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    Old 12-25-2013, 11:45 PM   #1
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    I want to stop taking my pain medication

    I was in a motor vehicle accident in 2011 and have been taking pain medication ever since. I visit a pain management centre once a month and I receive my pain medication from a pain specialist. I have insurance that pays for 80%, and my MVA case has now been settled with the insurance company.
    The pain medication is for chronic pain from severe whiplash which damaged ligaments in my neck and sciatic nerve pain.

    I was currently taking 60 mg of extended release Morphine (Kadian Sulfate) and 4 Percocet 5/325 per day for break through pain.
    I have been taking this medication for 2.5 yrs alternating the slow release meds with Oxycodone and now back to Morphine, and really cannot tell anymore what my real pain level is from my original injury. When I try to taper down my medication I have no idea if the pain that I am experiencing is from the withdrawal or from my original injury.
    I really would like to stop taking all this medication especially the slow release and just take something fast acting when I absolutely need it.

    I was easily able to drop down to 40 mg of the extended release Morphine but am still taking 4 Percocet per day. Now I realize that is not a lot of pain medication compared to what some people are taking. But I hate being depended on it and I fear that something could happen and I might not be able to get my medication and will be forced into terrible withdrawals. It seems to affect me right in my bones through my whole body. It is a horrible unbearable pain with extreme anxiety and that was just from trying to stop taking the medication cold turkey for two days. This is how withdrawals will affect me trying to get off this medication, as everyone is different.
    And at my (mature) age I really don't think I can go through that. So I am going to try and taper down gradually.
    I will have to next go from 40 mg to 20 mg of the extended release Morphine and that will be difficult. My goal is to stop taking the extended release altogether and to reduce the Percocet for break through pain from 4 per day to 2 per day on average. That way I will have extra from my prescription for days when I am in really bad pain. And because I am not taking it every day, I will not build up any significant tolerance to it.
    I really don't want to tell my pain specialist yet what I am doing until I know for sure I am going to be able to do it. Because once I tell him, he will reduce my medication significantly and expect me to follow through.
    I also would like to stock up a little bit for days when I am in really bad pain. Once I have things under control, I will tell my doctor of my plan to taper off.

    I want to have enough fast acting pain medication on hand for bad days, but on good days to not take anything to give my body and liver time to recover from the days I am taking pain medication. I do not want to take pain medication continually (extended release) and have my liver constantly bombarded with it. Anyway, that is my goal.

    Oh and by the way, in Canada pain clinics do not do random drug testing, and they do not require you to sign a contract. They apparently are not as strict as I am hearing they are in the USA as far as coming in a few days early for your prescription to be renewed or asking to have stronger pain medication.
    We do, however, have to make an appointment and physically come to the doctor's office every single time to get our prescription each month, as narcotics in Canada cannot be phoned in or repeated (filled more than once from the same prescription). But we all have basic government health care insurance in this country so we do not have to pay for those doctor visits out of pocket.
    And we are allowed to come 4 or 5 days early to get our prescription for the next month. In fact, the doctors encourage that to make sure you do not run out. The only thing is if we try to fill the prescription more than a week early, the pharmacist will get a notification when they put it in the system and they will just have to phone the doctor to get his ok.
    We are also allowed to go to a different pharmacy each time we get our prescription filled. That way if one pharmacist is rude to us, we can go to a different pharmacy next time. Most people like to stick to one pharmacy that they like. I personally like to go to the same pharmacy so the pharmacist will get to know me.
    There are certain things that doctors have been trained to look for to spot patients who exhibit drug seeking behavior, and asking for a specific pain pill may be one of them especially if you are new and the doctor doesn't know you very well. If you are new, you really have to be careful as they are looking for red flags.
    I used to run out a couple days early and believe me it is no fun, and I was taking too much over the counter medication trying to make it through those couple of days. Even though it was innocently just from simply not keeping close enough track, I still did not want to tell my doctor as he was a no nonsense kind of guy and it would have raised all kinds of red flags. So I started putting that day's supply of medication in a separate pill bottle and it made all the difference in the world. Once I started doing that I never ran out early again. It helped me keep better track of what I was taking on a daily basis.

    Doctors put you on these pain meds for years and you become physically depended on them. It is hell to get off them and pharmaceutical companies know this and are counting on it. It is all about mega profits and this is why the doctors push this stuff. And then the moment something goes wrong, they cut you off for selfish career reasons and you are left on your own to go through horrible, sometimes life threatening, withdrawals. I have read so many threads about patients being cut off because they said or did the wrong thing sometimes for very naiive or innocent reasons. I realize most of these are USA based but that fear of it happening here in Canada is enough to make me want to not be dependant on any of this medication.

    Last edited by Bonnieblues; 01-07-2014 at 10:33 PM.

