. It addresses Suboxone tapering in depth and gives great insight on whats the lesser evil; detox from Suboxone or opiates:

"I am sure your Dr. Seems like a great/supportive/understanding person. But if they tell you that the wds from sub are going to be mild, or tell you to stay on it as long as you like, then they are misinformed. Sub wds are rarely mild and due to the extremely long life, they will last for a very long time. Most of the literature and research done on sub seem to promote this miracle pill mentality. Buprenorphine is just another opioid, and no matter what excuses you can come up with or rationalizations, this is still drug replacement therapy just like methadone. Sub has been nicknamed methadone-lite or the lesser of two evils. It is addictive and a real biatch to get off, just be aware of these factors when making a decision."

http://www.medhelp.org/health_pages/Addiction/Suboxone-Subutex-FAQ-Part-One/show/14?cid=66
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"Any thoughts on which is an “easier” or “better” taper? Or if you were in my position, is there one you’d prefer over the other? "

Ive never used Suboxone myself so I cant comment on which withdrawals are worse. If I were in your position...wow, that's a tough one. I guess if I was going to use the Subs the Dr. prescribed, Id do so as soon as the post surgery knee pain dissipated enough that you didn't need the Norcos anymore. Then, Id flush the Norcos and try the Subs since that was what the dr requested. Dont know if its right or wrong...just my 2 cents.

Maybe someone with Sub experience will chime in.
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Avatar_m_tn
1mg of suboxone is close to what you are taking now, 60mg hydrocodone. I used a 20 day sub taper to get of 200mg of methadone and 8mg worked just fine as a start dose. I share that to explain just how powerful subs are. I think you would be increasing your opioid intake by using suboxone. In your position, I would taper down the norcos and be done with it. Also, you want to be done in 2 months, subs stay in your system for 21 days. I'm not sure you have time to be totally clean in 2 months. The link that ActingBrandNew posted has a lot of great info I trust and agree with. I never recommend subs for anything but High dose, strong opiate addiction. Hope that helps.
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4823849_tn?1373661429
Thanks for the response ActingBN and the link - you're always so helpful :) I'll read that this evening and talk to my doctor about it next week. He RX'd me the Suboxone 2 months ago when I informed him I was terrified I was taking too many Norcos for my leg pain post surgery #1 ... we weren't sure if my physical therapy would eventually help or if I'd need another surgery. He wanted me to have it in the event I wanted to cut down the Norco and slowly go up on Suboxone (honestly by this time I think he thought I was making the pain up but didn't want to offend me). We never went over the specifics of dosage because right before the holidays my surgeon diagnosed a major surgery in the new year. So I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to do with these things. Sounds like they can lead to some pretty awful withdrawals. Thanks again!!!  
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4823849_tn?1373661429
Thanks so much weaver71! You're so knowledgable about Subs - I had no idea the equivalent of dosage compare to the hydro and that puts it in great perspective. Armed with Acting's article and what you've informed... I'll keep on the path I'm going with the Norco taper. You guys are great - really appreciate the detailed and quick responses! So helpful... Now if I could just get this damn knee to work again so I could get some fresh air and exercise... that seems to be a very hard part of me cutting down right now. Not having an outlet to help build up my endorphins :( I do anything to go on a long walk tomorrow to help make me feel better. Sigh. Thank you again!  
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Avatar_m_tn
Remember rebound pain. When you start to withdraw, the pain is worse than it would be had you never taken opiates. You nuerotransmitters in the brain have stopped making natural pain killers. The protein drink(amino acids) are what your body needs to heal the brain's natural functions, B vitamins too. I think you are making a good choice, just don't get in a hurry. Slow and steady wins the race. You have your whole life ahead of you to find new knee treatment and live a good clean life. Glad we could help. Keep posting for support and advice.
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2107676_tn?1388977459
Stick with your taper.  You are doing very well on it.  The slower the better.  Just cut down a bit and stay on that until your body adjusts to it.  Then reduce a little more.  If you are doing a proper taper, you shouldn't be uncomfortable.  2 months is a good and wise plan.
You seem very determined and are doing it right.
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Avatar_f_tn
Miss C
I think you should continue the taper.... Maybe stabilize at the 6 per day then decrease again.  
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4823849_tn?1373661429
THANK YOU! :)
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480448_tn?1403547723
I agree completey with what everyone said.  Just the nature of how buprenorphine binds to the opiate receptors would most likely put you in a worse position, w/d wise.  While it certainly isn't EASY to come off either Norco or Sub, I think, comparitively, you'll have an easier time with the Norco, especially because you've already done so well tapering yourself down up to this point.

