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Stopping Hydrocodone

Hi, I've been reading other posts regarding weaning off of Vicodin (10/325 hydrocodone/acetaminophen).  While some of the stories are very similar, my main concern is my body's reaction to the draw-down/elimination of the drug.

I first went through this process about 10 years ago after a knee surgery where I truly abused hydrocodone; taking up to 170MGs a day.  I cold turkey'd off of it that time and didn't sleep and/or feel well for about 6 days.  This time I'm up to 80MGs a day and want to stop before I repeat my previous ordeal.  

Learning that cold turkey wasn't the smartest way to stop this addiction, on Monday I began my version of weaning off.  I started with 20MG in the morning with 10MG more at lunch and 10MG more after dinner (6pm) for a total of 40MG, half of my previous daily usage.  

While I felt a little odd which I attribute to the withdrawal, but overall not too bad.  So I duplicated this amount on Tuesday and still felt pretty good.  But on Wednesday I tried to eliminate the 10MG after dinner giving me 30MG for the day and added melatonin to help me sleep.  

Unfortunately that was not good.  I totally tossed and turned and had the similar restless vibe I had during my cold turkey method from back in 2004.  

My question is, should I continue to limit myself to 30MG and/or less as maybe my body has already cleared a major hurdle in eliminating the physical need?  Or am I moving too fast and setting myself up for more sleepless nights?  It's already 9am and I have yet to take a pill, that must be a good sign.  

Once again, maybe I'm fooling myself, but I don't feel any desire to take these pills any longer.  I would/could stop immediately if not for the physical pain that would cause.  I don't consider myself any better than anyone else on this forum, I just feel fortunate that I'm not at that point.

Thanks for any help and I wish everyone battling this drug, all the luck in the world.
15 Responses
4810126 tn?1503942735
Hi there & Welcome :)

I think your concern actually jibes with most other folks that come to this forum. Almost everyone is afraid of the effect withdrawal will have on them! (Otherwise, there'd be a lot more people out there doing it).

For some people, cold Turkey is the way to go (it was for me) but then, I didn't really care about the discomfort that it would entail & actually sort of welcomed it as a cleansing and purging of my body & mind. The fact is, whether you taper or go ct, you're going to have to run that gauntlet of symptoms. The problem that most people have with tapering pills is that when they hit that proverbial wall, they tend to cave and start yo-yo'ing. That's why it's better if you're going that route to have someone dole them out to you. (Is that what you're doing this time?)

I think that the best thing you could do is to know and accept that you're going to be uncomfortable for a while. Try to look at this period as an initiation -- a birth into a more productive, happier & healthier existence. Clonidine will help a little but things like Melatonin, etc. will have more effect once you're off & have some time under your belt.  We've done our chemistries a damage by years of use & need to heal. It's a process and it takes time. Exercise, Hot salt baths, good nutrition, constant hydration, massage & 'redirecting' your thoughts will all help.

When you say that you'd stop except for the physical pain, are you saying that you have an underlying condition? If so, does your Dr. know about your taper?

Please let us know what you think & how you're doing. We're here & we're pulling for you (& hey! We're no better than you either ;))
Avatar universal
Thanks for your post.  The physical pain I was referring to was withdrawal pain.  The reason I am prescribed are my chronic knees. I understand that pain will remain and I can handle it.  It's the weird skin sensitivity and tossing and turning at night as I try to sleep is what I really hate.  That was quite extensive when I CT'd the first time.  I was hoping to eliminate that this time.  Will Clonidine help with sleep?  

As for dosing, I currently handle it, but could easily have my wife dole out the drug for me.  At this point I don't feel any mental addiction so I feel myself leaning toward taking less instead of taking more.  But that could change.  

If Clonidine can help me sleep, I am leaning toward taking as few pills as possible, not going backward.

Thanks again EvolverU!
11318065 tn?1462984479
Welcome!  Its good that you decided to stop at the 80mg this time around!!  It should be a bit easier than the 170mg last time you did it!!!  I dont think there is any way around the withdrawal....it may be easier in some ways if you continue to taper but you are still going to feel some discomfort!   You got all great advice from Evolver above!!!  So follow her suggestions and it will help some!!!  What are you going to do for your pain once you are off the meds?  I found that once I came off I had so much less pain then when I was taking them!  Keep posting and let us know how you are doing!
4810126 tn?1503942735
Hi again,

We've had quite a few folks come through here & detox successfully who started pills for knee, back or hip issues. If you can handle the pain of that, I'll wager that as much as you dislike [& who doesn't!] the RLS, crawling skin, sweating, etc. of acute withdrawal, that you're strong enough to get through it!

