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The Opiate Journey
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The Opiate Journey

I have quite the personal story for anyone and everyone to read, from beginning, to"end".

It starts 2 years ago.

Quick background : Had been going through a lot of pain in my stomach and lower back, all sorts of tests and nothing came out of it. All negatives. Resorted to gallbladder surgery with 50/50 outcome it would fix the didnt.

I started on Vicodin after having my gallbladder taken out. At that time, I was taking it for a pretty severe pain level. I dont remember the exact dose, but it was fairly strong, but to me, not strong enough. I was given a perscrup. of 30, to take once every 4-6 hours. The pain was intense, so I took 2-3 every 3 hours. It helped pretty good.
Of course I ran out fairly quickly, and was still in pain, so I got another 30 of the same. This time around i tried taking 1 1/2 to help it last. Ended up going to 2 since the pain was still there. After that ran out, I figured I was out of the woods, in terms of pain.
Keep in mind I had no idea the power of opiates, I only knew that they helped with pain, and that was it.
Come a few days later, I was really dizzy and out of it, and my body was acting weird. It was a very scary experience. I went to the doctor and was feeling like i was literally dying. My heart rate was 120 laying down, then 140 standing up. In the back of my mind, I thouht that I had some internal bleeding and was dying. The doctor told me to go straight to the ER. By then, my heart was beating awkwardly, palpation's, and was fluttering bad. There is no way to describe how awful that feels, along with all the other symptoms.
At the ER, they took blood, EKG, dont remember what else. Everything was negative. They didnt seem considered about how I ACTUALLY felt, more so that the tests were negative, therefore I was fine....What a bunch of BS. They prescribed me some Antivert, and it did nothing at all, and sent me on my way.
They couldnt figure out what was wrong, so they sent me home. And I only felt worse and worse.
After a terrible night of laying there, legs twitching everywhich way, my head tossing back in forth, trying to a comfortable spot, yet finding nothing, I watch the clock go slower than ever. I felt I was on my death bed.
The next day, I was not any better. My dad stopped by on his lunch break, seeing me laying on the bed like this and said " get up, we are going to a different ER". He knew there was obviously something wrong.
So we went to a more 'family friendly' hospital instead of a 'downtown - we only want gunshot victims' hospital.
From there, they did the same tests but this time actually talked to me and listened to me. Having told him about the painkillers I was taking, it sparked an interest in him. I thought nothing of it. After all those tests came back negative, he said 'lets try a different test'. He injected some painkiller into my IV, it rushed through my body and my heart almost instantly went back to normal. It was an amazing feeling, weight off my shoulders. He gave me a 20 pill prescription and said try weening off, and talk to your primary about it.
I was in shock. My body was craving this so much, that it was trying to kill itself to get some of it. The weirdest part is, I had no idea thats what my body wanted. When I hear about people with addictions
craving' , 'fiending' for something, I figured it was more of a mind over matter type deal. Say when you get a sugar craving, you KNOW thats what your body wants, but It doesnt need.
My body wanted this SOO bad, and I hadnt the slightest idea that it wanted that. It still boggles my mind how your body can just fiend for something, yet your mind doesnt know what.

After that withdrawal episode, I said to hell with that, Im never going through that again.

My back pain and stomach pain continued and I had no choice but to take meds for it.
I was prescribed percocet 10/325. Man did it help with the pain. I kept getting 180 pills a bottle....a lot..
I was also prescribed Xanax for how stressed ive been .
So fast forward a year and a half to a few weeks ago.

I was only taking 1 perc (10mg) 3 times a day for give or take a year, but the fatigue was really wearing thin on me, as well as the other side effects.
So I decided to start cutting back SLOWLY. It only took a few weeks ( maybe a 1-2 months) to go from 10 mg 3x a day to breaking the pill in quarters and having 1/4 a pill 3x times a day. I figured it was good for the long run on my body. Since, my back pain has increased, as well as a cyst on my spinal cord in my neck, which was brushed off the shoulder of the doctors.....

