I have a question. I've been on Suboxone for 2 months now after a 2 year affair with Norco 10mg, 15-20 pills daily. I feel much better and the cravings have been minimal, but the psychological cravings are still very much there depending on the day and my frame of mind.
I've been struggling internally with everything I'm reading about suboxone vs. tapering vs. cold turkey vs. rehab, detox, AA/NA.....I've read to stay away from suboxone b/c it's an evil drug that just keeps you addicted and is so hard to get off of. I've also read it's a miracle drug and has saved people's lives. I've read that it's terrible to stay on it longer than a few weeks and that it's fine to be on it long term if that's what it takes.
For me, personally, it's the only way I could have gotten off of the hydro. I was too scared. I had gone thru hydro and ativan withdrawls in rehab, I was in detox for 5 days with a minimal amt of Librium, and it was a nightmare. In fact, up to 3 months post-inpatient treatment, I was still waking up with mind-numbing panic and terror and felt suicidal every day and was terrfied to take anything for fear of getting "addicted" to that and having to go through the whole ordeal again. Well, I did get over that with time and intensive out patient treament plus a change in medication: went from Prozac to Effexor and Ativan to Trazadone which became very effective for the dreaded morning anxiety/panic and was able to get off of the Trazadone easily.
Anyway, back to this time.....so I have a great psychiatrist who's also an addiction medicine specialist who told me about his suboxone program when I finally came clean. I was scared at first but felt it was my only option.
I've been grateful for having it and avoiding the pain and anxiety for the most part. It's allowed me to be at work and function relatively normally. One of the problems I'm having is sleep. I have trouble getting to sleep, jerk awake many times during the night, have intensely vivid dreams and feel like I can't get up in the mornings. Sometimes I've been very groggy and fallen asleep at work and friends have even approached me and asked me if I'm "on something". Funny thing is, when I was on hydro, I was functioning well and nobody suspected anything, now I'm off of it and people are questioning if I'm on drugs! Well, I suppose I am but not the life threatening drug that was robbing me of everything.
This brings me back to the original question. Can I be in recovery or working a recovery program while taking suboxone. Is it really just substituting a pill for a pill? Is it helping to heal my brain? It's definitely doing something because I've cried so much in the last two months and I've FELT so much of the feelings I had blocked out with the hydro for so many years. Those uncomfortable feelings are so hard for me to handle. I know if I went off of the sub now, I'd run right back to my Norcos because I've not yet learned how to deal with my feelings which scare me so much!
I'm also feeling really alone in this....I've been to AA and NA and do not feel welcome once I say that i'm on suboxone. I'm told that I am still taking an opiate and can't be clean and sober or in recovery until I'm taking NOTHING...well, does that mean I have to go off my antidepressants and mood stabilizers for a condition that I was diagnosed with long before I ever even touched an opiate? I'm just not comfortable in that environment with feeling like I'm not in recovery because I'm on the suboxone. I can't do it alone and I know a pill is not enough for recovery but I'm having such a hard time finding a supportive, understanding, non-judgemental group. This internet group is really all I have and a few friend who know what's going on but who have never been through this mess....
I'm curious as to what some of you think as addicts, recovering addicts, suboxone users and supporters and those of you who think suboxone is a crutch and just prolongs an addiction or replaces one. I know that eventually, I need to decide what is right for me but I have so many questions, doubts, fears.....I feel so alone in this journey.....
I believe that the most important question to ask yourself is "do you feel like you are working in recovery?" How we work our way in recovery is just so personal and we each must find the way that works for us as an individual. While I did not choose the suboxone route, it does not mean my plan was better than yours. I did what worked for me. I believe AA and NA are both terrific programs, but do not believe they are the only way to sobriety. I do believe that an opiate is an opiate is an opiate, but sometimes we have to think outside the box for our own personal recovery.
What I see that is good about Suboxone is that it allows a drug abuser the time to get the thinking straight about addictive thinking patterns. If we do not personally believe that we can straighten out the thinking because the cravings prove too much, then Suboxone is a great tool to help us. The path we choose to find sobriety is not important... it is important that we believe that the path we coose is right for us.
