Getting off Pain Meds: Need help

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by lamina, Feb 5, 2008.

  1. lamina macrumors 68000

    lamina

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Location:
    From Canada, living in Seoul
    #1
    Hi all,

    I realize this is sort of medical advice, but I'm really just looking for what has worked for anyone who has been in my situation in the past. You all have become like a loose-knit family to me in some ways.

    I started taking Tylenol 1 - 300mg acetaminophen, 8mg codeine, and 16mg caffeine, about 2 years ago, for headaches. Well, the headaches stopped, but I am still taking the pills, anywhere from 12 - 16 per day. I really, really want to quit. I've tried cold turkey, but my mood was unreasonable. I've tried weaning, but that obviously didn't work either.

    Have any of you been in a similar situation? I am just happy that it was something not-so-heavy that I became addicted to, instead of oxycontin or oxycocet, or even Tylenol 3's.

    Any help is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #2
    i'm glad that you realize that you need to stop taking them. very glad to hear that.

    since you have tried both of the best scenarios: weaning and cold turkey and neither has worked its up to you to either make one of them work, or see a professional.

    in fact, i'd say that you should see a professional regardless since that much tylenol can have a huge impact on your liver.

    i'll be wishing you the best of luck either way.
     
  3. harcosparky macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2008
    #3
    I'll give advice where I think it will do good.

    Seek out a Medical Doctor.

    Look for ones that specialize in addictions, they do exist as we have one here and that is all he does.

    I do have one question: When you tried 'weaning', did you try increasing your caffeine intake as you reduced the meds? I am thinking with Codeine and Caffeine in there you might actually have 2 addictions.

    EDIT: If you do not know where to go here is the URL for the Treatment Center in my town. It's a privately run facility. OK, you may not be able to go there, but I bet if you call they may be able to direct you.

    Tell them that you were in Baltimore and heard Dr. Lee Tannenbaum, on the Ed Norris Radio Show ... it's a local talk show and he has been a guest on there. It's mentioned on his web site.

    http://www.belaircenterforaddictions.com/addictionnews.html
     
  4. freeny macrumors 68020

    freeny

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2005
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    Location: Location:
    #4
    Just remember addictions are a bitch and your not alone.
     
  5. marykay9507 macrumors 6502a

    marykay9507

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    #5
    you said you tried weaning off them...did you just take less doses? or did you stop taking one...go a week and then try stopping another?

    best of luck to you....
     
  6. Applespider macrumors G4

    Applespider

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    #6
    I think any kind of cold turkey to any kind of drug you've been taking will do strange things to your frame of mind until the drug works its way out of your system and the cravings stop.

    I'd agree with those saying try to get some professional advice. There may be some midrange drugs which they can give you while you wean yourself off them.
     
  7. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    CT
    #7
    Wont a caffeine codeine cocktail really do bad things to you.

    The main question is were these prescribed by your doctor or did you start this on your own.
     
  8. lamina thread starter macrumors 68000

    lamina

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Location:
    From Canada, living in Seoul
    #8
    In Canada, you can buy these lovely pills over the counter, without prescription.

    Thanks for your advice all. I am wondering what a doctor will be able to do for me.
     
  9. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
    Location:
    CT
    #9
    Most likely he will put you on counteracting drugs. Stopping cold turkey as others have said won't do any good either.
     
  10. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    #10
    maybe, maybe not.

    counseling is a possibility and regular check ups to make sure you're not on them is possible too.
     
  11. motulist macrumors 601

    motulist

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    #11
    Well first off, you absolutely need to see a doctor about this.

    And you absolutely shouldn't listen to any medical advice given to you over the net. Having said that, if you really are soliciting advice from random non professionals on the net like us, then I'll give you my layman's opinion.

    Try to wean yourself off of each one individually. Meaning try to change the 3-in-1 pill you've been taking into 1 caffeine free acetaminophen, one codeine pill, and one caffeine pill. I believe these pills are available over the counter. Then start taking all 3 pills at the current dose as you're taking now. Then start weaning only 1 of the 3 down at a time. You may at least learn that it's only one of them that you really have a dependency on. (I'd suspect its the codeine)

    BUT SEE A DOCTOR FIRST BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING!!! DO NOT EVEN FOLLOW MY SUGGESTION OR ANYONE ELSE'S UNTIL YOU HAVE CONSULTED YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT THEM.
     
