Hey, I have been reading many stories/blogs on here and some are horrifying (actually most), but I also have read that some have had an ok time tapering off of suboxone. I'd like to share my story because it has been affecting me for about half of my life and if it wasn
[More]'t for family/support from loved ones, I'd probably would not be typing this now. I am 26 (almost 27), my opiate use started at 14 years old. I first started with xanex...because I had underlying issues in my life and felt I could tell noone I became addicted. That lasted for about 2 years. During that time i almost was arrested for causing a big scene (long story lol). The issue was that I am gay and had tons of straight friends in The Bronx, NY and my family (Catholic Irish/Italian family). Who was I to turn to? My mom finally got me to tell her what was wrong one day when I was furiously searching for pills (which I already took lol) and was crying and basically I just said "I'm gay!". Long story there too but not long after my whole immediate, some not immediate family, even my best friends found out. No one cared!! They accepted me. Ive heard of horror stories with people coming out, so I was naturally scared. Around that same time, I tried vicodin and percocet. Immediately addicted and I could care less for xanex after. Little did I know that my 15 year old self was about to ruin (sort of ruin) my life. I became a hardcore percocet/roxicodone/oxycontin user. It messed up my life completely. I will admit that I am happier (if you can even say that..) to have gone through this addiction at a young age rather than my adult years. You know like getting it out of your system young. Well that's hardly true for me because I'm addicted to suboxone now (prescribed by my psychologist). And to be real with myself, I will have to face being an addict the rest of my life (which I am hoping it will be soon that I can say I am an EX user).
One day around 22 years old I was so sick withdrawing from opiates, I finally made a choice to get help. A year before this my family forced me to go to detox/rehab or I'd have been kicked out of my home. The detox I went to and completed (they tried treating me with methadone and I told them NO that is just another addiction) - I did go to rehab too , and my parents insurance coverage with me ended up not being covered at the rehab center. I was like THANK GOD! I guess at that point all I wanted was a high. They picked me up and suggested I go to meetings with other gays in the city (Manhattan) to find support and ones who have struggled with addiction as well. I tried it and found the people there to be nice, but (and this is me being very honest) ...they were nothing like me personality wise and seemed to have their lives in much better order and they also seemes so weird.. (I guess I should have made new friends there, but I stopped going, I was so used to having straight friends they were too different to me). After this I became pretty antisocial and even did cocaine with a few "addict friends" and that lasted for a month - bingeing by myself walking throughout the neighborhood. I got so depressed from it I stopped completely.
So back to the day I mentioned above, when I was so done with withdrawals from opiates and wanted to change, I cried for my mom to come home from work and please to help me find a doctor that prescribed suboxone. One of my only true gay friends had mentioned it to me and was taking it himself to get better. My mom, aunt, and godmother (all worked together at the time at an orthopedists office doing billing). All 3 came home to my rescue and they tried for 3 hours, I was so sick that day I actually walked to the hospital a mile away to see if I can get relief (pssht yeah right, I was turned away and no mental health doctor would speak to me because I mentiomed suboxone). Anyway, I fell asleep and my mom woke me to tell me they found a psychologist with an appointment for me at 5 the next day. I was already going through withdrawals for 36 hours by the time I got to the appointment. I was given a whole 8mg pill of suboxone (because I told him when I got there I think I needed that much..he said ok). So I sat there for a half hour and told him I thought I'd need one more because I still wasnt feeling better. So another 8mg pilled (totaling 16mg's - NO ONE SHOULD BE STARTED ON SUBOXONE HIGHER THAN 8MG's AND EVEN THAT IS A BIT TOO HIGH. Even for me as a hardcore/long term user. Now that I know all about suboxone I look back and wished I did more research on it. SO almost 5 years later (present day) I am still on suboxone. After my initial visit (the induction process) I told my doc the next month I think I need another 8mg's a day. At this point, I was feeling AWESOME on 16mg's...stupid me trying to get clean?. So I was prescribed 24mg's per day the 2nd month. I was on that and 16 mg's for almost 2 years, JUST STUCK. Partially my fault/and yes partially my doctor's fault. It shouldn't be a years long process. If it becomes that, then you're not benefiting from suboxone, you are just becoming addicted to a more powerful drug at that high of a dose. I've learned that less is really more with suboxone. Im now 4 years later Im still on this crap, but for those 4 years I've worked my way down to almost 0.5mgs a day from 24mgs a day. Then this past year (2013-2014) has been hell. I had my mom dispensing my meds each day when I got down to 2mg's a day. At first I was okay, but as I was starting to taper correctly, I felt like I was not feeling as well. Addictive personality me went searching through my parents room to find my meds so i could take an pill. What an idiot right? Well no I'm sure I am not the only one who has dealt with this or has felt dread and guilt when it comes to addiction reality, so that is why I'm sharing (A BIT) of my story - so others can know a bit more about subs before getting on them because they are supposed to help you get off opiates right!
