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does opiate addiction perminently change brain chemistry?

I have been using some form of opiate several times a day for almost 20 years.  I am now 36 years old and really sick of it all.  Its hard to believe that I have been like this for so long.  I guess you could call me the ultimate functioning addict. (house, job, husband, children etc.)  There is not a day that goes by that I dont wake up swearing to myself that I will not use, but we all know how that goes.  I did try detox/rehab back in 1995. I was in a 30 day treatment program.  They introduced me to NA but I didnt continue that after I got out. My question is this...  Since I have been using so long, is it possible that I could need opiates for the rest of my life to function normally?  The 30 days in rehab were miserable.  After detox I was seriously emotionally unstable.  I cant handle the way I feel when I am not using..... I am irrational, unstable, suicidal etc.  Is it possible that I have altered my brain chemistry to a point of no return?  I guess I really have not been clean longer than 30 days to find out (I am anticipating some of your reactions so I already said it) But 30 days is more than I can handle.  I have thought about going on MMT but thats a joke.  I have made numerious inquires to clinics only to be put on an indefinite waiting list or told that I need a doc to refer me.Could someone please give me some input on what I should do? If anything? I am at the point where no matter what I do, no matter how much I do. I am still miserable.  My D.O.C. is "H" which I cant always get and I also talke pills everyday, ie; Vicodine, oxy's, perks,  etc.
vicki
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Avatar universal
There is research that says yes, you might be permanently changed.  They are still researching it very extensively.  There is also research that states your brain can heal and chemistry can return to normal.  It has been shown in some individuals that damage is irreversible and it has been shown in some that it is reversible.  I think that is about the best I could state it.  Personally, I believe in some individuals it is permanent if taken for a very long time.  I have no problem believing that at all.  It would definitely go on a case by case basis.
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Avatar universal
I see the drs not in yet and I know that I dont have the answer but I see that noone got back to ya yet so I wanted to let you know that there are tons of people in here just like you.I am one of them(although I dont have that much time under my belt)I dont know the facts about the brain chemistry but I know drugs can screw it up(receptors and what not)My guess would be after that amount of time there could be some damage.Dont underestimate MMT though. Funny thing about that is thats the drug Im running from.But I have no legit reason to be on it either. You could benefit from it,Ive read from alot of people that methadone saved their lives.Trust me you're not alone,the doc will get to you and you will probably never meet a bunch of nicer people than the people you will find here.Good luck,Melissa
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Avatar universal
Good mornong MrM.
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Avatar universal
Hello Melissa.  I hope today finds you doing better.
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Avatar universal
welcome to the junkie hard case club. I've still got you beat by a decade, but 20 years is certainly worth a gold watch or plaque.

As Mrm said there are studies that suggest irreversible damage in some while other suggest that some can recover normal functioning.

Based on my own experience, I believe long-time chronic users like us will never return to a pre-using state. In liew of other solutions, I tend to think Methadone is the best course for us. I should say, however, that I have never used Methadone, so I'm basing my conclusions on incomplete evidence.

I hesitate to adopt MMT for a number of reasons. The main one is I object to the present laws and philosophy that govern the methadone clinic system. It is still conducted too much like a chemically based criminal parole system. Additionally, methadone's extreme withdrawal syndrome implies that, once dependant on methadone, one surrenders all power over one's life to the employees, high and low, of the clinic system. That is something I will never do. If I could receive MMT in a private medical setting, I believe I would have at least tried MMT by now.

I'm surprised at your reception at the clinic. The ones I contacted were more than anxious for me to enroll, albeit for their pointless 21-day detox. To go straight to MMT, I needed to prove I'd been clinically treated for opiate addiction and had failed. Not too hard to do after 30 years of using. Perhaps you should call a few more of them.

Thomas
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Avatar universal
Can an addictionologist(sp)precribe her methadone for opiate addiction from a private office. Ive never been to a methadone clinic but have heard of others personal stories and I would not subject myself to that envionment either.But if she could get a monthly prescription maybe she could balance out her life a little.Just a thought.Melissa
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Avatar universal
i agree with what the others have already stated. it takes quite some time to get over opiate withdrawls to begin with. even after the physical stuff is over you have all the mental/emotional **** to get through. it takes a great deal of willingness to get through to the other side. MMT is a better choice for many addicts. but i have to say that thomas hit the nail on the head with the way he describes the entire clinic environment. it is pretty awful, i have been on MMT but over 20 years ago. i do work next door to one now and i see them come and i see them go... businessmen, addicts, crack head looking addicts (sorry guys, but we can get to looking pretty rough!) old and young... it is amazing. and each time i see one person walk through those doors day after day after day i thank god/dess that it is not me today... private clinics don't give take homes until you have jumped through firey hoops... michael, i know you just switched from clinic to private patient. how did you go about doing that? a friend of someones? anyhow... keep posting! we get tired of each other sometimes and a new "face" is always welcome! lol, i have only been hear about two months, tops!!

