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How to withdraw from pain medication while still in pain

Hello -
I have been a member of this board for over three years but not very active lately. You can look at my intro if you are interested in my history.
I had a failed Microdiscectomy in early 2012 and just had one level AILF spinal fusion (L5/S1) in late November of 2014. The jury is still out on whether the fusion will help me. I am currently in post surgical PT with an excellent group and am following through at home.

I have been on opioid pain meds for 3 & 1/2 years, and like many of us, have gained a high level of tolerance. I very much want to get off these meds to see if I can cope without them and am being advised by my PT team to do so.

Here is one of my problems. I worked with a pain management doctor from mid 2013 to early 2014 (who was with the "top" ortho hospital in the country.) We both agreed to try and get me off of opioids but he put me through tremendous physical pain and humiliation. (He made statements that made me feel like a failure when I couldn't meet his goals of draw-down due to pain and only pain. I was in a constant state of anxiety and fear with him. I got down to a very low level of medication and was in horrible, daily pain and did not get completely off meds. I don't want to sound like a wimp, but that experience was pretty traumatic and has left me feeling not "up to the task".

I went back to my prior PM doctor last year who has a more moderate approach and went back on pain meds so I could function enough to search for a new surgeon that led to this recent fusion.

Can anyone out there advise me on how they withdrew successfully? There seems to be a ton of help for recreational users but none for us innocent pain patients.

Any advice or positive stories would be welcome.



  • Sorry to hear you are experiencing so much pain but it sounds
    like you have a good Doctor which is a blessing.
    I to experienced the same due to a tolerance of meds. and my PC
    at that time cut them in half. No improvement in ways to lessen the
    pain such work through it. Oh I was upset too believe me and today
    my meds are still at that level with no improvement. Part of that is
    I don't want to go up on my meds. like you I want to get off.
    But right now would be a mistake for me to try with the level of
    pain I am at.
    Do you feel you can handle that? You must involve your Doctor
    like it sounds you are since it can be dangerous to do it on your own.
    I have read some good ideas on here like what to drink and such but
    the bottom line would be your Doctor.
    I truly do think it should be done so a person does not go through hell
    but bottom line sometimes it cannot be. I plan on going to our
    cabin and having my Hubby leave me there for a few weeks when I do
    my total withdraw. But I am going to make sure my Doctor is working with me.
    I wish you the very best and will be pulling for you, it is great that you are so
    strong minded.
  • Hi Sherri -
    Thank you for your input. Having them cut in half suddenly must have been rough. Can you tell me if you have adapted to the current dose? In other words, is your pain the same or worse since the medication reduction?

  • Hi
    When the meds were cut in half my health got worse, not due to the cut.
    My situation is that I went through a Gallbladder surgery after months of different tests,
    have legs that I am having surgery to correct in a couple of weeks and my lower back,
    hip, buttocks and leg all have become incredible painful above what I have dealt with
    in the past. I based on my Doctor am at a Pain level of 7 or higher so for me I have not
    had a chance to adjust at all. Factored into this is the Gallbladder surgery did not work so they are
    trying to figure out what is going on there and I am also in some much needed therapy
    which I am excited about. All these things have elevated things and today my Doctor
    increased my medication which was his idea. I hated doing that but wow to relieve some
    of this pain would be a gift. I have to say I am doing everything to control the pain and
    upping my meds was very upsetting but a necessary thing.
    I will after some gain in my health go back to my goal due tolerance
    come off and go from there. But I will include my Doctor in that venture for sure
    like you should.
    Boy that was a long story sorry I could of just said other things got in the way of
    knowing if that level would have worked.
    I wish you the very best and keep your mind in the right frame focusing on using
    everything you can to control the pain and your Doctor to help you if you decide
    to cut them.
    I am hear if you want to chat and good luck.
  • Sherri -
    Don't apologize at all for the post. It sounds like you have gone through an unbelievable situation. Thank you again for responding. It sounds like you are a very strong woman.
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