Well the past 6 months have not been much different. Went back up to 2mg's then 4mg's per day which is what I am on now. I take the white pill form (buprenorphine/nalaxone). I tried the film version and it made me sick. Thankfully my doc prescribed the pill version again. I just thought maybe taking a film thing that looks like a menthol mint strip or something like that, would get me out of the habit of thinking pills all the time, but it definitely has a worse reputation than the pills from the stories I have read. Because I was started at such a high dose I often times ran out of meds before my next script was filled. My doc at first did emergency scripts for me here and there, but he eventually said "I'll lose my license, I cannot anymore." So several times I dealt with withdrawals because of overtaking my meds. NOWHERE NEAR THIS MOST RECENT WITHDRAWAL. I went from 4mg's down to 2mg's and then 1mg in 3 days. Bad idea. But again I overtook my meds (so I'd be short 7 DAYS! That is like forever when it comes to w/d's. Here is the process/how I felt, etc. the last 5 days going through withdrawals. It may be really disgusting but it is reality and I hope this can help even just one person.
Day 1: Felt fine, the shelf life or half life of suboxone (is 48-72 hours), usually the first 2 days aren't THaT bad. I took care of my guinea pigs, my dog, was able to eat, slept pretty fine.
Day 2: Started to worry because all I had was 1mg left of suboxone and Id have to wait about a week for my script to be filled. Thankfully my insurance (Medicaid-HealthFirst) covers suboxone and you pay only 1 dollar for each script filled. Unfortunately many people cannot get this insurance or have no insurance and I know it can be extremely expensive because my cousin who is now dead because of drug related issued had to pay like 700 or so a month!) :/ ...anyway, I felt okay knowing I had that 1 mg left. I ended up taking it. Slept like a baby.
Day 3: OMG I feel like death already. Runny nose, woke up with the chills, diarrhea (in my sleep mind you - i know disgusting but this is reality lol). Stomache cramps, weakness, restless (RLS - Restless Leg Syndrome or in my case literally cannot say still but I also am weak- terrible feeling. Didn't really have an appetite, but I had a plain bagel with nothing on it for dinner. Drank water, a little iced tea, and more water. Took me like an hour of tossing and turning before I fell asleep.
Day 4: HELL - diahhrea in my sleep again, diarrhea all day never feels like it will end. I take Klonopin to help with my anxiety problems, but I took it this day to hopefully get me to rest. But the restlessness stayed and was worse. Stomache killing me, no appetite, heart beating fast, no energy - begging my doctor via text to see iff he could write me one last emergency script....yeah right...he doesn't even answer on the weekends and he already told me he couldn't anymore so I am screwed. My dad doesnt understand and he has obesity issues so everythint is harder for him to do. He works really hard. I feel guilty but like please walk the dog!? He gets mad at me for making a noise because of my stomache cramping...because he is tired and knows he will have to walk the dog he says "your annoying go in the room"....thanks Dad. Remember all the times I walked him for you because you are in pain in the morning before work and I offer to walk the dog for you. He's a Norwegian Elkhound...powerful, social, likes to run, play in all the snow....all the things I cannot whatsoever attempt. So the day goes on all I eat is one pretzel and drink water. I am able to feed and refill my guinea pigs water - tho it took all the effort I could afford. Took a hot bath. Tried to sleep but scared I will crap on myself again and or not wake up. That's how ill I felt. I tried texting my one connect, but I have no money for anything.
