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Old 01-22-2005, 12:14 PM   #1
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"Taper Off Pain Medication 101" - Tips & Questions!

"A Very Different Introduction!" - "Hello & Welcome To All!" My name is Den & I'm working a taper off Vicodin plan. This thread is designed for anybody who has a "taper off pain medication tip or question!!" BUT WAIT! - "any positive word" from any person who has "tried" a taper off plan & moved to a different plan i.e. CT, Suboxone, Subutex, rehab, etc. - "ALL methods of getting well are "correct!!" Your comments i.e. "your negative exp. with a taper plan, & subsequent discovery of a plan that is working for YOU, - that is amazing & THAT is "positive input!" Please post your (comments & suggestions) KNOWING that "tapering off of pain medication" is simply the method of choice here." HEY! - post your negative reaction (your truth!) re: this very workable plan in a manner that allows somebody else to "stay positive!" Do not post, "a taper off plan just does not work" w/out stating the reasons you "know" that! "Drawbacks, speedbumps, (the long, precise adherence to detail?) - these are common examples of reasons a taper did not "work" for you! Pl. - post your experience! This thread is being read/viewed by so many, & to date it is (as always) Den & Philster in terms of input. THAT is a little discouraging and perhaps the "taper off in particular" tone of the 1st intro. was preventing some people from posting anything! This is "Taper Off Pain Medication 101" a ("bonehead" intro. course!) - & each & every post, (positive/negative) re: a taper off plan (can) be helpful!! We can learn from each other, draw strength from each other - & the topic is tapering off of pain medication. Post a tip, a question, or - any POSITIVE word you can muster up. Even if a taper plan was "not a viable method for you" - the reasons WHY are bound to help this thread. Again, WELCOME ALL, & if you've read this far, - perhaps you can take a min. to post something that will help this taper off forum get started! Den

"Format" - post your tips/questions (ANYTHING!) "Right/wrong" is from this moment on, impossible! Source if you wish, (especially if your post deals w/medical issues related to pain!) Pain is one reason that many, certainly (not all) of us took that 1st dose. It does NOT matter what lead you to this thread! You are reading "Taper Off Pain Medication 101" - Tips & Questions! Any tips, questions, or comments? Start posting! A taper off plan requires endurance, strength. & patience. We look forward to hearing from you!

A tip, - "the test lasts forever, and second chances are never refused!"
Taper on!
Den

Last edited by Denster; 01-23-2005 at 09:27 AM. Reason: sp.

 
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Old 01-22-2005, 01:38 PM   #2
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Re: "Taper Off Pain Medication 101" - Tips & Questions!

You guys are a helluva lot stronger than me. Tapering? I failed miserably.

 
Old 01-22-2005, 01:40 PM   #3
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Re: "Taper Off Pain Medication 101" - Tips & Questions!

Den I'm going to post my story because it speaks to tapering and I think it so far back that it is not included in my current 200 posts. If this is not what you want then let me know and I'll delete it.
======================================== ================

It all started back about mid 1999 for me. I was a runner, ran about 4-5 marathons a year, about 50-65 miles a week, nothing special just did it for exercise and to compete with myself. Well after 20+ years of running it finally caught up with my back and I was diagnosed with herniated discís. I tried all sorts of treatments, epidural steroid injections, muscle relaxers, non opiate pain meds, etc.. Nothing helped and the pain was becoming intractable. To the point of not being able to walk well, tie my shoes, put my pants on and so on. Finally I started taking 5mg vicís and that helped. I took it as prescribed and all was well for several months. Well I noticed once that when I accidentally took 2 pills by mistake (took one, then another when I forgot I took the first one, duh) well I got this warm fuzzy feeling just consume my body. It was great, a buzz unlike I ever experienced. Then the next day no hangover. I smoked Pot when I was in college but the high from Pot was no where as good as opiates.

