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scared of methadone

john1971jjohn1971 Posts: 21
edited 07/02/2014 - 4:33 AM in Pain Medications
Here is my brief history, I have two level lumbar fusion. It has been determined it isn't fused, and I'm in constant pain. The surgeon has tried maybe 15 diff meds both narcotic an non, nothing worked. He them put me into pain management, since then I have been on probably 10 more meds. Nothing seems to be working, I wish someone could tell me why strong meds like dillaudid won't even touch it. This week he switched me to methadone. The only thing I have ever heard up till now about it, is it being used for herion addicts, an itself is very hard to get off of. So to me, it makes it very scary to start to take them. I have taken 2 so far and it just scares the **** out of me.

Am I just overthinking, or is it perfectly safe. I have also read in the past few day that even taking the dosage as perscribed can be fatal. I believe I am on a low dose, compared to what I have read. It says take 2 a day, and they are 5mg. He said keep it like that for a week if it doesnt help to dbl it. I've seen other things where people are on 5 times that amount but never the less still freaked out. Is it safe or do I have the right to be so concerned (scared)


  • prior to it's discovery in assisting herion addicts to stay off heroin. It has been used for decades safely for the treatment of pain, it just gained notoriety when it was found to be useful for heroin addiction.
    Methadone is not without risks, and taking more than prescribed can be dangerous, due in large part to it's long half life.
    There are some patients who experience something called long Q-T syndrome, so their primary doctors usually will order an ekg to ensure that there are no rhythm disorders....
    Many patients use methadone quite safely and they find it an effective medication when used properly. It is also one medication which is also effective for nerve and mechanical pain.
    As far as coming off it, depending on the dosage, and in most pm situations, it is used at a far lower dose than it is for the management of addiction, it is slowly lowered and then stopped, or converted to another opiate and then tapered.
  • That does help, one thing I am not liking is it seems like my breathing is shallow an slower. I'm hoping this is just something till my body gets used to it. Thank you very much for your responce an help with both topics
  • My doc has mentioned methadone a few times. We decided to try Opana (I just let my fear make the decision for me.) I will ask a lot more questions if the subject comes-up again. I have thought about it.. Can you still have breakthrough meds? Does it work like other addiction meds & stop other meds working? Would it make surgery pain control very difficult? I know I can titrate down on anything for a planned surgery but I recently had emergency surgery & managing my pain after was really hard. I know it has a long half-life. Is the risk of accidental overdose worse with methadone?

    I'm a child of the 80's. We were told "Just say no!" & bombarded with negative heroin & methadone news. I've had narcotic therapy for a long time. I know most of my fears are unfounded. I've listened to lectures by top PM doctors/researchers & know they believe methadone is a great tool in pain management.

    John. There's a percentage of the population which needs higher doses of narcotics to get the same relief or, as Sandi said, different meds treat different types of pain. I need a muscle relaxer (Baclofen) & a nerve med..I've had trouble with nerve meds, that's why my doc mentions methadone.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • My experience with methadone was awful. It was quite long ago, but every time I hear methadone brought up I remember the sleeping all day and not being the same person anymore at all. I gained a lot of weight. I couldn't remember things, names, birth dates It was an awful experience for me.

