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Addiction: Substance Abuse Community
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Avatar universal

Taper off hydrocodone?

I have ankylosing spondylitis, which causes a lot of pain in my back, neck and ribs.  I think I can manage the pain with ibuprofen alone, and I want to quit the hydrocodone.  I'm so glad I found this great website.  It's a good feeling knowing there are other people with the same problem.  Here's my question - I'm hoping I can taper down the hydrocodone and avoid a lot of the withdrawal symptoms.  For a while I was taking 10 Vicoprofen pills at a time.  I only take it once per day, in the morning.  I cut it down to 7 pills, and by the next morning my body is letting me know it wants more, mainly with anxiety.  If I stay at 7 pills, will my system eventually find that to be an adequate amount?  And then will I be able to go down to 6 pills and get used to that, then 5 pills, etc.?  I'm hoping I can taper down in this way and avoid the cold turkey symptoms.  Thanks in advance for all responses.
111 Responses
Avatar universal
I am managing the ankylosing spondylitis on my own without the help of a doctor.  The disease is still active, but like I said, I think I can manage the pain without the hydrocodone.  At this point I'm taking the hydrocodone mainly because I'm physically dependant on it.  52.5 mg of hydrocodone daily is just slightly less than my body needs to be completely satisfied.  If I stay at that dose, will I eventually acclimate to it, to the point where I don't have these minor withdrawal symptoms (slight anxiety and irritability)?  If so, will I then be able to reduce it to 45 mg daily until my body is satisfied with that dose?  Can I just keep tapering in 7.5 mg steps and completely wein myself off of the hydrocodone with no serious withdrawal symptoms?  I understand this gets harder to do as the dose gets smaller.  Should I break the tablets in half and taper in 3.75 mg steps?  I'm sure there are people reading this who have tried this, and I would appreciate hearing about your experiences.
Avatar universal
RogerW, the taper method you refer to is how we got off the tabs. The slower the better is what I have been told. We began breaking them in half and thirds towards the end. We still went thru the WD's but I believe that tapering rather than CT worked for us. It has only been 15 completely free days, but 15 days are better than none.
Avatar universal
Roger, Yes I agree that the taper method is by far the best. I was taking 75mg Hydro daily in one dose on an empty stomach. Tried to quit twice CT and chickened out both times about 36 hours into it. Then I went to a taper method 3days of 30mg twice a day. Then I dropped 15 mg every 3 days till I hit 15mg. After that I dropped 3.75mg every 3 days till it was gone.

A big help I had was my wife. I gave her all of the pills and let her disperse them and in the end flush what was left.

Even with this gentle of a taper I had a rough 4-5 days but it can be done!! 19 days off them today. Good Luck - You are making a very wise choice.

Avatar universal
I will have to agree with what I have read.  And yes, your body will become accustomed to its new dose.  You have a sound plan.  The biggest thing about tapering is sticking to it.  Actuall, it is the hardest thing.  Stay disciplined and you will do fine.  Don't expect to skate, though.  Nobody gets a free ride.
Avatar universal
well in my opinion, the tapering method working depends on the specific individual. I went to my dr and confessed my addiction to vicodin ES, and he agreed to help me by using a supervised tapering. 10 pills for 5 days, 7 pills for 5 days, 5 pills for 5 days, 3 pills for 5 days, 1 pill for 30 days was the plan. I made it down to the 5 stage before I knew it was not going to work. I am an addict. So I was taking the meds to get high, not taking them to keep the withdrawals away and get my body used to taking less. So I would take 5 at a time, till I ran out.
But if you can do it, more power to you!
: )
Avatar universal
I think the tapering method for decreasing one's hydrocodone use, ie lorcets, lortabs, is not very successful.
I have known many people who have just "been using 3-4" pills(up to #100) a day for either chronic pain or other reasons.  Since we are all human, the unfortunate evidence is that any more than 10-20 days of straight use will cause some sort of physical and/or mental withdrawal symtoms.  Its uncomfortable and even if accomplished leaves you with chronic fatigue like feeling, and at times depression, anxiety and sleep problems.  I notice the people that are most successful, utilize Buprenorphine to stabilize completely off of hydrocodone and then within 6-12 weeks taper completely off of Buprenorphine.  Throughout all of the studies I have read, the chemical make-up of Buprenorphine is less invasive to the mu-kappa systems and thus the success and approval by the Addiction Medicine community and the Government. Find a certified outpatient Buprenorphine provider in your local medical community.
Avatar universal
How come people aren't trying suboxone, the new alternative?  It works great.  Has anyone else tried it?
Avatar universal
I detoxed myself from Vidodin quite a few times.  Take 1 or 2 as needed.  It's silly to wean with a specific schedule.  I would also suggest waiting at least 1 hour from taking the 1 or 2 for them to kick in.  You may also want to consider using percosette as vicidin ES has 750mg tylonol in it, which at 7 a day is above the 4g (4000mg) per day recomended limit.  Perc's only have 325mg.  Good luck