I went back to the doc to see if anything else can be done/tried to help my back. She said I might have fibromyalgia, and gave me Lyrica to try. I didnt want to be diagnosed with this but wanted a little 'closure' of where my pain is coming from.
Let me start off by saying Im glad Lyrica works for some people. but the insane ammount of side effects is ridiculous. Its a powerful drug, but not a narco. After uping the dose a few times to see if that help ( seeing as i went from 50mg a night to 300mg, the doc telling me that some people had to take 800mg before they noticed anything) I didnt feel this drug was right for me.
And I have been taking the same 1/4 pill of perc 3x times a day for the day time pain(reminder)
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779797 tn?1263621835
So come about 2 weeks ago, I decided Im done with Lyrica, so I did a rapid weaning from 300 mg, to 200 to 100 to 50, then nothing....bad mistake. I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic. It felt as though my skin was really hot, but my blood was freezing cold pumping through my body. I had a anxiety attack from it. I took a Xanax and my girlfriend got me to relax and go to sleep.
When I woke up, I felt the withdrawals from my dreaded Vicodin withdrawals coming back, but not as bad. The dizziness was the worst, and man do I hate when I dont feel like myself. I was able to get a sample bottle of 50 mgs and ween of those slowly.
It was my mistake of making that mistake twice, but this time I quickly knew what was wrong and took care of it. Let me just say that Lyrica, although not a narco, its a very powerful drug that has the same bad withdrawals as any narco out there. Scary stuff.
While I was weening off of the Lyrica, I had a thought go through my head. I questioned to myself, after just watching people all day, whom dont really take any meds, ' What does it feel like to have nothing bad like that in your system?' ' What does it feel like to live without your body relying on meds?' I want to know what the feels like again.

That said, I decided to get off the Perc's. From 1/4 pill 3x times a day, to 1 time a day, to nothing.

Today, February 28th 09
I have been off Lyrica for 1 week. Most of the bad withdrawals are gone.
I have been off Perc's for what is now Day 5.
The pain has been pretty bad. Seems a lot worse thans its been before, and my drive for anything is almost gone.
You would always have something to look forward when popping the pills, but when thats gone, you drive pretty much stops. It *****.

Now for the Q and A feature of my post.

1. Having been on pain killers for over 2 years, though never getting carried away, your body has been getting this stuff each day, and now that the weening process is over, and Im on Day 5 of being clean, how long will it take for my body to actually be done with getting over the fact that Im not giving it anymore drugs? What are the long term effects that it will have on me?
2. The short term withdrawals seem to be over, but there is a lingering dizziness and 'out of it' that I cant shake. It was the main reason I wanted to get off of meds, to feel natural again, and just deal with the pain myself. But it causes a bit of depression when you get excited that your off of the meds, but the feelings of what you thought were due to the meds are still around. Seeing as I am only on Day 5, how long have you guys noticed this feeling? I just need some reassurance that this will pass.
3. My pain levels are insane, is this due to the fact that my body wants the drugs and is making the pain worse than it is in order to try and get some?
4. Does anyone experience 'warm sensations' in there veins from time to time? Kind of concerns me.
5. How long did it take for the sleep problems to pass? I wake up with extreme anxiety and have to take a Xanax to get back to sleep. Anyone else experience this passed 5 days? If so, how long?
6. How long did it take to get back to a sense of normalcy? The pain will be there, and I think I can deal with that, but when will the dizziness and 'out of it' feel dissipate? Please share experiences
7. Alcohol. I only ever mixed narco with a beer or 2 before, I didnt like the reaction, so I made sure to wait at least 4-6 hours after taking a narco before drinking a beer. Was this wrong to do? I know your not supposed to, but I tried to live my normal life of using alcohol as a form as relaxation.
Now it seems that my body rejects alcohol. I drink it, and get more dizzy than before...and this never used to happen. I could hammer a 6 pack and not feel this dizzy and confused.
Does my body have to fully get over the pills before it can actually enjoy alcohol again? Or will it just never be the same? I hope not...
8. Xanax : I only take it when Im feeling anxiety from this dizziness B.S. and need something to calm my nerves. Normally I would just have a beer (before starting pain killers) but seeing as I cant do that, Im forced to side with Xanax. Opinions on this? I figure that once I get everything out of my system, then I can finally get rid of this too.
Opinions more than welcome.
306455 tn?1288865671
Welcome to the forum and congrats on getting off all that stuff.
I'll try to answer as many of your questions as I can, keeping in mind that everyone is different and recovery may vary a bit.
1. I'm gonna say the average for your body to start getting use to no drugs is about a month, but you may find yourself getting mental cravings sporadically for a very long time.
2. It will pass. You can help along a little by eating good, drinking plenty of fluids and getting some exercise. You can also try "The Amino Acid Protocol" which can be found under the Health Pages (upper right side of this screen).
3.Opiates will stop your body from producing its own natural pain killers, so when you stop the opiates, pain will feel extreme. It will take a little bit for your body's pain killers to kick back in.
4. I don't remember the warm sensations in my veins. Maybe someone else will .
5. Sleep can be a problem for a while. Again an average of 1 month for normal sleep patterns to come back.
6.The "out-of-it feeling will go away. you will start feeling normal again.....2 weeks..1 month....everyone is different.  Keep busy.
7.Your body is going threw a lot of changes right now, drinking is not the best idea right now. Someday you'll be able to drink your 6 pack again, but you may need to build up to it.
8.Careful with the sangs, you don't want another addiction to deal with. Depression and anxiety are very normal after withdrawals and can last  up to 1 month or so. If it continues past that or gets worse, you may need an anti-depressant for a short while. Sometimes the brain doesn't snap back to fast.
Good luck to you  and keep up the good work. Hope my answers were some help to you. You can also post on the Substance abuse community, up at the top in blue type. Just click on that. Everyone on the forum knows what you're going thru and are happy to help.
779797 tn?1263621835
Appreciate the response. Sorry for the long post, I just feel that the more I explain, the better, hate leaving out anything important.
So for those who can bare 5-10 minutes of reading, please do, It will be greatly appreciate and be helpful to my recovery.
775823 tn?1239679722
Hey, your story sounds very familiar....dizzy spells from w/d!!  *****!!  Just to warn you and everyone, this is going to be a lengthy post for me so I can tell you what I did and what worked for me...  

