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Hi Thatmonk. This is a long post, but I didn't want to exclude information that might be useful to you or others. I'm on Suboxone. I started at 12 mg a day and have decreased to 6 mg a day. When I try to go lower, I feel too much anxiety. I plan on tapering-off, but presently I am unemployed. The stress and anxiety of the job search makes this not the best time. Prior to taking Suboxone, I had been on other pain medicine - all due to a herniated disk in my lower back. Eventually I reached out for help with the pain meds addiction and back problem. I went to a medical practice that specializes in pain management and addiction. I found them by searching online for narcotics withdrawal help. They put me on Suboxone. After viewing an MRI results, they also gave an injection of anti-inflammation medicine near the herniated disk nerve endings. The injection lasts for a few months and completely removes all pain and inflammation.

My Suboxone prescription is renewed only by an office visit, usually monthly. The session lasts about 45 minutes with their Clinical Specialist/Therapist. She is very qualified and experienced with addiction treatment.

This Specialist told me a tapering-off plan based on Suboxone which has been successful with her other patients. The method uses a 3-day cycle. On days 1 and 2, decrease your normal daily intake by .5 mg, then on day 3 take the normal amount. For example, if the current daily intake is 6mg, take 5.5 mg on days 1 and 2, then on day 3 take 6 mg. Repeat the 3-day cycle over 2-weeks (5.5,5.5,6,5.5,5.5,6, etc.) For the next 2-week period, reduce all daily intakes by .5 mg. This works because Suboxone stays in the body more than a couple of days. On the 3-day cycle, little or no withdrawal symptoms should be felt on days 1 and 2. On day 3 when the symptoms are expected, you trick your body and return to the higher dose.

It seems the tapering-off plan takes too long, why not try a shorter period? The Specialist said a gradual tapering-off process is better so that a relapse to other narcotics or drugs is avoided. Also, a person with an addiction usually didn't get into that situation quickly - the process was most likely gradual as well. If a gradual taper-off process is used, the physical and psychological dependencies have a better chance of successful adjustment.

According to the Specialist, during the tapering-off process as the dose size decreases, there could be mild withdrawal symptoms, but these are usually manageable. Expect them. Other stresses may seem bigger than usual and challenge your coping skills. Hang in there. Consider taking an Advil or Alleve, it's amazing how much relief those give. After tapering-off, when there is no further routine Suboxone intake, there will be mild withdrawal symptoms that could last up to a few weeks. These will feel like a slight cold/flu. According to the Specialist's successful patients, don't give up if possible during this time. It does get better.

The Specialist suggests keeping Suboxone available after tapering-off. This helps in case the withdrawal intensity and symptoms are too much. Take the lowest dose you think is needed (.5 mg?). Relief should be felt within 15-20 minutes and the adverse symptoms should decrease - they may not disappear, but decide if you can tough it out or need to take more Suboxone. Don't think this is failure, it may be necessary to adjust your expectations of your body's withdrawal process from the power of the addiction.

Stretch it out: my idea of gaining control over my addiction is to stretch out time between taking Suboxone. I don't take all 6 mg at once each day. 2 mg can be taken every 8 hours. I found I could extend the times to 2 mg every 10 or 12 hours, etc. Stretching out the doses helps prepare for the tapering-off process. Keep busy and don't watch the clock.

Take only when needed: another idea I've used is to take a low dose of Suboxone only when initial withdrawal symptoms are felt. Instead of taking the pill at a certain time, question yourself if it's really necessary then, or could you wait a little longer? This idea reminds me of dieting: am I eating because the clock says it is meal time, or I am eating because my stomach is empty and growling?

For low daily doses of Suboxone, 2mg pills may be prescribed instead of 8 mg pills. Dividing the 8 mg pills into 4 parts may not always be equal, and this could impact your tapering-off process. The theory is to have better control of the intake amount when dealing with smaller doses. Perhaps buy a pill cutter at your pharmacy to have better control cutting either the 2 mg or 8 mg pills. FYI: the 2 mg pills might cost more.

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