I took nearly a year to taper first from Oxycodone and then from Xanax. I know that I became sober thinking long before my tapers ended. I worked hard with my doctors and with a clinical social worker to understand why I had crossed a line and began to abuse the drugs. The more I came to understand the reasons behind my issues, the more sober thinking I became. In my opinion, it is sober thinking that is the truest measure of being in recovery. So if you use the time on Suboxone to really work on sober thinking, so what? It surely is progress from the daily abuse of a drug used to get high.
I am sorry you are in such a tormented place right now. You need not be. There is no reason to feel defensive about your chosen path. As you work to gain sober thinking, the time will present itself when you fell ready to get off ther suboxone. Will it be hard? Probably. However, when we have sober thinking embedded in our mind set, it will not be an impossible task.
I hope you are sharing your concerns with the psychiatrist. Perhaps, just perhaps, he might be able to form a group of Suboxone users to support one another. As Suboxone becomes more and more widely used, I really see a need for peer support groups to come to be. Might even be a calling for you to start one!
I hope you stick around and share with us as you move along. Stand tall in your decision to use Suboxone. It is a tool for you in your recovery. Always remember to work on the things that sober thinking encompasses. Develop a plan and work it!
Thanks so much for your kind & very thoughtful reply. It has given me alot to think about in terms of my own opinions, judgements, doubts. I guess I have to trust that the path I am on is the right one for me and if it becomes clear that it is not...I hope I will know enough to change that path, or have the strength to change it.
I have thought about advertising in our local paper for a suboxone support group. I'm a little scared to, like what if someone finds out it's me.....etc. But then I think, who cares. I can't buy into the stigma of this disease. People wouldn't think twice if I started a diabetes support group or breast cancer support group. I do believe that addiction is a brain disease and have to stop worrying about "what will they think if they find out?" Who is "they" anyway!?
Thanks so much for your supportive comments. I'm going to bed feeling much better tonight after reading your post. I really appreciate it. I'm going to stick around this place for support to.
You know, there was such a familiar chord heard when you wrote how so much feeling had been blocked out by the hydro. That melody plays for so many of us... we stumbled upon the fact that drugs could offer a hiding place for us. It is, however, only a hiding place for a while. Ultimately, the walls of drug haze crumble and we have to face the feelings or we wither and die trying to keep the haze around us.
As I tapered and worked simutaneously to learn better how to cope and come to terms with my griefs and hurts, I spent much time crying... sobbing in great upheaval actually. I wrote one time that I wailed and I did. I wailed out my grief... something I had never done before. It was exhausting as I faced it. It was cleansing. I wailed for the losses in my life. I wailed for the physical trauma I endured in cancer treatment, the body parts I lost, the father I lost to cancer, the mother I watched suffer through her own treatment.
And then, finally, I learned compassion for myself. I did not have to be Hero woman who stood brave and tall through life's hard times. I have learned to really and truly love myself. And in doing so, I have learned to heal. Life comes on life's terms and dealing with it may take courage sometimes, but it does not have to take the soul out of me. Because I can now accept whatever harshness life brings, I am now able to enjoy the wonder and joy it brings also. There is a balance and trueness, a sense of spiritual calmness in me now. It is all waiting for you also.
Working in recovery is such a time of learning. About ourselves, about how we fit into our world, about how we react to our world. Oh, thinking changes so much as we reach for sobriety! Stay open to change, Kew. Yes, sometimes the change comes after a painful awakening, but it needs to come. Take it in baby steps. Each change becomes permanent as we accept it and practice it. You have already made some changes and are taking steps in recovery. It is not a quick road, but one of slow evolution. Take time to reflect each day and recognize the changes. Little by little, the brain and soul become restored. When the time comes to not use the Suboxone, then the body will restore itself also. Amazing stuff, Friend!~
Stay commited to learning all you can. Learn about addiction, learn about yourself. You are more than an addiction exisiting... you are a living , breathing woman who has her own specialness to offer the world.