I have Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Was diagnosed when I was 19, I am now 29.  At the beginning of my diagnosis I had a pain level of over 10 on a scale from 1-10.  I could not bend my fingers at all and any slight movement in them was soooo painful!!  With that said, my doctor started me on steroids, NSAIDS, and painkillers (Lortab 7.5/500) for my pain.  I started out only taking the painkillers 2 pills once a day sometimes 2 pills three times a day if needed.  That is what the script was written out as to take, take 2 pills 3-4 times a day as needed for pain.  I was not abusing and was within the limits of my script.  

Anyway, I stayed this way for about 5 years using my pain medication then I started to get dizzy spells which started to freak me out!!  I would get them while driving or while I was out in public a lot of the times.  I thought I was going crazy!!  Anyway, it made me wonder if the pain killers were causing the dizzy spells??  I decided to ween myself off of the 4-6 pills I was taking daily to see what would happen...  I weened really fast, in about a week and a half at most if I remember correctly.  The dizzy spells did not go away during this time and after I was off of the painkillers, they only got worse for me.  I didn't want to drive or go out in public for fear of having a dizzy spell and either crashing my car or fainting in public.  I also went to the ER one night to see if maybe I was dehydrated or something like that and they gave me IV fluids b/c I was dehydrated from the w/d process of going off of the pills in the first place.  The fluids didn't make it any better I was still constantly dizzy.  

I went to my internal medicine doctor and told him about the dizzy spells.  He basically thought I was becoming some type of recluse who was afraid of being in public and who was afraid of driving.  I told him about just coming off of painkillers as well and he didn't feel like the dizzy spells were due to that.  I kept telling him the car would feel like it was moving while I was parked at a red light.  He gave me some Lexapro for the problem...  b/c he thought I was crazy...  which I was not.  

So, I started taking the Lexapro to see if it would help and made an appt. with an ear specialist b/c I needed to find some other type of answer other than I was crazy!!  
Went to the ear specialist next, did all of the test, found out there was fluid in my ear.  Doctor also told me a had a disorder called "Halo Migraines."  She started me on a diuretic, valium for the dizzy spells, and Lexapro.  I asked her if I was crazy to which she laughed and said no you have Migraines!!  I did the diuretic and valium for about one month or maybe two and am still on the Lexapro to this day.  Lexapro (SSRI's) are used for migraines which I didn't realize until she gave it to me!!  Within about a month, the dizzy spells were gone.  

Now if the dizzy spells were from actual migraines or from Lortab w/d, I don't know.  My ear doctor swears the dizzy spells were from the migraines and not the w/d process.  I believe that too b/c I was getting the dizzy spells before I decided to ween from the painkillers in the first place.  The bad thing on my part is that I haven't kept up my appointments with the ear doctor so I stayed on the Lexapro probably longer than I needed to (I am still on it).  Pretty soon I am going to do a taper plan with my current RA doctor to get off of the Lexapro as well.  Which I am kind of worried about b/c I heard the w/d can be bad as well...  But I don't want to be on this stuff forever either!!  But then again, what if I get off of it and start having dizzy spells again??  Only time will tell I guess when I do decide to get off of the Lexapro which I am going to try and start to do within the next 2 months...

Fast forward to "current" days...  I had been off of pain pills for about 2 1/2 to 3 years after I first stopped taking them.  I had to start up again b/c my RA pain was so bad.  So for the last 2 years or so I had started out taking 4-6 pills a day as needed for my pain.  I was also on steroids (Prednisone) again which I hate being on!!  In order to get off of the Prednisone b/c I didn't want to be on it I started upping my pain pill consumption myself.  The pills were no longer helping with my pain.  I was now taking anywhere from 14-18 pills within a day for my "pain."  Really I was just taking them to feel normal.  Needless to say, my script of 240 pain pills a month would run out before the month was over (my brother was taking my pills as well just to get high).  Usually my pharmacist will fill my pills one week early but this time it was a new pharmacist who refused to fill...  I was mad at the time of course but now realize this was all a blessing in disguise!!  I have been opiate free for 12 days now and with no pain at all!!  I did it cold turkey this time around and it really has not been that bad honestly.  It was a lot worse the last time when I actually tapered b/c I felt like hell the whole taper.  The first day was the worst of the process cold turkey and by the second day I was out shopping and it has only been up from there.  I still get fatigued from time to time but it comes and goes.  I started sleeping "better" after day 5 I would say.  Last night I went to bed at 2am and woke up today at 12pm, so that was actually good sleep for me!!

