For the past several weeks I've been reading this board with an intensity bordering on obsession. I've been weaning off Percocet. I've got to say that being able to see what others have gone through has given me a strength that I otherwise would not have had, so Thanks to all!
Several years ago my back went out on me and I ended up in the ER. Up to that point I had never taken any opiate medication, even though I'd had sacroillitis and terrible sciatica since my early twenties (there were days at the age of 22 I could not get out of bed, and the doctor told me at the time my problem was psychological - this with no xray or other diagnostic! I'm now in my mid forties). I learned several years later that I actually did have issues and of course I knew that the pain was not in my head. Funny thing is, the guy probably thought I was drug seeking, and I didn't have a clue!!
Fast forward back to a few years ago. In the ER they treated the pain, and sent me home with Vicodin. I ended up taking the stuff for almost a year (it worked on my sciatica), and I realized that after a while it was not working well and I wanted to stop taking it. This proved really hard. I did alot of reading (a mixed blessing really), and found out about a drug called Suboxone which relieved withdrawal. At the time I was taking maybe 5 x 7.5/750 pills per day, always as prescribed, so with hindsight going to Suboxone was a really BAD idea. I suppose I thought that it was an easy way out of w/d, but ultimately I think it did more harm than good. Anyway, it took months to taper off of the Sub (it was Subutex), and the w/d even then took a good 2-3 weeks to stop. I swore I would never take the stuff again!
Maybe six months later my back went out again. This time the doc prescribed Norco. When that stopped working he switched me to Percocet. Throughout this experience I really hated the pills. I hated the fact that they made me feel crummy a few hours after I would take them, I hated the fact that peeing was really hard, I hated my sex life (lack of), I hated the constipation etc. etc. But I also really hated the idea of withdrawal. So here I was, the pills did not work, they had these nasty side effects, and overall life was worse than with the original pain!
I tried the Subutex again. I'm not sure why I did it - at this point I know I'll never take the stuff again. But after that failed I went back on the Percocet. Really tired of the roller coaster, I decided to quit. I got my last script from my PCP. As it turns out, with the prescription he handed me an envelope with a report from the DEA showing all my prescriptions over the last six months! This really got to me. I've always taken my meds as prescribed, never "doctor shopped", though a different doc prescribed the subutex as my PCP is not "certified to prescribe". I asked the nurse what all this meant, she told me that they just wanted to let me know, and that otherwise all was ok. Still it really freaked me out. I felt like a criminal though I had broken no law. The upside is that this motivated me all the more. My last script was for up to ten percocet per day - I'm sorry but for my pain I know this is just too much. I had an MRI and it showed a bunch of problems - bulges etc., but not like some of the folks I've seen on the pain board in comparison. I'm not blaming the doctor, it's as much my fault for putting up with it. I feel that I should have known better.
Well that day (March 28), I decided to taper. Reach, Baja and others you've been such an inspiration!!
I came up with a plan. First, I cut from my 8/day to 6 for 2 days, then 4.5 for 2 days, then approx. an 80% cut every 2-3 days. Sometimes I'll stabilize for 2 days, then do a small cut the next, then another cut and stabilize. I've been taking this as fast and slow as I can. So now it's Tuesday, April 15 and I'm down to 1.25/day. The pain is actually bearable and better than at the higer doses. At this schedule I'll be off completely in another ten days or so. The past couple of days have been really miserable as I've had a bad cold as well, along with Santa Ana winds, dry air and dust (I live in SoCal).
My wife does not know I've been taking the meds over the last year!! I would tell her, but after the last time I was on Vicodin she told me she would divorce me if I ever took another! She used to get mad at me when she saw me taking Ibuprofen. She's very strong (stronger than I am), and can tolerate more pain than me. I've felt really alone in this - it's been really hard. I have a little boy, almost 5, who needs me, a business to run and others who depend on me. This has been very difficult. I'm very tired. Miles to go before I sleep, too damn many promises, and no energy or motivation. I so want to get back to my normal self.
I know this was a long post - Thanks for reading. I wish everyone here the best.
I do have a question - when is the best time to jump from your taper? I know that Reach went to really small doses. I'm not sure I have that patience! :-(. I can handle some w/d, but given the misery of the past few weeks I'm hoping that I've paid the piper something (at least a hefty downpayment!!). What do you guys think? 10mg/day, 5, 4, 3, 2...
Re: Half-way through Percocet Taper and a Question
hey There, Raz
Nice to meet you here on the board. So glad you have posted as it is much more pleasant to have friends walking alongside of you than going it alone.
As to your question:
I do have a question - when is the best time to jump from your taper?
Walk, don't jump, off the taper! When tapering to withdraw, we walk slowly down a steep hill. Be patient with yourself and your body and brain.... come down the last few steps slowly and calmly. Stay in control and do not let impatience propel you, but calmness. Let your body and brain lead you as you finish out. I think your cut amounts are okay, as long as you wait to level out between each. Keep walking, keep plodding.... don't start running at this point as it can easily lead to upping a cut and when tapering, once a cut is made, it needs to stay made!
The DEA thing... I would not worry about it, although it would have made my heart jump a beat or two if I had received it. Chuckles. I think it is just part of an overall plan by the government to try and keep addiction in check, although a piece of paper really does nothing helpful, only scares one. I guess it is a Big Brother way of trying to alert us to the fact that we are consuming a lot of narcotics. I would imagine it is also a way to let a doctor in on a patient's useage. You have done nothing illegal, so please just set the thooughts aside.
I, too, found life was worse on the pills vs off. My pain levels were higher and I was in a hazy fog all the time. Long term opiate use develops some weird things in us, huh?
Stay strong. It is good you are here and I hope to share more with you.
Re: Half-way through Percocet Taper and a Question
Thank you so much for your reply - it means alot to me. Knowing you're not alone is a really big deal!
Perhaps "jump" is too strong a word. I'm just tired of watching the clock and waiting for the next dose. My plan extends for another 12-14 days, but I'm flexible, I change the plan as I feel right, though never ever increasing the dose once I make a cut.
It also worries me that I've been so obsessed (self fulfilling ha) about the taper - you should see my speadsheet: Drug half-life/concentrations, graphs, ratios. I need to apply the same energy again to my family and business!! Anyway, I can keep on with the plan, but there's some point at which I have to just stop taking the pills. Whether that's when I get to 10mg/day (1 tab), or 2.5mg - that's what I'm unsure about. I suppose I'll just have to keep on cutting down until... I'm done.
I did a really long slow taper off of Zoloft about five months ago. The CT withdrawal off that results in mini-seizures and is miserable, though the taper steps are fairly easy. Were it so with Percocet! My goal is to be completely drug-free and then reassess where I am - pain, depression, happiness. While there is a place for drugs in our lives, I think we tend to over-medicate. Fact is there are no true quick fixes in life.