Well I got to the point where my back started coming around so I stock piled the vicís, soon I had enough for many weekends of fun. I started taking them just on every other Friday night like it was the weekend martini. Then I started taking them every Friday, not a bad deal and never withdrawal. Then I went to every Friday and Saturday, still no withdrawal. Then I upíd the strength to 10mgs pills (Norco 10/325) So I got to taking 20mgs on Friday and Saturdays every weekend. Then it was 25mgs, then 30mgs Fri-Sun. Then it was 40 mgs Fri-Sun. This is when come Tues Iíd get very mild withdrawal, upset stomach, diarrhea, chills/hot flashes, nothing bad, but uncomfortable (no where near full withdrawalís) that would last until Thurs. Come Friday back at the pills. Well this finally escalated to not just weekends but every day. Once I crossed from weekends to every day I was lost. I was taking about 40 mgs every day, 20mgs in the morning and 20mgs at night. I finally got so scared I couldnít stop and the guilt was so awful that I finally went cold turkey from 40mgs per day. It was not pleasant but not too bad. The usual restless legs, chills, hot flashes, aches, crawling skin, sleep problems sour stomach and so on. But not to awful bad. The worst was day 2-4, at about day 7 or 8 I was almost normal. Well I lasted drug free for about 4 months before I fell off my house roof and crushed my foot. I was in a cast for the next 6 months and what did they prescribe for the pain, 10mgs Norco with a bunch of refills. Well I was off and running, followed almost the same scenario as before and how the use and consumption escalated. This time it took a real turn for the worse. I also messed up the back as well so I was seeing a Dr in my health plan who gave me 4-5 refills for 180 10mgs Norco at a time. I would stockpile what I didnít use then when I got to the every day use again I started consuming what I had stockpiled in addition to new refills. I was taking about 20 10mg Norcoís per day (10 in the morn and 10 at night) but I was going through more then I could get my hands on so my stockpile dwindled to very low quantities. Thatís when I had the Dr assign me to the pain management group and they put me on the duragesic patch 25mcg (time release fentanyl) I changed the patch every 48 hrs and it was the equivalent of taking around 15 pills a day so this was a great bargain and solution for my pill consumption. What this did is keep me from getting the withdrawals but no real buzz. Well I had them supplement the patch with the Norco 10mgs and I would get a prescription for 120/mo. That was great as this would give me the buzz I was looking for. This eventually worked itself up to where I was consuming more then I could get so I had them up the patch to 50mcg, then 75mcg then finally 100mcg. I was also taking about 6 10mgs Norco each day on top. I found out this was the equivalent of taking around 500mgs of Hydro per day. Well I got scared that I would never be able to get off this train and the guilt was so overwhelming. I was also terrified of withdrawal so that kept me taking all the drugs longer then I would have expected me to take. I finally started melting down and freaking out. I came very close to admitting myself into rehab detox, but I was too scared, even with the assurance of meds to assist in the detox process. In my mind coming off 40mgs per day was not fun, but coming off over 10X greater amount would be death in my mind. Iíd never be able to do cold turkey. I finally confessed to my PCP (Primary Care Physician). I did my homework on the NET and found out from various sources how to taper. I documented my process and schedule and presented it to my Dr, he was impressed and we came to agreement that we would follow the plan. The plan was aggressive in comparison to a normal taper so for the next 8 weeks as I tapered I suffered through mild withdrawal every stinking day of the 8 weeks (like having the flu every day, no let up). We agreed that if I cheated the plan I would have to stop the taper and go the rehab route. Well I stuck to plan and suffered every day. I finally got to the last week of 2002 and I was at about 20mgs per day (down from 500mgs per day) Iím the impatient type and I knew I was so close and could not taper any longer, so I talked to my Dr and did more NET searching and found all the drugs used in an inpatient detox program. I documented the types and strengths and schedule for a 5 day detox. Once again he agreed with my plan and prescribed the meds for me. On 12/31/02 I took my last pill and implemented the at home detox program I created. Well the next 5 days were not very nice but I got through it. It was nearly 3 weeks before I started to feel like my old self, and it was almost 6 weeks before I had energy and mental state back to near normal. When I hit the 8 week mark for drug free I felt really good. Every month after I feel better and better. Now Iím 2 years drug free and my life is wonderful and I really donít think I have ever felt better. Iím so happy itís too hard to describe. My wife of almost 30yrs is glad to have her old husband back and my two girls (20 & 17) really love the old dad being back. They knew what I went through as I kept them in the loop (up front and honest), it also scared the hell out of them and they are really drug aware and resistant to follow my path. In the scheme of things my trials are not nearly as long or difficult as others but I have taken a few paths to addiction and a few different paths to drug free, so I can honestly speak from experience. I was also 45 when this happened in my life so drug addiction in not age discriminate, we are all at risk no matter what age. I bottom line is I did not think this would happen to me.

phil

 
Old 01-22-2005, 01:43 PM   #4
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Re: "Taper Off Pain Medication 101" - Tips & Questions!

