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Want a successful taper. Looking for any insights/advice
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Want a successful taper. Looking for any insights/advice

Hello to all my MedHelp friends! Nothing urgent here. Just looking for some support/advice from anyone that’s tapered off meds slowly and successfully. Or anyone that knows a lot about it…

Quick Background:

• A recreational user of pain meds for 3+ years

• For the last 9 months, been on a constant dose of about 15 Norcos/day for my knee surgeries (I was RX’d 12 Norcos/day and 2 Oxys/day = about 15 Norco/day in my mind. I lump them together for the sake of simplicity)

• Took Suboxone for a short duration of about 3 weeks. 4mg/day in addition to the other meds. (BTW, for anyone that says you can’t get high when you are on Subs, I don’t get it. I was still feeling a major buzz. Also, my Doctor RX’d me anti-nausea pills to keep me from barfing during that time)

Where I’m at:

• I QUIT the Suboxone and Oxys cold turkey 4 weeks ago.

• I CUT my Norco intake down to 6 pills/day 2 weeks ago.  

• I’m FINALLY feeling a little more normal, but it’s been a hell of a bumpy ride.

Where I go from here:

That’s where you come in!!! Now that I’m not convulsing in my bed, crying non-stop, and actually able to get some sleep — I’m finally READY (mentally and physically) to start tapering my Norco use by elongating the time intervals of when I take my pill. Tomorrow I begin doing this! For example, I’ve been taking 1 every 4 hours. Tomorrow… I am going to take 1 every 4.5 hours or 5 hours. Once I’m stable there, I’ll keep going… slowly spreading out my timing and lowering my daily intake over time. That sort of taper plan was suggested by a friend on this site, and I really liked the sound of it. As of now, I’m not confining myself to strict deadlines. For example, I’m not saying I MUST be down to 4 pills/day by next Wednesday. I notice that makes me anxious and I focus too much energy thinking about it all day.  

In your experience, am I fooling myself into thinking I will continue to taper based on what “feels right” for me at the time, instead on putting myself on a strict schedule and sticking to it? I do want this badly… my husband just left me with 3-days worth of pills while he's away and I'm not tempted in the least to take more than I should be - I won't. I can't go back. Yuck.  

Also, when I finally take the last leap off, am I going to experience really bad withdrawals again…. because even though I had tapered down to a very low dose, my mind was still being tricked into me having something? Just want to know what I’m in for. Obviously I’m a total baby. Stomp foot: “I DON’T WANNA GO THROUGH AWFUL WITHDRAWALS ANY MORE!” haha… Sorry, it’s been miserable (as most everyone on here knows)

There’s got to be some success stories out there, right? Any thoughts are truly appreciated! Being this isn't a frantic "PLEASE HELP ME" post - I realize I might not get a lot of feedback... Like I said, just looking for folks that have some insights from their personal experiences or whatever :)  No biggie. If anyone finds this post through a search and are going through the same thing, or thinking about doing a taper. Hit me up! Thanks guys!  
24 Comments Post a Comment
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470217_tn?1360568961
Hi!

You wrote:

"In your experience, am I fooling myself into thinking I will continue to taper based on what “feels right” for me at the time, instead on putting myself on a strict schedule and sticking to it? I do want this badly… my husband just left me with 3-days worth of pills while he's away and I'm not tempted in the least to take more than I should be - I won't. I can't go back. Yuck."

Given your track record thus far and determination, I personally think it's possible for you to do exactly what you propose above. That's what I did. I totally felt my way through, taking just enough to keep the worst of the WDs away. I took comfort in the WDs because it meant I was making progress. And I knew that with my level of responsibility I just couldn't take it all on the chin.

The last jump is always 100%, but I listened to my body and ended up taking that jump after my monthly cycle, when I was at my emotionally strongest. Had I imposed a time to do that, I would have maybe ended up not thinking about it and doing that jump during PMS. I think that would have been way harder emotionally...most things are for me at that time :(

Anyway, this approach worked for me, not perfect for everyone, of course. I wish you luck whatever you do. You've come so far, oh my gosh!!


