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Creeky,
Don't ever hesitate to ask questions of other addicts. I consider it a privilege and part of my 12th step work in sharing my experience, strength and hope.

As far as coming clean with your doc is concerned, I would be scared too if that was my doc's attitude. I personally think it is unethical, immoral and a violation of the hypocratic oath for a doctor to give you narcotics for an extended period of time and then say you have to "tough it out" to get clean. That is total bullsh*t. Call around and see if you can't find an addictionologist or at least a general practitioner that has some understanding of addiction and see if they will help you taper if you choose that route. If you have any treatment centers in your area (most larger hospitals have them), that would probably be a good place to start.

As far as me saying that cold turkey rarely works, I kinda wish I hadn't been so strong in that statement. You will see people on here all the time that have been able to get thru the W/Ds. However, my experience is that they are the exception as opposed to the rule. In my opinion, that is because the pain and depression is so intense that the thought of a little pill relieving the suffering is just too big a temptation to overcome when you hit the 2nd, 3rd or 4th day. I know it was for me. I would get to the point where I would just give in an say to myself that it was better to be addicted than to try and live that way.

I think I've really overstated the severity of W/Ds to you as well. Don't get me wrong, they are bad but they won't kill you unless you are also withdrawing from benzos (valium, etc.). It really is a humbling experience for me (which is good) to think that I can bench press a Mack truck but a little pill that weighs only fractions of an ounce could whip me.

I think the inpatient form of detox was the best for me because if I was in a controlled setting then I couldn't leave to get the drugs that I would crave so badly during the first few days of withdrawals. The typical inpatient stay is usually between 4-7 days. Up until a few years ago, they really took a medieval approach about detoxing and, basically, just made you suffer thru them as a "reminder" of what you had done to yourself. I think most places are much more sympathetic nowadays and they will at least give you some clonodine which is a blood pressure medication that will take some of the edge off but you will not be comfortable by any means. Some facilities even go so far as to give you benzos to help with the anxiety and sleep aids such as ambien.

During withdrawals you will experience deep muscle pain. I can't really describe the pain other than to say that it was so deep in my body that I couldn't massage where it was. You will also probably experience hot/cold sweats, restless legs (you just can't get comfortable), elevated blood pressure, lethargy (I felt like I was carrying a ton of bricks around on my back), slight fever, insomnia (which lasted a month for me) and, worst of all, depression. All of these symptoms can be managed with the right meds - valium, mega vitamins, clonodine, etc.-- and exercise. Gosh, I know I'm not painting a pretty picture but I'm telling you exactly what I experienced. I hope others will chime in and let you know their experiences (hopefully, some of those will be a little less dire than what I've told you).

Now, for the craving issue. Technically, the cravings actually go away after you are detoxed because your body is no longer needing the narcotics to function. However, the mental obsession will kick in after you have detoxed. This is when you think about the pills non-stop and is why you need to stay in touch with others that have been thru the same thing (i.e. AA/NA meetings). The mental obsession part (a lot of people, including myself, call it craving but the professionals say it is purely mental after detoxing) can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to years but they always get less and less frequent and less powerful the further you get from your last pill.

I really don't advocate AA over NA but have found that there is usually much more sobriety in the AA meetings so those are usually the ones I prefer because I like to hear the people that have been clean for 5, 10, 15 and more years share their experience, strength and hope. It is rare to find an NA meeting where you have that much clean time. I don't think that is because one is better than the other but more a function of the fact that AA has been around for so much longer than NA. Lots of addicts go to AA meetings only. Up until a few years ago, there were some AA meetings that wouldn't allow narcotics to be discussed. Those meetings, thank goodness, are few and far between now.

I think I've touched on just about everything you asked. If not (or if you have any additional questions), please ask away. I was very serious when I said I consider it a privilege to share my experience -- in fact, it helps me stay clean to do so. Also, if there are others out there that can add to what I've told Creeky, please drop a line.

Take care,
verylucky





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