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    Old 12-26-2013, 11:11 AM   #2
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    Re: I want to stop taking my pain medication

    Hi Bonnieblues,

    I understand your fears. I am in the USA, not Canada, but my PCP prescribes my pain medicine which is very unusual here. He has a very small practice and has assured me that he will be able to continue prescribing them.
    I have multiple medical issues and have a lot of specialists and he manages all of them but he is really the only one who knows all of my problems.
    I worry what might happen if something were to happen to him and I find myself in a situation where my other doctors will not prescribe my pain medication. I am not on really high doses of narcotics, but enough that I would not want to stop cold turkey. I was taking huge doses of Ibuprofen and my PCP insisted that I stop because of gastrointestinal bleeding and start taking opioids.
    I sometimes think that maybe it is just not worth the worry but I am in so much less pain since I began with this new regimen.
    I, like you, am lucky that I am able to make sure that I have extra available for emergencies and am thankful for that. My doctor is not strict in that sense, although I do have to go in every week to keep on top of infections that I get constantly.

    Would it be possible for you to stay on the lower dose? I know you would like to be off completely, but being on a lower dose would be a least better if it can control your pain reasonably.

    My doctor does blood tests to check my liver, kidneys, etc every 3 weeks, so at least I feel like I can keep an eye on how my organs are being affected by all the meds I take.

    Good luck to you! Keep me posted.


    Old 12-26-2013, 11:36 AM   #3
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    Re: I want to stop taking my pain medication

    You don't want to quit cold turkey.

    Are these pills able to be cut in half??

    Best of luck....

    Old 12-26-2013, 12:12 PM   #4
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    Re: I want to stop taking my pain medication

    Thank you for your messages and your hug.
    I have no intention of quitting cold turkey. I am going to gradually taper down until I can completely stop taking the slow release Morphine. I am talking about a very slow taper. And I am going to taper the slow release medication first and then taper down on the Percocet.
    And you cannot cut any slow release medication in half. To do so could result in an overdose that could kill you. So please do not ever tamper with slow release medication.
    You can only cut the Percocet in half.

    I don't want to be taking slow release medication at all as it continuely puts a strain on your Liver and Kidneys and your body doesn't get a chance to recover. The fast acting medication is harder on your liver but if you only take it when you absolutely need it, I am hoping there will be days when I don't have to take anything.
    The reason why I am tapering is because I can't even tell what my pain levels are anymore as everytime I don't take my next pain meds dose quick enough I experience painful withdrawal.
    For all I know my neck could be healed enough to not be on this medication 24/7. And that is another reason why I want to stop. And I may find that I have to go back on it. I would just like to know what my real pain level is without medication.
    And finally, I hate being dependent on a medical system that at best is vulnerable. I do not want to go through the horrible pain and extreme anxiety of sudden withdrawal if for some reason I can't get my medication at some point in the future. You cannot depend on the medical system the way it is.

    Last edited by Bonnieblues; 12-26-2013 at 07:23 PM.

    Old 12-26-2013, 04:23 PM   #5
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    Re: I want to stop taking my pain medication

    I have a major trip coming up in January and another one in March. Then I am moving to a new place in April.
    I also have lots of dental appointments the next two months.
    Nobody told me that Morphine and all this pain medication would affect my teeth. If you are on pain medication go to your dentist and have your teeth monitored. Most opiate based pain medication causes dry mouth and that side effect alone can wreak havoc on your teeth. Some people have lost teeth because of this. It will completely destroy your teeth if it goes unchecked.

    I have to be in a good frame of mind to do this taper. Sometimes cold turkey can be better if you have two good weeks to just hunker down and get it over with. But that is usually for someone who either feels they don't have enough will power to taper, or they simply run out of meds altogether and have no choice.
    I would not recommend doing this cold turkey if you are an older person especially if you have high blood pressure or other serious medical issues unless you do it with the help of your doctor.
    The stress of doing this cold turkey by myself is certainly not something I would want to put my heart through at my age.
    I am going to go the taper route and a slow one at that. And I am going to wait until after my trips and set a goal to be done with this completely by my birthday in May.
    It was easy to taper from 60 mg of slow release Morphine to 40 mg as 60 mg was making me really itchy all over from the excess histamine that Morphine can have. I have clawed at my skin so much my back was full of blood and scabs. So I stopped taking it altogether for 2.5 days. It was on the 3rd day that the extreme anxiety, bone deep nerve pain, and severe RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) started. And I was still taking Percocet and still had those severe withdrawal symptoms.
    I did start taking it again on the third day but I only took 40 mg of slow release Morphine and I have continued with that lower dose along with the Percocet for break through.
    I also went through this a year and a half ago when my pain specialist switched the slow release Morphine to Targin which is Oxycodone and has Naloxone in it to help with constipation. But what happens is they start you out on a much lower dose and with the Naloxone it can send you into precipitated withdrawals. At first I didn't know what it was but quickly found out that the deep nerve pain in my bones, RLS, and anxiety was because I was in withdrawal. He adjusted my medication and gradually my body adapted but it gave me a taste of what withdrawals would be really like.
    And precipitated withdrawal is much worse, something like natural childbirth labour versus induced labour through medicine. The induced labour is much more intense and painful.
    I was taking slow release Targin (Oxycodone & Naloxone) for a year and a half but had to recently switch back to slow release Morphine (Morphine Sulfate) when my insurance would no longer cover the cost of Targin.

