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Hello, I am glad I found this forum. I know that many people share the same problem that I do, and I really need to know what I can do. I am hooked on narcotic pain medication and benzodiazepines. I have fallen into a deep depression and I really don't see any hope for me to get thru this. I want to know if there is a way.

This is my story-

Two and a half years ago my girlfriend of 4 years dumped me for another man. I was madly in love with her, and I was heartbroken. Not too long after that, a very dear friend of mine passed away.

While I was battling with depression, one day I threw out my back lifting some boxes. I was in extreme physical pain, along with the emotional pain. I saw my doctor and was prescribed Vicodin for about a week. When I took my first pill, not only did it greatly help the pain in my back, but it helped me to forget about the emotional pain I was dealing with. I'm sure many of you know what I am talking about.

Once the pill would wear off, I would start to feel the emotional and physical pain again. All I had to do was take another pill, wait 15-20 minutes, and magically all the pain disappeared. I could think about my ex girlfriend and not be sad. I would think of my friend who died and would not break down into tears anymore.

When my prescription ran out, I had to get more. My doctor became aware that I was severely depressed and would not prescribe any narcotic pain medication to me anymore. For my back pain he put me on 800mg Ibuprofen. He recommended antidepressants, which I refused.

An accquaintance of mine had a friend who was a pharmacist. He overheard me mentioning in a conversation with another friend that my doctor took me off Vicodin, and he pulled me aside and asked me if I wanted to buy some. I bought 30 of the strongest 10 mg tablets, which lasted me about two weeks. When I ran out of the pills, I started to feel ill. I knew nothing about withdrawal at the time, and didn't think I would become dependant taking only 2-3 pills a day for a couple of weeks.

Needless to say, the minor withdrawal along with the mental trauma was too much to bear, and I started buying more and more vicodin. One year later I was taking 10 Vicodin per day. I had tried tapering down, but I was unable to do it. I couldn't handle the withdrawals. I saw a psychologist, and he got me checked into detox.

Detox lasted a week. When I checked out of detox, I did not sleep for 6 days. I was steel feeling withdrawals, depression, and anxiety. My legs ached so badly. On the 7th day of absoloutely no sleep at all, I started to hallucinate, and was starting to go crazy. I spoke with my doctor, and he prescribed me Halcion.

Although I was able to sleep taking Halcion, I still felt withdrawals from vicodin for over two months. For sleep medication, I went from Halcion to Ambien, back to Halcion. When I stopped taking the sleep medication, I would go another few days without sleep until I gave in and got my prescription refilled.

Although I was building a dependance on Halcion, gradually the remnants of Vicodin withdrawal started to go away. I still had the chills and restless legs.

Around that time, my bad back started to act up again. I was in extreme pain. Ibuprofen didn't work, and I couldn't function. I spoke to my doctor in desperation, and asked if there was any pain medication that was non narcotic, that would help with my back. He told me about Tramadol (Ultram). He said it was a non-narcotic medication that was fairly strong, and there is dependance only in very rare cases. I jumped at the opportunity.

When I took my first pill, I immediately thought that it was too good to be true. The pain relieving effects of Tramadol were similar to vicodin, but on a milder scale. My mood was also slightly elevated. My doctor reassured me that there was nothing to worry about. I took it for two months, and when I stopped taking it, sure enough I went through withdrawal.

I did a search on the internet, came across a few websites that said that Tramadol has no withdrawal, so I was puzzled. After a more in depth search, I read testimonies of people who were dependant on it. Turns out it's just as bad as vicodin.

I talked to my doctor about it, and he told me to just stay on the Tramadol, because it was helping my pain, and that we would worry about tapering down later. I didn't feel confident, but I took his advice.

I have been taking 6 tramadol per day for about a year now. Two months ago, my doctor admitted that he was not aware that Tramadol was addictive, and that he had kind of been fooled. He told me that Tramadol turned out to be a narcotic pain medication. It wasn't helping my back pain anymore since I had gotten so used to it, so my doctor prescribed me Darvocet to be taken with the tramadol. Now I am at 6 Tramadol per day, along with 3-4 Darvocet. At the same time, I have been taking benzodiazepines for sleep, for close to a year now. I don't take Halcion anymore, now I take Restoril. This is the worst I have ever been with addiction. My doctor doesn't really know how to deal with my dependancy, except for tapering down, but he knows I am unable to. Withdrawal from benzos is just as bad as withdrawals from the pain meds. Both of them combined, I know can kill me.

I am really starting to fear for my life now. I am a young man and in such a horrible mess. I still have strong back pain, but I know that my body cannot handle these drugs much longer. How can I get off both pain meds and benzos??? I need all the advice I can get.
Nprob, Your situation is a difficult one. While it is possible to home detox, you should likely consider professional rehab assistance. Your situation is complicated by the fact tht you are taking high levels of several different drugs . It is difficult to detox from any one of them. In my opinion and personal experience, benzodiazepines are the hardest to detox from, followed by the Tramadol, followed by Vicodin. When benzos are taken long term they actually alter your brain chemistry and functioning. Benzo detox WDs are very difficult for most. Whatever, you do not abruptly stop either the benzo or the Tramadol; both have risks of seizure if suddenly stopped after long term useage. There are extended post detox WDs associated with both the benzo and Tramadol.

