I have been on opiates for 12 years. Up to 150mgh fentanyl every two days with breakthrough oxy's as well. Had partial cervical fusion last november and 25 years ago it all started from a vehicle roll over-ejection on the freeway which partially collapsed t6 and t5. So much so that part of a rib facet was removed in 96. Now, I also had several more stable vertebral fractures as well as a broken sternum. The other injuries were knee, massive head trauma and a punctured lung.
I was lucky, I walked out of the hospital at 18 and further, the pain hadn't yet set in. I worked roofing, then as a mechanic and was even a firefighter for years until the damaged areas coupled with age finally slowed me down.
Here is the deal, I went through a rapid detox under sedation and it's now been a month totally off narcotics!!!!!!!!! Guess what else, I suspected and found I was correct that I was experiencing hyper algesa. Basically the body no longer finds relief from the opiates and one becomes less able to tolerate pain. So, the miracle is that once off meds I thought I'd never live without, my pain BASELINE was LESS off meds than on them. Yes, less pain now and no drugs on board. It was not a cheap route nor was it as easy as many providers of detox under anesthesia say it is. However, it was a live or die point for me so I rolled the dice, and thus far the pain is manageable, my mind is sharp and I'm told by those that know and love me that "I'm back" as in I'm no longer in a haze that I'd grown to believe was normal. To give an example of the pain meds loaded in me, the anethesiologist was unable to treat my first several hours of post surgical pain after the cervical spine fusion because I had so much in my system that he later explained if he'd given me anymore I risked death.... Imagine coming out of surgery with your neck being opened, your esophagus pulled aside, then the surgeon had to go to the rear area at a nerve bundle and grind out bone, replace a disc with cadaver bone and then came the titanium plate and 4 screws. Next, put me back together, bring me out of a dead sleep and my first reaction was shear terror because the pain was almost enough to make me pass out. That was when I kept saying "what have I done?" over and over......I share all this because I know many people are out there medicated and long termers more than a year on opiates are wondering what to do or might feel helpless. If anyone told me 2 months ago I'd be free of pain meds I would have thought them crazy! The route I chose was an obvious one because I could not taper and keep my business going and tapering is agonizing. Basically the chemical detox allows a person to kick the opiates, go through most of the withdrawals and all while sedated. Two to three months of agony and withdrawal is condensed into 1 1/2 Hours while you sleep. If I'd known more about the pitfalls of opiate use long term, I'd have changed course years ago. Drs are not always good at understanding the implications and while they may be doing the best they know to treat pain, it's sad more drs don't know the long term cost to the patient and his/her family and friends. Hope this gives someone out there a foothold and some hope. Bless all of you