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Tapered methadone dose to 20mg & onto Oxycodone. Why am I feeling withdrawals?

Started on methadone in 94 for pain. I went cold turkey off 30 mg in 97 (a hell I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy). Started again in 2000 after original injury required another half dz surgeries. Was @ 140 mg until 2011, when somehow I was able to taper to 40 mg in aprox 6 wks. Still have no idea how I accomplished that so quickly & painlessly. At that point my Dr. Said there was no reason for me to push myself any further & to stay @ 40. I've done so since then & maybe 4 months ago told him I was ready to be done with it. I feel when your taking for pain & are on the same dose for over a decade, it's no longer doing anything for pain, just maintaining my dependence. (I actually feel like Methadone has lowered my pain threshold to zero. I can't tolerate any pain.) my Dr. Suggested I go to a pain clinic. He felt they would be the most knowledgable about tapering. Tapered from 40 to 20 fairly quickly & was only a tiny bit bitchy & edgy. On 8/27/14 he switched me to Oxycodone. Two 20 mg doses & one 10 mg methadone for 5 days. Again, not bad @ all. Then I was to start Oxycodone alone. 20 mg AM, 10mg mid morn. 10 mg, afternoon & 20 @ bedtime. By mid day on day one I felt withdrawal symptoms. Granted it is not nearly the misery of cold turkey, but miserable none the less. Went back to Dr. & he agreed I was in withdrawal, told me to increase Oxycodone to 20mgs 4x a day & gave me Clonidine to take for 7 days. Have done that since weds & still feel like hell. It take all the energy I have just to let the dogs outside. I do have Xanax that I've taken for aprox. 3 yrs for sleep. Even w that I wake up @ 2AM in a cold sweat, anxious, achy & w that one symptom of withdrawal that they've yet to find an adjective for.
So as of tomorrow, it will have been a week since my last methadone. I know about the half life, & I assume taking it for the better part of 20 yrs, it's built up in my system in many other ways.
My question is... WHY? I feel like I'm doing this the best possible way & I can't make any sense out of why I'm experiencing withdrawal! I know everybody is different, but how much longer should I anticipate to feel withdrawal symptoms? I'm fully committed to this, so if I have to suffer w these symptoms in order to eventually reach the finish line, I will. I'm just curious if anybody has any insight as to why this is happening, how much longer it may go on & better yet, any suggestions to make it a little more bearable. I'm just not understanding why I'm struggling to this degree.
Would it have been easier to just stick w methadone &  taper that to zero?
I'm blessed to have a husband & family that is willing to do whatever they can to make this easier, I just have no idea what might make it easier, aside from time. Ironically, time is why I'm doing this. 20 yrs of my life I've lived script to script, & at the mercy of my body. Id like to be able to start enjoying life with the people I've been so blessed to have in my life & stop being a slave to a pill.
I have refills of a 3mg XR Xanax that my Primary care doc prescribed to see if it work better than the IR Xanax. It didn't help with sleep, but I've considered trying one of those a day for a wk or two to get me through the hump, but I'm Leary of doing that...
Appreciate any input! Thanks -JGS
12 Responses
9880688 tn?1414115647
Hi Nov7th and welcome to our MH Forum and Family!!!

I've never taken Methadone ... the drug that always worked on me was Oxycodone...was on 15 mg...taking 6-10 a day instead of the 5 a day prescribed....that's why I detoxed...because I started taking more than prescribed.

My hubby recently had a lot of surgeries and he wanted off the Fentanyl Patch...because of his health he can't CT.  The doctor said there were only certain pill form meds they could switch him to in order to avoid some withdrawal symptoms.  They also said that he would probably have some mild symptoms for a couple of days (so far they are very, very mild).

I think no matter what drug you are switched to your brain is going to tell you that you hurt more, that you feel sick, etc in order to try to get you to bring that drug back....especially if you were on it long term.

As I said though...I'm just hypothesizing here.  I think during Sunday you will get some straighter answers....we have quite a few people here who have either tapered or CT'd methadone...so they will be able to tell you their experiences.

Please be careful with the Xanax...it is highly addictive too...and you cannot CT them...because the seizure risk.  For sleep you could try what I've been using recently...Sundown Naturals Super Snooze Melatonin.  It has calcium, magnesium (which would help with WD symptoms), valerian, chamomile, Hops, passion flower, taurine and melatonin.  It is all natural and has been working for me when I take it.  If I forget to take it my insomnia sets back in and I'm up half the night.

Please check back periodically....while you wait for responses on Sunday go through some of the older posts that are related to Methadone.  You might find some good information and advice there.

4810126 tn?1503942735
Hi there & Welcome :)

My question is... WHY? I feel like I'm doing this the best possible way & I can't make any sense out of why I'm experiencing withdrawal!

The simple answer is because Methadone is a MUCH stronger drug than Oxys & is a full synthetic & stores in your body tissue. The longer you've been on it, the more is in your fat & bones. It has to leave your body & then your brain, gut & hormones have to rebalance & heal. This takes time & is why a gradual taper to the lowest possible dose is recommended when it comes to M'done.

You're absolutely right about it lowering your pain threshold after a while. It does.

After the acute w/d's are over -- (though in your case, as you know, you're not experiencing the sort of full w/d's you would off M'done cold turkey w/o the Oxys) -- you should adjust to the Oxys though it might take a while to get your energy back.

So, could you tell us, do you plan on staying on the Oxy's?

Congrats on 7 days off M'done after almost 20 yrs! :)

Let us know what you think & how it's going.

We're here!