I have some of the same feelings that you do but for a different reason. I do have pretty severe chronic pain and MUST take narcotic pain medications in order to have some quality of life and to be able to work. However, I am a recovering drug addict so when I first started in NA, I would feel so guilty and like I was not really clean. However, I soon began to realize that I was treating a medical condition and that I was not taking these pain meds to get high or escape like I had done with the crack-cocaine.
I finally learned to accept the fact that I could count my clean time as being clean because I was not taking anything to get "high". And the controlled substances that I do take are for legitimate pain conditions. I believe that you are treating a legitimate addiction to narcotic pain medication and you are using Suboxone to do it. I would encourage you to start back in AA/NA but you don't have to disclose that you are on Suboxone to everyone. The only person that really would need to know would be your sponsor. This is the person that I told about my pain medication usage and he was very understanding and got me to see that I could count the days I was free of the terrible drug crack as truly having clean time. You are doing a great thing by starting in recovery.
I'm on suboxone, also; I'v been on it for about a year now, and am just at the very beginning of my taper.
I've met with the same attitudes at times (that as long as you're on sub, you're not in "recovery"). I agree with reachout - whatever works! I used to take comments like that very personally, and I thought I was a complete failure. I wanted to quit so, so badly. I went into rehab, I stopped using/abusing opiates, my head started to clear, and I was beginning to learn some of the skills I hadn't learned while I was using, but for some people, it just wasn't good enough, because I was on sub. If I let that talk continue to get to me, all I'd do was think, "well, some people think I'm not clean, they think I'm not in recovery or serious about quitting, so...why am I doing this? Why not just go back to using?"
Obviously, that kind of self-talk is stupid and self-defeating, and it wasn't "those people" who made me think like that, it was me, trying to find some excuse to give up and walk backward, back into active addiction. I decided to only listen to myself, and those who were giving me positive support and ideas. It works so much better!!!
I love the way reachout said that our recoveries are very personal experiences. No two people recover in the same way, using the same methods, but I sure wouldn't criticize any method that is working for someone. I may be biased because I'm being maintained on sub right now, but I'm not using Norco, vics, etc., so to me I've taken a step on the road to recovery, maybe "pre-recovery?" Who knows, as long as it works.
So you numbed out, too, huh? Boy, that seems to be a common thread amongst us opiate users (maybe users of other drugs, too, but my only experience is w/opiates and opiate addicts). I'm on that road, too, learning how to deal with all the feelings and emotions I've been running from for so many years. Heck, sometimes I can't even identify what a certain emotion is, and they can be overwhelming, but I'm getting through it, as you are.
Keep updating, and my thoughts are with you as we go down this road of recovery.
~If you can't be a poet, be the poem
~If you're happy all the time, you lose sight of what really matters***my son Jim
Hi wild irish,
I'm wondering, how after a year on sub, did you know it was time to taper off? Did it just "feel" right? Did you and your doc have a plan? I know now after only 60 days on it it's not quite time to be thinking about this but I do, unfortunately I have one of those logical, analytical never stopping minds....sometimes I feel like I'm just a walking head! I'm trying to focus on the here and now, and not fear the future or even go forward to far into the future. That has always been one of my biggest struggles & barriers to overcome.
Now, for the numbing out, I am just starting to do EMDR with my therapist....I'm not sure if you know what it is or have ever done it? It stands for something about rapid eye movement and is often used very successfully with PTSD victims where talk therapy just can't get to those "body memories" or flashbacks of trauma. Well, I've had decades of talk therapy and still feel stuck in the same place, childhood trauma, old injuries, panic, anxiety, depression....I can talk the talk til I'm blue in the face but I really can't seem to change how I feel and act so I'm going to give this a try. I had to do a "pre-EMDR" worksheet where you have to write your 10 most positive memories and 10 most negative memories then list your feelings about yourself, sensations, emotions,etc. I have found it almost impossible to list my feelings! I thought I was good at identifying feelings but I'm not! What I'm good at is stating facts, memories, thoughts, but I just can't seem to get to the FEELINGS behind them....all I can identify is "happy" and "fearful"...interesting all this work, isn't it. What I do know, however, is that if I wasn't on the suboxone and off the hydro, I wouldn't even be contemplating all of this stuff....it's an interesting and exciting road ahead, with its rollercoaster days.