Your situation is further complicated by your back pain. It seems, from what you describe, that you are unable to cope with the pain without pain medication. You really need to sit down and have an honest assessment with yourself about that. Are you giving into the pain because that is your justification to take the drugs? Many times once a dependency has formed your mind tricks you into believing that you can not cope with the pain so that you will provide the drug. It is a crazy maddening part of the dependency cycle where the body actually turns on itself and produces increased pain levels not from an injury but to recreate pain so that you will provide external drug relief. Everyone experiences increased pain levels and sleepsless nights during detox. In post detox the exacerbated detox pain and sleeplessness usually eventually lessens. Those who were taking pain medication for chronic pain will continue to experience pain on some level because your underlying pain source remains unchanged. It is a personal challenge to determine if one can find alternative options to work with and/or cope with that pain. It is the only alternative to pain medication; only you know if it is something you can live with. If your pain level is such that you must be on pain medication support then you really need to be under the care of a GOOD pain management specialist, not just a gp doctor. Be aware that ALL pain management drugs have risks of drug tolerance dependency and risks of addiction. It is an absolute part of pain management drugs. To be on pain management drugs and manage risks long term, a pain management specialist needs to monitor you to ensure there is a rotation of drug types and dosing schedules in accordance with your chemistry. Whatever your recommended treatment plan, exercise caution and do your own independent research online as several pain management specialists run their pain management operations like pill mills ....just keep stepping you up in dose and type of drug as dependency builds. A good specialist will develop a program of periodic "drug~fasts" (mini~home detox) to disrupt the building of the dependency cycle. For many, that is usually every 7-10 days you need to be detox off for 1-3 days---you will just have to experiment with your chemistry whether it takes 1, 2, or 3 days to disrupt your dependency potential cycle. It also helps to disrupt the cycle to not take doses at the same time every not provide the body with "predictable cycles" of dosing or detoxing....the goal is to keep brain signals confused and disrupted so the dependency cycle does not firmly root. It may sound crazy, but the mind works in very odd ways. It works as a creature of habit and predictability and in need of a routine to find its comfort zone where it can cruise on auto pilot with less stress of uncertainties. Everyone can related to the experience that if you do a certain thing at the same time each day the mind/body will begin to expect it and provide you feedback signals (could be physical and/or emotional) of some sort if the expected thing is missed.......whether that "expected thing" is eating breakfast, jogging, coffee........or taking a pill. For those reading, as it relates to pain drugs, keep the cycle confused and disrupted as much as you can from the beginning....once, the tolerance dependency cycle has formed it becomes very difficult to stretch dosing times w/o experiencing mini WDs between doses. If you are already experiencing dosing mini WDs it is CRITICAL that you do a 1, 2, or 3 day drug~fast NOT allow the dependency cycle to keep building strength!!! It is like a hurricane building strength in your body. The longer you let it go the more difficult you are making it for yourself later as all roads lead to the eventual same place with painkillers---DETOX (professional or home)

Nprob, for your situation, only you know if you have the personal strength and fortitude to endure home detox. Since you previously had professional detox support, felt you had to return to pain meds thereafter, and are coping with multi-drug dependency that may have evolved into an addiction (there is a clinical difference between dependency and addiction), you may need to seriously contemplate professional support assistance, especially when two of the drugs involve potential seizure risks. If you choose to try the home detox, definitely review and follow the ASHTON manual guidelines, but it relates to benzo detox---not the Tramadol as it is not a benzo.
npro9b - I had the same problem with vicodin that you are having with the tramadol and darvocet. They don't touch the pain anymore and you can't go off of them because of w/d AND because you need to be on pain meds for your pain condition. I had the same trouble. No matter how much I wanted OFF pain meds 100% it wasn't an option due to my pain problem.

My doctors have put me on methadone. It is workin great for me! It works better on my pain than ANY other pain med has in the past 7 years. It has also prevented me from going thru any w/d goin off the vicodin. I have NO desire for any other pills. Also, the methadone does not give me any sort of a buzz so I can take it as prescribed. I'm only at 50mg too. Yes, methadone is a narcotic and you will develop a physical dependency on it..but I do not feel that addiction that I felt with other opiates that gave me a buzz, etc... this just feels like medicine pure and simple. I take it, feel completely normal still but my pain goes away.

It sucks to have to take ANY meds....but I have no choice unless I want to be in disabling pain. If you are goign thru the same thing methadone is definitely worht talking to your doctor about.

If your doctor is not comfortable dealing with all of this, you might want to consider getting into a pain managment clinic. Taht is where I go now. My PM doctor is the one that put me on the methadone. Some family practice doc's aren't comfortable OR familiar with prescribing or knowing how to properly dose methadone (for example, my PM doctor starts at NO lower than 30mg for every patient, then goes up as needed from there, anything lower is a "nothing" dose in her words) so you have to be careful with that.

Good luck!
Tina :)

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