Avatar universal

Should I methadone for my Fentanyl & Hydrocodone withdrawals?

I am 72 years old and have been on pain meds for 10 years.  I broke some vertebra many years ago while in the service and have always had pain, even after the fusion 52 years ago.   I have always had back pain but it got so bad I could not function and was started on Hydro 5/500. Eventually that went up to 10/325 and about 4 year ago Fentanyl was added.  First 25  mcg and now 50mcg. My pain was controlled.  But two weeks ago the VA cut me off of all pain med.  After researching the internet, I decided to try the Methadone clinic here in my town. I figured that at 72, I really don't have that many years left and just take Methadone for the last few years.
I am still working,(College professor).  I have no plans to retire.  However the withdrawals I am having are unbearable.  Even if the VA had not stopped my pain meds, at some point I would need a higher dosage. The back pain is also unbearable but I have been able to go work with the pain meds.
I know I have to be on some kind of pain meds to function.  
Most all forums do not recommend methadone, but in my case, since I actually won't live many more years, is the methadone clinic the viable route?
9 Responses
3060903 tn?1398565123
Hi there, sorry to hear about your pain issues. I can hardly fathom how the VA could "cut you off all pain meds". Surely legal counsel should be able to argue your case.?

Is methadone covered?

I think the big down side to your taking methadone for pain is that you may not have the quality of life, or be able to really enjoy or remember  your last years. I'm afraid from what i've just been reading (and lost the link unfortunately) is that your time will go by in a blurr.  stating that for those reasons suboxone might be a better choice for anyone wanting more clarity. But i guess the VA won't pay for suboxone either.

I don't understand how the VA could justify cutting you off pain meds, Did they state a reason? did they say that you were abusing the script in any way.? Is methadone a free or inexpensive alternative for you? Will the VA cover the cost of methadone, is that what they're saying now?

It is disgraceful how your government could leave you in this bind. i'm so sorry.

Kudos for working as a college professor. I hope you love working and don't just have to work. You deserve a retirement. but if you would rather stay working, power to you.
Avatar universal
This is outrageous. I hope that you have left out part of your story. Were you cut off for "abusing " your meds or some other misbehavior.? If not get an attorney and call your local news station. In an case, my own opinion would be yes on the methadone. Thank you for your service sir and please keep us updated.
Avatar universal
No, I was not abusing, supposedly some directive from the higher ups in VA are cutting many from pain meds.  
There was a new pain doctor assigned to me and she said  a brace would help me.  I have tried the brace years ago and the pain was never relieved.  I asked her if they could at least wean me off the Fentanyl little by little and she would not listen. I actually panicked.
I discussed it with my family and that is how I found out about the Methadone clinic. I cut the meds dosage in half and was miserable.  I was not able to sleep.  I have a few extra patches and hydros let but will soon run out.  Unfortunately, I have to continue working for personal reasons.  I will be calling the VA this coming Tuesday to see if they can help out in some way.  During those few days that I cut the dosage, I literally entertained suicide.  The back pain was back, plus my WD feelings were unbearable.  I will see what happens this coming week.  I have insurance with the school but am not sure what they cover. I will see if my Tricare for Life can help me.  
Even if I could somehow beat this addiction, I remember how my life was (back pain) before the pain meds.  I will see what's going to happen this coming week.  Thanks for all the help.
Sorry your going through this.  I have arthritis of spine and take 10 milligrams of methadone a day. I like you want a quality of life. I am 53 and I have the same attitude as you. I will say if you ever take methadone through a clinic it is different than getting it from your doctor. The clinics are giving you methadone so you won't use opiates and doctors give it to you for pain. Clinics usually start you out at 30 milligrams of methadone to start and go up from there..  you go everyday to get your medicine you can't miss one day or you will be in trouble with methadone clinic . So quality of life is directly linked to clinic everyday. You can't travel you have to dose everyday at clinic for at least a year before you can get a takeout dose besides Sunday. That's something to consider. But hey if your hurting its a tough trade off. Freedom with pain or rules and the clinic for quality of life. I get it I made the choice to take methadone through my doctor for quality of life. Even though I don't go to a clinic the. Methadone comes with a long detox period which is awful to go through but to have quality of life you make tough choices. Sh*t happens too like my doctor is retiring this September and there's no replacement so I am in limbo. I might be detoxing in a few months due to this. I am going to take my ten milligrams of methadone until then ya know why cause of quality of life. But I won't go to a clinic because it's very restricted and I haven't abused it so I don't qualify for it.In my experience this is a requirement to get into a clinic. Saying that you misused your prescriptions and now you need methadone from a clinic will go on your record and it may prevent yourself from getting some pain meds from your doctor ever again. Well I am rambling just want to say I use to take thirty milligrams of methadone a day and cut down my use to ten milligrams when I heard my doctor was retiring.thought the doctor would be proud of me but no she doesn't want me going off it and that is that. I want to comply and my quality of life is better until September so I will remain in her care till then. For better or worse. I hope my next doctor will be a positive transition and no guaranty I will get methadone prescribed since the feds want people off opiods. I am sorry so much rambling. In a nutshell for me methadone helps with my pain and I will have to detox if I don't have it. There is no way out of a detox.  I hope I have helped you. I really do feel for ya.

