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Avatar universal

Quality vs Addiction

I realise I am addicted to a cough syrup with hydrocodone(5mg per dose).  I go through a 240mg bottle in 8-9 days.  My problem is I have allergies of dust and mold that make me cough till I am exhausted or sinus drainage from these allegies that cause sinus infections that settle in my chest and it starts all over again.  I take it as a maintenance to keep from all my symptoms coming  to the uncontrollable cough to the tickle in my throat that drives me nuts.  I also have sleep apnea and acid reflux.  When I was younger, it was the croup, which I never got anything for, up all night coughing, school the next day.  I couldn’t swallow my favorite foods when I was young because I had to take a deep breath before I took a bite, in addition to my nose being stopped up, sometimes I thought I almost wouldn’t make it without choking.  I had to have somebody run the bases for me in PE so the croup would not return.  Right now, on the cough syrup, everything is fine. No tickle in my throat, no drainage and seldom a cough.  When I first saw my Regular Doctor he told me the cure was to move.  I don’t have the money for that.  I went to an Ear, Nose & Throat Doctor and they wanted to stick a long needle in my neck to deaden the cough reflex, saying this would have to be done every 2-3 months. That didn’t sound very good to me.  I also took allergy shots every week and after 7 weeks I asked myself “Shouldn’t I be a little better by now?”  So I opted for the syrup as it covered a lot of my problems.  This cough syrup helps me sleep like I've never slept before.  I can sleep upright which takes care of the other problems in addition to getting up 3 or 4 times a night to use the bathroom.  If I didn't have all these symptoms, I probably wouldn't be taking the syrup, but I don't have much of a life without it.  This is my dilemma. I can almost stretch a bottle out to 12 days but during that time my drainage makes my throat sore which leads to the sinusitus.  I'm also on blood pressure meds and cholesterol meds. I believe I would have to take about a half dozen other drugs to take its place.  I like to be able to breath just like the next guy.  Do I need to add 6 more drugs to the 7 I am already taking or is this acceptable?  This cough syrup has never made me feel high.
43 Responses
271792 tn?1334983257
I don't really understand the question. If your medication is prescribed to last 30 days and you take in 8 or 9, then it is an issue. I don't know how long you have been on it but I will promise you that you will continue to build a tolerance to it and at some point, it will only last 4 or 5 days and so on.

I took pain medication, legally prescribed, for real pain for many years. As an addict, the ability to take it as prescribed went right out the window. Whether it is legal or not, I cannot take it. I have found alternatives for my pain management and that is what I do now.