Day 5: DEATH - they say days 3-5 or at least the first couple of weeks could be terrible from suboxone withdrawals. Well this is perhaps the worst I ever felt, worse than any painkiller withdrawal without a doubt. I thought this was suppose to clear my brains receptors and help me get better. I didn't realize that it is a very powerful opiate REPLACEMENT therapy. Love how I learned so much stuff as I went along this suboxone journey, I just wish I researched more and read more about the medicine. So I wake up with diarrhea again. Shakes, NO energy no nutrients in my body just water and the bagel and pretzel that did nothing. I feel very ill I call my friend and ask "please do u know anyone with anything!?" At this point I didn't care what it was. Long story short I begged my parents for money (an extreme I'd never believe Id go to) answer of course was no. BUT my friend happened to be with someone who takes suboxone and she has 8mg strips. She did me a favor and gave me 2 of hers. Thats 16mg's and more than enough to help me through day 6&7 and then Day 8, I get my script filled. I took a quarter of the suboxone film...it took forever to kick in and along with some soup a little later, I ended up throwing everything and anything in me up. Like projectile vomiting. Disgusted and super weak, I was shaking and crying. Should I have just not gotten the suboxone and just have continued to deal with withdrawals and let this be it or do I go back on because I didn't taper correctly? So filled with disgust at my choice and confused, I already had made my decision by letting my lesser will power go. I don't think I could have dealt with another day like that, but here is Day 6 with suboxone film.
Day 6: A bit better not as much diarrhea and I got sleep the night that just passed. I still feel weak, but the chills and shakes are gone. I go out for the first time in 4 days to buy powerade because they have electrolytes that can help restore energy etc. All I could find was gatorade and vitamin water which I dont like as much as powerade but it is what it is, also everyone is working today so im alone. I have to walk my dog. Besides getting out of breath easily walking him (and him going crazy in the snow) It wasn't that hard. I took another quarter of the film earlier today so I feel o..k.. But still weak and not revitilized at all. So I sip on some of the drinks and my dad made Pasta Fagioli. Which I normally love but idiot me forgets I threw up from pasta and suboxone film yesterday. SOOO i throw up again this time I was ready with a bag. But what the hell? I took my normal amount of subs last night and today shouldnt I be feeling better?
Conclusion & Tapering Off Information: I NEED to get off this medicine correctly. It is my only choice now. Some people have properly tapered off Suboxone and barely had any withdrawal symptoms; if so, some had minor. NO WHERE NEAR WHAT I JUST DEAL WITH. I get my script filled in 2 days. Here is what I've learned. Im at 4mg's I'll take this for a month and taper off 25% for 3 weeks on 3mg's then down to 2 1/2mg's in 2 weeks. You keep tapering off 25% or there about, of your current dose (if taking above 1mg and up to 2mg's) you can stay on each dose for 2 weeks. It is suggested once you get down to 1mg start tapering 25% still but every week and the lower you get the less days you stay on the doses (4-5 days each). BASICALLY you want to not shock your body like I did. I am a long term user so my withdrawal symptoms may be worse than others tapering correctly, but I believe that it will be nowhere NEAR my current withdrawal state. I have no other choice but to try if I want to learn to live substance free. Below is a Withdrawal "Recipe" that is popular, but has helped many people who have gotten off suboxone or even pure opiates by making it easier and less horrible. It is called the "Thomas Recipe" for opiate withdrawals. If you enter that into google or any search engine you will find the list I type here plus HOW to go about using it.
*The Thomas Recipe*
1) Valium or Klonopin or Ativan preferably (Any benzodiazepam to help with sleep and anxiety)
2) Imodium (you can buy at RiteAid/CVS etc. to help with symptoms of diarrhea)
3) Multi-Vitamin - Strong wide-spectrum mineral supplement with at least 100% RDA of Zinc, Phosphorus, Copper, Magnesium and Potassium (you may not find the potassium in the same supplement). (Centrum is a good brand because it has all of that and more but it but the RDA for most of the stuff in the vitamins are at like 80% - still good though)
4) L-Tyrosine 500mg caps (Helps to boost your mental state and feelings of well being - not addictive and could be found in health food stores or maybe even RiteAid or a CVS even)
5) Vitamin B 6 caps (If you have the multi-vitamin Centrum - it has this in it, as well as potassium which is also important. Bananas are also a good source of potassium)
6) Hot Baths
*Also exercise helps out as well even if it is just a walk, when you feel capable of doing it. I didn't go outside or hardly move for 4 days, but it could be different for every one person.
I wish anyone and everyone the very best - those who are dealing with, or in anyway are affected by opiates or have been at all in their lifetime. I felt I should share my story because everyones is a little different, but we are all human and when it comes down to it...we need support and we all have or can suffer from this. The more you know the better off you will be with suboxone treatment. Also less is more with suboxone. Do not start out on a dose as high or at least NO higher then 8mg's. That was my mistake and my doctor's, but I didn't know better. Stay strong, and you can do it! =]
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