My story

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TeachWithoutSubs
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My story

Post by TeachWithoutSubs » Tue Mar 17, 2020 3:59 pm

Please bear with me: This is a long post:
I have been completely off Suboxone for 6 months. I did it without medication, any support groups, or the help of my Prescriber (Except: “That’s Great - Good luck”). It was HARD, VERY, VERY HARD. And today I feel like a human, and I do STILL have occasional withdrawal issues, although they are EXTREMELY better!
I am very appreciative to be able to share on this forum. And my story, like everyone’s, is unique. I’ll try to be concise. *(Everyone, and their experience is unique. Please understand I am not advocating that “My Way”, is ANYONE else’s way...). My Story:
I began taking Suboxone 11 years ago, at the age of 44, after realizing my addiction to Rx opiates was running my life. (At that point, I had chronic pain from a recent Lumbar fusion, and a lifetime of orthopedic “issues”, while also being an avid Snowboarder, Mountain Biker and Rock Climber - who didn’t know how to back off and take it easy.) A concurrent addiction to alcohol, with an extremely high tolerance and 30 years of drinking.
I found a clinic, and a Suboxone “expert”, and due to my persuasive personality (I guess), the fact I teach High School to at-risk students, (31 years now), openness, and medical records and X-rays, I was prescribed 32mg of Suboxone/day, without induction, and 3 weeks after the initial 8mg. - after 6 months, my 3- month supply of Suboxone was being mailed to my house, I was “awarded” a “Prior-Auth.” Good until 2099 (way past my lifespan). I thought I was doing GREAT! And on an “Up-Side”), was a very extensive urine test every 3 months (which helped me stop drinking) - not wanting to EVER endanger my Suboxone supply.
Now (Presently) I feel like the luckiest survivor of all. I’ve been through stages of denial, self-doubt and Anger.
The 1st 3 months of my withdrawal were Very, very uncomfortable and trying. The one thing that I had on my side was Self-centered, Undeterred Desire to be clean. - And initial anger at my doctor aided my fire.
My family, friends, and coworkers also supported me: Although I was VERY open about everything, None of them could really understand what was going on inside me. *The only one who does, is my 28 year old step daughter, who is on her 5th month of methadone, for the similar issues as mine. We support each other’s journey, and we are both SO glad she didn’t get on Suboxone! Her taper has already begun! (But that’s a different unique story).
This is how I did it:
I realized after 6.5 years, (4.5 years ago) And a neck fusion without opiates (Suboxone continued, and amazing anesthesiologists), that I wasn’t really having “Chronic Pain” any more - I was probably addicted to Suboxone. I decided to “Quit”.... Looked it up online and began the taper. 24mg for a year, 16 for a year, 8 mg for 6 months, then 4mg.- 6mo’s - then 2mg for 6 months. Then I quit. I just QUIT. (And quit a 40 year chewing tobacco habit at the same time.) SUPERMAN! Yay!
I made it FIVE days.... Back on 2mgs. Back online and SUPER angry at myself, Suboxone, And my doctor.
Then, I REALLY began a taper- it took an entire year to get down to tiny pieces of a tablet (and an exacto knife, a 12 section pill box and patience.)
6 months ago I took my last dose.
It was not pleasant (UNDERSTATEMENT) after the 3rd day.
My commitment to teaching my students, and my determination helped me get out of bed every day, and continue with my routines. *In fact, I think that “continuation” of daily existence, was key, to get me here.
I must reiterate, I am a unique individual, like anyone else, and my experience is unique. I finally have the “light” at the end of this tunnel. My commitment to becoming a “Quitter”, began 6 years ago, when I stopped drinking alcohol.
Quitting Tobacco only lasted a year. I started up again when the Suboxone withdrawal was at it’s worse. And now I have a new fight. But, I also have a brain that is healing everyday.
This was a long post (And it helps me GREATLY to get written down and share). THANK YOU! I appreciate, greatly, anyone who read this far, and I pray wherever you are with Suboxone, you realize it CAN be a lifesaver, in the right conditions, with the right factors and competent Doctors. AND, on the other hand, it can be a misused and misguided nightmare.
Peace, Love and please know: You, and I (We are all) stronger than we could ever realize.

