I just wrote this letter in response to a note I received from a guy who was quitting oxy some time ago. I can't send it to the original note-writer, because his profile doesn't allow me to send him messages, so instead, this letter is here for others who are quitting opiates. Whether it be norcos, oxy, heroin, or some other opiate, I wish you the best!
Dear Friend About to Quit Opiates,
Getting off opiates is really sucky- no lie!!! But it's *not* impossible. And it is SOOO worth it. You can totally do it!!!! (I know because I did it, and I'm a lazy ass who loved getting loaded. If I could do it, you can do it!)
Buprenorphine is a lifesaver. You can go to your Dr. and get a 'scrip for it with no problems. If you follow with cannabis as a weaning drug, your physical discomfort will be further lessened.
I utilized valium to help with sleep and stress, however, you have to be very careful with dosing when you combine the bupe with the valium. I gave myself 1/4 as much valium as usual, I believe. Herbs are safer and I discuss them below. Do your own research. Then call your Dr. and ask for his opinion. Then proceed onward bravely. And, as with all chemicals, YMMV.
I don't remember at the moment, however, I know I took a bunch of vitamins and supplements. You can find them fairly easily if you look online. Emergen-C will help with the depression and fatigue. Don't take that one close to bed, though, as it can keep one awake. I wrote down what other supplements I took somewhere and I will happily look them up for you if you have need. Just let me know.
As far as mental/spiritual strength- always keep in mind the person you are aiming to be. It helps to visualize this healthy person a great deal. Your thoughts have great power to change your physical form, and there is a great joy in being able to create yourself anew. You will be that person who is healthy and opiate free. If you see it, you can become it.
If you are a faithful person, I recommend that you pray constantly throughout the quitting process to whatever Higher Power you believe in. If you have none, I recommend that you constantly keep in mind the healthy person that you are wanting to be, and focus on what you love in yourself. Keep telling yourself that you are doing the most loving thing for yourself, and the process is a lot easier.
It helped me to keep around images that were comforting- lots of Kuan Yin, Jesus, Mary, Freyja and Buddha for me =). Nature photos are good. Soft colors are really helpful- soothing blues and greens rock. Mandala or other positively themed coloring books are good for meditative escapes. Keep books nearby for inspiration. You might make a 'quitting project' to find one inspirational quote a day and make a piece of art from it. Art will help pass painful time in a more pleasant manner.
I kept a mandala hanging on the wall over my bed when I was recovering. It has a deep rich, blue background with pink lotuses framing a large lotus mandala with an Om sign on the innermost part. It was very healing, and I still have it on my wall today. I highly recommend you get yourself a similarly beautiful and inspirational talisman.
Pretty surroundings always help. If you are like I was you won't be very strong and active for a while, so make yourself a nice room to be sick in. Having towels and a blanket handy is very good.
A common symptom of opiate withdrawal is hot flashes followed by cold sweats. After soaking a few blankets, I changed my tactic and went through *alot* of towels. Wrap a blanket around a towel so you can sweat into the towel- it's more easily washed than the blanket. When you get hot, you can use the towel to fan yourself gently, dropping the blanket behind you. After the sweat breaks and you are cold, you can whip on the blanket really quick. You'll be warm as toast and feeling nice after you master this. =)
Hot baths are amazing. They were the only true relief I felt for about 2 weeks or so, if memory serves. The water just short of scalding felt really good to stop the muscle pain and the gooseflesh. =) Epsom salts will help with the muscular pains as well. Lavender is very relaxing, and rosemary is good for strength and purification. =) You can sprinkle both fresh herbs in the bath for some cheap, effective aromatherapy. Or, if you've got more than two coins to rub together, get yourself the essential oils of both of these and use as needed.
Lavender sprinkled on the pillow at night is helpful for sleep. Some herbal sleeping pills are very good to have on hand. There is a particular type of liquid gels at Whole Foods which has valerian and CA poppy in it which is very effective. They also double during the day as withdrawal decreasers as both herbs are very soothing for the particular receptor sites which are affected when you quit. Also helpful for sleeping is GABA and melatonin. Those are much safer than the valium and unlike valium, you can take them with the bupe with no problem that I am aware of. Of course, check with your Dr.. I recommend going natural before anything else.