  12. TimJim macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 15, 2007
    #12
    Ask your doctor about Naltrexone. (i sound like a commercial :p)

    Good luck.
     
  13. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

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    CT
    #13
    I would say let the doctor decide what is best. The last thing we need is another addiction.
     
  14. hierobryan macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2008
    Location:
    earth/jupiter
    #14
    here's how you quit:

    1. give me the pills

    2. i give you money

    3. you spend the money on entertaining things that will keep your mind off the pills.
     
  15. lamina thread starter macrumors 68000

    lamina

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Location:
    From Canada, living in Seoul
    #15
    Another thing to mention:

    I am in the last 3 months of getting my degree, and my marks aren't exactly perfect. I wonder if I should wait until late April, when finals are over, because I don't want to be going through withdrawals during exams/papers.

    I think I need to try the weaning again. Since I take sometimes more than 12 per day, I am going to try keeping it at 12/day this week, and bring it down to 10/day next week, and so on. Whew. It sounds small, but the problems I experience from weaning include back aches, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue and (oddly) sleep problems, irritability, etc. But! It's worth it, and I plan on going to Korea to teach in September, and will need to have this long dead by then.

    Edit:

    I sincerely hope you're joking. These pills have really had a negative impact on my life. I get aggravated easily, and I find myself abusing them depending on my mood. Also, I don't even want to think of the damage I've done to my stomach and liver.

    Also, the early effects of taking these pills are negligible at best. 8mg of codeine/pill, you'll need to take 4 to get the effects of 1 tylenol 3. The caffeine in the pills also kind of negates the 'downer' buzz of the codeine.
     
  16. MacNut macrumors Core

    MacNut

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2002
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    CT
    #16
    Not to sound like a prick but I would call that an excuse not to stop. It won't do you any good to not stop as soon as possible.
     
  17. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #17
    First, see a doctor. Second, this "I'll do it after this" BS isn't good for you at all. Really, like any addition (food, alcohol, drugs) tomorrow never comes. Period.
    On a side note I am curious. Is there a drug, one pill that contains the ingrediants you're referring to? I know my friend is on something here called Fioricet.
     
  18. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    #18
    Surprised no one commented on the OPs original problem that led him to take all these pills. You should have seen a doctor when you started getting headaches. Taking these pills may have only masked the headaches; the reason for them has never been dealt with.

    Go to a doctor, dude. What makes you think you can beat addiction when millions of others can't? You need help, please seek it.
     
  19. Frisco macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2002
    Location:
    Utopia
    #19
    I used to take 15 Percocets (oxycodone) or Vicodins per day for 7 years at least. Sorry to say if I had them now I would swallow a handful. It's addictive I know. Good luck.
     
  20. Fearless Leader macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2006
    Location:
    Hoosiertown
    #20
    I used to get awful headaches, like 5 or 6 a week. Saw a doctor (I cant spell the proper term for brain doctor), and it was the caffine from diet coke (and pills) that was doing it. Also the advil I was popping multiple times daily wasn't helping. That was 6 months ago.

    I still get ocasional headaches, 1 or 2 a month but its so much better now actually being able to think. I haven't had an advil a couple of months. I just stopped cold turkey with the pills and diet coke. Triggered a Migraine (did I mention I get thoose too, about 4 per year or so) and I was out for 3 days sleeping. I woke up and all I wanted was some caffine. All I could think about was diet coke and caffine pills for about 2 months and I was a person you didn't want to piss off. Then the urges finally stopped. I had a few relapses, but I just tried again.

    I found a drink to replace my urge for that carbonated drink feeling, which I also think was part of the addiction. carbonated watter, I love the stuff and its water.


    So, in conclusion, the way I broke my old addiction was to find a new one, carbonated water. I think that that was the key.
     
  21. letsgorangers macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2006
    Location:
    TN
    #21
    Regarding what rdowns said, I think a lot of people assume that headaches are a normal thing that everyone deals with. But when they become chronic and affect your life, they can and should be treated.

    I'm incredibly surprised that the medication continued to work for you after so long! I took muscle relaxers & pain killers 3 times a day for over a month for my headaches. It worked for about a week and then stopped being effective.

    I think that realizing you need to quit is a good first step. I am with everyone else on seeking medical care, though. But regardless of a doctor, this isn't going to be a walk through the park. You are going to have unpleasant side effects as you would with any other sort of drug. Expect that and realize it's a part of getting to your goal.