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4823849_tn?1373661429
Thanks so much Killer Zoey (love the username) - I feel the SAME way about the W/D symptoms. This morning I woke up and was able to get out of bed and feed the dog, have my ENSURE before the WDs kicked in. I also took a long nap today and woke up feeling okay :) That to me says, "uh oh" I'm taking more than I need right now, time to jump on the taper wagon! I'm a little nervous about continuing the taper - after all, the fear of failing when for you is not an option anymore, can be a lot of pressure. But it's also exciting to know you are taking steps to getting better. Yah, my first "taper" was a freaking hot mess. It was more of a cold turkey off the big guns... and a major cut off the smaller devils (Norco). I personally needed a kick in the butt to get me motivated and I'm glad I'm off all that other stuff. The Norco taper seems much more manageable now that I've been through that. You make a really good point about PMSing and getting off this stuff. I'm an evil basketcase during that time as well. I'll try to time it where I jump off completely after the emotions and cramps are out of my system. Thanks for the reply! Very reassuring and helpful. And congrats on your success! For "aftercare" I'm hoping this site and my determination will get me through any rough days. When I'm off, I'm off. There won't be pills in the house to find if I have a strong craving. And well, I've never gotten the nerve to buy them illegally... I won't go there. Too chicken and I don't even know where to find them other than my doctor. So I'll no other option but to keep on keeping on. Thanks again :)  
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2107676_tn?1388977459
With a proper taper you shouldn't be feeling any withdrawal symptoms.  Get your body used to what you are now taking and when you are comfortable and not experiencing any withdrawal symptoms, reduce your intake a small amount.  Even if it's only 1/4 of a pill a day, you are still reducing.  When you are comfortable with that (even if it takes a week or more) reduce another small amount.  You don't want to go into withdrawal because that defeats the whole purpose of a taper.
You have already cut down a huge amount so allow your body to adjust and then go from there.  Slowly.
You seem very determined and I think you can do this.  
If you try and go awhile without taking anything you will probably start having withdrawal symptom and then have to take more pills to get comfortable.
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4113881_tn?1415853876
I think your goals are very realistic. Whats important is that you keep moving forward...whatever the plan be....which your doing. Just keep running towards the finish line...whether you get there slow or fast...just get there.

Hang in there
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470217_tn?1360568961
That's a good point, Pat, about not wanting to push it too far to where you have to over-take in order to get out of the WD woods. Even with a "listen-to-your-body" kind of taper, it's best to have some sensibility about it and not push too far. Sometimes that might look exactly like a scheduled taper. But (and maybe, again, this is more for women like me who get kind of whacked with hormone fluctuations) sometimes it feels like there are almost these "windows" that we can jump through and make headway on our tapers. And sometimes it feels awful and it might be best to hang at a certain level until the body says "go". Maybe in the end it's not much of an advantage over a scheduled taper, but I think I was able to quit faster this way.
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2107676_tn?1388977459
Totally agree, everyone is different and that is why it's so hard to give tapering advice.  You did really well with your taper and tapering is really hard to do.
I have read so many threads where people were tapering and in withdrawals the whole time.  They have disappeared from the forum and I just wonder what happened to them.
It's nice to read success stories and that's why I always try and suggest to do it slowly. People want to get it over with so badly and end up going too fast and failing.
You are a success and glad you are sticking around to help others.
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4823849_tn?1373661429
You guys are right - you probably shouldn't let a withdrawal get too bad... or else, you risk messing everything up. For me a small reminder of why it's so important to get off this stuff doesn't seem so bad. We'll see though, today is my first descent day after weeks of being pretty miserable. I might have a false sense of assurance right now that will bite me in the butt if I do anything too fast in the future. As I taper from here on out, I would love not to have any withdrawals... I just have a feeling that I still will, even if they are minimal - such as lack of sleep or an upset stomach. I'm sure I'll feel the mental WDs regardless. The anxiety and cravings will surely come and go no matter what route I take. I guess that's just the price I have to pay. I am just hoping I feel an amazing relief from not having to schedule my appointments and social outings and LIFE around these pills. My thigh muscles are really sore today from walking on my bad knee yesterday. I'll be able to report that back to my physical therapist tomorrow. Finally, some honest feedback for her on where I am in my recovery. Before she was like "Does it hurt when you go downstairs still?" Ummm... next question, please. Thanks for the kind words everyone. Sounds like this is ultimately so different for everyone and their body. I don't know why I'm always looking for someone to tell me what's going to happen next, or how I should or should not feel. Haha - fear gets the best of me. I'm just going to have to go through the experience to know what happens in the end. Fingers crossed. Thanks again!
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470217_tn?1360568961
Aw, thanks :)
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470217_tn?1360568961
It's so good that you expect to feel anxiety and lack of sleep, even with a taper, as did I. It makes it so much more bearable when it comes, and it feels like you won something when it doesn't :) I look forward to reading your progress, I'm rooting for you!
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4823849_tn?1373661429
Thank you!!! I'm sure I'll be hitting you up with questions as I go :)
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4626633_tn?1382600722
I didn't taper, know nothing about it, but can offer support!
Have you tried CT in the past? I guess I'm curious since you stated today was your first decent day after weeks of feeling misrable. I'm missing something, as with CT you only feel totally misrable ( physically) for a week or so. Less time than you stated you have been misrable with your taper?
And I don't know subs either. But I have read, as I'm sure you have, the ones that used after ct, for less than 3 weeks, as not to get much wds from the subs, as using longer would promote.
Curious too about the Sub use early on instead of at the end. Was that because of the initial big jump?