I think that the trick is to get really determined that you're going to see this through no matter what! Keep telling yourself that this is going to take a week or so & that the reward is beyond measure. (A small price to pay to break those shackles, eh?). I'm sensing that what you might need this time is to put a solid plan into action. This not only means stocking up on a comfort med like Clonidine & doing some of the things mentioned above but understanding exactly what addiction is -- how insidious it is & how it can trick us -- (particularly if you're high functioning) -- into believing we can 'handle' it & do it on our own. (You wouldn't be here if that were the case, right?) So, I think that it would be a good start to show your commitment to the process by allowing your wife to hold your meds. It's important to understand that the real issue going forward is going to be sitting in your own skin without recourse to the pills or reaching for something else to adjust your chemistry.

As for the Clonodine, my experience & the experience of many who've been in your situation is that it can help calm anxiety a little but it's not a sleep med. Rather it will help lower your blood pressure & therefore help with anxiety. Sleep may be elusive for a time but believe it or not, it won't kill you. (There was a point where I thought it would be the death of me:) That said, I came off a much stronger drug & used for a long time.

Your attitude & desire level around this whole thing is realllly important. Are you sick & tired of being sick & tired? Are you willing to go through some discomfort & do whatever it takes? If so, you've got this!

There's a phenomenon called 'Opiod-induced Hyperalgesia' whereby the pain (after we're past acute w/d's) is actually less than we feared as opiates actually lower our pain threshold by messing with the amounts of endorphins we're able to produce. Here's a wiki on it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opioid-induced_hyperalgesia

Keep posting! We're here :)

Avatar universal
I tapered. What I always say is listen to your body. Dropping 10mg on day 3 was fast it if you are handling it now then keep going. I dropped the night on last.  I dropped about every week to week & half. I letter body get used to each drop but you don't want it to settle in and get used to that amount. I say if your body is used to having a certain amount, you will have physical withdrawals. Even if it is only a 1/2 pull 2-3 times a day.

So go with your body. Do what it states. You are doing great by dropping 1/2 so quickly.
4522800 tn?1470325834
Hi & Welcome.
Like the above had mentioned there will still be some w/ds, but a good taper my help it not be so long and intense. I went c/t back in 2012 at the age 56 off of 3 meds. Using most of my life made it more difficult in the Brain part as we do so much unbalancing of all the hormones, transmitters and chems ect., up there in all those millions of wiring we got.
I went 22 days with no sleep and did finally get the clonidine and it did help my anxiety just a bit. One of my meds was a benzo so that was one big reason my Anxiety and Sleep was on the moon. If it was just the Methadone alone, I think it would of not been so long & intense. The clonidine helped my Heart from pumping so hard plus it did relax me a bit, but I could only take it at night and got a few wink. It just took a lot of time for my sleep to return. When it did that was all I wanted to do as I hit a very weak stage.

As far as sleep, make sure the room is dark and cool. Turn off all lights and that even means those tiny ones too. When we watch TV it stimulates the up happy chems. We have to just turn it all off and give our natural sleep hormone time to kick in. Reading is not bad because it has a calming effect.

I found out later that the Magnesium, Potassium, Calcium and the Ds help relax me. These help relax the muscles and helps with tension and it causes a calming effect to help insomnia & nerves. The potassium helps the electrolytes regulate muscle contractions and nerve impulses.

No matter what you choose to do, just know it will take time for all of it to adjust back after the removal of these stims. Have patience because as you know it moves like a turtle at first. I wish you the best and maybe look into some meetings too.

I too had a few w/ds from the other opiates, but this time around was a BIG nightmare and it was a experience I would not want to do again!!!
Bless
Avatar universal
Hi well your off to a good start  but where not aloud to share taper plans on the forum..with this said it is all about % of drop and your serum level you must go slower in the lower doses this is a race one by the tortus not the hare the best advise I can give you is always let your body be the final judge in lowering your dose if your in withdrawal it will only get worst if you drop dose wait a few days then drop again keep posting for support we all want to see you win.........Gnarly
Avatar universal
Thanks again for the inspirational replies.  I do feel I'm on the right track and while initially going with a tapering idea I think I'll just ct it from here.  I've gone most of today (Day 4 - 2:15pm) without any hydrocodone and even got in a little nap.

I understand that I'm not out of the woods yet, but I have seem to have an all or nothing personality when it comes to quitting stuff (CT for smoking and opiates before).  

Since my level of intake is much lower than previously, hopefully last night was my main wd this time around.  I will see and keep you posted.

Thanks to all and I wish you the best!
Avatar universal
Okay, it's Day 6 of my quitting hydrocodone. While it initially began as a tapering attempt, I converted to ct and have now gone 3 days with no Vicodin.  It has been a challenge with little to no sleep, some nausea and diarrhea, but definitely worth it.  