Yes, part of the reason I'm starting to taper is because it just "feels" right. Part of the reason is because my doc suggested that this would be a good time to start (I'm very early in my taper, not down where a lot of the other people here are - it's probably not even considered "tapering" yet). I have an appointment this afternoon, and I'm going to ask him to cut my dose again. I think the doc has a plan, but he won't share too much with me (I'm not really crazy about him, but not too many docs in my area can prescribe sub). He won't really go into the "nitty gritty" part of the tapering with me, at least at this point in time.
With my doc's ok, I wanted to get my cravings "stabilized", and my "emotional wake-up" a bit under control before I tried to taper. I didn't want to get off sub when I was still craving a lot, or still in my addict mind-set, because I knew I would set myself up for failure. I guess, in a way, I used sub as a "crutch" while trying to straighten myself out a little bit. I still have "issues", but I feel I can deal with them better now, so now is time for me to taper. Oh, during my year on sub, I've also been getting intensive individual therapy to help me learn coping skills I never learned while I was using. I agree with you, if I was still taking handsful of Norco, I wouldn't be considering straightening up my life at all; for me, the sub has made it possible for me to take care of some things that would trigger me. It's like a safety net, so I know if I run into a difficult part right now, when I'm not able to deal with things on my own, I've got someplace to fall that isn't opiates, if that makes any sense.
No, I'm not familiar with EMDR, but it sounds interesting, especially for the severe issues you are dealing with. I totally understand your inability to get at your feelings, as I have that problem, too. I bet there are lots of adddicts that have the same thing. I always thought things like "happy" and "fearful" were "feelings" - I get what my therapist means about "feelings" vs. facts, descriptions, that "rational" stuff, but it's still very hard to touch my feelings, especially the horrible ones, the ones I don't even want to think about, but I have to deal with them because I don't want to go back to using.
Confusing, sometimes, right? I guess that's life, and at least now I remember what I'm confused about, rather than being so fuzzy I can't remember my own name half the time.
Keep on riding that rollercoaster with the rest of us...and let me know how you're doing.
edit for PS: Another reason I've stayed on sub for so long is that I was on the opiates for 12+ years, and my doc said he'd like to have me stay on sub for a "long-ish" period of time, based on how long I used and how much I used (I was eating them like M&Ms). He wanted me to have enough time to at least start addressing the things in therapy that I used as an excuse to start on the opiates to begin with.
(Sorry for the length of this post)
edited for spelling correction
~If you can't be a poet, be the poem
~If you're happy all the time, you lose sight of what really matters***my son Jim
Last edited by Wild Irish Rose; 07-29-2009 at 02:32 PM.
Reason: to add PS
I abused opiates (primarily oxycodone, heroin and hydromorphone) along with heavy benzodiazapine and alcohol use for the majority of my adult life. Drugs were my life. For the past 5 years I made many futile attempts to get clean (psychiatry, religion, family, isolating, etc.) and, for me personally, none of these methods were sufficient. Suboxone was the only route of recovery I had not taken. Two years ago I decided to take the Suboxone method and I thank God every day I did. The first requirements for taking Suboxone were counseling, drug screens and lots of meetings. My doctor explained to me that Suboxone alone was not a magic bullet to cure opiate addiction but a way to clear your mind of the mental obsession that addicts such as myself have become accustomed to, so that I could build my own program of recovery to keep me clean after Suboxone. At AA/NA meetings I feared people would look down on me for taking Suboxone, but I never experienced any discrimination, only love and acceptance. After mustering up the courage to get a sponsor, my sponsor told me that the only as long as I was taking Suboxone as directed, and not getting high off of it, that this issue was between my doctor and I. He told me I should read "The Doctor's Opinion" in the AA Big Book, and that revealed a lot of light on the matter. I took a maintanance dose of two 8mg tabs a day for a almost a year and after feeling strong enough in my recovery, decided to begin tapering myself off 2 mg at a time (very slowly). Today, after two years, I am still working a program of recovery, chairing meetings, going to college to become a chemical dependency counselor and living life as I want to live (rather than how a drug wants me to live) and I feel I wouldn't be where I am today without Suboxone. In my opinion I have been clean for these two years, even though I took Suboxone for over a year of the two years. In the past two years my lifestyle has been nothing like the life I lived as an active addict. I haven't used any narcotics (besides Suboxone) or alcohol. Suboxone never gave me that rush or euphoria I got from the illicit drugs I was using. Don't beat yourself up for being on Suboxone, it sounds like your on the right track.
