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Quitting all pain meds

j.howiejj.howie Brentwood, Ca., USAPosts: 1,745
edited 06/11/2012 - 9:01 AM in Chronic Pain
If you've been on pain meds for chronic pain for a long time.
And you got a surgery. Or a combination of things. That lessened your pain to a level you could live with.
Do you think that you would have a hard time quitting all pain meds. (narcotic)
I've never given this thought a serious consideration. I've had irreversible damage done. And I've never had a surgery or procedure where a Dr. has ever expected nor ever told me that I could expect more than a 30% reduction in pain. And I do appreciate the honesty.
None the less. I have been told of people who had to go to rehab. And also witnessed people I do know. That also had a difficult time quiting. After a full recovery of their injuries. And some cops my wife and I know, had to do illegal drugs to get deep under cover. Had a horrible time due to the type and quantity of illegal drugs that they had to do.
If you reply to this thread, please be honest.
Truth be known I have to imagine it being hard for me simply because I've been taking pain meds for over 10 years. And the Dr's. have increased the meds so much over the years that I'm taking a huge amount. In my own opinion.
Over the years that I've been a member here, I've seen threads like this discussed in a civil manner. And I've seen them turn ugly.
Ron, If this thread turns ugly, please shut it down.
Click my name to see my Medical history
You get what you get, not what you deserve......I stole that from Susan (rip)
Today is yours to embrace........ for tomorrow, who knows what might be starring you in the face!


  • Hi Jim :wave:

    I can't say for 100% sure how I would do without them. However since being on them, I have had the flue 2 times bad enough I could not keep the pills in me. The only thing I noticed was the increase in pain. Also once we went away and I forgot my meds. (beyond stupid!) and I was without them for about 24 hrs, same thing. I just noticed how bad my pain was. But in all fairness I don't know if any of these times were long enough to notice a problem if I had one.

    I have a Dr who had a horrible car accident and broke every bone in his body. He has shared with me that the 3 yrs it took him to heal & complete rehab he was on some really "heavy" drugs. He chose to stop them and said it was bad. But that is all he said. A tad off subject - he stopped his drugs and now uses anti inflammatories and said they are better then the heavy drugs he was on...
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
  • Hi Jim I had tried to cut down on my med. But after a few days I was so much in pain I had to take them. Even with SCS unit and med I am still in pain. But not as much as not taken them.Or turming off SCS.

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  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,526
    About 7 years ago when I was pretty miserable and was surviving day to day with oxycontin and oxycodone IR, I could have never imagined a day without those pain medications. I used to count the number I had left and make sure I could refill them in time.

    I do believe for a while, pain medications consumed my time.

    Several years ago when I started to come out of the more difficult chronic pain time I had, my medications changed. I used more nerve medications and muscle relaxers to get me by. My narcotic pain medications came down alot.

    However, almost everytime, both my doctor and I was ready to almost eliminate those narcotics, a new situation cropped up (Thoracic flares, My Shoulder surgeries, My Hip surgery, etc) that put me back onto the narcotics.

    My doctor believes that I will never be totally off pain medications. Today I am using only about 10 to 15mg of Opana a day which my doctor considers a low amount. Our goal is down to 5mg a day and then perhaps switching to a non-narcotic pain medication.

    I am at a point, where I really want to stop those medications. There have been days when I hold off taking any of them. But at some point, might be in the middle of the night, I need some pain relief.

    So, emotionally, I am ready and willing to say goodbye, and I feel strong enough to know I will be able to do it.

    Now, I just have to get my physical side to go along with what I am mentally prepared to do.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
  • Quitting all pain meds?

    It's an interesting question. I think, for me, the answer would be: If I knew that coming off my current meds would definitely NOT increase the pain, then yes, I would want to try it.

    I don't consider I'm on too many meds at the moment. For chronic back pain and other associated back problems, I'm on 30mgs/hour of Butrans patches and for breakthrough, I take Oral Morphine solution as/when required. I also have steroid injections every so often.

    Because I'm off work at the moment, I try to take the oral morphine only at night (because during the day I can at least lie down to take the pressure off whenever I need to) because it helps. Taking it during the day makes my head go a bit 'funny' (which is ok when I'm not at work!).

    I do not know yet if going back to work would make my level of pain worse (with meds) - as my bosses have not been in touch with me for months!!!! But, if I stayed as I am, then I would want to try and reduce (and eventually quit!) my pain medication if it's at all possible.

    I'm sure the patches affect my ability to concentrate and they also cause side-effects in some other ways (which I won't go into, but suffice to say I'm taking other meds to counteract those side-effects!), but when/if the time comes, I'm sure my doctor would have me reducing the dose a little each time until I'm 'weaned' off them altogether.