If you feel that you have exhausted all possibilities and this is your only choice...then good luck. I don't think my sitting here trying to talk you out of it will get you anywhere. You will have to come to that on your own. I meant it when I wished you the best. I hope you find something that works for you.
Avatar universal
Are you looking for permission here?  Someone to say "That's okay"?   I hear what you're saying and what you're not saying. How old are you and how long have you been taking this?   We'll try to help..
Avatar universal
I was first given the medication 20 years ago. It has been within the last 6 years or so that I have been taking it regularly.  The (1 cup) 240 mg or 8 oz bottle is an 8 day supply if prescribed 1 tsp every 4 hours, and is what I take and try to stretch out to 12 days.  I was once afraid, and still am of not having it as I have sometimes reached a point of choking and gagging from the dust particles and what they do to my breathing.  My age now is 56.  I was told by an allergist to stay in doors using the AC or heat, remove the carpet and drapes and when driving to leave the windows up and also use the AC or heat. My regular Doctor said the cure was to move.  In 2006, after trying to stop a cough that I had developed, I took 2 methylprednisolone dose packs and 2 antibiotics back to back, none of which worked but for some reason I did go blind in my left eye.  I lost the Central vision to my left eye.  One eye doctor said it was CRVO and another claimed it was NAION.  Up to that point I had never had any vision problems save for needing reading glasses.  I can still see out of my left eye but can only make out the large E on the eye chart.  My other eye is now 20/20 and 20/15 corrected with glasses. I consider myself educated about drugs but in this area I guess I wasn't.  Since taking it regularly kept me from getting the 3 or 4 sinus infections every year and the fact that when I feel that scratchy throat and burning in my sinuses, taking the full dose kills it before it even gets started. I havn't had a sore throat in more than 10 years, maybe longer and also no need for an Antibiotic. When I said I felt I was uneducated about this is when I started to take more to keep my cough from becoming chronic, or very hard to stop, I didn't know I was breaking any law. I don't drink or smoke and never have. I have never taken any drug that wasn't prescribed for me.  So I am still trying to educate myself, and yes, maybe "looking for permission" to take a medicine that has been around for over a thousand years OR try the new designer drugs that cost hundreds of dollars more with more side affects than the drug I'm taking now.  I called my insurance to see what my options were on getting off the drug.  I was told that I wasn't taking enough to be considered for the detox program and then I had to ask myself why do I have to get off of it when I'm taking a TENTH of what some people are taking for pain maintenance and I'l just have to go back to needing it at some point for all the sinus infections I get.  I must add, I do not have Asthma as Albuterol does not increase my lung capacity and although I have used it, it does not take care of some of my other symptoms and your not supposed to take steroids if you have a virus or infection.  So to vicky595, I'd like to have permission to breath without being considered a drug addict.  I have been working for 28 years at the same job.  No auto accidents, no DUI's, just excuses, just like your regular drug addict, to get somthing that helps me function like a normal individual.  A drug that lets me laugh without coughing or wheezing.  A drug that helps me get a good nights rest.  I guess to ramble on, it also helps me with the anxieties I had as a kid that were never addressed, with the same problem, that of which I posted in my first letter at worrying about why everyone else was getting rest when they were young, and I wasn't.  Thanks for your input anyway although you may give up on me thinking I'm just a hopeless drug addict as one Doctor called me.  Once more to vicky595, excuse me if I sound like an "A@#$%$%", but I felt defensive about your reply. And thanks to all who reply.
Avatar universal
Okay...well here I am and lets talk about it...

I read your post through slightly different eyes. I hear everything you're saying in both posts. I believe you. I'm sure you got defensive and you still are. That's okay. It doesn't hurt my feelings.

You make a great point. I totally agree with you. The cough syrup performs multiple tasks at a very small price and it's win win!  I agree with you on that. What it does to help you live everyday is priceless. I know.

Unfortunately for you and for many,many people,myself included,the world we live in just does not work that way. So,I can or anyone can agree with you six ways to Sunday but it won't change the reality.

What to do?  I'm not sure. What are YOU thinking? Again,you make a very good point on every level. You are a mature woman and you know what the heck is right!  But,you just have to know that anyone on the outside of this forum is going to call your situation: drug seeking behaviour. And yes! It's sad. It's just not going to make any sense to any doctor
how that silly little bottle of cough syrup can increase the quality of your life. And, they're going to laugh at the thought of that 8 0z. of syrup performing ALL those functions. It's just how it is. I understand but I'm not your doctor,if I was...well  LOL  I'd help you.

I am a nurse. I am also an addict in recovery. I have never had a DUI. I've never hurt anyone. I have a beautiful family. I'm viable and worthwhile. I was addicted to a drug that most would laugh at.  I get it. I was still addicted in the eyes of the rest of the world and there was not ONE damn thing I could do about it or effect a change surrounding it. It's just how it IS.

What did you do that was ? illegal??

I think your very best shot is to find a very,very sympathetic,wise physician, Someone you can plead your case to. I'm not implying "doctor shop" at all. I'm serious.

Moving on...I love your sarcasm!!  Yes,you have permission to breathe,of course,but you're still an addict.

