Hit the wall @ 28mg during taper

No_U_TURNUp until a couple weeks after the last update, my taper seemed to be going great. I could tell that the lack of sleep was starting to get to me, and my stomach was really starting to act up. My taper is 2mg/week. Once I hit 30, I was in rough shape. I noticed that I didn’t want to get out of bed, and when I did, it took forever to get moving. For about a week, I kept convincing myself that I had some type of bug, I live in the Northeast, so it would make sense.

At the end of the week, I couldn’t sleep, 4 hours after dosing, I would get these splitting headaches that turned into migraines until I ingested my next dose. Once I added up all the symptoms, I realized that this is no flu here. On my next visit to the clinic, I had an assessment done. Turned out that the COWS (clinical opiate withdrawal scale) also said I was undergoing withdrawal. This was on a Friday, I stuck it out through the weekend, I actually bought some Cimetidine (Tagamet) to help my dose out a bit. For those of you that don’t know about Tagamet, it’s an antacid which share the same metabolic pathway (CYP-450) as Methadone. So by taking 200-1000mg about 40 minutes before your dose, it helps by making your body metabolize it much slower, but it can also cause very high serum levels. So if you are on a high dose, I really wouldn’t recommend potentiating with the shit.

Anyway, I felt a bit better taking the Cimetidine throughout the weekend, on Monday, I stopped taking it. If you use it for prolonged periods of time, you can increase your tolerance to Methadone and other opiates requiring you to up your dose. On Monday I got the increase, I was hoping for maybe 2mg, but the doc gave me 5mg, probably because of the score on the COWS. Once the dose metabolized, I immediately started to feel better. It’s amazing how much 5mg of Methadone really is.

As of that Friday, my taper is halted at 35mg. My plan is to hang around on this dose for maybe a week or so, then continue to taper, but at 1mg/week this time. I read heaps of information, especially from the folks at Opiophile about Methadone and tapering. I though that I had set a realistic goal of tapering at 2mg/week up until about 10 or 15mg, then going at 1mg/week.

Many people have tapered at that rate, but hey, everyone is different. I haven’t been smoking much, here and there when I was feeling like shit, but I have to watch it with the clinic, especially because with my taper plan changing, it pretty much doubled the amount of time until I am done with Methadone, and I really don’t want to go the clinic every day until then. The clinic I go to does not allow us to smoke weed, though I have heard some do allow it. It obviously isn’t a major issue like benzo use, but they will rescind privileges for doing it. At one point, I was showing up twice a week, tested positive for THC and they bumped my privileges back to 5 days a week (Monday-Friday) this clinic is open 7 days a week, so it is a big deal not having to go in on the weekends.

That’s about it for this time guys, I’ll post another update once I have begun the taper again. Until then, I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing.

The dreadful taper, methadone

imagesThis is my real life encounter with methadone, getting on it, getting off it. It’s not meant to be a horror story, it’s meant to show you that it can be done and you don’t have to be a “lifer”. I’m going to update this blog weekly so you guys can see first hand what it’s like to taper from methadone.

So here I am again, 3 years after writing an article about tapering down from Buprenorphine (Suboxone). This is just to show how nasty the disease we call opioid addiction really is. Unlike the other article, I’m doing this under doctor supervision, which is highly recommended with methadone, because it really is strong shit. The point of this is simply to highlight me experience with methadone, compare it to my time on Suboxone and share my story. Keep in mind, everyone’s chemistry is different, endless variables can affect how your body handles your specific situation; ie: daily dose amount, span of time on the drug, taper percentage/rate and a huge one is your metabolism. Keep that in mind before you go down to the comments and start posting about how I’m full of shit and this is impossible, blah blah blah.

From the beginning
I had a hard time getting up the courage to step foot into that clinic that day, over 2 years ago. I had always talked about how methadone clinics are basically pill sheds, which until a little while ago, they were. I still recall the anxiety sitting in the waiting room, the thing I recall most is number ticket screen hanging from the ceiling, it would ring every time the number changed, meaning it is the next person in line’s time to dose. It seemed like each time that thing rang, I got more and more anxious. It also didn’t help that they put me in a 6×6 room with a counselor and made me sit there for over an hour, telling my life story about my life and drug use. I did it though, the reality I had to live with was that I had to bottle up my prior feelings about the program and give it a shot, because what I was doing was seriously not working for me, and I had tons of shit that I needed to worry about besides doing drugs.

The transition into the program was kind of rough. I actually lost a job because I got so damn tired from the drug at first, but as time went on, by body began to adjust. To this day, I still do get groggy from it, but as I taper more and more every week, it is seeming to get better.

