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Suboxone to help get off of Norco

RosevilleTJRRosevilleTJ Posts: 21
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:34 AM in Pain Medications
First of all, love the Spine-Health Website and all the member contributions - Thank you to all. I wanted to share what I thought might be encouraging news to some. Summary of my story is "life happened" which led to herniated L5-S1. I am a happy dad, two kids and a wife, very busy all the time. Treated with Norco 10/325 4x/day. After 2 epidurals, had diskectomy/laminectomy in 3/08. That day, switched to 8 Norco/day. Pain never really went away, stayed on 8 Norco/day as well as 6 ~ 9 Neurontin. On ice 3 or 4 times / day. Joined Gym and did cardio (Eliptical) most days. Met with two different surgeons, both said surgery would be through front and back, that it would be a three day surgery, 10 days in hospital, and off work 8 months to a year. They both basically strongly discouraged surgery. The fact that I was relatively happy, and still functioning, (with meds help), made them decide not to risk surgery.
L5-S1 Disk herniated again in July '09. I saw another new surgeon (with Kaiser), he looked at MRI and said, yep, let's fix this. So, I had surgery on 6/24. It was PLIF - through the back, fused L5-S1. While in hospital I was absolutely miserable - do doubt about it - it was horrible. BUT, now 5 weeks post-op, I feel pretty darn good. I've been wanting to get off the meds but couldn't (or chose not to) deal with the withdrawls. So, finally, to get to the point of my story (|: . I met with Dr. last week and he explained Suboxone's roll in helping me. Today, I went in there with moderate withdrawals and he gave me my first dose of Suboxone. Within 20 minutes I was back to feeling okay, he gave me two more, he monitored me for an hour, and I was good to go. So now, after 18 months of 8/Norco / day, I have gone 24 hrs with zero. I will be weening off the Suboxone for the next three weeks, at which point, I'll be med free. Obviously it's not going to be completely easy, but I wanted to share this story with others as I am very excited and optimistic about the future. Take care and feel free to ask if you have any questions. =D>


  • That is excellent and very encouraging news not only for you but for the rest of us as well, that could very well be in your shoes one day...sooner or later!

    I've heard great things about the role of Suboxone in helping folks get off of Narcotics...and if you're doing well without narcs then you're certainly making the right choice.

    Best wishes to you and oh yeah I can certainly relate...had the L5/S1 fusion 18 years ago and a C6/C7 fusion just this past June 1st. You'll do very well, just rehab it hard and the fusion should last you a LONG time!

    Bye for now -

  • I have to agree with Sandi; while I am happy for you and wish you the best, I question your doctors use of suboxone for 'getting off' of 8 norcos a day for 18 months. My only advice would be, take the least amount of the suboxone possible, and taper early and fast. 10 days and you should be done. Suboxone is much more appropriate for something such as oxycontin addiction, to the point of say, snorting 500mg per day, or something similar.

    Regardless, wish you the best.

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  • Hi Sandi, I want to take a moment to respond.
    My first thought is that everyone here is different, that's what I love about the forum, we can all take little bits of information from so many people who are living with similar situations. My intent was to share a bit of my story, and then share my experience so others may be able to at least see the road that I am on, and decide whether or not they want to learn more. I am new to Spine-Health, and I came here with eyes wide open, searching all the nooks and crannies of the site, looking for people with similar stories, it has been a great place for me. Now I wanted to give a bit back, based on my experience.
    So now, on to my response. As I said, we're all different, but for me, 8 Norco (Equivalent to 16 Vicodin/day) is not light weight / light dose. I understand to others that may be light, but to me, it was a bucketload. As far as tapering goes, yep, tried that, just going from 8 to 7 / day and I was sick, nauseated, cold sweats, blah, blah, blah - just felt like crud. So, I talked to my GP (who I greatly respect) and he suggested that I talk with this chem dependency doctor. I absolutely trust this Doctor, and his years of experience, to help me get off of my pain meds. He mentioned today that the success rate of Norco -> Suboxone -> taper is much higher than just tapering off Norco - so that's my plan. You also mentioned that you have read that the taper off Sub is just as difficult as Methadone, again, maybe for some, but my Doctor said, no way. And, he said they've used it for a few years, not just for "Opiate addicts" but for "ordinary pain patients", and it has been very helpful with the process.
    So, I think that there are so many different situations out there, this is a great place to read about many of them, but it's important to not assume too much.
    I didn't read your bio, but you say you are seeing more and more posts where people are, "for no medical reason", being prescribed Suboxone. That seems like such a broad stroke of the brush. W/out all the facts, or a degree in pharmacology, it's a tough statement to make.

    Looking forward, I hope to be done and back to my normal, no meds life, very soon. I appreciate your taking the time to offer your thoughts, and am in no way trying to be disrespectful, I just wanted to make sure I was clear on my intent of my initial post.
    Take care and I hope everyone continues on their journey towards a pain free, enjoyable, and rewarding life!
  • I'm feeling like I'm doing the right thing, using the right tool for the job, and I am surrounded by the right people, with the right experiences, to help me get to the goal. I'll periodically update this post with progress made and new experiences, as I'm sure there will be plenty.
    Take care,
  • sandi, you're not the least bit alone in your thinking. I've been noticing the same thing and I also qualify norco -> suboxone as killing a fly with a flamethrower.

