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My Journey Off Of Oxycodone

gregsuggggregsugg Posts: 25
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:46 AM in Back Surgery and Neck Surgery
I wanted to let people attempting to get off of some of these meds that there is hope. Let me say first that for anybody that needs them, take them. I have taken anything from Vicodin to 40mg Oxycontin multiple times per day off and on for over 4 years due to a laminectomy in 06, a 2 level ACDF in 08, a 4 level posterior fusion with rods and screws just 7 weeks ago; and an 18 inch colon resection due to dyberticulitis in 06. So I understand what it means to hurt and how needed these meds can be. Also, after this last 4 level fusion (cervical), they screwed up my meds and according to them "we've been giving you the equivalent of one drop in a bucket compared to what you needed". They said it was the equivalent of having a major operation with no meds. But they got it straight on day 3 and it was an honest mistake on their data entry clerk's part, so what you gonna do?

At 7 weeks out, my pain levels are still not great, but I begin a tapering down from 80mg of Oxycontin ER plus 5 or 10mg Oxycodone IR every 4 hours for breakthrough pain. I switched to all short acting Oxycodone for a couple of weeks since I've found it easier to get off of first. Then I cut back by 25% per week until I got to 40 mg of Oxycodone per day. Then I went cold turkey. Day one, not so bad but anxious feeling. Day two, felt like I was hit by a truck and had the feeling of having the flu. Laid in a recliner for day 2 and 3 doing nothing but having chills, drinking water, or running to the bathroom. Ate almost nothing, didn't want it. Day 4, still felt horrible, but thought I might have a shot at living! Still didn't do much but lay around. Gradually over the next week or so I gained a little more ambition and energy. By two weeks, I mostly feel like myself, except my wife tells me I'm still dealing with a little of what she calls "male PMS"! I can tell now I'm getting back to more of myself though. I'm a good ole redneck farm boy and although I don't work on the farm, I had always retained the "up by 5 or 6am" thing. While on oxy, I'd stay awake all night and be wiped out all day. Now since off of the meds and the surgery site better, I'm sleeping all night and waking up again before the sun. (Morning time when everybody else is asleep and all is quiet outside is my favorite time of day when I can think)

I realize with my history I'll probably end up under the knife and under the effects of meds at some point, but it sure feels good to feel normal for at least for a while. I also realize how God has blessed me to feel this good in 7 weeks out from a 4 level posterior fusion (and revision). So keep the faith people, God is capable of anything.


  • Did you do this with the blessings of your doc, or is this something you just decided to do and did it? Either way, my hat is off to you. Glad to hear that you have been able to get back to a more normal sleeping pattern. It took me quite a while and some auricular acupuncture to get back into more of a normal sleeping pattern when I went off the narcotics.

    Just for the record, it is highly recommended that any time an individual wants to stop or titrate down on prescribed medication, that they do so under the guidance of their physician. Depending upon the medication there can be some serious ramifications for suddenly stopping or improper titration off of it.

  • Yes, my doc knew what I wanted to do and told me the parameters I could operate under. His opinion was I'd have to taper much longer after being on them so long. I got a kick out of telling him "You know me when I set my mind to something"! He's been my doc for almost 20 years so he knows I'm something of a stubborn willed person. And I won't lie, for almost a week it was one of the toughest things I've ever done. Only thing worse was when a doc put me on methadone after my colon resection for a few months. I was too stupid too realize what I was getting into. I had to do the same thing there; taper for about 2 or 3 weeks and then quit. Difference was, that flu and diarrhea went on for something like two months on that one. It was bad but worth it. Only time I'd go back on that stuff if there was a consensus of doctors that there was no possibility of there being any better for me.
  • The diarrhea after long term narcotic use. Although I certainly was happy to no longer deal with the constipation brought on by the narcotics, I was happy when things finally regulated. I had to recalibrate my diet to include some bulk, in order to help. Then the chocolate milkshake cravings started! Take away the drugs and give me milkshakes! The real good thick ones you can get at TGI Friday's! Or make at home in the blender!
  • Actually kind of funny now, but you're right. You go to eat just one saltine cracker, and when you swallow you'd better be running for the bathroom. I took lots of immodium which helped a little. Lost 10 pounds in 5 days. All worth it though, especially knowing with my back history I'll probably have to travel down that road again. Plus I took a bad dip in the gene pool. My Mom had to have a 5 level lumbar fusion 8 years before she died; and my Dad had multiple ruptures over the years. You take what you get and work with it though.
  • I'm happy that u were able to get off theae and I'm concerned aboout the very same thing. I'm on oxycontin 60mg 3x's a day plus 10/325 oxycodone for b/t. I had a 3 level acdf in 08 and the a micro'd on the L-5 in April 2010, but reherniated. Now awaiting a fusion date @ L-5 S-1.....Ive been on these meds so long now but i cannot get thru the day w/out them But, I do not wanna stay on them too long aftetr my surgery,but I know I'm addicted. Not by choice,by necessity. I hope i can do it as well, when the time come. With God,all things are in fact possible. I firmly this too
  • First, let me say I'm a firm believer in taking meds if you need them. I know I did for 4 years, and I'm pretty sure I'll be back there in the future needing them again with the overall condition of my spine. That said; if you do get to a point where you think you don't need them, work with your doc to taper off, especially at the level you're taking them. For me, getting down on the dose made quitting completely easier to manage. If I had one personal "secret", it's that I go ahead and accept the fact that when I stop I'm going to feel horrible for a while and plan some time when my family and work just leave me alone. If you keep hoping it won't be that bad, you'll just set yourself up to ease the pain by taking just one more...

