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Old 06-03-2010, 09:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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How long does it take feel normal after long-term opiate use?

Good Afternoon,

After eight years of prescribed constant opiate use, how long does it take to feel normal? In April, I went 24 days without an opiate but only six of those days in a row were were withought an Ativan or Catapres. My chronic pain from a 46mph barefoot waterski fall that broke the L5 vertebra, shattered the L5/S1 disc, separated both shoulders and tore the labrum in the right shoulder. Surgeries, including a disc replacement, and hundreds of other treatments are finally getting me to a point where the pain is manageable without an opiate NSAID but I have not yet reached a point where I have been able to function, much less exercise/do the Physical Therapy that allowed me to get to this point in the first place.

My question is how long dose it take without taking an immediate release opiate, an Ativan, or anything with mind-altering side effects, before you feel the same as you would if you had never taken one to begin with? What would I have to do and how long would I have to go before I know what my new level of normal is? I'm currently fighting a battle with my mind about what is real pain, stiffness, discomfort, and what is now simply in my head.

I would appreciate any information that anyone can provide.
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Old 06-03-2010, 08:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hello jobpatto, and pleased to "meet" you

How long does it take? It's going to be different for every person. Our bodies are not machines where we're all identical to each other. Some people get over it quickly, some take longer.

Since you say you are decreasing your level of opiate use, have you tried some of the long term non-opiates like gababentin, neurontin and depakote? These meds are comonly given to folks with diabetes who have some kind of neuropathy. They are usually prescribed by a neurologist or chronic pain specialist. I had brain surgery a couple years ago which left me with permanent, and cripling pain. With Depakote I am able to function enough to hold a job, and need only minimal opiates.

I will never feel normal again, but I know a lot of people who say these meds allow them to lead an almost normal life. If you haven't looked into them, ask your doctor.

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Old 06-04-2010, 04:08 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hello jobpatto, and pleased to "meet" you

How long does it take? It's going to be different for every person. Our bodies are not machines where we're all identical to each other. Some people get over it quickly, some take longer.

Since you say you are decreasing your level of opiate use, have you tried some of the long term non-opiates like gababentin, neurontin and depakote? These meds are comonly given to folks with diabetes who have some kind of neuropathy. They are usually prescribed by a neurologist or chronic pain specialist. I had brain surgery a couple years ago which left me with permanent, and cripling pain. With Depakote I am able to function enough to hold a job, and need only minimal opiates.

I will never feel normal again, but I know a lot of people who say these meds allow them to lead an almost normal life. If you haven't looked into them, ask your doctor.

Mike
Hello Mike,

I have been on Neurotin prior to my spine surgery in Feb 05 but only for one month with no noticeable effect. It was prescribed by the same neurosurgeon who performed the artificial disc replacement.

I am very sorry to hear of your brain surgery and I wish you the best. Short of a couple of minor concussions from sports and a car accident, I have not had any physical brain injuries. That being said, I think my biggest adversary in this is my own brain. The orthopedic progress and much trial-and-error have yielded very slow but fantastic results in regard to daily pain, activity and opiate requirements but I have not worked, short of sporadic volunteering, since Dec 7th, 2005. I'm very fortunate that it hasn't caused financial stress but it is very depressing, especially at the age of 31. I feel that my business degree becomes more obsolete every day that I am out of the business world.

I thank you for sharing your story with me and will certainly inquire about Depakote. Although I am developing a more anti-medication attitude, if it is either non/or minimally mind-altering and non-habit forming, I would be willing to give it a try. The help and information from this site has been invaluable.

All the best.

John
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Old 06-04-2010, 08:23 PM   #4 (permalink)
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.... but only for one month with no noticeable effect......
That's not even close to the minimum time needed for it to kick in. That med takes a _long_ time to build up in your system, and you need to be slowly increasing the dosage as well. If neurontin did not hit you between the eyes with the side effects, then it also did not have a chance to give you the beneficial effects.

The same is true for all the "Preventative" meds like gababenting, Depakote, etc. You have to give them months to kick in, steadily increase the dose, and when the side-effects wallop you then you will know it is working.

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.... I think my biggest adversary in this is my own brain.....
I totally understand. My own mind is my biggest obstacle.

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.... I feel that my business degree becomes more obsolete every day that I am out of the business world......
well.... in this economy you're not missing out on much.

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.... if it is either non/or minimally mind-altering and non-habit forming, I would be willing to give it a try......
The meds I mentioned alter my perception of pain. But that's it, no other effect on my mind. No chemical dependency is created in the body. However, you can't quit cold-turkey because you'll get a rebound effect on the pain. If you reduce the dose at the same rate you got on it then you can get off the med with no ill effects.

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Old 06-05-2010, 09:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Very good to know, thank you Mike. As things are improving and my pain is becoming more general, as opposed to accute, a change in perception of pain and discomfort could be extremely valuable. I just read that 19 page paper that was written about pain treatment in addicted patients and it has given me a lot of confidence. In regard to my situation, it basically says to heed warnings and symptoms of you acute pains but push through the general pains.

For years I would push the limit on my good days, as if to make up for lost time and using the numbed signals from prescribed opioid use to do it. Then, big surprise, I would wake up the next day and be essentially incapacitated. This cycle happened on a 3-10 day level a few dozen times in eight years and on a lesser level a couple hundred times. It is amazing how obtuse I was, and probably still am. Seems that if I feel well for three days or more, my brain told me that this was how life would always be. Same for the bad times, three days or more and a bad mental cycle would ensue. A constant roller coaster.

Amazing how detached someone, at least me, can become from their own subconscious. The closest thing I can relate it to would be being in a bad relationship that everyone close to you can see but you. You only see the obvious after it is over.

Thanks again Mike, much appreciated!
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Old 06-05-2010, 09:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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... As things are improving and my pain is becoming more general, as opposed to accute...
Excellent, glad to hear that

Quote:
Originally Posted by jobpatto View Post
... For years I would push the limit on my good days, as if to make up for lost time and using the numbed signals from prescribed opioid use to do it. Then, big surprise, I would wake up the next day and be essentially incapacitated. ...
ah yes, I did that too. With the same results. I am much better at that now, but the tendency towards "denial" is still strong and I have to be aware of it every day.

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... It is amazing how obtuse I was, and probably still am....
My sponsor says that if the idea originated in _my_ brain, it's wrong. Forget it and instead to the right thing. I don't think I'm "obtuse", I'm just a recovering addict and my brain is wired wrong, that's all

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... Thanks again Mike, much appreciated!...
no worries, keep in touch

Mike
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Old 06-10-2010, 07:54 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I was on gababentin and methadone. And while the gababentin may not had been as habit forming as the Methadone, I learned the hard way that you can't just stop taking it. I made the mistake acouple years ago of not bringing enough of it with me when I went on vacation and it was not a fun trip. My skin felt like it was crawling the whole time as well as constantly having goosebumps and it was very hard to sleep.

Even though I'm having to deal with daily pain now, it is so much better than being chained to medication every day.
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Old 08-10-2010, 06:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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When I entered 28day rehab for opiate abuse I suffered absolutely NO withdrawal symptoms whatsoever. I guess I got lucky.

But now I'm going through amphetamine withdrawal and its a total nightmare.
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