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how to get off long term methadone use
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how to get off long term methadone use

My husband has been on methadone for about 14 years.  He's 58 years old, retired,  and we've been married for 34 years.  He had some problems with drug abuse when we were first married and at different times in our marriage.  He would always try to hide it from me, but it was obvious.  He has had a lot of painful conditions that contributed to the opiod abuse.  During the 1980s he suffered with almost constant migraines.  He's probably had 50 kidney stones over the years and  he has a bad neck and back.  He had surgery on his neck and he has herniated discs in his back.  His doctor says he has degenerative disc disease.
About 14 years ago he felt like he was getting out of control with the pain medication.  He was referred to a methadone clinic and I have to say that it really helped him.  The first couple years he had to go to the clinic every day and went to daily support meetings.  Eventually he worked up to every other day, once a week and then, finally, once a month.  
In the last 14 years I can say that he has never abused any pain medications.  It's been like he never had a drug problem and he says he doesn't even have the least desire to abuse drugs.
So, what's the problem, you might ask?  He really wants to get off the methadone.
I'm sure anyone who's been on methadone long term would appreciate his concerns.  He's gained 50 pounds since he's been taking methadone.  He started snoring the very day he started on the methadone and now has sleep apnea.  He falls asleep at the drop of a hat.  We can't travel anywhere without timing it so that he can have his methadone.  I think his brain is affected by the long term methadone use.  
I suggest to him that he start tapering off the methadone little by little over a long period of time but he seems to think it's almost impossible to get off methadone on your own.  We live in Tampa, Florida and there is a well-known rapid detox center near us.  He called them and it would cost $15,000 to go there.  We can come up with it, but that's a lot of money to us.  
It might be worth it, but I worry that once he's off the methadone he'll start to feel the pain that drove him to abusing drugs in the first place.  He has no desire to use drugs now, but how will he feel with the methadone out of his system and how safe is rapid detox?  The clinic in Tampa is supposed to be one of the best and you spend several days in the hospital.  
I guess I'd like to know what you all think.  I'd like him to at least try the taper and he is leaning towards the rapid detox.
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11 Comments Post a Comment
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306867_tn?1299253309
Sorry, I don't know much about the rapid detox.  I haven't heard many on here talk about it either.  Just my opinion......i kinda agree with the taper .....I don't think there is any way to avoid the withdrawals.  Hopefully others that know more will respond soon.  If not repost in the morning.  There are so many helpful people here.  Best of luck.
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271792_tn?1334983257
Please do no consider rapid detox....his life would be in danger. 14 years is a long time and no matter what..I am sorry to say..he will experience extreme withdrawal coming off of it. He will have to taper down to the lowest amount and even then, he will suffer. I only know of one other way that may help him.
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Avatar_f_tn
I understand & can relate to your husbands desire to get off methadone, as a matter of fact I have been going thru a long taper myself, last june I started to taper from 95 to where I am now, & thats at 12mgs, & trust me when they say when you get under 20mgs is when it gets to be tough, but I am determined to win this fight. Theirs no guarantee that this rapid detox clinic will help your husband nor the drug suboxone, as withdrawals from opiates is just gonna have to be something your husband may have to face if he ever wants his life back, basically once he understands the long process of detoxing the better off he will be, theirs no easy way to get off drugs, I mean if you want something bad enough you have to work for it, so I say, slow taper is the way to go, as I have seen people go thru it & they have all lived to tell their tale. Also you didnt mention how much methadone he is taking, as this could play a factor in the whole situation? Lots of luck! Penelope
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Avatar_m_tn
I have apost one here called "suboxone disaster" by chris please read!!!