Basically, my highest dose was 88mg/day. This dose kept me stable for nearly a year, I kept take home privileges and abstained from using any illicit drugs. This was tough for me at first, I was a heavy weed smoker, I recall thinking “I’m never going to quit smoking pot, I like it too much”. But, I did, and it was one of the biggest steps I took in turning my life around. It was hard, but worth it.

Eventually I began getting to know myself, I learned what triggered me, what didn’t and I worked on those things daily and along with my counselor from the clinic. It took a while, but even on methadone, I began to feel like a valuable part of society again. Some people claim that if you are on MMT, you are not clean. Contrary to that, I believe that if are working the program, not using any drugs whatsoever and not jumping through hoops of your recovery; I believe that you are clean. For example, would you say that a person who takes Valium due to anxiety is clean? Chances are, nobody is going to say otherwise, unless they are using on top of it or abusing their script. There’s really no difference, both are medications prescribed by medical doctors for illness.

The time has come to reach a new realization
For about 4 months, I talked to counselor about how I wanted to start to taper. I realized that at my dose, it could take up to a year to taper out of the program depending on how quickly I did it, but I surely didn’t want to rush myself. I’ve been there, done that. I have spent too much time working on my life to let it all go because I was anxious to leave the program. One day, she asked me if I had still been thinking about tapering, I said that I was still thinking about, it but I wasn’t sure if I was ready. I told her that I would let her know about my decision the next time I saw her. As I sat there, I thought about how once again I was procrastinating. All of a sudden, I just felt like I was ready. It wasn’t brought on by pressure, financial issues, legal issues or anything. I really just felt ready. I had been hearing for a while that you will know when you are ready, I kept wondering if that would ever happen to me.

I chose to not do blind dosing. Blind dosing is where you are not told when your dosage is decreased. That may be a good option for some people, but I felt confident that I can handle knowing when my dose was lowered, I actually get excited every Monday morning when it’s time to go to the clinic, because I know that that day I am getting an automatic decrease meaning I am one more week closer to freedom.

It has been 6 weeks since I began my taper. I decided to decrease 2mg every week, meaning that it would take 44 weeks, or about 11 months. I’m now at 76 mg and I feel great. Over the past week, I have quit smoking cigarettes which is a huge step for me. I have always knew that starting smoking at 10years old tied into or even helped create my addictive personality. Not only am I saving money, but I feel amazing. I play hockey, before I quit, I couldn’t play for half the amount of time the others guys could, because I was so out of breath I felt like I was going to pass out.

I know that down the road I will struggle with the taper, but with confidence and drive, anyone can do it, even you. If you look around the internet for stories about detoxing from methadone, you will find some scary stuff. These people who say that it was the hardest thing to come off of had such a hard time because they didn’t taper. There is a major difference between taper, rapid detox and even detox. Methadone wasn’t designed to detox quickly. Think about all the time you spent using drugs. It’s going to take at least that long to fix yourself, if not longer.

Some words of wisdom
The most difficult thing about recovery is isolating yourself from the people you used to associate with that can and will do harm to your recovery. I have learned to stay away from interaction inside the clinic as well, because most of the people in the clinic I go to are bad news. You must sever those ties to people who are actively using and breaking the law. Anyone who is getting high will be jealous of your sobriety and will try to bring you down. In earlier phases, saying no is pretty difficult. If you do not break those connections, you may as well still be using yourself, because it will happen; once again you will be back on the wagon. That shitty fucking wagon. It’s ideal to go out of your comfort zone and try to meet real friends, maybe go to church, if you have kids, join the PTO, start playing sports do anything that is not hanging out with fellow junkies.

Let’s recap some dos and don’ts of recovery.

  • Break free from unhealthy relationships. (People using drugs and committing crimes)
  • Meet new people from outside sources (not the clinic)
  • Work the program with your counselor and yourself
  • Stay busy. Get a job (or two), play sports, take up a hobby, start a blog etc.
  • Work on other aspects of your addiction (quit smoking, drinking, chewing, etc.)

I’m going to update this blog weekly, since I got all the background done, the rest should be a little more exciting. Thanks for reading.

The truth about methadone

Drug use is a national epidemic that has been upon us, the United States, for many years. Year after year, our country spends billions of dollars jailing those who have problems with drug dependency. If we would spend half the money and resources on rehabilitation, we wouldn’t have spend 1 trillion dollars since 1971 on the war on drugs or jailed over 1 million American citizens for drug offenses.

Methadone clinics were one of the best things that have been done to actually start to resolve this drug epidemic; but even with all the effort put into recovery, those active in methadone maintenance are still put down and called addicts for seeking help.