More thoughts:
======================================== ==============

Iíve tapered from about a 500mg per day deal and that was also hell. When I say not many can successfully taper I think the statistical numbers are like 2-3% are successful and the rest (97-98%) fail. It is so hard not to cheat a taper when you know all it takes is one or two lil pills and all the hurt is gone. There is an incredible amount of work associated with taper (timing, pill intake, not cheating, middle of the night doses, etcÖ) Also a taper is long, (several months if done at a 5 or 10% reduction) so if you are into quick resolutions then taper probably is not the path of choice. I know I was in such a hurry that my taper program was so steep that I suffered but I was in a hurry. I will also agree with the advice to work with your Dr. I came clean with my primary care Doc and it was a blessing for me as we worked together in the taper and eventual success of quitting the pain meds. I will say I did have to do all my own research with taper and CT and I educated my PCP but it all worked out well as our communication was excellent with each other, honest, open and often. Support of some sort will strengthen your chances of success greatly in my opinion.

 
Old 01-22-2005, 01:47 PM   #5
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Re: "Taper Off Pain Medication 101" - Tips & Questions!

OK thought I would post an example of a taper program I gined up for our favorite gurl Rosie: Just so you know how a formal or disciplined taper schedule can be created and used. Like Den said a person needs to get to a normalized schedule when taking pills so they can be tapered off.

======================================== =================

You will need an interval timer like a kitchen timer or medication timer. The Timex Iron Man watch has auto repeat interval timer built in. In this taper the time between doses is increased each day with occasional dose adjustments. You really have to make sure you hit the times dead on thus the need for the timer. You have to wake yourself up in the middle of the night. (you can buy a pill cutter at your pharmacy or grocery pharmacy area)
OK this plan will take aprox. 380 10mg pills.(about 140 more then you currently have)

Initial dose, 3 pills each interval
day interval
Day 1 3:00 hrs. (24 pills per day)
2 3:15
3 3:30
4 3:45
5 4:00 (18 pills per day - 25% reduction)
6 4:20
7 4:40
8 5:00
9 5:20
10 5:40
11 6:00 (12 pills per day - 50% reduction,)
now reduce the dose to 1.5 pills at each interval and do days 12-22 having a 75% reduction at the end of 22 days and only taking 6 pills per day
12 3:00 hrs. (12 pills per day)
13 3:15
14 3:30
15 3:45
16 4:00 (9 pills per day - 25% reduction, 62.5% overall reduction from start)
17 4:20
18 4:40
19 5:00
20 5:20
21 5:40
22 6:00 (6 pills per day - 50% reduction, 75% overall reduction from start)

now reduce the dose to 1 pill at each interval and do days 23-33. At the end of the third period you will be down to 3 pills per day and 87.5% reduction.

23 4:00 hrs. (6 pills per day)
24 4:20
25 4:40
26 5:00
27 5:20
28 5:40
29 6:00 (4 pills per day - 33% reduction, 83% overall reduction from start)
30 6:20
31 6:40
32 7:00
33 7:20
34 7:40
35 8:00 (3 pills per day - 50% reduction, 87.5% overall reduction from start)



now reduce the dose to 1/2 pill at each interval and do days 36-48. At the end of the third period you will be down to 2 pills per day and 94% reduction
36 4:00 hrs. (3 pills per day)
37 4:20
38 4:40
39 5:00
40 5:20
41 5:40
42 6:00 (2 pills per day - 33% reduction, 92% overall reduction from start)
43 6:20
44 6:40
45 7:00
46 7:20
47 7:40
48 8:00 (1.5 pills per day - 50% reduction, 94% overall reduction from start)

for the final taper down, take 1/4 pill taking the interval from 6 hours to 12 hours by 1/2 hour increment a day.

49 4:00 (1.5 pills per day)
50 4:30
51 5:00
52 5:30
53 6:00 (1 pill per day - 33% reduction, 96% overall reduction from start)
54 6:30
55 7:00
56 7:30
57 8:00
58 8:30
59 9:00
60 9:30
61 10:00
62 10:30
63 11:00
64 11:30
64 12:00 (.5 pill per day - 66% reduction, 98% over

 
Old 01-22-2005, 03:02 PM   #6
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Re: "Taper Off Pain Medication 101" - Tips & Questions!