    My doctor has said that because my condition is degenerative, in his opinion, the level of pain I have may actually get worse as I get older, but I believe it all a matter of circumstance and psychology. That is, if I am allowed to return to work, then it's possible, my pain level could increase as I get older as my duties involve continuous bending and working/sitting on the floor.

    If I can be re-deployed to a different job then perhaps I can maintain the level of pain I have now with meds that will allow me to function better.

    However, if I am NOT allowed back to work, then perhaps I can try to reduce/quit these meds, or at least try a different combination as we go along so my body does not build up a tolerance to them.

    So, I think controlling pain with medication is essential if I am to continue to remain active and hopefully eventually be allowed back to work, but could be relaxed or changed if I'm not.

    It's a very difficult question to answer. Only time will tell.
    2 x Microdiscectomy 2005 / PLIFusion 2-level 2010 / revision surgery 2011 / NEVRO Senza spinal cord stimulator implanted February 2013. I WILL NOT GIVE IN / UP !!
  • I was faced with that reality and chose to do what I and the doctors knew had to be done. I had been on narcotic pain meds for several years, was at incredible dosages and my pain was once again out of control. So I was physically dependent on the narcotics and couldn't control my pain.

    So after consulting with a PM doc and my NS, the decision to do surgery to remove the pain generator and follow that with Ultra Rapid Opioid Detox done under general anesthesia in the OR. Of course there were incredible risks, but I couldn't go on living like I was and the amount of narcotic meds extended release and immediate release was out of control.

    3 days before the surgery and detox I was taken off the extended release opioids and placed on 30mg of oxycodone per hour. I was basically placed into withdrawl prior to the procedures.

    After the surgery and detox my post op pain was managed with Ketamine until I could be released from the hospital. I was then only taking Neurontin and Celebrex with some Tylenol thrown in once in a while.

    So for 6 months I had acupuncture to help me sleep and help manage the withdrawl and at the end of that time I went back and had my SCS put in to manage pain that the surgery did not target.

    Now I am opioid free and have been since the detox. I control my pain with Neurontin, Celebrex, a muscle relaxer and my SCS. I also use a hot tub to get the moist heat nearly every night. I work again, I am active again and I am not faced with a life filled with endless narcotics.

    When faced with the prospect of a life filled with narcotics that no longer helped, and also the thought of trying to titrate down to get off of them, I was near panic. When the PM doc discussed the rapid detox, I knew I had to risk it. I am so grateful that it was offered and that it worked!

    Hope this helps give you a little to think about.

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  • SavageSavage United StatesPosts: 7,385
    ...I understand question. I think question is... if I was without pain due to some medical miracle that was not med...so then my pain is gone...would I still want my pain med??

    If no pain...I truly believe I would have zero problem stopping my patch and then the hydro breakthrough meds.

    As things are..sometimes I forget that I have breakthrough med available. If I am with a friend, she will notice I am whincing and moaning and remind me of meds.

    So since I've had little unintentional tests of going without my meds here and there due to forgetfulnes..I think without pain..my body and my mind would be okay without pain meds.

    Now, from your lips to God's ears :)... that any or all of us have such an unexplainable relief of pain that stopping meds is the most complicated part of our lives. :)

    Thanks for the post!
    Honorary Spine-Health Moderator
    Please read my medical history at: Medical History

  • I think about that sometimes and though I feel able to do it, I understand the physical aspect and know that it might not be as easy as I imagine. Whenever I have free time to give it more than just a passing thought and try to imagine my life without pain, I dream about all of the things I would/could do, and I wonder if I would even notice or spend any time thinking about the pain I once had. I think if I awoke without pain that I would cry with joy.. like winning the lottery. I think that I would cry from sadness too, over the lifetime I missed because of the pain. I would do everything I could do to enjoy myself without thinking of pain--I've had enough of that, and spent entirely too much time thinking of pain. And I don't want to, but it's always there..so no, I wouldn't miss it for a second, and do anything and everything that I could do to stay away from it and everything that reminded me of it.
    I think I could do it, because I'm already thinking about doing it even with the pain.
  • I don't know that I will ever be completely off my pain meds. There are a few reasons. 1) When I have significant pain, I can't take things like NSAIDs to try and cope with the pain, as I have had bariatric surgery, 2) depending on the severity of your condition before surgery, and mine was bad, you might have occasional relapses along the way.

    I have a standing prescription for oxycodone. I do have to go and pick up the paperwork at my doctor's office if I want to refill it, and I do it once maybe every three or four months. I spend most of my days with no pain meds, but when I've walked to far, climbed too many steps, done too much yard work, there's nothing but the ice pack and a pain pill to get me out of the world of hurt I put myself into (well, okay, maybe some massage or my Empi will help too).