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rule62
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Re: My story

Post by rule62 » Thu Mar 19, 2020 10:36 pm

Welcome to the forum and thanks for sharing your experience. A lot of doctors prescribed too much only because they didn't understand the drug itself. Mine started me out at 32mg's and got mad when I said it was too high of dose. Without his permission I tapered down to 1 mg in the first year. But even that is equal to almost 40 mg's of morphine. Tapering very slowly over a long period of time works best for most. We have several members here who barely felt withdrawals by going down in micro doses before stopping.

Saying you were "addicted" to Suboxone is disturbing. Were you abusing it? There is a difference between addiction and dependence, which I have. It's kind of a hard drug to get addicted to due to not getting high from it. Some do, most don't. Not trying to criticize, just getting it clarified so others don't get the wrong impression.

The important thing here is you did it. Congratulations! And sorry there isn't too many members responding back. This is a fairly new forum website and it is hard to find. Glad you did. Also, with this stupid Covid-19 thing the world is a mess.

We wish you health and success going forward.
Don't take yourself so damn seriously

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jennjenn
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Re: My story

Post by jennjenn » Sat Mar 21, 2020 8:58 am

Sometimes people who taper off buprenorphine have a way of thinking those of us who haven’t are 'stuck' or 'addicted to suboxone' and that just isn’t the case. That’s nowhere near the case honestly. Suboxone can be long term for MANY ppl and not so long term for others...... we’re all so very different so each experience will be a bit different. I’m very happy you’re where you want to be in this journey and good for you for all the hard work you’ve done!

There are doctors out there that truly don’t give a sh%t about their patients but there are MANY that do and if you have a doctor that is educated and willing, this treatment can be the best thing to happen to you in recovery especially if you have tried everything else and this was your final attempt before death or prison. I think some ppl forget that buprenorphine alone isn’t enough for long term recovery. If you aren’t doing counseling and the work it takes to understand your addiction then I’m not sure what percentage of those ppl will be ok once they’ve stopped this medication. I’m absolutely not saying this is you teacher, just talking about anyone who thought that suboxone alone is enough because it isn’t imo.

Physical dependency is so different than addicted. I actually had to explain this to a couple of my patients a week ago. They were in such a hurry to taper even though they just started treatment 2 months ago. They’re already afraid of being on it too long because of getting 'addicted' to this medication. Physical dependence can happen with a lot of medication, it’s when you’re taking something that you cannot just immediately stop without having some type of physical symptoms. Opiates and benzodiazepines of course are some examples but there are other medications that fall into that category. With suboxone, I do NOT get high and I really never have even during my induction. If I haven’t ever gotten high then why would I be addicted to it like I was oxycodone? People talk about being addicted to their suboxone, are those ppl addicted or are they physically dependent?

I encourage everyone to go with their own journey. If tapering and stopping is where you’re at in your recovery then absolutely do it with pride. If it isn’t where you’re at then please don’t be ashamed or disappointed! This is not a race, there won’t be a trophy for your suffering. I have taken this medication for 8 years and work with patients every day that is in suboxone treatment. If you aren’t ready or may be one of us patients that will need long term maintenance, it’s ok. It doesn’t mean you’re addicted, only you know what is best for you. If you’re a patient that is ready to taper and be completely abstinent, I’m so proud of you! You rock! I hope you enjoy life to the fullest. Everyone be safe! Please :)
Jennifer

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Re: My story

Post by TeachWithoutSubs » Sat Mar 21, 2020 7:29 pm

Thank you for posting replies!
Thank you for the encouraging words, your sharing knowledge and experiences and helping clarify that I was physically dependent, rather than addicted to Suboxone. It really did help me with pain control, did not get me high.
You are correct. And Suboxone really did help me to stop the destructive path I was on with ever increasing amounts of opiate pain killers. I had figured out how to obtain large amounts of pills and stock pile them, while still receiving prescriptions. It started with pain control, and then became a means to continue physical activities that ultimately proved to be detrimental to my recovery and healing from surgeries.
The best thing about Suboxone was that it stopped my physical withdrawals, and reduced my pain just enough to be bearable, but also realize I needed to heal properly.
It IS a good drug, when used properly. And I agree it can be very beneficial in many different scenarios.
I think my doctor actually meant well, and wasn’t as educated as I (now) wish. At the beginning of my treatment, I was extremely pleased, and so happy to have Suboxone in my life.
I was disheartened about the lack knowledge in the area of weaning off, however, my doctor never pressured me not to try.
My anger has subsided greatly, and in hindsight was most likely aimed at myself and deflected toward my doctors and my own lack of knowledge about Suboxone’s strength in receptor binding.
Thank you again. And am so great full for your sharing and support of everyone, and their own unique journeys.