    Once all of this is over with, if you're still having chronic headaches (wait awhile after you've stopped using all the pain medication to determine whether it has something to do with being in withdrawal) go see a doctor.
     
  22. lamina thread starter macrumors 68000

    lamina

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Location:
    From Canada, living in Seoul
    #22
    Thanks a lot for all your comments. I am pretty surprised.

    The condition that over the counter codeine is available in Canada is that they are mixed with at least 2 other substances. It's not legal to get just acetaminophen and codeine without prescription.

    rdowns, to answer your question, my doctor gave me a prescription for a large dose of ibuprofen, which pretty much tore my stomach to pieces. I was given a CAT scan as well, with nothing showing up as abnormal.

    jessica, I can understand your comment, but (there's always a but, isn't there?) I learned everything this year under the influence of these pills. Taking them away takes away one context of that learning, which leads to difficulty in retrieval. As you can see, I'm a psyc major ;) . But you are right, creating excuses and convenient circumstances is no way to kick this addiction.

    TimJim, Naltrexone looks interesting, but it seems it may be for heavier opioids such as oxycodone. I will see what my doctor thinks.

    I found that I don't feel the 'urge' to take them when I go to the gym. So, I'm off. I will keep whoever is interested posted.

    Here's what I will do for now:

    Research possible drugs to ease withdrawal symptoms and talk to my doctor
    Begin weaning off 2/week (it's doable with very mild side effects, I've done it before)
    Hit the gym more

    Thanks a lot everyone. Keep the comments and suggestions coming.

    I'm glad I never became addicted to percocet. I do have it available if I want to pay for it, but I really have no reason to be taking them, other than to get high, which isn't quite conducive to quitting what I'm taking now, or graduating.

    May I ask, how did you stop? My aunt had to stop her percocet prescription and she had a hell of a time.
     
  23. Frisco macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2002
    Location:
    Utopia
    #23
    Well I am sorry to say that I really can't help you. My stopping was not a conscious decision on my part. Like I said if I had them right in front of me right now I would have absolute zero will power not to take them. However by you posting this topic on this board I feel you are ready to quit and of course that is the first and the biggest step.

    You said, "I found that I don't feel the 'urge' to take them when I go to the gym." That's because working out produces endorphins, the body's natural pain killer. Basically when you take any of the opiate or opioid painkillers (codeine, morphine, oxycodone, etc.) you are tricking your brain into thinking it's getting an endorphin release. That's why when you work out you don't miss the craving. The "runner's high."

    Bottom line is that it is better to feel good naturally as opposed to a pill. Feeling good naturally through exercise is what you need to become addicted to.

    Good luck my friend!
     
  24. blairwillis macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    #24
    I agree with suggestions to visit a doctor, and I'm glad to see you are planning to. Your prior reluctance to do so is likely more of a subconscious excuse to not deal with the situation as directly, and your choice to overcome that is a strong indication of your will to succeed.

    A doctor can do a lot in helping you through this process. I have a very close friend who went through a major ordeal fighting to get off pain meds. Don't fall victim to self-rationalizations like "well it's not too strong of stuff." It may not be percocet or hyrdrocodone or vicodin, or morphine, but just the same it is having a control over your life that you realize is not healthy.

    Also, do keep in touch with people around you who can help support you. Hopefully there is at least one person close to you that you can discuss this with "in the real world". An internet discussion board is a good step, but take it now to someone that can truly be there for you and intervene immediately if you feel a loss of control. Consider contacting a support group, such as Narcotics Anonymous or another program in your area that might help. Don't think "oh it's not that bad" or "I can do this on my own" because that is an excuse. You are making progress in posting about your problem to a discussion board, but remember, there is a big, big, hole here in the sense that you don't have to follow through. There's very little accountability to people in this forum. Take the step to be accountable to someone in the "real world" with you.

    Best wishes, and don't give up!
     
  25. sterlingindigo macrumors 6502

    sterlingindigo

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2007
    Location:
    East Lansing
    #25
    Scary-rx ads on this page!

    Everybody's right: see a doctor, get a real support group and hang in there, we're pullin' for ya. Healthy replacements I've personally found very helpful: yoga, meditation, running, working out, carrying around a 32oz nalgene bottle or two with filtered water in it (99% of us are dehydrated=headaches), go to hayhouseradio.com and download podcasts from Dr. Wayne Dyer. He's great!

    hayhouseradio.com
    factorydirecthealth.com

    + nrg to ya.
     

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