Bascially I have been IDR-which is instant detox release whicj means I will come off 50 milligrams of methadone in about5-7 days for GOOD! Your husband will know how hrad this is to do after being on it for 4-5 years!!!!
     I have to switch to suboxone which about killed me the first time..please read my post!!
    I wish your husband the best of luck!! Its a mind game but you have to have a goal/game plan!
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Avatar_f_tn
My husband is on 120 mgs methadone daily which he gets from a pain clinic since we moved to Florida from New York state.  He went through a long hard treatment for Hepatitis C last year and I'm happy to say that he's cured of that.  Now that he's free of the hep C, he would really like his life back and get off the methadone.  
Penelope:  It's nice to hear that you're known people go thru it and "live to tell the tale".  It gives me hope.
IBKleen: The rapid detox place says he won't suffer and should feel better in a few days.  Do you have personal experience with rapid detox?
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271792_tn?1334983257
No hun, I do not have personal experience. I am only talking from stories I have heard. I will say this..if it is too good to be true, it probably is. I am coming from stories after stories from others. the success rate is not very high. I will say this, if you are seriously considering it, then please do your homework and read all you can..good and bad.

I know he is going thru hell and that is such a high amount to be coming off of, he would have to taper at this rate.

There are other options but the choice is surely yours. I am hoping he will get thru this as easily as possible. He sounds like a good man and you are wonderful to stick by him. Best of luck.
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228686_tn?1211558307
Chris, I'll be interested to hear how it goes.

I've done one methadone detox, I did it at home coming off 40 milligrams and it was hell. I made it through the initial two week withdrawals but the PAWS afterwards (six months later) defeated me.
Of course, I didn't know anything about it, and got no help everywhere I went.

This time I'm gonig down very slowly. I'm down to 3.5 right now. I'm told that cutting a half a milligram once a month will make for almost no real withdrawal, so we'll see.  

I'd suggest a long term user like your husband should do it slowly. Don't focus on it to much. It's already a part of your life. Pick an amount and go down as frequently as you want to. Even if he does a few milligrams a month, it's that much closer to where you want to be.
There's no set rule in doing this. I dropped 5 mg's every two weeks at first, then switched to 2.5, and now to .5. I've found the lower I get the longer it does take to settle down (the last 2.5 drop took a month before the minor shite you go through went away).

The best rule you can go by is what you can do comfortably. Most people I've talked to failed because they dropped to fast, couldn't take it, and started taking other drugs to compensate...which defeats the purpose.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks for your support.  It is a high amount and he's been on it for a very long time.  The rapid detox place says that they routinely detox people on over 300 mgs a day!  It's hard for me to believe that anyone could take that much methadone and still function!  
Since methadone is a pain medication I'm afraid that even if the rapid detox is successful he'll be in pain afterwards because the methadone was masking his pain and he may just have to substitute something else with the possibility of falling back into addiction.
This may sound corny, but every day at dinner we say a prayer that God help him to get off the methadone.  
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Avatar_f_tn
Congratulations!  Sounds like you are well on your way. I agree with the slow taper, but I'm not sure I can convince my husband.  I can't imagine that he can just go into a clinic, sleep through the withdrawals and feel 90% better in just a few days.  What do you mean by PAWS?
His brain is so used to having the methadone, it seems like there would have to be some kind of mental withdrawal, besides the physical.  I'm wondering about depression.
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352798_tn?1399301754
PAWS is post acute withdrawal syndrome. Go here to read some about it.
http://www.medhelp.org/user_profiles/show/333612
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271792_tn?1334983257
I have to try this one more time. Your hubby has been on Methadone 14 years..it is a dibilitating drug and he is 58 years old. No, I do not have personal experience, as you asked. However, if you do the research, you will find the people who have died..and there are many, have died from heart failure. It seems that you, are looking for a quick fix and that scares me..please..again...PLEASE do the research. There are other options and you seem fixated on this method.

I only speak because I care and wish you the best in recovery for your hubby and you as well.

I have a lot of info on PAWS..if you want to read it, please let me know. Because , as it has been mentioned, he will most likely suffer that...rapid detox or not. Again hun, PLEASE do your homework. If there were a quick fix, this forum would not be here, and neither would any of us. We speak from experience and years of it. Think about that.
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Avatar_f_tn
Actually, it's my husband who's fixated on this method.  It scares me.
I'm about to go to bed, but I'll check tomorrow to see if there are any other responses to my question and I'll have him read all of your advice.
Thanks again for taking the time to help.
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228936_tn?1249097848
It's hard to get off methadone when you have been on it for that long but it can be done. The keys are faith and determination. "Methadone, there's no future in it". all the best
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