I'll try and not make this a novel, but I have some concerns and would appreciate any advice/accurate info. I've scanned the boards and have seen a lot of helpful stuff but nothing that I feel that quite applies to my specific situation. First a tad of personal background as I think it may be germane. I'm a 42 year old, "stable", work-a-holic, male. I mention "work-a-holic" to illustrate my obsessive sometimes compulsive nature. I have never had any problem with illegal or prescription drugs in my life. In fact, I have never taken an illegal drug since my college days and the number of times I have taken a prescription drug for recreational purposes I could count on one...well both hands. I do drink what most people would probably consider in excess. (Anywhere from 2 to 5 times a week and usually get intoxicated when I do so.) I rarely drink at home though and it does not affect my personal or business life but I am definitely prone to alcoholism as my father and grandmother were both pretty much alcohics. (My sister has been severely addicted to hydrocodone for several years after a bout with chronic back pain...she's in rehab now). I only mention these things to illustrate my potential genetic predisposition to addiction.
Anyway, on to my concerns. About 5 weeks ago I broke both of my elbows. (and yes, it's taking forever to type this). I was immediately admitted to the hospital and the pain killers began. 2-10mg Percocets/morphine alternated every 4 hours. The surgery was postponed for about 2 weeks due to abrasions where incisions where needed so I was sent home with Percocet (2-10mg/4hrs for severe pain) & hydrocodone (2-5mg/4 hours for moderate pain) prescriptions. (Obviously not to be taken simultaneously due to the Tylenol). I quickly found that the hydrocodone was essentially worthless for this pain, so Percocet only, religiously 24 hours per day for two weeks. Then I went back into the hospital for surgery and the previously described drug routine was administered. In about 16 hours after surgery, the morphine had become useless for pain relief, so back to Percocet only. Was sent home again with the same prescriptions. Again, took Percocet only at the aforementioned doses and intervals for a little longer than a week. At that point I realized two things. 1st, I hadn't gotten that warm fuzzy feeling/sleepiness for a while and 2nd, I was taking them to just "feel better" and not necessarily for pain. This alarmed me due to my personality/genetic traits mentioned above so I decided to stop taking them altogether. This didn't work out so well. I felt horrible about 6 hours after stopping so I decided to just taper off of them. (Not sick, but incredibly tired/fidgety) To make a long story longer...I'm down to 1-10mg/12 hours. (In the morning and at night). I don't feel too bad other than a tired/blah feeling but I really "want" to take more to feel better and it has nothing to do with pain.
OK, now that I've bored you out of you minds...here are my questions. I know everyone is different which is why I included a little personal history.
1). Could I possibly be addicted in a little over 3 weeks or is this just an expected withdrawl from a natural physical dependence/tolerance?
2). Is the fact that I am craving them for other reasons than pain show my propensity for addiction or that I am? (I've been told addiction is as much in the mind as a physical dependence)
3). Most importantly, when I do quit, how long and what kind of withdrawls can I expect?
4). I'm probably going to need another surgery or two. Should I avoid these medications or request another?
5). Am I being overly concerned about this situation?
My addiction to pain pills started after I had a hysterectomy 3 yrs ago. I wanted them long after I needed them for the pain, so I think you can become addicted in a short period of time. At least you have realized the potential for disaster here. Since I've never had easy access to them except for one 3 month period, I've been through withdrawal once. I wasn't taking large doses so
while my withdrawal was not pleasant, it was not as bad as it could have been.
A few weeks of low grade fever, the runs, body aches, virus like symptoms.
For me the really hard part was the constant craving for more and the depression that followed. I would suggest that with your next surgery, you give the pain meds to someone (wife, girlfriend, roomate) to hold onto and only give recommended dose to you when really needed for the pain.
You are not being overly concerned about this situation. You are a smart guy and see where it could head. Kudo's to you!
I hope you feel better soon. I can't imagine having 2 broken elbows - OUCH.
I think you hit on something when you described your drinking ...it sounds like the Percoset may be a substitute for your normal drinking ...(I do believe you take them for pain relief, too). Would you say that ...because you need some pain relief, you are using the Percoset for that but it also puts you in the frame of mind you want/need/like from drinking? Just a thought.
I think you can become physically addicted to opiates in 3 weeks because I had a surgery a few years ago and when I stopped taking them about 2-3 weeks later, my body kept having these kind of clenching spasms all over and I thought I was insane. Now I know it was probably similar to Restless Leg Syndrome, a common withdrawal symptom from opiates.
I commend you on dropping down to your current dose and recommend continuing the taper - possibly cutting the pill in half may be a next step.
As for your future surgery - I, too, recommend you give the pills to someone else. If there is no one else, then I recommend you track when/how many/why you're taking them - for me, seeing that I was taking 10-12 Norcos (on workdays too) on paper was a bit eye opening.
Best to you and if you're in Lex, NC, get me some BBQ.