Post back to yell at me!!
Avatar universal
Once again, your first reply made me defensive, but your second hit the nail on the head.  "Find a very,very sympathetic,wise physician, Someone you can plead your case to. I'm not implying "doctor shop", you said, but how do you do this without "Doctor Shopping"?  When I first realised I was hooked, my Regular Doctor was on a 4 month Hiatus and left me stranded, so I went to my original Doctor who first gave me the medicine, one who new my history, and who felt he could give me my prescription.  This lasted for about a year until I got pnuemonia, took an 8 days supply in 4 days from all the coughing (Stupid me, I really didn't know it was illegal), but thinking since I had a new prescription and a prescription for Levaquin, I just needed to refill it, but the DEA Pharmacist at "W@((&^**#S", called my Doctor (while he was in the process of moving to a new location) and got him to cancel my prescription. He wouldn't return any of my calls so I went to the emergency room for withdrawal.  They gave me Antibiotics, an in-haler, and OXYCODONE, till I could get back with my Doctor.  Crap!, I didn't even want the Oxycodone, just the cough syrup.  I've had Hydrocodone pills from Dentist visits lying around for years that I never took, till I found out that it was the hydrocodone and no other substance, that was suppressing the urge to cough.  Being treated like this I felt I needed a new Doctor and probably so since my then Doctor was later arrested for writing illegal prescriptions for all the "Codone" based medicines for money on the side.  My other Doctor was off Hiatus and I was able to see him.  It appeared he had no problem continuing me on the Cough Syrup until lately,  He said they were cracking down on the use of this medicine, but I don't know what to believe.  The leaflet I get with the medication states that " the Doctor may prescribe this medicine for other symptoms as he sees fit"???  The internet doesn't state that there is a crackdown on legitimately prescribed medicines of this type does it?  Once again, thanks Vicky, and by the way, I'm a 56 year old MALE (sorry...left that out).  You know, I think I could make it through the withdrawal, probably within 2 weeks or so, it's the terribly bad sore throats, drainage and later the exhausting cough I dread.  OTC's just don't work on me except make me sick at my stomach (acid reflux, etc), The Sinus Infections are very stressful, as I said from my past. In addition, as stated, I can't move.
Avatar universal
I'm laughing at my mistake...I really thought you were female..(why is that???) Man!! I'm sorry to have assumed. I think it was the name "moe".

Anyway, I figured that's what happened with the Rx's. It happens A LOT.  People don't know there are certain "rules". There's no handbook or information until you get "caught" by the pharmacist. It's totally innocent most often BUT a lot of times it isn't. That's what your paying for,in a way. Don't get mad at me now,but,I understand what happened to you and just look at the flip side of that. You're taking cough medicine w/a narcotic in it for twenty years. It's ordered for cough and everything else. If a cough is not better in 20  years,something is terribly wrong. That's how it's looked at. Soooo,at some point,the
pharmacist is going to question this because it's HIS or HER license that will get pulled. The pharmacist trumps the doctor always in these situations. And if there are over lapping
Rx's...too close together in other words,something is going to happen. So,that answers that. Also,your doctor was prescribing it for "off label" reasons not just a cough. He can't always do that without very good documentation, if at all. Make sense?

Okay...let's see...Doctor shopping:  Of course we have to "shop" for a doctor. We're consumers and there's not a damn thing wrong with that. But,we can't get numerous or even one Rx from two different doctors in a particular time period. It won't fly because of the
way the laws are written.  So,look carefully for a doctor. If you find one that you think might be good for you by all means go. If it doesn't work out after a couple of months move on. But,if you get a new Rx BE SURE it's AT LEAST a month between a narcotic Rx from any other doctor.It's not that hard;it just sounds it. And don't think you can go to a different pharmacy to get a new Rx filled. The folks(innocent) will be surprised to learn there is in fact a data bank and you may be in it.  It's just how it is.  I'll tell you this to illistrate my point: I broke my leg last year and naturally,I needed a specialist. Enter doctor #2.  I was given pain medication,a narcotic,(I wanted anesthesia LOL) BEFORE they wrote that RX,I had to sign a CONTRACT that I wouldn't receive any other pain meds from any other doctor. GREAT! That's fine with me.  What happened to you is the reason why the doctor did that with me and ALL of his patients. They need to all do that. There are times when an RX will ovelap though and it's innocent. A pharmacist will usually take that into account.