Phil, what an incredible journey! I knew that 1 "here's my story" type of post was needed in order to let EVERYBODY know a taper off plan can work. I also knew that your precise, "tell it like it is" manner of addressing this subject would be a great start to this thread! TY so much for your story, I was glued to every word! So true, precise thinking, knowledge re: all of the drawbacks associated with a taper plan, - are simply "required!" There is no "sugar coating" no "quick fix" (no pun intended) involved w/a taper plan!! In fact, - I believe this method tests any person's desire & ability to recover to the max! -- "Pain issues, addiction/abuse, - & do I have the ability/desire to "just say no" as my taper meanders on & on & on?" (the never ending flu!) You did, I am trying, & somebody else out there is reading this thread because a taper off plan is being considered. TY so much Phil, & I'm hoping that your posts (also see Philster's taper posts in the archives!) - they truly helped me in the "lurking stages" will continue!! - Like you, sports - surfing, j.c. baseball, 5 handicap golfer prior to elbow "explosion" has always been a big part of my life. I'm thinking that this very competitive person, & CT don't mix. I want to win, or at least be in the ballgame, & CT beat the heck out of me every single time! I foolishly believed I could just kick the s... out of the WD's & handle increased pain! It was always a "fight!" Today, I'm convinced a taper off plan makes more sense in terms of dealing w/chronic pain & the WD's. Exercise (walking, stretching & a back strengthening plan) are restoring self-confidence & MY competitive nature is now helping me! CT never beat me, I simply needed a different approach!" This taper off plan has kept "mini WD's & pain issues" tolerable. Further, I believe that a taper allows the issue of addiction/abuse to remain in clear view. Meetings (they work for me) posting, awareness re: "actual pain v. abusive dosing" & it ain't easy, but I CAN do this! Thanks Philster!! - All of that exp. & precise information was needed! Better watch it, somebody just might request a "Philster taper plan!" Are you still writin those scripts? lol! Actually, I hope someone does in a way!

Comment: Pain issues introduced many (not all) opiate addicts/abusers to their drug. (I include "abusers" because I truly believe some are still at a point where full blown addiction is avoidable!) It doesn't matter! "Semantics!" Injuries, recreational use, whatever - if you've read this far, you just might be a taper off type of person.

A Tip: - Today, - do a "checkup from the neck up." What are your concerns re: your use of pain medication? If severe pain is an obstacle to starting a taper off plan, "TALK TO YOUR DR.!" - He/she is obligated to assist you in getting off of the ...ing pills IF that is your goal! A taper plan, or maybe a medication adjustment CAN be designed for you. If your Dr. won't help you, find one who will. You gotta want it!

Note: Philster posted an ex. "taper off sched." Phil's ex. (his work w/Dr. approval!) goes WAY beyond any reduction, or taper plans I've ever heard from surgeons, G.P's etc. Then again, I've never "demanded" a taper plan. I simply asked questions regarding one. Also, Philster is here to help w/out HMO rules & reg's. Point: You may need to do some basic research re: your taper off sched: in conjunction with whatever help you Dr. is willing to provide.

Taper On!
Den

Last edited by Denster; 01-25-2005 at 02:13 AM. Reason: sp.

 
Old 01-23-2005, 03:03 PM   #7
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Re: "Taper Off Pain Medication 101" - Tips & Questions!