peace,

amber
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Avatar universal
Sorry other thread was closed. I just read your reply to Amber and I didn't relize you had a problem going out I thought it was depression and lack of energy. If it causes panic attacks or anything by all means don't go out, Until you see your doc again and if he doesn't already, have your b/f go to the docs with you, maybe the doc can fill him in, or does he know?? I guess I should educate myself in past posts better. Sorry about that... Terri
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Avatar universal
OMG - I cant believe how fast everyone responded. Thank You!!!
Thomas, I dont believe I can do this another 10 years like you. You sure give me some hope. Is your story posted here somewhere? What made you change? I still have this constant internal tug or war going on inside. The "me' that wants to get clean and the "me" who would love to stay loaded.  What changed that for you? I have also heard about the MMT clinics and how your controled by the idiots that run the clinics and your dosed when they feel like it and it determines whether you bow down to them or not. Sounds like some dealers I've delt with in the past.
Do you know anything about buprenex or buprenorphine?(not sure of the spelling) Can a doc give you a script for this?
I have so many questions. I hope that I am not imposing on this message board but there is such little real help out there and you guys sound like you know what your talking about.
thanks
vickie
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Avatar universal
Day 20 and i feel good today..just had a bad day yesterday...so glad to be clean...i know i feel a change in my body and brain. daily it's a little better...this has been the toughtest thing i have ever been through and there is no way i will go back now, after going through all the hell i have been through...that would be shame to go back now...every one out there going through w/d just hang in there...it gets better...yes it will, soon..you will see...Jack
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Avatar universal
Nod
Congrats on 20 days. Nice accomplishment!  Last year I made 6 months and said never again. Unfortunately, thru need for pain control and the pull of Morpheus (greek god of morphine) I slipped back.  Your winning and you sound like your going to stay that way.  Just remember the battle is now indefinite and you need to keep your guard up at all times. Remember how you felt back then usining and how you feel now.  

My hats off to you!  Keep winning!
Nod
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Avatar universal
Melissa,
I didn't realize you weren't leaving the house either.  I feel so bad for you.  I agree that maybe you should take your b/f to the doc with you. I do have a little experience dealing with agoraphobia. My sister was a full blown agoraphobic, she did not leave her house at all in 2 years.  I know you say yuk to the paxil, but honest to God, it changed her life. They gave her severe migraines at first too.  They went away for the most part, she takes imitrex for the flare ups.  She felt like **** for the first 3 months she was on it, but then it all just seemed to kick in.  With those meds, buspar for bad panic attacks, and some counseling once a week, she's almost fine now.  She also says that forcing herself to get on a treadmill every day helped her immensely. If you think that might help, drag one into your bedroom if you have to.  I don't know if any of these things will help you, I just wish there was something more helpful I could do. I'm sure you have tried to calmly explain to your b/f how bad you feel, just keep assuring him that you will get help. I'll be thinking of you.  Keep us posted.
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Avatar universal
Im not sure if bureprophrine(sp)is for those currently on high doses of narcotics or if it is used to help with the last part of withdrawls.MrM would know the answer to that.But I have heard good things about bup. and am looking into it myself.Check to see where the nearest dr. qualified to presribe bup. is to you? someone on here has the site to check on the drs. in your state that are qualified.Dont give up,you have alot of options right now.Everyone chooses their own way to get clean. Find out all of your options first and then take the route that is best suited for YOU.Melissa
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Avatar universal
bup in the form of Suboxone is now available for maintenance. Unlike methadone, you can get suboxone from a physician licensed to treat addiction. The doctor need not be an addictionologist. Each doctor providing suboxone is restricted to treating a small number of patients -- I think it's 20. So, you'll need to search for someone if you want the treatment. If I ever get medical insurance again, I will almost certainly try it.

suboxone physician locator:

http://buprenorphine.samhsa.gov/bwns_locator/index.html

Thomas
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Avatar universal
Sorry I haven't posted and I wish I did Doner! I have to tell you I did the taper thing with the methadone and I got off it so don't you quit girl! Listen to your man! I thing it is unhealthy for you to stay in that long hun! But at the same time I know how you feel! Can you agree to say just a short time and increase it little by little as you take the paxil? Have faith I am praying for you! Don't give up! I did it and you can too! The L-TYROSINE with vita B6 is great as I am also detoxing and tapering off ultram! So I am still doing great! Hang in there and I need to get off of this as well to spend time with my hubby. It is easy to get addicted to this! Bless you all and congrats Jack on another day!  KimH
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Avatar universal
Thanks for the information.  I went to that site you gave http://buprenorphine.samhsa.gov/bwns_locator/index.html
and found one right around the corner.  Fate brought me to this message board today.
When I call what do I say? "I am a junkie looking for buprenex?"
What would be the best approach?
I hate when docs treat patients like **** as soon as they find out they are an addict....its like we are poison to them.
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Avatar universal
this doc won't treat you that way. After all, he/she has taken special training just to be certified to treat addiction. Just tell them you've been addicted to [your drug] for x amount of years/months and you're seeking treatment with suboxone. You don't have to go in to detox vs maintenance til you talk to the doctor. If maintenance is what you seek, I'd come up with some rough dates and places that you underwent medical treatment for opiate addiction and failed, the more the merrier. The doc might want those records, so include at least one that actually happened. LOL. If you can't, I don't think it will be a barrier to maintenance. 20 years of struggling with opiate addiction should in itself get you into maintenance.