Avatar universal
Thanks so much for responding.

I think you're right. There's no easy way out. It's just gonna take time. Time is just the hardest thing to sacrifice.

I have used Passion flower in the tincture form. I may give that another try. I agree with you about Xanax. It was a last resort for both me & my Dr. My insomnia got to a level he was worried it was effecting my heart. I was hospitalized twice after many stretches of 9+ days w about 6-10 hours of sleep. They eventually gave me two injections of thoraZine? Over 6 hours & I slept for about 30 hours. I hate ambien, I think it was tramadol we also tried to no avail. Xanax seems to wk just enough to calm my mind & let me sleep without a hangover in the morn. I talked to my Dr about switching to natural remedies after I discovered Passion flower & he said absolutely not! That he didn't think my body could withstand another stretch of insomnia. For me it's not "how many hours does it take to get to sleep" it's "how many days". I'm very careful to never take more than prescribed, especially while taking methadone. I know It's reckless to even consider taking additional xanax. I wish the clonidine worked for me the way I've read it helps others. There's just no shortcuts. The anxious, edgy part is the hardest for me. Anxious seems like such an understatement.
Again thanks for taking time to respond. I hope you & your hubby are doing well!
Avatar universal
Thanks for your input.  

I know for many Methadone is the best option, but if I knew then, what I know now, I never would have used it. I truly believe most Drs don't fully understand the effects methadone have & the havoc it wreaks on people.

This may be a crazy question, but I'm wondering if the constipation also causes it to remain in you're system. I mean they say health starts in your intestines & I've been constipated for a decade...

I do plan to continue to taper w oxy. I feel miserable but I know I would be much worse without. I'm hoping by next week @ this time I'll be feeling a little better & can start tapering the Oxys. I guess I need to focus more on what I've accomplished as far as methadone goes, & just keep my eye on the finish line.

I really appreciate your input. It's hard to find info on Merhadone & Oxycodone  that isn't about how to abuse it.

Thanks again! I'll keep you posted!
9880688 tn?1414115647
Talk to your doctor about Atarax.  They just started my hubby on it 50 mg.  It is a form of antihistimine.  He took his first one last night and slept really good.  He's where he can't take ambien, lunesta and all that stuff too.

There is no easy withdrawal unfortunately....all we can do is try to alleviate the symptoms as much as we can.  Since it has been a week since your last methadone you are through the worst of it.  Now you just gotta hang in there with the rest of us...slowly but surely symptoms will subside.  For me the ones lasting the longest are the anxiety and the insomnia.  I'm happy if I can take my natural herbs and stuff and get 4-6 hours sleep right now.  Because your doctor is concerned about your heart you might want to try a combo.  Since he isn't happy about you going natural perhaps you could try Atarax plus a Melatonin pill.  The worst thing that happens is you talk to him and he says no.

Keep posting with us, reading other posts, offer advice when you can.  It really helps to do that when you can't sleep :-)
9880688 tn?1414115647
I just noticed you asked about constipation and whether or not the toxins stay in your body longer.  My response is yes.  If you notice when we CT detox we always tell people to stock up on immodium...the constant bathroom visits are because the body is also getting rid of the toxins by going through your bowels.  Immodium during CT does not stop you up...it just slows it down so you don't have to run to the bathroom every 10 minutes.
  Oxy will cause constipation big time.  I used to take fiber capsules daily and miralax a couple of times a week to keep things flowing (so to speak).  If you are having that issue you should definitely take something to get your body working the way it should.
Avatar universal
Hello.I am snowflake. I was on methadone, topped off at 80mgs,then spent 8 months titrating and quit at 13 mgs cold turkey. What I STRONGLY recommend is to not just cold turkey the methadone but to titrate SLOWLY off..........we're talking 2-3 mgs a week, maybe even lower than that since you have been on it for so long. I was sick for a month after I stopped cold turkey. Then I had paws (post acute withdrawal syndrome) for 4-5 months. I'm telling you all of this because I don't want you to have to go through what I did. Methadone is the strongest pain pill out there. You can be clean for a month of methadone and take a ua and the metabolites of methadone will still be in your urine. If a addict like me can quit and be clean for two years, I know you can titrate and quit. Good luck. :)
Avatar universal
I'm so thrilled to hear it's been two yrs for you!  I did the cold turkey thing in 97 off a relatively low dose & it was the longest, most miserable time. I was naieve about withdrawal & kept thinking id be better in a day or two. It ultimately was 2-3 months before I even started to feel human again. So knowing that I shouldn't whine about how I'm feeling now, but because of how I'm feeling now I seem to be whining about everything. My husband is a saint. If he was acting like such a jackass I don't think I would be nearly as patient as he is with me.
Thanks for the encouragement! Can't wait to have this monkey off my back!
Avatar universal
I'm actually proud to report that as of a couple hours ago, things are moving better than they have in yrs. I stocked up on Imodium just in case, but so far so good.
I've been drinking "good belly"  (probiotics) for the last 6 weeks, & have doubled my daily amount this past week. I don't know if that has anything to do with it, but I'm gonna keep it up.
9880688 tn?1414115647
Wooohooo Nov7th....I'm so glad to hear it and yes, the probiotics definitely will help.  I started back on them a week ago and started Joe on them too!

Glad that something is working right...there are days with detoxing that we live for that OMG something worked!!! days lol

Avatar universal
thats weird im 16 days off 60ml of methadone n stiff feel bad eye site all jacked up n everything hurts
Avatar universal
thats weird im 16 days off 60ml of methadone n stiff feel bad eye site all jacked up n everything hurts
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