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Almost off Opiates



  • DavidG thanks, it’s good to know what we write of our experience inspires others. 

    I completely want off pain meds forever, I hate what they do to my mind, bowels and something else, but I forgot....

    Dale, brother I read your other threads and you just humble me.  Faith, hope and love, always.  I am sorta being forced off opiates but not because of opiate wars or anything, just my second PM  dr believes some of my nerve/neuropathy pain in my feet, legs was caused by being on such a high level of opiates after my surgery.  My first PM dr, who writes my Rx’s, has encouraged the same but has flat out said I likely will need maintenance levels and indicated if I went down to zero and couldn’t take the pain, going back up to low levels of some kind of pain meds would be ok. 

    Nut, thanks also to you for making me question valerian root.  It was my second pain Drs titration schedule I followed from about Jan 1 on. I had been on a slower weaning schedule starting last July but I didn’t do well, so o wanted to get off sooner rather than later. 

    I did suffer the most unconscionable pain after my two surgeries and was not allowed more than low dose Norco which did zero for my post surgery pain.  It took at least a month to prescribe any morphine or Oxycodone and then my first pain dr kept raising my doses when nothing worked for my pain. I believe my body finally healed some to lessen the pain, pain meds did not do much for me except make me  cranky. 

    L3-S1 ALIF Feb 2018 and 

    L3-S1 PLIF Laminectomy and Fusion March 2018

  • Joel1QJJoel1Q Posts: 332
    edited 03/17/2019 - 11:06 PM

    Day 14

    I had a very rough week with my foot pain, and more lower back SI and other odd pains I’ve not felt in some time coming back, but today has actually been the best day of the week.  I found towards the middle of the week I was not taking my Gabapentin and zanaflex every six hours as normal because I’m no longer taking opiate pain meds every 6 hours and I just started slacking - bad idea.  Plus I ran out of the daytime 30:1 CBD and thought ahh, I’ll try it without.  Now set my alarms to take the nerve and muscle meds, except when I sleep because sleep is still Golden, and replenished the cbd really did make a difference with all pains today. 

    I’ve noticed without the pain meds after my workouts,  the next couple of days I have much more muscle recovery pain which I don’t like   That can make it difficult to get going the day after.   

    I’ve been told 30-45 days to shake all the opiate effects off, can’t wait. 

    L3-S1 ALIF Feb 2018 and 

    L3-S1 PLIF Laminectomy and Fusion March 2018

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  • MikethepikeMMikethepike MIchiganPosts: 668

     Hey Joel, just wondering if you have body heaviness? Keep up the good work take care and God bless

  • Hi Joel, I've been watching your progress because I'm on the same path although I haven't been on meds other than huge doses of gabapentin and moderate doses of Percocet. I'm working on the Percocet first and would like to see if I can at least cut back on the gabapentin because I can fall asleep mid sentence! But don't sleep well at night, go figure. I also have terrible memory loss.

    I've been going to a Behavioral Pain Management Center where we learn tools to better manage pain without drugs, it has been very helpful. Last week we talked about how opioids mess with your brain chemistry, I'm sure you probably researched that. When we introduce opioids to our bodies, our brains stop producing natural pain killers like endorphins which actually do a much better job at controlling pain than an outside source.  My doc says that my body has no clue what my baseline pain is and when I get there, my brain will adjust to what it needs to do. I'm not foolish enough to think I won't have any pain but others who have been successful in getting off opioids tell me their pain really isn't any worse without all the nasty side effects, like having a functioning digestive system! I'm down to 3- 5/325 tabs a day. I'm planning to go down another 5 soon. I've had some acute flare ups of piriformis and sciatica pain but haven't fallen off the wagon. I'm determined to do this. I've only been on  the Percocet for two years after a L5/S1 fusion and a failed neurostimulator. It's a tough climb but can be conquered and  fellow travelers make it easier. Onward and upward. 


  • nutcase007nnutcase007 United StatesPosts: 937

    @joanne2 - Each of our experiences with opioids is different.  From my experience, the last little bit of opioids is the worst to discontinue.

    I've been on opioids most of my 21 years of chronic pain, most of the time using oxycodone.  I had completely came off of all opioids for a significant period of time after my first and second ACDF.  I've never recovered from my third ACDF and now have developed a condition at the right facet side at the base of my neck that no level of opioids takes any edge off the pain.  So I decided to taper down and discontinue my oxycodone. 