Remember, this is not the time to hold back on your doctor. Tell the doc the truth about how much you've been using. If you enter suboxone treatment, come back and tell us how you're doing. I'm particularly interested. Medical treatment isn't in my financial picture now, but somewhere down the road I want to try bup, too. Good luck!

Thomas
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Avatar universal
this site has some good info on suboxone and what constitutes good practices.

http://www.etfrc.com/SuboxoneResources.htm
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Thank you for those nice words of encouragement.Its nice to know Im not the only one whose gone through this sort of thing. My b/f does not understand at all. He thinks I am willing myself to stay in the house deliberately to agitate him.When I started feeling this way he was the only person I would talk to...at all.Now my feelings are changing where I just want him to stay away from me. I dont want to talk to him or for him to try to tell me whats best for me. I dont even like him in the house with me He walks around the house and it makes me anxious and aggitated. I tried to politely tell him I needed space and he went on to tell me that that is my problem. He thinks I spend too much time alone. I just want to be left alone ya know.Again thanks for the encouragment,Melissa
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Avatar universal
Hi my name is terri and have been here for a couple months, I started Bup a couple days ago, I can tell you what my visit was like if it helps. After finding docs in my area I called and asked if the doc treated opiate addiction she said yes and I got an appt the next day. I filled out a form which asked ques. and asked that I be totally honest or I could be dropped from the program. The doc was real nice and said what can I do for you. I told him every detail, 20 a day Hydro habit for 3 years and he wasn't shocked. He told me about the bup. and not to worrie about w/d b/c thats his job. my ins. paid for it as a medical visit which would have cost $150.00 I had to pay for my perscription 128.00 which varys with how strong and how much. b/c what the pharmasist said when they make a compound they don't have a DEA # to put in the computer so they gave me a voucher to get reimbersed. But as Mr M put it thats not the only kind available. The dosage is relied upon by the amount of opiate used the kind and for how long so be real honest. The Bup. does not get me high but I feel normal for now and I forgot how that felt. I think it will be more difficult when my dosage gets lower, but I have no experiance with that. I hope this helps. Terri
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Avatar universal
may I ask if you are or recently were on any kind of benzodiazepine? They include valium, xanax, ativan, librium, halcion, klonopin.

Benzo use, tolerance and addiction can cause profound feelings of anxiety and fear. When it happens, many of us do not identify it with drug use. In fact, many doctors miss the signs.

Thomas
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Avatar universal
valium and xanax always made me severly depressed the day after i took them, when ever i stopped taking them i would go into a deep funk.  the only way to avoid it was to take more or take pain meds. or taper down off them .
i know if you take them for a long time it can be deadly
getting off them cold turkey, it is advised to see a doc to get off them after prolonged use.
peace   hippy
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Avatar universal
Day 20 clean..From 12 years of Oxy...everything is great but for 2 days now I having bad headaches...it's like coming up the back of my nick...has anyone else had this problem? Or is it just me, because this sucks..Now I
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Avatar universal
Just wanted to post my own experiences with benzos, as I've taken them for 3 months last year (cold turkey withdrawal which was HELL) and also for the last 7 months now.  I know I shouldn't have gotten back on them, but I was having panic attacks because of what was going on in my life.  My Mother-in-Law passed of cancer (my Mom was just diagnosed recently with this same thing - I'm not sure how I'm going to cope with this), my dh and I were having horrible marital problems, my daughter was going through some pre-teenage angst and I felt I couldn't deal, and I also used the benzos to quit opiates and didn't just use them for 4-7 days as I should have.  

I was up to about 2 mg. of Klonopin daily and 2 mg. of Xanax at night, now I'm down to about 1/8 of Klonopin 2x a day and 2 mg. of Xanax in the evenings.  I'm weaning SLOWLY - but I will say as soon as I started taking the benzo's, I had immediate depression which I didn't realize was occurring until later.  Aren't benzo's central nervous system depressants?  Anyway, they may not work that way with everyone, but they did with me.  And I also developed agoraphobia and I couldn't drive when I was coming off of them.  I don't have that with the slow taper method that I'm going through now, but I hope as I get down to a lower dosage that it doesn't happen.  Tolerance can develop after taking benzos for a long time while you're on the same dosage and you can experience withdrawal symptoms while taking them even without decreasing your dose (read a lot of stories on the yahoo.benzo board about this occurrence).
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