My name is Beverley and am a recovering addict. My addiction was LIQUID MORPHINE which my surgeon put me on for my chronic physical ilnesses. Anyway 16mths ago i went into detox for 10 day's and got off the stuff and they put me on 8mgs of suboxone "BAD MOVE" but never told me it was more addictive than heroin??? I was only on a low dose and tapered right down to 1mg and fell apart to the point i was near deaths door with my chronic withdrawals so i went to my doc and he had to put me on METHADONE 25mgs to stop what was happening to me. But ur question about being in recovery well "YES" your classed as a recovering addict. It doesn't matter if ur on the sub or meth ur still classed as a recovering addict because ur not using as such!!
Sorry im probarly not explaining it properly to you. Your a bit hard on urself,you should give urself a pat on the back and say welldone have been clean for 2months and should bevery proud of ur acomplishment as it's a big one. Also never feel alone in ur recovery as there are many people to talk to about allof this. The only negative thing that ive come accross is the stigma of being a DRUG ADDICT!!! It's like when i used to go into my pharmacy to get my morp they treated me like a queen then when i went on the sub programme they turned on me and have treated me like **** to put it politely but now if there nasty i get nasty back as we should not be treated with any disrespect as we are trying to stop using drug's and they should look at it that way. If you need any advice or need to talk please let me know and i will be there for you.
Hello dear readers this is karz, i am on suboxone now, and believe me it is very addictive, it just takes place of another addiction problem. I suggest just tapering it down and really try to take care of the mental issues. I am doing my best and cutting the pill into slices i can say lol. So i take that small piece hours at a time. I know this drug taste great like candy, (orange) just like the fruit, and also helps to get rid of problematic issues we might have such as deppresion. It is a must to get of suboxone cause in the long run it will be difficult for you to get off them, plain and simple as i put it. We also have to consider the cost, which can be quiet heavy in the pockets, i have been paying without having any insurance, and its a struggle, just like my suboxone addiction. All good things come to an end, and one day we are going to have to stop it, how can we be taking pills for the rest of our lives, that means the pills have control over us, and we as humans, have a higher aurthority power over anything, but not over god. Lets try to love ourself more and give love to others, then having to love the pills that we take to help solve our problems. I wish the best for everyone, as we are all going through different stages. I am not perfect, but i would like to achieve in this life while i am still alive, and you should be able to think the same way. Please hit me up on healthboards.com anytime, i love talking to people, and the first thing i love doing more is to listen. Take care guys
I have been on suboxone for about 3 months now after my 10 year cycle of off and on oxy/hydro use. I agree that it is addictive and it can definitely replace one addiction for another if you are not careful. However, it is working very well for me. I take between 1 and 2 mgs a day and plan to taper down slowly very soon. My frame of mind is completely different now while on suboxone. It does not make me "high" and it gives me the clarity and self esteem I need to maintain a course for a completely drug free world. It is only one tool in the battle, but I would have never been able to take the small steps without it. I definitely do not feel like I am "cheating" because I am on it. I am very confident to be off it soon. I know there will be some withdrawal that I must deal with, but I hope to minimize it by the slow taper. It has been a wonderful tool for me and if it is used conservatively it can do wonders. The most important effect it has had on me is the psychological. Because, I do not feel like I am "high" or "cheating", it allows my mental psyche to heal and get in tune with proactive behaviors to maintain a life of sobriety.