    Unfortunately managing pain takes a lot of trials and errors to get it right, and what was an awful experience for me, could be a miracle drug for someone else. I hope it will work for you though and I wouldn't be scared to try it, I think it's a safe drug, I do know problems arise when you are taking more than prescribed, thinking it's not working, because of the long half life of it.
  • I was on methadone for 3-4 months before I was switched to ER Morphine. It was not a very good painkiller for me. I don't think the doctor at the time knew very much on how it should have been prescribed. He had me on 1 pill a day and told me it should last for 24 hours. However after 18 hours or so I would start having withdrawals -Yawning, goose bumps, nauseated and chills. I think most doctors who prescribe Methadone today realize that most need to take it twice a day instead of just once. If you think people are negative about you taking Morphine or Percocet just wait for the types of looks and comments you will get when you tell them that you are taking methadone. I would not be surprised if 80% of Americans realize that methadone can be used as a pain killer instead of just being used for addicts who are addicted to heroin.
  • http://www.healthcentral.com/chronic-pain/c/23153/56485/5-frequently/
    I attached a good article that discusses methadone and chronic pain treatment. It can be combined with the use of breakthrough medications in some instances, but it needs to be done carefully, and by a doctor who knows what they are doing when it comes to using methadone.
    One big reminder is to watch for respiratory suppression when first starting it, and over sedation. Have a loved one aware of what you are taking, and what dosages and keep an eye on you when starting a new medication, in particular, this one, due to it's long half life.
  • I agree with englishgirl, I also remember hearing all those stories about methadone as a kid. Until the doctor said he was going to put me on it, I had never heard it being used for pain. Now that I know that it is a pain killer, the withdrawal part is what has me worried. So far I haven't experienced any addiction nor withdrawls, I was concerned with that with the percocet but I took myself off of it when it was no longer useful. So far after taking the methadone for a cpl days I'm not noticing it is doing anything but making me itch constantly. Even though he said if after a week if I don't get relief I can double it, I'm not sure if I will continue to take it. At this point, I'm about ready to just say heck w/ any other meds until after surgery. Cause I will need the meds to work then more so then now. Also I just hate putting these chemicals into my body, especially when there hasn't been anything that has worked. I do appreciate all your replies. It has eased my mind somewhat. I'm wondering is there anything I can take to stop the itching?? Any help with that would be very appreciated. Thank you in advance
  • I've been on a wide variety of meds too. I'm now convinced that with any combination of meds I'll be lucky to get to 50% pain reduction on a good day & I do everything I've ever heard & tried that helps even a little. To be honest I can't even remember what low pain feels like, let alone pain free..ugh! I've never had the itchy problem but I know there are meds for that but that's adding yet another medication.

    I recently had emergency surgery so I didn't have the option to titrate down on meds first. I'd just started titrating up on Opana, thought I was having bad reactions so stopped taking that about a week before but I was taking Oxycodone IR. Post surgery pain was terrible. It was really hard to control my pain. I don't know if they could of done more but for any planned surgery I would get as low on narcotic meds as possible. As you said John, you really need all the help you can get after...you've had surgery before, you know ;-)

    I think some of us just don't respond as well as others to meds. Sometimes it takes a bit more for certain people. For me it takes a variety of muscle, nerve, antiinflamatory meds. I know it's a nightmare trying all the combinations to figure out what's best for you & sometimes 'best' isn't that great. It's all about functioning for me now & my attitude is as important than my blend of therapies.

    Do you have a date for your revision surgery?
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • There is a test available for your doctor to see how you metabolize different meds. It's pretty new & not all docs have heard of it. If you search 'Metabolism test for narcotics' at the top here you can find the different conversations on the subject. You can search the web also. ;-)