Hello! -- This post "Hello, I'm Den & This Is My Story" has been edited because my story included VERY specific - time frames, locations, surgical procedures, - simply put: -- info. that could have let somebody know exactly who I am! That remote possibility does not really concern me personally, however, family, friends & others who have helped (motivated me) - to get on my taper plan, simply deserve "their" privacy! During the process of my taper plan, I have always tried to stay positive, "pumped" & perhaps that energy resulted in a personal story that needed more of a "John Doe" approach. - No matter! "No harm, no foul!"
From this point forward, I WILL remain energetic, positive, focussed & very supportive of every person, & every method of recovery w/out being quite so specific re: my background. The goal is recovery from addiction to pain medication & I am convinced that a taper off plan is more than "viable" or "possible!" - With proper preperation, true desire, & the right attitude any "method" is a good method. A taper is often described as "too tough" or, "bound to fail!" Well, - I am on target, & "toughness" is a required component of ANY method of recovery. I also use positive thinking, my very competitive nature, my desire to be the Dad I can be, the friend I can be - the man I want to be. I've lost so much, yet so much remains within my grasp! We just do what we can! I can be precise, tough as nails, & I can lose my focus, & break down & cry, - all within 5 minutes! Some of you "know me" to a degree, & I think I "know" a few of you to some extent.
The previous "my story" post was great therapy, but that "remote possibilty" even a 1 in a million shot of disclosing the identity of somebody else was careless at best, & potentially harmful to people who deserve their privacy. I'm the addict, my name is Den & I am going to keep working my very well-researched, proactive, & hopefully triumphant TAPER OFF OF VICODIN PLAN! I draw strength from those who have seen "a bottom out point" I can't phathom, & have emerged happy, healthy & wise. I get a kick out of posts that suggest I just might be a bit "resistant to other methods, even "stubborn!" - As has often been stated, a taper off is like a "prolonged mild flu." Perhaps approx. 30 days of gradual reductions (pain & tiny wd's) has worn this old dude out a bit! lol! However, "once you accept this very simple truth, you will understand why I get that way. "I AM RIGHT, YOU ARE WRONG!" -- No wait! Really, I'm kidding! - Truth, you knuckleheads, we knuckleheads can learn & share from different approaches to a common enemy, addiction! I tend to focus on detail, stay POSITIVE, set goals, "challenge myself" & stay energetic because THAT is just the way I am. I lost bits & pieces of those qualities as my addiction grew stronger. I don't believe in a "one size fit's all" approach to recovery. I have avoided a drink for 9 years w/tips from AA, friends, prayer, sports, music, fishing, watching "King Of The Hill" it just doesn't matter! At some point, in some way, - each & every person simply says "I will not do THIS again!" I have relapsed, but I'm on this taper off pain medication plan & I'm on track and.....
Best To All!!!

Last edited by Denster; 01-25-2005 at 01:56 AM. Reason: specific pers. info. could have lead to problems, - end of story.

 
Old 01-23-2005, 09:50 PM   #8
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Re: "Taper Off Pain Medication 101" - Tips & Questions!

Hello again! -- Another Ex. Taper Plan - Here's what I did: - Den

"Taper Sched." - Started - 1/05/05
After 10 days of hanging tough at 65mgs per day - my "base dose" (the total amount of Vicodin I was taking per day) - A. for pain, always a gray area! & B. the "estimated" amount I was taking to feel "a buzz." - P.S. - I took my doses at "exact times & exact amounts." This brought back some much needed structure, & I was ready to start my taper. I was craving this plan!!

Step 1. (1/05/05 - 1/09/05) 5 days per step w/option to hold 1-2 days if needed to adjust. From 65mgs to 45mgs - approx. 30% reduction.

Dose Sched.
6:00am - 10mgs -- 10:00am - 10mgs -- 2:00pm - 10mgs -- 6:00pm - 10mgs
9:30pm - 5mg - that lower last dose was ALWAYS approx. 1 hr. before my estimated bedtime. - The point is (exact doses/at exact times!)

Step 1. Comments: I dropped my established "base dose" by approx. 30% - from 65mgs per day to 45mg per day. This drop was steep by most standards & a lower drop & longer hold is "perhaps" a gd. idea. You will have a gd. idea what your 1st reduction should be AFTER that 10 day hold. Just make a best, educated guess. You can always adjust. Always.

Step 1. dose reactions:
I had mildly increased back pain, 1-800mg Ibup. hot baths & long walks worked the trick! "Mini WD's" were not a problem!!



Step 2. (1/10/05 - 1/14/05) - again, 5 days @ this dose w/option to hold 1-2 days. From 45mg - 35mg - approx. 21% reduction.