Chris
Avatar universal
wow,i thought i was all alone here! notthat i'm gad others aresuffering, it just helps to know i'm not some kind of drug-freak. i've had lupus for about 8-10 years and i also had spinal fusion and hip surgery 1 yr. and 1/2 ago. all togethr i've been taking hydros for about 5-7 yrs straight! i had no clue until this past year thy were addictive! and i'd insist i wasn't "hooked" yeah until i'd run out early and be freaking for more, i've tried detoxing myself numerous times, i can never get past day 2 w/out freaking out. my doc has no clue how hookedi am, i only just realized my self sortof and i'm sortof still in denial. b.t.w. what is suboxone?
Avatar universal
Hey...love your handle - made me smile!  Believe me - you're definetly NOT alone.  With your med problems, it seems you have a legitimate reason to take the meds, but you're very wise to realize the addictive nature of these little pearls. Hope things work out with you; just wanted to offer support.  About the Bup question, will leave that to ones who can offer first hand advice.  Take care, Lisabet
Avatar universal
i WANT EVERYONE OUT THERE TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE NOT BAD PEOPLE BECAUSE YOU ARE ADDICTED TO THESE DRUGS. I HAVE BEEN TAKING NARCOTICS FOR 6 YEARS FOR MIGRAINES ( ORWHATEVER I COULD COME UP WITH) I AM MORE THAN READY TO COME OFF THEM. I HOPE I CAN FIND A DOCTOR WHO WILL WORK WITH ME TO GET OFF THESE DRUGS SLOWLY OR WITH THE HELP OF SUBUTEX. ANY SUGGESTIONS? ( sT. lOUIS, mO. AREA)
Avatar universal
My husband began taking lorcet plus about 1.5 yrs ago for back pain due to injury in a car accident in 2001. He is now taking 3-4 per day. It is hard for him to get out of bed each day and surgery has been mentioned as an option to relieve his pain.
I am terrified he is getting addicted to lorcet/hydrocodone. He is a recovering alcoholic/drug addict (7 years). I am so afraid this will be devastating. He is also afraid of this medicine but doesn't know what to do to handle his back pain. Any suggestions for non-addictive medicine to help?
His personality is changing, so this is really urgent that we do something. I know it's the lorcet doing this to him.
I'm scared.
Avatar universal
I am trying to taper off Lorcet. I am currently taking about 15 a day and when I try to cut down I get very nervous and anxous and take more, can you tell me how to do this right. Please, I am 30 years old and have 2 small children and I know this is controlling my life and I hate myself but I just cant seem to do this. I appreciate any and all comments. Thank you.
Avatar universal
Hi Trace - I too have a vicodin habit.  I was taking up to 12 pills (10/325) a day (accompanied by a few shots of Jack Daniels)....after coming on to this forum and sponging up all the posts, I've tapered down to 4-6 pills a day currently.  Tapering works for some people, but for most cold turkey seems to be the best way.  Please search the forum for the Thomas recipe.  People absolutely swear by it, for lessening the withdrawals.  Please know you're not alone in your struggle, there's more people than you know going through the same thing you are right now.  (Hint: post on a top thread - it's Ok to bust a thread, since it's kinda hard to post a question...that way more people see your posts and will respond).  Good luck, Tracer - there's a lot of people here that wants to help and share their experiences.  My advice would be read-read-read...this is what I did for months before I got the nerve up to post. It's hard enough to raise two small children, much less battle a vicodin addiction.  Hang in there, sweetheart. Love, Lisabet
Avatar universal
I was once 400 lbs and couldn't loose weight. I opted for stomach stapeling 6 years ago. Before the stapeling I never so much as took an asprin for a migraine. After the stapeling I was sent home with vicodin and didn't take it for a couple of days cause I just did not like pills. It wasn't until one day that I couldn't get out of bed to go to the bathroom I was in so much pain, that I opted to take the pain meds and when they kicked in and worked and I could move, I took them as prescribed to get me trough this horrible pain that lasted for what seemed like months. I was in and out of surgery every month, twice a month for incisional hernias that busted out all the time. So I was left on vicodin for 3 straight years and had no idea not knowing about drugs anyhow, the effects of addiction that were to come. My doctor then took me off of them cold turkey, I thought no problem it was then I realized when my body wouldn't accept that and the horrible pain of withdrawl I went through that I was an addict. So for 6 years now I have done and pulled everything to stay on them to keep from withdrawling. I was even arrested for calling in a fake script for myself using someone elses name. I want to get off this killer drug before it ruins my life. I even stooped to have my boyfriend go to the hospital and fake illness to get them and he was recently caught in that and arrested because of me. I need to get off this drug, it is ruining my life. I have a good man and kids and I want to keep him and them and get my life back to the time when I didn't know what it was like to need pills and didn't need a pill to get up out of bed or I couldn't function. I can go about 1 day and then on day 2, it gets so bad I can't take it no more. Also I did come off them a few months ago and was off for 2 weeks and had a sever car accident that almost killed me and was put on vicodin for months for all the broken bones I had, so I was back to square one. I have no insurance and no means to pay a doctor. Most doctors that find out you are addicted don't care or don't do anything to help you or tell you to go to a drug program where all they do is talk and an addict needs more then that or they wouldn't be trying to find ways to quit, it is the withdrawls that are unbearable not talking that makes it better. Anyone that could help would be appreciated. By the way in a one day period I take anywhere from vicodin 5/500 about 4 to start and every half hour one tablet for about 3 to 4 more pills depending on what I have or I take Norco 10/325 about 3 and then every half hour another half for about as many as up to 12 total, I do this 2 to 3 times a day, depends on what I have on hand at the time. I just want to quit
Avatar universal
i have been taking lortabs for about 2 years now,i am addicted but i only do about 5 a day,i got a bad problem with snorting the pills,i want to get off them but i dont know how,if anyone has any suggestions to help me......thanks
Avatar universal
I am one of those people who can not taper.l  I am in day 5 of c/t right now.  If I had pills I took them at least 20 per day.  In may I  tried to detox and got valium and took al the valium in one day so I could sleep.  Day 5 isn't too bad.  I do have an appointment tomorrow at the sub. doctor so I may give that a try.