    I can't remember the names of the different 'itchy' meds/creams in the USA hopefully someone else will help with that...
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • LeeLeeMccDeeLLeeLeeMccDee Boston MAPosts: 101
    I have never taken Methadone but have had itching as an adverse reaction of itching to a few medications. First off, have you informed your Dr of this side effect? A lot of Dr's would take that as an alarm whistle. Itching as a side effect should not last longer than a few days. If it does not I would be concerned about you becoming more reactive to it the longer you take it. That being said my Dr advised taking Benadryl either orally or as a topical agent. Because Benadryl is a antihistamine it could add the lethargy and breathing problems you are experiencing. So as with any new over the counter medication, check with Dr.
    first. I myself never found anti-histamines effective other than making me sleepy. I tried many creams and lotions; dry skin, hydrocortisone etc. What I found to be most effective was lotions made with menthol, camphor and mints (peppermint, spearmint) The cooling, slighly burning(in a good way) effect it has on the skin is life saving. And you smell great to boot.
    Having been a person that will scratch her skin until it bleeds....I know gross....is what most often works for me.
    A few examples of this are Sarna anti itch lotion:Camphor 0.5% & Menthol 0.5% the other is Sombra natural pain relieving gel:all natural derivatives and a bit stronger than the Sarna. These two worked the best for me and I am a very itchy person.
    Hope this helps you. It's the little things in life that can make a day better....not itching is one of them.
  • I'm hoping its soon though. I agree it is frustrating for us an the doctor trying to figure out what works. Thank you for letting me know about the metabolizing thing I will look into that after I finish this post. Nope not gross leelee being I have psoriasis, itching in spots on my elbows till it bleeds it a common occurrence. For the past couple days though, my whole body is itching. I'm really not liking this med an will call the dr after this. I've noticed besides the itching, my appetite is gone (worse then it was) an yesterday an today I have had an extremely short fuse (not good being I'm Irish, that fuse is already short :-) ) at first I didn't know if I should call the dr an let him know about the side affects, until I noticed that about my temper. Thank you both for the advice
  • LeeLeeMccDeeLLeeLeeMccDee Boston MAPosts: 101
    edited 07/03/2014 - 8:51 AM
    Good luck John and let us know what happens.
    P.S. I know first hand about the Irish temper....I married one :D
  • Will do. Hoping it is real soon. Thank you
  • Leesabeth63LLeesabeth63 Posts: 1
    edited 08/21/2014 - 8:38 AM
    I have been suffering from chronic low back pain since 2001, 4 degenerative & bulging discs, spinal stenosis, arthritis, etc and have tried EVERYTHING, i went to several specialized doctors, chiropractor, massage therapy, physical therapy, and surgeon's trying to find someone that could fix me, I had a total of 19 different injections none of them worked, I even went as far as trying the Trial Spinal Cord Stimulator. Nothing seemed to take away my pain. I would just lay in bed and cry constantly cause the pain was so bad, its very depressing thinking you may have to live like that the rest of your life. My Primary doctor had mentioned methadone to me a couple of times but like alot of you I was scared because i associated it with Heroin Addicts, that's the only thing i knew about it and I was a person that didnt even drink, let alone take medicine. Then about 2 yrs later my Neighbors Sister was talking about starting Methadone and what a difference it made for her. So I finally agreed to try it. I was petrified....my doctor assured me i would be fine and you know what.....it made a world of difference, within 2 wks I was starting to feel a bit better, I was able to start some Pool therapy, before I couldn't even get threw the physical therapy because it hurt so bad it was crippling.I truly went into it thinking this is not going to make a difference, nothing else had in 10 yrs so why would this help. But it did, instead of having to lay down on ice or heat several times a day It allows me to be able to function better, where before i couldn't get out of bed some days, I spent 80% of my days laying down with pillows under my knee's. Sure I still have some bad days and i have to take my break threw medicine oxycodone. Even that It actually allowed me to not have to take as many for break threw. For instance i use to take about 4-6 oxcodones a day just to tolerate the pain, now since the methadone (April 2011) I take approx 3 a week. I am on a low dose 50 mg a day and it really has helped me. Everyone is different and responds differently to different medications. If you don't like it for any reason you can always tell your doctor you want to stop taking it. I read about so many horror stories that it scarred me, now looking back i wish I had listened to my doctor and tried it sooner! I hope you find something that works for you because living in pain is just horrible, its no way to live. I really believe unless you have experienced this kind of prolonged pain, no one can fully understand how we feel, its not like having a cold or the flu you don't see any symptoms. You learn who your true friends are when this kind of debilitating thing happens. Good Luck to you! I hope this has helped some. PS: I totally relate to Lee Lee, I married an Irishman too hahaha!
  • Met with the same surgeon that said I need a revision surgery, with out taking any new xrays nor a new c t. He had decided surgery isnt an option anymore. My pain Dr and lawyer just shook their heads and are confused as to how he came to this conclusion. I was just in utter shock, and still am and that was over a month ago. Now my pain doctor is having me meet with a neurosurgeon to set up a trial for the medtronic morphine pump. O joy!! Anyone have any info on either the trial or the implant?? I'm mainly wondering, with the pump am I forever going to feel impaired or does it just take the pain away an not make you feel like your on drugs. I've tried looking through the forums an didn't see an answer for that. Thank you in advance
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