Dose Sched.
6:00am - 10mgs -- 11:00am - 10mgs -- 4:00pm - 10mgs -- 9:00pm - 5mgs

Step 2. Comments: This reduction from 45mgs to 35mgs for 5 days approx. 21% was lower because this dose represented a greater % drop from my 10 day "base dose" (when added to the Step 1. % drop.!) An easy way to rough out your taper plan is "the lower the slower." Each reduction when added to the previous reduction equals a greater % of that long time abusive dose. Further, ex. from 15mg (my current dose) to 7.5mg =s a 50% drop so my next planned reduction is from 15mg to 12.5 to 10 to 7.5 etc. & I will be holding for longer periods of time from this point on. The early 1st & 2nd Step drops were always a relative term, "easier." Again, holding at that "base dose" really helped me to make "educated guesses." Exact intervals, exact times & it gets old, but what were you expecting? If you taper at 50/45/40/35/30 - you are very wise, & you have a LOT of Vicodin! Actually, you are BRILLIANT if you are working w/your Dr.! I am not very wise, I am a few days away from a "spill the beans" w/my Dr. & I will NOT bother friends, or buy off the streets! Won't go there, not at this juncture, wouldn't be prudent. Man, I wish I had about 100 10mg Norco's to work with, but I DON'T.


Step 2. dose reactions.
O.K. - the 1st 2 days at this dose went very smooth! On day 3, I noticed I was a bit jumpy & grumpy. However, still NO bad WD's - some gut problems that went away after a little help from Immodium Advanced. Also, a tough time falling asleep & this was remedied by Benadryl. Thanks Philster! Still, nothing like CT WD's (just my reaction) - I believe that 1st "before I got started hold" at my "base dose" paid dividends!! I looked back & remembered I'd been dosing regularly for 18 days & what the heck "this too shall pass!" It did! I NEVER got near the increased pain/nasty WD's that I had experienced w/CT! Not even close, - at worst - an ongoing very treatable, very mild flu.

Step 3. (1/15/05 - 1/19/05) 5 days, "option to hold!" - from 35mgs to 25mgs.
A departure from "traditional wisdom" - a 30% reduction & a 20% drop WAS considered, but....!

Dose Sched.
6:00am - 7.5mgs -- 11:00am - 7.5mgs -- 4:00pm - 7.5mgs
9:30pm - 2.5mgs

Step 3. Comments: This drop was for the 1st time, "a tad tough" in my mind. I was well aware that I was now at a pretty low dose in terms of both, my pain management, & my 1-1/2 years of high, abusive use of Vicodin. But again, that 10 day hold @ my "base dose" 65mg - exact intervals/exact times had "toughened me up!" Further, my memories of "full blown WD's" made me BELIEVE this drop was feasible. It was NOT from 65mgs to 25mgs in 15 days! I had been exercising self-control for 25 days! (including that base dose boot-camp.) And remember that "option to hold?"

Step 3. dose reactions: By now, I was very structured in terms of doses, times, etc. & for some reason I was actually "looking for worse WD symptoms, & banking on increased/rebound pain!" - I did have more belly problems & Immod. worked again! My "mild flu" was old hat by now & that only got a bit more uncomfortable. PAIN! Well, "rebound pain, actual, whatever - my back pain got mean! At day 2 this dose, I was feeling "a little bit of a lot of stuff" but NOTHING like CT!! - Still, I gave myself a day off & took a long, HOT bath. Not the normal bath, the "I deserve this, so blank everything & everyboby" bath. This very simple "medication" was SO great! I decided I was moving right along in "taper time" & I exercised that option to hold at this dose for 7 full days!! That "option" was planned from day one & I will continue "holds" until hell freezes over if I need to!

Current dose: & my last drop until I've seen my Dr. on Fri. 1/28/05 -

1 5mg Vicodin 3xs per day & 2.5mgs "if needed" for fear, lol! Actually, I have no fear re: the taper. It is that very real, ongoing battle "me v. addiction" that I intend to focus on. Meetings, posts, prayer, - Here is 1 "taper off pain medication" plan. "So far, so good!" -- Best Wishes To Everybody!
Taper on,
Den

Last edited by Denster; 01-25-2005 at 12:09 AM.

 
Old 01-23-2005, 10:03 PM   #9
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Re: "Taper Off Pain Medication 101" - Tips & Questions!

Quote:
Originally Posted by windysan
You guys are a helluva lot stronger than me. Tapering? I failed miserably.
"Stronger?" Nope, I don't think so, I "failed" CT miserably 50 xs lol! - Just another method. TY for your post!!
Den

 
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