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Re: My story

Post by jennjenn » Sun Mar 22, 2020 9:52 am

I think your journey can definitely inspire people on this forum! I hope you stick around and help others who may be tapering themselves. I absolutely agree that when it comes to the tapering part of this treatment it’s almost like we’re standing around scratching our heads wondering what now because there just isn’t enough information about how to properly do it. The company’s making buprenorphine should maybe figure out a package or something heck I don’t know but I do know a lot of clinics don’t really have a taper plan. When ppl get discharged at our clinic I think it’s something like 20 pills or something and that’s it. I need to double check that but it’s just not enough to keep that person from pretty intense withdrawal.

I’m so glad you’re here and sharing your journey!!
Jennifer

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rule62
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Re: My story

Post by rule62 » Sun Mar 22, 2020 8:05 pm

With all that is going on in the world today your post surely made me smile. Thank you very much for the positive words. It really helps those who are ready to stop too. I keep telling myself that I'll know the right time but nothing ever seems to change. My doctor has no problem with my long term maintenance so I dose lightly most every day.

It does help with pain control as long as you keep the dose down low. Being at 1 mg and prescribed 2, I always have extra for those days my pain is bad. 90% of the time I take Aleve, my miracle drug. If my neck is hurting badly then I take the extra 1 mg and it reduces the pain by 70% or so if I'm lucky. A person needs to keep the tolerance down for a small increase to be effective. Whatever will I do if the day comes for me to taper and quit? I'll live and be happy, that's what. So many members here have stopped and done very well. A few went back on months or years later because they had cravings. Nice to have that option. An addict needs to do what needs to be done so as not to slip back into that terrible lifestyle. Without Suboxone, who knows what would have happened to me and I don't want to think about it. Buprenorphine saved my life.

Your input is greatly valued here so please stick around and post updates.
Don't take yourself so damn seriously

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Re: My story

Post by Lillyval » Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:47 pm

May I ask what part of the country you are in? Where I live the new norm is 28 day prescriptions, no refills, even after years without a single positive urine. And even though the pharmacy delivers they won’t deliver Suboxone. I’m astounded that you could get 32mg/day, 3 months at a time in the mail! In fact, no doctor that I’ve ever heard of will even prescribe more than 16mg/day. It must have made it harder to stop with it pouring in like that. Even though I’m not ready to stop, I think about stopping every month because it’s such an ordeal to get.

I certainly wish you the best. Stay vigilant. As hard as it was to quit (I know because I went cold turkey off 16mg and didn’t use for five years) thoughts of opiates creep back in after months or years of not using, living a sober life, and not even being around it. It sounds like you have a good support person and a lot of motivation. Good luck to you.

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Re: My story

Post by TeachWithoutSubs » Tue Mar 24, 2020 10:46 am

Thank you all for the comments, kind words and encouragement. Especially during these times it’s really great! In my original post, I mentioned family support, and did not emphasize clearly, that my amazing partner was extremely supportive and influential in my recovery. And that’s a major understatement. (Without personal experience with opiate addiction: She was able to learn a lot about it and take the invaluable position of seeing how it was affecting, and had changed me over many years.)
I live in New Mexico. The opiate problem is big in this state, even with the overall population being low. The rules with prescriptions are apparently pretty (tolerant?).
My insurance, through the state school system, and subsequent (Large - nation wide) prescription provider, both concluded that I “fit” the patient profile, for the 3 - month plan. (90 day supply, and very affordable, and mailed to my house.) I eventually freaked out on the mailing to my house plan, when I came home to a large box (10” x 12” x 20”), sitting unattended in front of my door, with 180 8mg tabs, in the newest childproof boxes. It was at that same time, a national chain store with a pharmacy, became a “90 day Partner” to the mail order provider. Whew! You could imagine the consequences of those unattended meds. (Thankfully, I live isolated down a 100 foot drive way, on a large piece of property.
The clinic I attend here is pretty extensive, and also includes therapy services and Primary doctors. Seven years ago they moved from a one story building, into a 3 story building. However, as of 6 months ago, none of the services had any resources for tapering... Hopefully that will change. I am using my appointments now to update my Dr’s on my recovery, and discuss the difficulties I’ve experienced, and lack of their resources for discontinuing, cutting down and the effectiveness of lower- dosing.
This forum, and hopefully others like it, are invaluable!
I hope all of your journeys continue to be positive!
Thank you again.

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