Karz, you say that "and you should be able to think the same way"...wow, that's way egotistical. And you know what they say in recovery, "Your EGO is not your AMIGO" :0)
People have to go about their recovery in their own way and time, there are many ways to do that, not just one. Why can't people be on Sub their whole lives? I'm not advocating that for myself but I know people who have that opinion and they feel good about it knowing that is their path and they won't have to worry about relapse or cravings. Many medical conditions require people be on a lifetime of meds for their illnesses...diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, hormones, depression, bipolar, schizoprhrenia...it doesn't mean that a pill or drug is CONTROLLING their lives, it means they are taking control of their illness by treating it.
Each person has the right to make their OWN decision about their health and their life without being judged by someone. I'm almost 1 year on Suboxone. I've gotten down to 4mg a day and as high as 16mg a day. It's the main thing keeping me clean and if I have to be on it for years or face the chance of relapse and losing everything that means anything to me, my job, home, family, then I'll stay on it as long as I need to. I've learned over this past year that it's ok to be on Suboxone and it's OK to do what I need to for my own recovery. I suffered from major depressive disorder long before I ever took drugs and my addiction resulted from a need to self-medicate my depression. I just saw an awesome program on PBS that talked about people with depression having a smaller hippocampus in their brain and the longer they went without treatment for depression, the smaller the hippocampus shrunk. As they began treatment, with medication or even with ECT, for those who were medication-resistant, their hippocampus actually stopped shrinking and brain cells, neurons, were actually seen to GROW. Yes, brand new brain cells grew for people on medication for depression. Why is this so wrong? It actually proves there is a physical illness, a part of the brain responsible for mood is smaller and shrinking in those with depression. After treatment, the brain cells begin to regenerate! How is this any different that a cholesterol-lowering or blood-pressure lowering med, or insulin to regulate diabetes. Mentall illness is nothing more than a physical illness with psychological symptoms. So, in my opinion, is addiction. A physical, brain illness, with psychological symptoms, obession, craving, impulse control, along with compulsive behavior. Just my thoughts.
I know this drug taste great like candy, (orange) just like the fruit
I think Sub tastes NASTY and I'm taking Subutex which even tastes worse! The idea of any of us achieving "perfection" in our lifetime is simply unrealistic. My beliefs are obviously different than your as I don't subscribe to the Christian belief that "God gave man dominion over all beings (including women & children!!??)" this is nuts. I'm a Buddhist and believe that all sentient beings deserve the same love, compassion and release from suffering that we humans do. This may make it easier to open my mind to lots of different types of recovery. I know we can strive to become the best we can be & that's all I can ask, just that I do my best....thanks!
Methodone is substituting a pill for a pill. Suboxone is not. I dare you to go and get some narcos and try to take them while you're taking suboxone. You won't even get high. That's the point. But you may still feel you need the pills and you need the high to function. No matter how you detox from ANY drug--even alcohol and cigarettes--a person's main struggle will be the psychological dependency. You NEED the pills when you work. You NEED them when you go out. You NEED them when you drink. What you really NEED is to take Suboxone when you start craving the narcos. Pay close attention--you will realize, "Wow I really didn't need pain pills to get through that" or "Wow, I got by just fine yesterday without the pills." Also, pay even closer attention to the situations of your past and your present! You may have started taking narcotics for pain relief, but continued taking them to deal with bad or better put TOXIC relationships (friends, family, romantic). You also may have continued taking them in response to TOXIC emotions: anxiety, excessive anger, post traumatic stress from ANY type of abuse. I'm not a therapist--this was me--all of it!!! Take your Suboxone, get a highly recommended (not an option) therapist (not a shrink), <edited> and mostly importantly get to the root of your problems. If you don't think you have deeply rooted problems as previously mentioned and you are addicted to opioids, chances are an experienced therapist will do you a world of good. <edited>
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