    I recently completed some professional education on Suboxone and I was really disappointed to see that there's a serious marketing bias involved as well. Unfortunately, I think we're going to see more and more of this approach, until the negative consequences build up enough to draw some attention to the problems with using this drug as an "easy out." :-(

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  • sandi, I think you're absolutely right about patients dismissing the speech about dependence/withdrawal, because they're eager to get relief from the pain. Ironically, it seems people are dismissing the larger issues with suboxone out of eagerness to get rid of the withdrawal symptoms. In the end, it's actually the exact same cycle of behavior. :?
  • " the fact is, using suboxone or some other means isn't going to help someone avoid withdrawal at all, it will make it that much more complicated and difficult though, not to mention, in some cases downright dangerous"

    Really??? So, Suboxone won't help someone avoid withdrawal at all???

    My first thought is, yeah, started the taper off the Norco (Fly) and it sucked - sick, flu, cranky, freakin' miserable. Maybe 8 Norco/day is just a fly, but maybe it's not, for me, it was a little bit bigger than that. I'm certainly not opposed to dealing with difficult situations, but if there is something that would make it easier (for me AND my family) then it seemed like it would only make sense to check it out. So, in checking it out, I went to many different sites on the web, and also spoke with my Doctor.
    There are an awful lot of people on this world wide web that are very pleased with Suboxone. There are plenty of others that say it didn't work for them. My Doctor & his nurse, are both very pleased with the results that they have seen. Their experience is that it greatly decreased the symptoms of withdrawal that would have normally been seen, w/out the Suboxone. This is backed up by statements all over the web. There are hundreds of positive reviews from first hand users. So, it is probably safe to assume, that for some, it works great, and for others, it doesn't. Isn't that how all drugs or meds are?
    For me, I hope I made the right choice. So far, it's going great, no Norco or Neurontin for 7 days and very minimal symptoms of withdrawal (flame thrower seems to have very tiny flame). When the taper begins, and if the withdrawal symptoms are minimized, I'll be happy (so will my family), and I'll let you know, as it may be helpful to others too.
    If it doesn't go well, and I find that I wished I wouldn't have used it, I'll post that too. That way people will be able to utilize this bit of information, to make a judgement for themselves, when they come upon this fork in the road of life.
  • Just as a side note that is relevant: in most of the stories I have heard where getting off of the Suboxone was worse, the patient used suboxone for a much more substantial time, say, 3 to 6 months. Sometimes this was because of abusive behavior, and sometimes just due to the amount of meds being taken, but since the OP(original poster) is only supposed to be on the sub for 2-3 weeks and tapering immediately, if I remember correctly, maybe it will in fact work out peachy. I certainly hope that is the case, regardless of the fact that I think it is overkill. Wishing you the best Roseville, and eager to hear your results in a month or so.

    Best wishes

  • To JWM - Thank you. From all of the reading that I have done, and continue to do, a 21 day program may just work well.
    To Sandi - Thank you - you frustrated the hell out of me, but you also made me dig, and dig much deeper than I would have, for information. I hear your passion against the Suboxone, for a case like mine, Trust me, I hear it! If we had had this discussion before I started the Suboxone, I likely would not have started it. But since I have started it, the key is to get good, positive advice, on how to make it work. (21 day plan???) The frustration for me comes from what seems to be a "It'll never work" and "there's only one side of this story" message. I Unfortunately for me, it is also coming at a time where I was really looking for some support. Again, I think, based on many different forums, that this is not a topic that is taken lightly, and I'm glad there is a passion - that means people care. It's interesting though, that it is probably often brought up in forums like this, by people like me, who are a bit irritable based on their place in the cycle.
    I copied and pasted from medhelp.org, a great post (in my opinion), that sums up this subject quite well.

    "by liscamdave, Dec 09, 2008 09:35AM
    There ARE success stories out there Jdawn. Believe me. Not everyone suffers worst then they would have with their previous DOC. I did a 21 days sub treatment. And I started out the first day with 16mgs then by the 2nd day I dropped to 8mg. By the end of the first week, I was only taking 2mgs a day. When I stopped, I was down to .5 mgs, every 3 days. In the end, I only took it if I couldn't sleep. Then after that, I got through it. And it was NOT that bad. Please do not think that all everyone said to you will Definitely happen. Because everyone is different. And everyone's experience is circumstantial. So you don't know how long they were all on it and at what dose. There are members here who have had good experiences with it and have gotten through it. I am going on one year clean. So I got through it. My w.d was not that bad. But again, we are all different. If you need anything, just ask. My only advice, is don't let your dr talk you into high doses of sub. And do not take it longer then one month. If you can get by only taking it for a couple weeks do that. The shorter length of time you are on it and the lower the dose, the easier it will all be on you. Drs have no clue how strong it is and are very quick to push it on people. Most drs don't take insurane and only will accept cash, so that's why most want you to stay on it. The sub market is hugh and drs are getting certified left and right to prescribe it. So just be careful. Stay at a low, low dose. The least you can get by with. And only stay on it for a few weeks to a month max. I think a month may even be too long. You do what you have to do. Its your body and your addiction. We can only tell you our experiences. But I notice here there are alot of people who feel negatively about sub and in turn tend to scare people and I think that is wrong. I am telling you what I know to be factual about sub, and that's stick to a low dose for a short time. Other then that, all the things written above are based on personal experiences. Good luck and if you need anything, just ask..

  • in case someone has stumbled upon this post, while doing research on suboxone, i wanted to post this link:
    it appears to be a very thorough summary and there are answers to many questions. i printed it out and will be sharing it with my dr tomorrow, to ensure we're both on the same page with the same goal of a successful taper to zero by end of 3rd week. :ss
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