Anyway, rooting for you. You seem so determined. You'll get there! Prepare for the mental, I hope it's less due to the taper.
I haven't had any cravings. The mental is just different for me. It's anxiety.
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4823849_tn?1373661429
Hey Barb! Thanks for writing me :) I did a CT a year ago from recreational pill usage. Was taking about 5 - 7 pills a day. It was bad for a week... but I managed. I messed it up after being clean for about 3 days because my husband fractured his spine and I couldn't resist his meds. Shortly after that I blew out my knee trying to taper... wanted the exercise. That landed me taking about 15 pills/day with my two surgeries. Right before my last surgery, my doctor RX'd me Suboxone for knee pain - NOT for a drug detox. I didn't know that's what it was for really... I mean I knew that was one way it could work, but he made it sound like it was just a great way to help move around before my next knee surgery. I can promise you that being at 4mg/day of that stuff for 3 weeks, then stopping cold turkey will give you really BAD withdrawals. So why I was miserable for so long was because A. I was dealing with cutting my Norco intake from 15 pills/day to 6 pills/day. That was my "taper" but that's really not a taper. During that time... My Suboxone started to leave my body, adding more withdrawal on top of the Norco withdrawal... that's my only explanation for being miserable for 2 weeks. I dunno... maybe other people can handle a CT from Suboxone after only taking for 3 weeks. I was hurting really, really bad. People also say you can't feel a high from other Narcotics when you are on Suboxone. But I did - I was on the Subs and my high doses of Norco at the same time and feel good. Maybe I just have some sort of freak anatomy! Thanks for writing :) I appreciate the support! My taper for here on out will actually be a true taper.... slow and steady.
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4823849_tn?1373661429
Oh also! If you're asking why I didn't just do a CT this time... its because I can't afford to miss any time off from my physical therapy, and when I do CT - I am a wreck that cannot leave the house. Not that I was far from that feeling the last 2 weeks anyway, but I pushed through. Plus I had a difficult surgery that landed me a real good hematoma. My thigh muscle has atrophied badly since not using it since last June, so while I've had the surgery to fix my knee (again), I'm still scraping my patella along my femur each time I move it. As I get my thigh stronger, my patella will get on track... Really, I am trying to cut my pain meds down, but I am still instructed to use them as I regain strength. Bone on bone pain is hard to control with RX Advil... and if you're in excruciating pain during Physical Therapy... you can't do your exercises. If you can't do your exercises, you aren't gonna get better :) I think maybe that's what you were asking. haha - I could be wrong!
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4823849_tn?1373661429
BLAH! on the CT I did the first time... I was miserable for a week, then when I was at 3 day out of my WDs, I caved again. Sorry, that sentence I wrote initially didn't make sense!
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4626633_tn?1382600722
I get it know lol. I thought you used the Subs to help with your stopping plan. And wasn't sure why you did at the beginning!

Also, wondered if you felt so bad, for weeks, why you didn't just CT. My reading here has me thinking tapering is to feel less WD's, not a longer time of being misrable. But I see, you were mainly misrable from sub wd too.

So, how is taking less pain medicine working for your pain? Is it making PT tolerable for you at least? I hope so! I can honestly see where bad pain could make a person relapse. You and I both picked a funny time to get off pills. I have surgery in my future too. But I keep reading about the pain being possibly worse while using pills. Even though I know I won't be pain free, I am desperately hoping I do have a bigger reduction in pain than the pain meds gave me, if that makes sense!

I'm proud of you! Tapering is hard! If you're in pain, and there is something nearby to help, you're going to want to take it!

Hope your therapy goes well this week. I hated PT. I liked OT much better, where you could be lazy because they were only working with your brain. I could do puzzles and color lol
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4204073_tn?1361835076
I too was never able to stick to a taper plan.  Well...a long term one any way!  I would do ok for a few days then say 'screw it, I want to feel high or better, so I will start again tomorrow".   Tomorrow never came, so CT was all I could ever do.   However I know people that have tapered and from what I understand, it is like pain management.  You don't want the pain to get out of control before you take something for it, otherwise you are chasing after the pain.   Same thing with withdrawal.    