    I do have Flexeril (a strong muscle relaxant) and Lyrica (for nerve pain) from past prescriptions that I never continued with when I was originally trying out what would work for me. I have read that these are good to take if you go cold turkey. And I have also read that Flexeril can make RLS worse, so you don't know what to believe.
    I can see the muscle relaxant medication helping a little with anxiety and sleep but if it makes RLS worse, than I wouldn't want to take it. And Lyrica can take up to two weeks to start working so it would not be of benefit to take during opiate withdrawals unless you started taking it two weeks before. And Lyrica too can cause dependency.
    The reason why I never wanted to take Lyrica in the first place is because it has a very common side effect of weight gain and that is not something I wanted to deal with.
    I have done a lot of research and I know quitting cold turkey might work for someone who is taking pain medication recreationally.
    But for someone like me who is only taking this medication as directed for chronic pain, tapering is the best way to go.
    And then again, everyone is different. You have to find what works for you in your situation.
    When I finally get down to the last taper, I have 600 mg Ibuprophen for pain, and Benadryl for histamine itching and will also help with sleep.
    Extract of Wild Strawberry will help with diarrhea if it continues too long. And I know Ativan will help with anxiety and maybe RLS so I may get a few days prescription for that from my pain specialist. Since the jury is still out on Flexeril (muscle relaxant), I will not take that.
    For many people the anxiety is the worst. And if you can sleep through most of your withdrawal symptoms, it would be so much better for you. But you have to be very careful with taking Benadryl, Flexeril, and Ativan too close together as they all can cause extreme drowsiness.
    And one more thing, popsicles can help with dehydration and they will make you feel better too.

    I understand my pain medication is not that high a dose and this is nothing to a street user, but everyone is different and I am extremely sensitive. The bone pain and RLS and anxiety is so severe with me, I know I will run into trouble without help.
    I am just really happy I have been successfully at 40 mg of Morphine and 4 Percocet 5/325 a day now for over a month.
    So I have successfully tapered down 20 mg. That is a lot when you are on a relatively low dose to begin with. As soon as I feel I am ready I will taper down another 20 mg.

    Last edited by Bonnieblues; 01-01-2014 at 04:10 PM.

    Old 01-01-2014, 03:13 AM   #6
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    Re: I want to stop taking my pain medication

    I have realized that if I take the full 60 mg of extended release Morphine daily, I am finding that I do not have to take the Percocet. When I was taking the extended release Targin (Oxycodone and Naloxone), I still had so much pain that I had to take the Percocet up to the full dose every single day as well. So I basically wasn't getting enough of the extended release medication when I was taking Targin.
    But now that I have been put back on the correct dose of Morphine, the Percocet can be used for what it was meant for in the beginning, for any break-through pain on really bad days.
    And since Percocet is harder on my liver because of the acetaminophen, reducing the Percocet first will be a healthier route.

    So I am going to change things for now. Instead of tapering the extended release Morphine first, I am going to just basically stop the Percocet and only take it on those really bad days when I absolutely have to.
    And since I don't even miss the Percocet when I am taking the full dose (60 mg) of Morphine daily, it will not be an issue and I won't have to taper the Percocet at all.
    Then once I have that under control for at least a month, I will slowly taper off the extended release Morphine with 20 mg less each month.
    And then when I get down to my last 20 mg and stop altogether, I will still have the Percocet to take sparingly if the withdrawals are extreme and I find it too difficult.

    The whole reason for me doing this is to get off the extended release medication so I am not continually taking pain medication. I am not trying to stop altogether and for good. I just need a break from it. I want to be able to know what my real pain level is now from my original injury, and not to be so depended on this medication, if for some reason in the future I am unable to get it. And if I am not taking pain medication every day, then I will not have to worry about painful withdrawals if I can no longer get it for whatever reason, and I also will not build up a very high tolerance to it. That is the plan anyway.

    Last edited by Bonnieblues; 01-01-2014 at 04:13 PM.

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    addiction, chronic pain, morphine withdrawal, pain medication, percocet

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