My advice to you would be to take the remainder of the taper as slowly as you can, dropping down in very small increments, then allowing yourself to stabilize and feel better after you adjust to each drop down.  It will take a little longer that way, but I think your w/d symptoms will be much more manageable.  Utilitize the info in the thomas recipe to treat any of the w/d symptoms as you go.

Very best to you...I think you're going to do well.  Update us when you can!
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4823849_tn?1373661429
Thanks Nursegirl :) I was feeling like my jump from 15 Norcos/day to 6 Norcos/day was maybe more than I could handle. But it's what I promised myself to do one day as I wept in front of my husband. I handed over my pills to him and he has been stern about keeping me on that dose. Two days ago I wanted to rip his head off as I had just had a gruesome physical therapy session that day, I was having a panic attack, and my body was screaming for more pills. Often I want to kick myself for the years I took pills recreationally... because now that I have true pain, I feel like my addiction intensifies it (like weaver on this thread said). Now on day 5 of being at that dose, I'm starting to acclimate. I say that lightly, as it's still affecting my body and my mind every hour, every day. I'm proud of the taper I have accomplished... but in all honesty, I'm scared about the tapering to come. I find great comfort when I hear you all telling me to take it SLOW. For some reason, I have it stuck in my head that taking it slow makes me a failure. Because I'm not strong enough to go through the Cold Turkey like so many others have. I'm hoping on Wednesday I can go down to 5 Norco/day smoothly... I haven't decided if I'll do that yet - or still with the 6 Norco/day for a little bit longer. I guess I'll know when the time is right because I am DETERMINED to get off these. I want to start a family... I can't think of any better incentive then being clean so I can try to get pregnant. Thank you for your response. And thank you again to everyone on this thread. I feel like I say thank you sooo much it might come off as insincere - but it's not. I have great faith with all your support, I will be able to do this! :)  
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3197167_tn?1348972206
So glad you posted with your concerns and have been so open to reading what others have experienced.  Also, glad that you came to the realization that even from your jump of 15 to your current 6 hydros a day is still LESS than putting suboxone into you would be.  You wouldn't be tapering DOWN you would be INCREASING the narcotic level on your pain receptors. I very blindly and ignorantly allowed a dr to put me on subs for 28 days and THEN learned what they were.  If I had to do this whole thing over again,  I never would have takens subs for hydrocodone addiction.

If you are able to taper from this point, that's a good think in my estimation.
It doesn't mean you are "stronger" if you cold turkey.  It's just that for some of us.....drawing out the physical w/d and our inability to ONLY take the committed taper amount is NOT possible.  I was one of those.  I went from 20-30 hyrdros a day (10 mg) down to 10 pills/day.  I found that FOR ME, if they were around me, available to me, even tho my hubby was dispensing them.....I would "act a fool" and turn into a CRAZY woman screaming for  them.  It is really a personal experiment, if you will.  Just remember that the drop from 15 to 6 was HUGE and until your body stablizes at 6/day...you will experience opiate w/drawals of some kind.  If you level out and are ABLE to cut out a pill and level again.....your body will obviously not be in as much shock when it doesn't receive ANY narcotic med, but you WILL still have w/drawals...just not as severe.  The pain levels for me could not be accurately assessed until ALL pain meds were OUT of me for at least a few months or more.  Our pain receptors are "confused" and they have to go without for awhile before they begin to heal and produce our own natural pain fighting chemicals.
Rebound pain for me was WORSE than while taking opiates.  You will probably be like most of us and start gaggin on that word TIME...but it took time for our bodies/brains to get this way and it obviously takes an equal amount of time for them to heal.
Wishing you the best on this new journey~
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