Cough syrup w/codeine or another narcotic,is prescribed for short term only. That's the rub here. It's the narcotic that supresses the cough because it decreases your breathing rate.
Honestly,you flew "under the radar" for a very long time and I'm surprised.

I will tell you that the syrup is not preventing your sinus infections,it just seems that way.
It's decreasing everything else so you're just not moving the mucus or plegm you have. I would suspect that's why you got pneumonia.  But,this is what I would do: I would go to a doctor and just be honest about your proclivity toward all the breathing problems,asthma like symptoms,allergies,sore throats,sinus infections,etc...you should say you use cough syrup and it helps you. I think,if he/she "gets" what it's all about here,they may suggest
a good cough medicine like Musinex (THE best!) along with an Rx for plain codein or hycodan or something like it. So,you'd take the cough syrup and tablet separately. That's really all they would be allowed to do. There are many restraints in place.

I really didn't mean to get you defensive but I did. I get like that sometimes. You have to admit,that's a pretty tall order of symptoms that one tiny bottle of cough syrup eliminates.
But, I've lived long enough to believe anything is possible...

How are you feeling today? Are you completely out of the medicine now? Let us know;maybe we can help...

Avatar universal
No problem on the mix up...you should see how my real name gets mixed up.  I've done a lot of research on hydrocodone and it "is a narcotic cough suppressant (antitussive) that works on certain centers in the brain to stop the urge to cough".  The syrup also contains Homatropine belonging to a class of drugs known as anticholinergics.  As far as my medicine (cough syrup) goes, it is suppose to keep me from taking too much, but it actually dries up my sinuses (Source Wikipedia:Decreased mucus production in the nose and throat) and I notice this very quickly after taking a dose.  I got under the "Radar" because I had not been taking it as much. I believe I started taking it more frequently after I lost the vision in my left eye in 2006. When you described what you believe how hydrocodone works by slowing your breathing down, I have noticed that in taking Benedryl, which makes me feel as though someone (lightweight) is sitting on my chest.  I forgot to mention that I have also been diagnosed with Bronchitis.  Like I said, its complicated because I don't which malady I have when I start coughing.  Is it my allergies, bronchitis or sinus infection.  I know when I am getting a major sinus infection when my throat becomes scratchy and as I said, with the syrup, this is a rarity.  The Pharmacy has rarely had a problem filling my 8 day supply except when I tried to get it after 4 days, nor does my insurance in paying two-thirds to three-quaters of the cost.  My habit for 8 days limits me to 30mgs of hydrocodone a day, the equivalent of six 5mg tablets a day.  The addicts I see in the posts that have written take as many as 10-20 a day, maybe 30 or am I wrong.  I know of a time when I was not addicted to this medicine, and it wasn't that long ago.  Right now I have 1 refill I can fill this Thursday or Friday and I have 1/4 of the bottle left. I am taking half doses, 3 today, and will still try to taper off in the event he (my Doctor) decides not to refill, although he said that we would discuss it before he did that and we really have not had a heart to heart discussion on the matter.  As stated in the above, at the maximum dosage of 30 mgs a day, I don't qualify for assistance toward abuse as I need to be taking a minimum of 35-40 mgs per day.  Should I lie to my insurance to get in to getting some help?  Throuout my life, some stresses have lent themselves to me and others I have brought upon myself.  I still have 2 daughters 13 and 15 to get through to maturity and a Mom who is 83 and losing her memory.  Also stresses I won't go in to for personal reasons that involve other people.  Dang it if this medicine doesn't help me out that too.  So fear keeps me taking this, but the paradox is I've come to rely on it to relieve those fears, unfortunately, just about all of them.  Thanks for the ear Vicky, anything you have to add to this, let me know...like how did you kick you habit or how did others and did they have a similar set of circumstances for which they needed the medicine.  I'm at work and I don't have internet access at home so I hope I can see some more advice tomorrow. Thanks
Avatar universal
No,don't lie to the insurance company!!!!  I do stuff above board!! I would never want you to do that. You'd lose your insurance.