Avatar universal
Thank  you so much for sharing your situation.  I will be approaching the VA about helping me in some way or probably get some form of legal help.  I did not ask to be injured in the service.  Hopefully, I can resolve my situation.  
   But it really scares me to start the methadone at the meth clinic because like some people have told me, they treat you as if you are street addict, and actually that is how this new VA pain Dr. treated me.
   At this moment, I probably will elect to detox and not use pain med again.  I think I would rather suffer my chronic back pain than the WD pains.  At least with my back pain, I remember I would get some relief by lying down.  I even used to close my office door and would lay on the floor and that helped some.
   I pray your new Dr. will work out.
   Take care and good luck and again thank for sharing.
It's Tuesday and wondered how things are going?
Avatar universal
So far, the VA has sent me a one month supply of Fentanyl (25).  But not Hydro.  I ask for a taper schedule and no reply whatsoever.  
I made an appointment with a civilian pain specialist. Monday June 13th.

For now it seems that the 25 Fentanyl helps for the first 2 days and I have back pain during the 3rd day, plus awful withdrawals.  I have a few hydros left and they help me during the 3rd day.

Ten years ago my pain was so bad, I had to miss a lot of work.  But, I seriously am considering tapering out of the Fentanyl and later tapering out of the hyrdos.  I will get advise from the pain DR.  I have to work for personal financial reasons.  

Again thanks to everyone that has responded.
4522800 tn?1470325834
How are you doing??
I read your post back when you first put this up and I was a bit shocked.
It reminded me of my nursing days when they would just take off a persons patch and let them go through w/ds at a older age.  The DRS now days know more then they did back then about w/ds and addiction.
I am now 60 and have been off all of my meds/drugs for almost 4yrs. I ended up going to a place where they did not know much about Methadone or my other meds. I did not get the right comfort meds and went through one heck of a w/d. It was my choice too, not to have any pills to help but after a week of no sleep and high ash anxiety, I did scream a bit but NO go!!  I found out yrs later that I did indeed have a silent heart attack back then, but my small arteries over my heart where already blocked up alot. It took me almost 2yrs later to find all of this out, SO I am so blessed that I did not keep using or I would not be here today.
In your case, can you go to a regular primary Dr in your town?? The thing about pain meds is that we do build up a tolernce to them quick. I think it would be a good idea for you to switch over to something different now. As long as YOU do not abuse them, you should be OK. The thing about Methadone is that it is a bit tricky, it will help with some pain in some areas and sometimes it will not at all. You would have to try it to see if it will work. Methadone is a very synthetic pill and does not have any of the real opiate in it. Most are man made in a lab these days anyway.
Hope you check back in and let us know what they are going to do for you. Wishing you all the best and YOU still have a ways to go in Life. Do not cut yourself to short. Ha! I did that when I hit 60 and I am NOT ready yet!! Life has just turned a new corner for me too.
Avatar universal
Hi there- I'm wondering how it went with the pain specialist today. You definitely need pain management and not daily trips to a methadone clinic! Don't do that. I hope the new doctor is able to set up a care plan for you. It just makes me sick that you've been treated this way; it's happening everywhere where people are left in the cold and scrambling. Let us know-
4522800 tn?1470325834
PS..My Methadone was Prescribed for pain by my Dr, when the hydo and oxys built up a tolernce and I needed more, or really wanted more. They do Prescribe Methadone & Subutex these days for pain. They do this because it is suppose to kill the pain up to 6-8 hours verses the other ones that only last 4 hours. However, I did get VERY Addicted too all of them!!

Hope you come back and let us know what happens here.

Avatar universal
I posted a reply, but it seemed to go somewhere else.

  The new pain Dr. was very supportive.  He will be cutting my Fentanyl by 25% every two weeks. He prescribe 4 hydros per day instead of 6 the VA had been giving me.  The Fentanyl is now 25 instead of 50.  I have some WDs but not as awful as if I had done the cold turkey way.

  I wanted to take some time off work but he said it was not needed.  He is wrong.  It's pretty rough.  I don't seem to get enough sleep.

The VA surprised me this past Friday.  I received 60  Gabapentin pills.  I was not sure what they were for but it seems to help the restless legs at night. Not completely but it has helped. I called the VA about the Gabapentin but could not talk to any Dr.  I was not sure what they were.

I have an appointment with this new pain Dr. Fri. 24th. I will keep up posted.

I did find out why the VA cut my pain meds.  They claimed that my last urine test showed that I had not been taking my hydrocodones. What may have happened is that it was during my time off from school.(College professor).
I take as little pain pills  as I can when I'm home because I get much pain relief by lying down. I had been off during the break from the Spring Semester to the Summer semester.  

I was told that many VA patients were selling the pills and not taking them. Good Lord that made me so mad. I have never abused my pain meds.

I am not sure I want any thing to do with the VA, Even though I am retired from the Air Force with some fused vertebra.

Thanks so much for the replies.  I will keep you posted after my appointment this coming Fri. the 24th.
God Bless Everyone
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