    I was down to 2 x 5mg of oxycodone a day.  Out of frustration (and stupid FDA rules), I quit cold turkey at that level.  I wasn't being allowed any benzo type medication until I was totally off opioids.  The benzo class of meds are the only medication to help me deal with physiological depression.  After seven days of no oxycodone, I knew I was in serious trouble.  I would fall asleep during the day at mid-sentence and yet couldn't sleep a wink at night.  So I went back to an opioid taper schedule,  I'm now at 3 x 2.5 mg a day.  Maybe in a week, I'll try 2 x 2.5 mg a day.  As you said, opioids mess with your brain chemistry (I think the primary being the pineal gland which controls the melatonin and serotonin-derived hormones).

    I'm still having serious sleep issues, even with multiple sleep aids.  Don't know if it is about the melatonin/serotonin issues or the unrelenting severe pain, maybe both.  Can't get anything medically done for me until I see my neurosurgeon on April 3rd.

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  • dilauroddilauro ConnecticutPosts: 12,303


    I commend you for all of your efforts into reducing the amount of opioids you require.  This is something than every chronic pain patient really needs to look into.

    5,10,15 or 20 years ago, the approach for managing pain was narcotics (only because the term opioid really wasnt used that much)  Today, its a total modular approach.

    It involves

    Pharmacy - providing you with only the required medications
    Pain Management Doctor - Who will evaluate you on a regular basis to understand what your current needs are
    Pain Counselors - They can work wonders, so many long time chronic pain patients say they cant do without, but it is amazing at what counseling session can do
    Exercise, Physical/Aqua Therapy - Try to get you body in the best possible shape.  When you are dealing with chronic pain, so much of you body gets deconditioned.  Then that starts to decline further and further.  So, it is so important to do whatever exercise that you doctor has approved for you.
    Diet - What we eat can make a difference.  Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce stress from our spines
    Alternative Medicine - Acupuncture, Aroma/Music Therapy, Tapping, Meditation, to name a few can help manage pain quite effectively without chemicals.

    Its a total package and most medical professionals are heading in this direction.   This has nothing to do with the current media attention that opioids have, its just doing the right thing for the physical and emotional well being of the patient.

    Joanne, keep it going

  • Nut the falling asleep after having no opiates in your system is a terrible feeling.  I’m sorry you dropped to zero too fast, I have heard many problems from taking it too fast. 

    Joanne I believe that my baseline pain is way better than the drawbacks of being on opiates, at this time.  I have my first pain management counseling session in 2 weeks, and am glad it’s warming up so the pool is warmed up as everyone says it’s good exercise and adds to staying fit.  

    Mike, I feel heavy a lot. Sometimes my muscles feel like they just are so in pain and most of the time it has no relationship to how much I exercise.  Sometimes I feel I have a muscle issue where all my muscles sting with pins and needles , separates from my foot pain which I’ve had since surgery day.  

    Hope you all feel better on hump day!

    L3-S1 ALIF Feb 2018 and 

    L3-S1 PLIF Laminectomy and Fusion March 2018

  • Wow you wouldn't think just cutting back another 2.5 mg oxy would be so tough. I'm at 2.5/5mg tabs per day now. This has been the worst as far as withdrawal, I feel like I couldn't jump out of my skin, now isn't that an ugly thought lol. Thank God I have been learning lots of relaxation techniques and biofeedback in my class, it really does help. I was going to wait until April to do another cut back but the doc was talking about how the stress pain cycle affects our digestive system (I have lots of digestive issues) and he told us about a woman he had in class whose digestive system had totally shut down due to chronic pain, stress and opioids. Yikes! I'm convinced more than ever this is the right path for me. I've been going to the pool and my class and putting into practice what I have learned and I can do this! Day at a time. I can't wait until I can celebrate being opioid free! Hope you are all doing well! 

  • dilauroddilauro ConnecticutPosts: 12,303


    The elimination of opioids should be done over a  long period of time.  Longer, the longer you have been using opioids.   Never rush into it.   You body will tell you (as it did) when you are going to fast.

    Its great that you are on this path, I wish you all the luck in reaching your goal.    

  • Hi Ron, I've been going really slow, even slower than was suggested by the pain management nurse. I know there will be withdrawal symptoms no matter how slowly I go. I read some where that the lower doses were the toughest. My pain has been difficult but besides all the new tools I'm using ice heat, TENS, lotions anything not drug related and still going to PT. I had to cut back on the muscle relaxers because they were giving me bad stomach pain. I've been on them for 2 years, since my fusion surgery. I won't cut back any more now for a month or more depending on how this part of the withdrawal goes. Thanks for all your wisdom, I really do appreciate it! 

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