I have no thoughts of taking any Vicodin despite my horrible feeling.  While hoping I'm in the backstretch of the wds, I have read some interesting stuff about Kratom helping with opioid wds. I'd rather quit without trying it, but we'll see if my wds subside.
Avatar universal
They should be soon. I say about 7-10 days the worst is over.

You are almost there. Sleep and no energy are the lingering parts.
Avatar universal
Okay, Day 10 and I 'almost' feel normal.  As Merri123 indicated (and as many of you probably know), I am still touch and go with my sleep and do feel a little lack of energy.  Luckily I began this on a four-day weekend.

During the initial few days of ct nothing aided my sleep.  I tried flexiril (script for my back), which normally puts me out if I'm sitting down, and melatonin, nothing really strong.  

But now it seems melatonin has had a slight effect the last couple nights.  Last night I dozed off for an 1.5 hr nap a little after dinner (8pm), and had a hard time getting sleep when I went to bed at 11pm and took a melatonin around midnight and eventfully fell asleep.

Good news is I haven't craved or caved in for any hydrocodone and didn't even try the Kratom I bought just in case.  Just a rough few days/nights right after ct.  

Of course I probably had an easy way since my dosage wasn't as high as others, but the good news is it can be done...especially with the help of you folks in this forum.  Thanks again and good luck to all!
Avatar universal
Hi  well good to see you made it threw the phyical part but even without drugs your still left with the addict inside and the addictive behaviors  time to put some aftercare in place  after trying most  N/A is the only thing that addresses the addict inside it is a simple 12 step progam that works  you will loose the very desire to use and I know of no other progam that will do that google N/A meetings in your area
.......................................Gnarly........................................
Avatar universal
Thanks Gnarly_1.
Avatar universal
Two hours ago I got the notice the Hydrocodone pain med will not be approved anymore by my doctor. The why is not important. I have been taking this pain medicine for 6 years at the rate of 4 pills (-10) per day due to ankle pain. (cartilage loss)  My life revolves around it. A year ago I was forced into a 3 day period without an Rx refill. It scared me. Stress, involuntary muscle reflexes, inability to sleep, felt terrible beyond anything I have ever experienced. Now, I have 15 days Rx left and have been greatly encouraged by reading some of your stories and suggestions. I honestly don't know what to do, but obviously I will "taper" but the inevitable day will arrive when the jig is up. I have a very stressful job at peak periods, so I have to plan this day carefully to "drop out" of my responsibilities for some period of time. Sounds like 2 weeks to 2 months. I think I understand the 75% mental and 25% physical theory, but from what I thought was a black hole 2 hours ago, now seems doable. I would really appreciate hearing from those of you who have made it to the other side, and any further tips, helps, that my help. For tonight, I will take a pill and face tomorrow. Thank you folks. You have helped me already.        
10287982 tn?1443815735
What an awesome post! Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing. I know what it's like to suffer alone in the dark. Welcome!

And, I have some really great news: forget the two months concept. Around here, we believe in only 24 hour chunks of recovery. All you need to do is not take pill number one, for one single day. That you absolutely can do. Here's a thought: Flush them, spare yourself the protracted agony of "taper" and try something else. No matter what, do not pick up that first pill, just for one day. It's actually amazingly simple. There are likely to be moments of discomfort, but that doesn't really matter. It is entirely temporary.

For one single day, no matter what, make it your single, number one top, unbending priority to not pick up pill number one. Put aside everything else. While you do this, reach out again. We have a whole host of amazing tricks and tips to carry you through to your first 24.

If you do this, in another 24 you'll notice that the majority of successful, long term recovery here is based on something called after care. For today, you work on that 24 hours of new freedom. If you can do that—and if you can't—you comeback here, and we can help you learn to find the will to ask for help. (And asking for help is universally the very last thing any addict ever thinks to do. Admit it! Join the club! Not in our basic skill kit!)

After care, in a few words, means different things to different people but ultimately winds up in the same place: finding a way to use love and service to others to fill the void within. You know what I mean. The bottomless pit that cried to be filled with dope/sex/food/whatever, the one that brought you here. Each of us has one. It takes a while, once it's truly emptied out, to figure out how to fill it in a healthy way, and amazingly, this can (and must) absolutely be done. I've heard it described beautifully in dozens of different ways; the god-shaped void, the hunger. For me, it lingers as a spiritual longing, a vague homesickness deep inside, even when I'm at home that reminds me: either I reach out and carry the message or I'm done. Toast.

But you, right this minute, just need to not pick up that first pill, fix, drink or substitute. Take it a single minute or hour at a time and find that first 24. Will you try? Do you want to be free?

Do you want to be free?
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