I haven't had any dizzy spells this time around, so maybe it was halo migraines in the first place or maybe the Lexapro is helping with masking the dizzy spells this time around.  I know opiates do a lot to the SSRI inhibitors in your brain and I think the Lexapro is helping with that while I go through this process again.  That is my opinion of course...  I also had access to Vitamin B-12 injections that I have been doing while going through w/d this time around.  That has helped a lot as well with giving me energy!!  Plus I am taking a good multi-vitamin too.

Sorry for the long story and rambling.  I just wanted to give you some insight into my experience!!  Your story reminded me or mine!!  Maybe something else is up with you or maybe it is just part of the w/d process, the dizzy spells.  I know they suck!!  Believe me, I was right there where you are!!

You will be in my prayers for sure!!

Avatar m tn
wow that sounds like such a ordeal i feel for ya thts gota suk tht u didnt evn kno tht u were w/d"ing, well just be glad that ur done now just try and styru staright cause u coulda got it worse i mean pill wise u kinda followed the orders on how u take em many on here including myself took way to namy and way to many at one time so be glad that ur thru ths hel and now u can def have sum appreciation for what people r going thru cause it sounded like u had no idea how bad it is and could be, sorry if the words ar misspelled and nite not make full sence im detoxn now off a 50+ pill a dat habit of norcos 10/325 for last 7 yrs and its absoulte hel firt now dont kno if im gna make it. so good luck to u and hope all works out 4 ya
779797 tn?1263621835
Interesting story, dont worry bout length! More info the better. Funny thing you mentioning Lexapro. Supposedly the story behind that is its a weak anti-depressant from the 80's (or so the doc told me ) that she gave me to help with stomach problems(supposed to relax muscles or something). Which it didnt do. And if i remember correctly, it actually made me dizzy, not as bad as the Lyrica, but it was present. I remember i wasnt taking much of it and just stopped taking it and it put me through more dizzy spells, so heed that warning!

Its funny though, maybe I should go to a ear specialist if it continues, becuz everytime i went to the doc and mentioned dizziness and she looked in my ear, she said I had a 'kids ear infection'. I would take amoxicillin, but the dizziness didnt go away.

Its gotta be something to do with the w/d's . It never mentions it, on any site , that dizziness is part of the withdrawal process, but ill beg to differ.

When I first got off the Vicodin (the er visits) it felt as though I drank a 18 pack of beer and went on a roller coaster.

With different peopl I guess different effects, but i think this should be one of the more extreme. Being dizziness and out of it *****, because with it comes the other 'fun' stuff like anxiety, nausea, fatigue, etc.  

One of the withdrawal symptoms is 'flu-like symptoms' , which I had pretty bad, sore, achy all over, as well as constant mucus going down my throat. Its almost like it does something to the sinus's and/or your ear's.

Anyone else have anything like this?
779797 tn?1263621835
Thanks man, you definately feel more sympathy and understanding to anyone going through any withdrawals. I know you can get through it too, thats a hell of a time your gonna have, but it will be so worth it when you can get off. These forums have helped me understand so much, just keep coming back, as it will do the same for you.

Just remember, dont go cold turkey, its hell. Ween is the only way. And dont do it unless you actually want to get off of them.
775823 tn?1239679722
Def. go see an ear specialist if the dizzy spells continue!!  At the time I too looked up dizzy spells and the w/d process to see if I could find anything on the internet and in my nursing school books and never could either!!  Even every doctor I asked about it didn't think it was part of the w/d process because it lasted well over the actual w/d process was over.

Maybe you have some fluid build up in one or both of your ears??  Might be possible.  And if it is fluid in the ear, an antibiotic will not help like you said.  You need a diuretic like aldactone to get the fluid out.  Now I really want you to go to an ear doctor too just to see what they will tell you!!  I also tried Antivert and it didn't do anything for me either so it's not due to motion sickness.  That is basically what Antivert is used for.

Thank GOD my w/d's weren't that bad this time around.  They weren't fun but they were tolerable...  I had the flu-like symptoms for the first 3-4 days then was just mostly fatigued from then on out.  I feel pretty good today (Day 12)!!  I don't have any aches and finally slept really well last night!!  I am still fatigued from time to time, it comes and goes.

Anyway, congrats on your success!!  I hope you get completely over your lightheadedness and dizzy spells!!

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