Right now I still have cravings for pills, I'm just not acting on them.  I'm laying in bed with my laptop and really feel kay since the coffee is out of my system.  I advise everyone not to drink coffee during withdrawals because it made my stomach fliop and I was overwhelmed with anxiety.

Every one has their own system and as long as the end result is the same what differance does it make.
Avatar universal
methadone will help all of you kick... its what they use to kick heroin... methadone/methadose will help....but careful not to get hooked on those!
Avatar universal
  Very interesting to find this site (I was searching Hydocodone withdrawal).I've been taking Norco (30 mgs at a time) for awhile now.I've been trying to stop taking them but quickly lose my resolve.Right now as I type this, I'm staring at the spot where my pill bottle used to sit.
I've been up for only 3 hours and its been a constant struggle to not dig them out of the cabinet where I stashed em.
What the hell,I'll come back next week when my prescription runs out.
Avatar universal
Would you say I'm addicted if I'm only taking a half to one pill a day of 10/500 mg of Lortab? I'm not in denial or anything...I feel like I am addicted but when I read about all these other people taking 4 or more a day I don't feel as bad off as them. What do you think?
182493 tn?1348056515
What are you taking them for??   only you can say you are addicted to them... It doesn't matter how many you take. Its the the behavoirs surrounding what you take..
177494 tn?1233059254
What do you mean by 'the behaviors surrounding what you take'?  Are you addressing the motivations of what compels people to take the drugs... IE to get high as opposed for pain relief?  I myself have taken Norco for several years but never outside of what is prescribed.  Moreoften than not, however, I ask myself whether I am medicating actual pain from my back problem or staving off pain from my addiction problem.  I started a taper program last week - today is day 9 and i'm taking 2 10/325's daily.  I know that isn't much but its down from 6 daily.  Does it matter if I take all the pills at one time in the AM or should I break them up and take the dose over the course of the entire day?
182493 tn?1348056515
That is what I meant but its not as simple as just the motivations. Behavoirs such as doctor shopping, running out long before refill time, going through peoples medicine cabinets, those are for sure ways to tell if you are an addict.  Then there are ones like not eating before taking a pill so it hits you harder, or taking several at once. But it really does come down to whether you think you are an addict.
Great job weaning down to 2 from 6. Most people can't taper if they have them they take them. I would suggest you break them up and take them throughout the day. It will make it easier to taper further. In fact I would break those 2 in half and take one half 4 x per day, then one half 3 times per day then 2x ect. Some people fine that their pain is better off of pills, pills do "create pain" since out natural endorphins are not firing. I was not one of those people . I really hoped that my pain was not worse without pills, but we play the hand we are dealt. Now I am pill free and learning how to deal with pain other ways.
Avatar universal
I had taken Hydrocodone for well over a year and a half.  When I noticed I was feeling like **** all the time, I decided to quit cold turkey.  That was a very rough 3 weeks, but I made it.  A year or so later the Dr. talked me into taking them again.  I'm now taking
4 - 10/500 pills a day.  And I'm thinking about stopping again, but not cold turkey.  My Dr. says he's going to start a program for me of reduction, but he better get to it.  They gave me a 30 day supply on 10/9/07, and they think 11/9/07 works out to 30 days.  It's not, the 30 day supply ran out 11/7/07,  that leaves me 2 days without.  I can't get them to count the days on a calender.
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