Methadone is in fact a narcotic medication used to assist those dependent on narcotics (heroin, morphine, OxyContin, dilaudid, Opana and others. Methadone is dispensed by certified nurses daily until clients can build trust and abstain from illicit drug use.

Methadone doses vary by person. Due to it’s range of metabolization, one person could be symptom free at 50mg, while another person needs 150mg to deter all withdrawal symptoms. Once the client is at a “stable dose”,  methadone begins blocking other opiate/opioid medication from being effective. At this point, the client is no longer having withdrawal symptoms and is unable to use their drug of choice (DOC) to get high any more.

Although methadone is a full agonist narcotic, the body builds a tolerance to it within a week. When starting a methadone program, a client may have side effects like slight euphoria and drowsiness. The public claims that those who are active in methadone therapy are just getting a free high provided by a crooked doctor, though in reality, methadone is not even chemically similar to heroin or other opiates that are abused.

Commonly, doctors start patients off at a dose of about 30mg of methadone, which is enough to kill a person who is non-tolerant to opiates. Like I mentioned before, the body quickly becomes tolerant to the drug, and increases in dosages are needed until the patient gets to a level of comfort. This is a long and tough process as the person will experience withdrawal until they reach the amount of medication needed to function. Due to state regulations, patients can only increase doses in 2-5mg every 3 days. At this rate, a person may be fine at this dose, or they may be struggling to not use illicit drugs.

Until the stable dose is reached, it is not uncommon for people to still require drugs from the street, which proves that people do not go to methadone clinics to get high.

Addiction is a vicious cycle and is very hard to break free from. Along with being dosed daily by a nurse, persons in MMT also have to attend 2.5 hours of counseling related to their problems with dependency. On top of struggling daily with life’s issues, those seeking help for addiction are criticized from many angles including the legal system, family, general public and the world of employment.

Methadone is not a free ride. Maybe if half the people in this country would be supportive instead of offensive, we would be able to assist those with drug dependency issues. People do not just wake up one day and decide that they want to be drug addicts, it’s the last thing on your mind. Once the drug pulls you in, it is not as easy as people think to just walk away.

People sit and point the finger at those who need drugs to live their lives, in reality, we are a bunch of hipocrits. The United States is the largest prescription drug consumer in the world, we wake up and drink pots and pots of coffee, then we light up our cigarettes and pretend to live a normal life.

What is the difference between a person addicted to nicotine and a person addicted to heroin? The person addicted to nicotine does not have to break the law to get their fix. If tobacco was illegal, smokers would be junkies as well.

Methadone a way to get off Heroin

There are many people that believe that methadone clinics are no better then the use of heroin. Methadone is a very effective method to help opiate addicted patients to get off street drugs and  work on recovery.

When a person become addicted to opiates it stops the brain from producing important chemicals to relieve pain naturally. Many other methods of opiate recovery do not help the brain recover from the damage done to the brain. Though methadone has help many patients brain begin to make these chemical that the drugs have replaced and stopped.

Methadone treatment is done in a clinic environment where patients are watched to ensure that they are using the service as a for of recovery. Each patient is started at a low dose and is slowly raised till the client is at the dose that is the dose that they need to be at to not have withdraw symptoms any longer.  When the client is at the this dose the Methadone works in the brain at 75%  making the brain work to make the chemical to cover the other 25% over time.  as the patients dose is lowered the brain begins to take over more and more of the chemical production.

Most believe that Methadone is easily abused at these clinics, which is not the case at all. The methadone is given each day at the clinic until they have had so many clean random urine tests.  When a patient comes into the clinic appearing high in any way they are tested and many time refused to be dose that day.  after so long of the clean tests and not missing any days of being dosed they are trusted with weekend take homes. If these privileges are abuse they are quickly taken.

Methadone treatment is just that treatment, a way to stop doing illegal drugs and to recover from addition most clinics require every patient to go to counseling with a drug and alcohol counselor monthly as well as meeting to talk about ways to help in recovery.

If you know or have some one with an opiate addiction that is using methadone treatment do not look on it badly. You should support them and be happy that they are working on a way to recover or at least get off the street drugs and work a recovery program.  You should learn about what they are going through and learn about the clinic that they are going to. make sure that they know that you support them. Many relapses are due to lake of support. Addicts need a support group that is important in recovery. Not only do they need support from family and friend but they need others that know what they are going through.

If a loved one of your is using or think of using methadone as recovery or if you your self is make sure that it is right for you. loved ones remember to forgive, be supportive, and encourage them to talk to you about everything, about their use. It is also important to know what to look for to know if they are starting down the path to relapsing. Please if you have any question please feel free to write to us. We know from experience about both sides of this life.