Okay...Am I getting this right: You have a refill for Thurs. or Fri, or do you have to talk to him first??    You know, talking to him in any event is the first,best idea. You are extremely persuasive anyway and I do get the whole picture. ( Are you a lawyer?? LOL  )

You might just get his ear too. This is not such a huge deal that he would be worried for himself,I wouldn't think. It's just the damn narcotic in it that makes everyone wet their pants!!

Yes,some of my friends here have taken enormous quantities of pills/drugs over long periods of time and are alive to talk about it. Thank God!  That includes me,as well.

There are,also,folks who have taken very little by comparison and have suffered greatly. One is "Mangee". He's in his 80's. He was miserable. There are others...

You know,the drugs and amounts change but the stories remain the same...there is a common thread running through all of us I think. We took pain meds or a substance for one reason and stayed on it forever for another reason. Because it made us feel better all over,inside and out,every single damn day. It fixed our broken hearts,it made us forget our pain,sadness,lonliness,ugliness,lack of parenting,too much parenting,cloudy days...

I don't know if I kicked my habit or not. I don't want to know. I want to be surprised...I'm clean today and I was yesterday. I want to be kept humble and forgiving...I feel good,I live in the moment and that's how I do it. I've had therapy,support,lectures,tears,forgivness.
That's what helped me and still does.  Just a ton of support and love. I take that,use it,and give it away. It's no great mystery...and it works very well.

I'm really glad you have just about enough to get you through until you speak with the doctor. I didn't want to have to worry about you!    It's awful to be thrown into WD's when you haven't prepared...

Have a comfortable evening--
1525404 tn?1291918116
I know from experience that the onset of withdrawals causes all kinds of problems in the area of sinus problems. Runny nose, itchy throat and coughs are common during this period. Is it possible that when you run out of syrup that it's not the return of the symptoms you originally started taking the syrup for but the normal start of withdrawals causing you so much distress? How long have you gone without syrup in the past? In the past 20 years have you gone more than just a few days without it, like say 2 to 3 weeks?

I do know of someone that had problems similar to yours just not as extreme but they couldn't tolerate syrups with out the need to puke afterward. Her doc gave her Tylenol 3's to control the sinus drainage and coughs. Has that been tried? Still a narcotic but at a much lower dose. Just curious.
Avatar universal
I have already been through withdrawal 4 or more times, for only 3-4 days or so.  I read where withdrawal can manifest itself in the form of flu-like symptoms, something I just read a couple days ago when I first got on this forum and just now, as you have reminded me.  There has been one time I remember going through flu-like symptoms, but I can not tell if it was my allergies acting up or withdrawal as I can go maybe 18 hours (at most) without a dose, if I have no allergy symptoms and the air is clean, other times 4 hours after a dose and I need to take the medicine to clear myself up.  My research tells me that the hydrocodone only stays in the body for 3.9 hours, I guess the reason for having the dosage to normally read to be taken every 4- to 6 hours as needed.  I work for local government and I have been literally band from the break/lunch room from blowing my nose, I’ve was ask to go outside if I needed to do this.  To say the least, this really makes me angry.  Several years back, I believe before I was “hooked” on the syrup, I was barking out my cough, which usually cleared the tickle in my throat for a minute or so, and one of the administrative heads heard me coughing from upstairs (we’re connected to upstairs with an open stairway), and very sympathetically said to me that I ought to get that (my cough) taken care of.  Crap if I hardly coughed if at all yesterday, but today, the weather changed (it’s raining) and I’ve already cranked out several of those loud coughs.
To Vicky, I am going to refill my last bottle tonight or tomorrow and do my best to stretch it out, he has been letting me get refills previously, but just him mentioning it to me about (them?) tightening up on the cough syrup makes me wonder if that constitutes our “discussion” we are suppose to have when he decides to take me off.  
Also Vicky, a very well worded paragraph on the “Common Thread running through us”.
Well, bottom line is I guess I have to move to Arizona, whether I can afford it or not, if I don’t get any refills.
I still would like to hear some comments on how anyone made it through the withdrawals.  Any particular medication help?
Once again, thanks for the ear/ears.
Avatar universal
Moe--I think that "eye" had a very good idea with the Tylenol#3. It's 30mg of codeine w/Tylenol. You could even break it in half...That with a good cough syrup would do the same thing as what you're doing now. Or even the plain codeine/hydrocodone (hycodan).
Ask the doctor about that...