    Remember though to work with your doc. What I'm telling you is just personal experience and only your doc can know what's safe for you with your history to work with.
  • you're doing so well after this surgery at only 7 weeks out. I'm so concerned about giving up Oxycontin also as going for 14-16 hours without I had terrible anxiety in my arms but glad to hear your success story even though it was rough at times. Best wishes for your complete recovery. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • That's what they call me. I don't always follow orders like I'm supposed to. We live out on the family farm I grew up on and in 08 when I had the 2 level ACDF, my wife freaked when after 3 days home from the hospital she heard the tractor crank. She said she looked out and saw me plowing our little garden. My surgeon wasn't too happy either. I call it determined and my family cause it stupid and bullheaded!
  • I am glad it worked out well for you, but I hope others are not encouraged to ignore their doctors advice by your success. Withdrawing too quickly can be dangerous and land you in the hospital.

  • Hi Greg

    To be able to taper off the Oxy after only 7 weeks out from a 4 level is incredible and your faith in God has certainly helped to make you strong.=D> =D>

    My withdrawal from Oxycodone/Oxycontin wasn't as severe as your's, but I know where you're coming from.

    I had to go back on Oxycodone and Tramadol for recent foot surgery, and that "good" feeling was back. I was glad that I got a crook stomach after a few weeks and had to stop taking both drugs.

    If I should have more major surgery in the future, I wouldn't hesitate to go back on the Oxy.

    I hope your pain levels continue to get less over the coming months and that your fusion will be successful. Looking forward to hearing more on how you're getting on.


    XLIF L2-4 20.8.15
    ALIF L4/5 2009
    Laminectomy/discectomy L4/5 2008
  • Charry,

    Don't worry so much about having to make the decision to come off of it. Sometimes, we continue to need our meds and only you and your doc can make that decision. My mom had the same problems we all have (5 level lumbar fusion) and she never could come off the meds, but she lived a full happy life with them.
  • I actually did talk with my doc about plans before I did anything. I wouldn't advise anyone to withdraw without their doc's approval. My doc told me to go ahead and try. He said it wouldn't kill me, might just make me feel that way. Also, I do want to stress that I've been blessed to be doing this well at 7 weeks and that nobody should feel badly if they're not at that level at that time period. Each person and each surgery is different.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,842
    I had a very easy time coming off of Oxycontin and Oxycodone. At the high end of 80mg Oxycontin and about 60mg of Oxycodone daily, I went on a program that my doctor put together that slowly tapered the narcotics. This took about 5 or 6 months to accomplish. Near the end I was taking 10mg Oxycontin 1 x week. This slow tapering avoided ANY nasty side effects of coming off narcotics.

    Now, I am still using Opana 5mg daily for pain and with any major flare up, I will go on two weeks of 10mg Opana ER.. Still a far cry from where I was years ago.

    Any tapering program should always be approved with your doctor and cold turkey approaches have proven not to be all that long term successful.

    Lots lots and lots of water all the time during this period.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • Ron,
    I totally agree with you that a long term taper working with your doc is the way to go. Statistically speaking, cold turkey doesn't work very much. The only reason my doc agreed to it was that he has a 15 or 20 year history with me and knows me and my mindset. So he was willing to let me try. I think the real point of my post is that my doing this well after a 4 level and 2 other previous surgeries proves we should all keep fighting. You never know when you'll hit the mix of surgery, conservative treatment, and meds that helps us.
  • Thought of one other thing concerning your thoughts on people not ignoring their docs advice. Not only should you consult with the doc about any changes in meds first; you should also follow their restrictions to the letter to help ensure you fuse. I know on my second operation I broke the rules and was riding a tractor in a few days. My surgeon thinks this contributed to one of the fusions developing a crack later on. So never again for me without the docs approval.
  • I stopped taking oxicontin 3 weeks ago cold turkey and God I feel like I am dying. They took me to urgent care today and my dr said that I am suffering from withdrawals. I dont wish this on anyone. I felt better with the flu. The only reason I stopped taking the pain med is because I lost my health insurance and cant afford to pay the 800.00 for them .. I applied with the state and i am praying they help me. I dont know what else to do. I cant take the pain i am feeling or the damn withdrawals. :(
  • 3 years -- by the time I was through surgery I was on Fentanyl patches and plenty of oxycodone. I had no trouble coming off the meds. I do remember freezing when I removed the last Fentanyl patch. Just piled on lots of clothes. If you need the meds, TAKE THEM. People who are in extreme pain are not likely to be addicted to the pills, as they don't cause euphoria when you need them, they barely mask the pain.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
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