My friend put out a notepad and wrote down everytime he took a pill, how much and what time.   That helped keep him on track and he said seeing it made it much easier to manage than keeping track in his head.   Plus it gave him a visual record to see his progress which kept him going forward.     Of course for me, I would have probably thought 'oh, one won't hurt" until I needed that one later and then said 'forget it' and wadded up all my progress and threw it in the trash.   LOL!    
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2107198_tn?1336139706
I was unable to taper, if I had pills, I would use.  I did cold turkey from about as much hydro as you are taking now and would recommend it.  It is no worse then having the flu for a few days, and to me anyway, a taper just drag, drag, drags the mental part out.

The brain/mental stuff is important as we really chew them up on the narcs.  Our brain stops working properly and it takes a long time to get them healed up.  I looked at it as I was each day healing my brain and getting better.

Anyway, everyone has to do what works for them.  Good luck with your taper!

Bryan
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4823849_tn?1373661429
Another surgery for you? BOO! But - I know people that get around taking meds. If it's an aggressive surgery, you'll probably need pain meds though. I'd just give them to someone else and administer only as needed for pain  -  then get them out of the house! PT is actually going OK now - it still hurts bad, but I don't use anything for break through pain... I only use pills to avoid withdrawal. I try to time my dosage with PT lately, and that's going good. While the pain is bad, it shows me where I am in my progress... I know now if I'm truly getting better, or if we need to switch up my exercises. Oh yah, and I had a brace made for my leg. Haha - so that keeps me off the ol' Norco ;) Thanks again for writing. Best of luck with your surgery - keep us posted on everything!  
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4823849_tn?1373661429
Yah - that's the hard part about a taper - - you have a lot of temptations. My husband gives me my pills, so I really can't mess anything up. That's smart about writing down your doses. I take notes in my iPhone, or just remember - don't take for 4 more hours. I'm watching the clock a lot, that's for sure ;) I have 2 days of pills in my possession right now because my husband is out of town... and haven't gone back on my plan. The guilt and the fear of withdrawals is working to keep me on track so far. We shall see!
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4823849_tn?1373661429
Thanks Bryan! yah... Cold Turkey might be better for a lot of people. I've done it before though and I know I wouldn't be able to function for a good week. I can't miss a week right now. Right now, tapering makes sense for me because I'm post op. So as I heal from my surgery... day by day... I also taper from my meds... day by day. It does drag the process out a lot longer - but at least I'm functional to go to Physical Therapy, you know? Oh and I have no control over my pills. They are locked in a safe and I don't have the code! My husband distributes them to me everyday ;) Thanks for the message and congrats on being clean!
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4804873_tn?1360166137
You are doing SO GREAT girl!!  Just awesome...you have stuck to your taper, AND you are dealing with that injured knee, heck that would give many people an excuse/reason to give back in to the pills completely!  I think you are doing exactly what you need to do-you don't want to miss your PT, and you have been successfully tapering.  Good job sweetie!  :D
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4823849_tn?1373661429
Thank You!!!! :)
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Avatar_m_tn
I tapered off perks by dropping it by 5mg every week, it took me about a month. I did have some rough times but not real bad, mostly not sleeping at times or awakening in a panic attack but as noted it sincerely was not bad. I loaded up on vit and ensure and started that right off the bat. I just relapsed after hurting my back but none left and nowhere to get them, cut your ties to the drug and just slowly taper off, the worst thing I went through was not the taper I found myself so exhausted every day for about a month but it passed. Exercise and the vit seemed to bring me out of it. Never again. But don't fear the taper I know I repeat but it honestly was not bad, just take it easy and don't waiver. You will get this behind you.
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4823849_tn?1373661429
Thanks NickDad! Great advice :) I'm so sorry you are going through back issues. Argh. What's going on with you? Being injured is the worst. I'm taking lots of vitamins and drinking protein stuff. I've been in this position before and the one thing that got me out of it (without being a total witch) was exercise. Anyone that can exercise should definitely do it!!! I am, unfortunately, just trying to walk without a limp these days... 3.5 weeks (or is it 4 weeks now?) post-surgery. I have no clearance to run, jog, swim, bike, or take too long of walks. It's such a bummer. I used to love to sweat out the toxins. And exercise gives you such a great "natural high." My ties to pills the last year have been my doctors, for my knee. Before that it was me stealing from my husband's stash (he fractured his spine) or from a friend - that friend has since moved to LA and my husband is now aware of my problems. So, when I'm done - I'm done. No more pills for me. Thanks again for posting :)
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