    I've recently been making an effort to get myself more fit, as I seem to be gaining weight (I have an endocrine problem involving low blood sugar that makes this all too easy) and I have been aching horribly at the end of the day every now and then. The interesting thing about these aches is, I've found that my oxycodone does very little to relieve them. I "sneak" a motrin every now and then and use some Icy-hot pain rub, especially on my ankles and that works even better. So, it depends on which pain I'm treating, and no, I don't think I have an addiction. I can go weeks without an oxycodone, and then I may take three or four in one day if I'm hurting. Usually, the pain med, some ice, and stretching, or some PT massage will put me back to rights and then I don't need the pills again for a while.

    3 level spinal fusion, L3/4, L4/5, L5/S1, November 2008. Stiff, but I can walk.
  • I wasn't on a large amount of meds before my first surgery...so it was very easy to wean down..I was blessed to pain free for about two years..

    Then it slowly started returning again and for about a year to year and a half I thought it had to be my Fibromyalgia returning....not thinking it could be the same issues...I was thinking that the surgery cured it and I would never have problems again! LOL

    I had a good surgeon then but he just didn't explain what could happen down the road...

    So...during that time I was only seeing my Primary Care Dr. who bless her heart, wasn't skilled with pain meds and we ramped up pretty quickly to the Fentanyl patch...Only the 50mcg with no breakthrough...but it was a lot for me at the time.

    When I found my second Neurosurgeon and Pain Mgmt. Dr....they thought that it was too much and that no one should be on pain meds long term...So he went back to 5mg Percocet only 3 a day...I was lucky that I didn't experience much withdrawal as I hadn't been on the Fentanyl very long.

    When this Neuro did the surgery...he was such a jerk that when I woke up in so much pain he said.."I fixed you...you will be fine...I only take a Tylenol for pain"...I was thinking..."Who the heck cares what YOU take for a headache...I just had major surgery!!!"...They only had me stay in the hospital for less than 24 hours!..It was crazy...

    And then only gave me 5mg Percocet..no more than 3 again and only for 4 days after the surgery!!!! That was it...Accused me of having a problem with the meds when I had never taken more than prescribed...ever...Never ran out...nothing wrong..Just was still in excruciating pain..I just knew that surgery did not go well or fix anything..

    Anyway...thankfully within a few months, I found my now PM Dr. and Neurosurgeon that hugged me at the first appt. saying "No one should suffer like you have and you won't ever have to again"...

    I wanted to slowly go up in medicine as it seemed at this point I was going to have chronic pain probably the rest of my life...Even though they went in and fixed the horrible job that last surgeon did...he was very clear it was more mechanical than fixing anything that would get rid of the pain...They are also the type not to wean you down before surgery as they think why be miserable and stressed before hand and in pain...we will deal with everything once the surgery is over...

    I am lucky to not have any more nerve pain...but live with a 5-7 each day..And that is fine with me as I want to be on the least amount of medicine...

    As well as using other meds like Ambien for sleep...and Flexeril for muscle pain...I also exercise and stretch each day...I started eating all Organic over a year ago and that has actually really helped with inflammation and energy levels..

    So..I am VERY thankful to have a wonderful team and my PM Dr. works with me both with my finances as I don't have insurance...and helping me reach goals to stay healthy in all other ways. As well as come up with a comprhensive plan to be flexible and if I have a lower pain day...I can take less...but can take "up to" a certain amount on the bad days...He would actually prefer I was on higher doses all the time but knows I am stubborn! LOL

    But I know that if for some reason I started to have no pain....He would work with me and taper down as slow as possible to not have any withdrawals...

    It is great to see that C and I'm sure others who have been able to go off their pain meds...That is wonderful for you to have less pain!!!

    Jim...do you think you could get by on less pain meds? As you say you are on a really high dosage? Would your Dr. work with you if you choose to lower really slowly to see if you could do with less?
  • I have had a mental block with using narcotics. For years I have been ashamed that I had to use medicine to be able to function and do my job. Well truth be told I do not discuss the subject with anyone other than my wife. I know it is my problem but I feel as though if my employees knew I had a physical issue and used pain medications somehow I would be less effective as a manager.

    Several times I have quit completely out of frustration for up to a week. I quess I was trying to deny that I had a physical problem or to prove to myself that I was not dependent. Inevitably, it would get to the point that I was consumed with pain that I could not mentally function effectively. My doctors have gotten somewaht upset with me and convinced me that I should not be ashamed that I have to take medicine to function. Just recently I agreed to increase my fentanyl patch from 12.5 Mcg to 25 Mcg. Needless to say my pain is much better controlled.
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