Yes, withdrawals do feel like the flu...sort of. The restless legs,insomnia,lack of energy ,is an added horror...I'm not sure how it would be for you,you don't take very much but you've taken it for 20 years.

If you like it really,really HOT then you would like Arizona. But,there are other places where the air is dry and not as hot...

How loud is that cough? Wow!  I do understand the nose blowing in the lunch room...
Avatar universal
20 years ago, I took probably, at most, 10 to 20 doses a year.  I probably have been taking it regularly for about 6 or 7 years.  I gained a lot of weight since then (1991) and if I caught something would try to put my head under a vaporizer.  But that wouldn’t help.  I would be coughing so much, my eyes /temples felt like I was standing on my head and my neck was so tired I could hardly hold my head up.  That very first Doctor gave me about 5-6 small 15ml bottle samples of, I think it was called Tussy-Organidan C., and that lasted me a very long time (years).
I’m sorry, I don’t honk when I blow my nose, but I thought it beat walking out the door with it hanging out my noise every 5 minutes plus the amount of time it would take to finish eating to continually do this…sorry for the unruly graphics, but it’s been that way since I was a kid.  I would bring 3 handkerchiefs with me to school and before lunch, my pants pockets, from the outside, would feel wet with the soaked handkerchiefs.
During my college years, I did get a break from the all the allergies by playing, well, racquetball.  I became addicted to that, but it is usually played, and in this case was played in an air-conditioned room 20’ X 40’, with probably no dust at all. I actually was addicted to the game so much I got very good at it. This was in the ‘70s.
In the ‘80s, I got addicted to valium, to help me get to sleep, but was able to beat that with an antidepressant.  I have never taken any of that since.
The Cough is sometimes very LOUD, especially if I don’t get something done about it quickly. It is somewhere between a very gruff dog bark and/or Goose honk.  The reason they could hear me upstairs was because it WAS loud and the open stairway in the center connecting the Departments has no doors.  The allergist say the cough is coming from my lungs but it feels closer to my voice-box (larynx).  The Ear Nose and Throat Doctor who wanted to stick a needle through my neck to deaden my cough found an ulcer on my larynx (She put a Camera down my throat), probably due to the Acid-Reflux.  That was the worst sore throat I have ever had.
Going with the Tylenol C sounds like an option, but I still had up until a few years ago, some of that or whatever the Dentists give you for pain.  But I couldn’t ever take that because it made me sick to my stomach, like aspirin, only worse.  So I would take the first few tablets and quit pretty quickly.  One thing I hate as much as the Sore Throats is a Sick Stomach.  But I’m going to get that anyway with Withdrawal, Right?  Just missing a few days makes me feel like crawling the walls.
Thanks for taking an interest in my case, just pray the Docs understanding enough to consider my plight. I’ve been seeing him for close to 20 years except when he took about 4-5 months off for some reason and I had to try to find another Doctor.  He should know I havn’t been trying to snow him after all these years.  The other thing he is so hard to try to get in to see or make an appointment with.
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