When I was quitting, I spent about 2 weeks just barely able to make it down my 11 stairs to water my pot plants in the downstairs bathroom ::grins::. It was my daily project and helped to keep me sane. It was the fact that I loved the plants, and that they were living things, dependent on me for life that really helped to move me. The fact that I was dependent on them for my medicine helped motivate me even more, and kept me moving, and grateful for those few weeks when the whole world felt like black, red, and grey painful ooze.
Speaking of painful things, having a psychologist or therapist handy if you need to talk is a really good idea. I believe things would have gone far more smoothly if I had a therapist. I was talking to a nurse friend the whole time, and am very happy about that. If possible, medical supervision is always advised.
And that's the other thing I recommend- if you live in a state that allows medical cannabis, get yourself a prescription. Then get yourself a bunch of oral cannabis and hash to smoke. And grow some plants, while you are at it!
If I hadn't had marijuana, I believe that I would not be off opiates today. Cannabis helped me *so* *much* with the pain of opiate withdrawal, it was nutty. We're talking the pain of withdrawal went down from a screaming 10 to a livable 7 with cannabis. We are talking that cannabis is cheese on macaroni good here. Your pain being the macaroni, and the cheese being a soothing, delicious, orange blanket of mellow comfort and strength for your soul. It's that good. Get your 'scrip, and then get with the quitting of opiates! Nothing can make the quitting process comfortable, but it can be quite tolerable with a lot of prayer, patience, and cannabis.
Do keep in mind that cannabis is mentally addictive, and watch yourself with care. Don't get too worried if you get a wee hankering for the humble Weed, though. A cannabis quit is to an opiate quit as a quiet party with a few good friends and a bottle of wine at home is to a raging frat party where your best friend is puking in the bushes, and the cops have been called is. The cannabis quit is far less colorful, far more manageable, far less noisy, and definitely more laid back.
Cannabis and dancing can really help get you over your withdrawals in an easier and more joyful fashion. A few days into my quit, I found myself covered in sweat in a corner of my 'kicking room'. The fresh towel which covered me was soaked in sweat within a half-minute of putting it on. My muscles felt like they were pulling themselves in 1,000 different directions at once. None of them in the way they were meant to go. It was the worst pain I'd ever felt.
I clutched the soaked towel tightly around my shoulders. I folded myself in half on the floor, sitting Indian style with my nose pressing against the carpet. I sobbed as silently as I could so my husband down the hall wouldn't be disturbed and come looking and find me there- looking like the wretched addict that I was.
I realized at that moment while staring at the carpet which the tip of my nose was buried against, that I was in so much pain, it couldn't get any worse. I had hit the 'rock bottom' of the pain well. My pain was so bad that it could *only* be improved by movement, so I very slowly vaped up two bags of cannabis swiftly. Then, I turned on some Aerosmith, prayed intensely, and then got up and danced out my pain.
I took the 'fire' in my skin and made it into 'fire' in my muscles and mentally gave my heart to my God at the same time. The fire in the muscles felt better. The fire on the skin still danced, but was not really touching me. I prayed to Shiva with all my heart, mind, soul, and body and asked Him to destroy my pain and free me from my addiction. I felt no pain in that dance. I knew only the ecstasy of the dance, and fierce joy in the knowledge that no amount of pain could stop my will to get healthy.
It was amazing, and it works. I am still an ecstatic today, and believe I will be for the rest of my life.
You will find your own methods for occupying painful time: very slow walks and meditations in nature were very helpful for me. Some people favor watching a bunch of movies and spacing out that way.
Either way, you're getting out of opiate hell.
Do what you need to do to get you through. =)
Then stick with your health.
Massage is amazing for quitting and recovery. If you have a willing partner, foot rubs will really help. A foot rub is nice because the rest of you will be sweating a great deal, and if the friend is rubbing your feet, they are getting all the acupressure points you need to help soothe both your physical and energetic bodies.
I can assure you that as someone who has gone through it, all the pain is *ENTIRELY* worth it. I feel SO good now it's amazing. I believe that my good health today is a miracle, quite frankly. I sincerely hope and pray that you find your own! =)
Your maintenance program will be very important. Even after going through withdrawal hell, many addicts go back to opiates because of the depression and the boredom. I completely got over this problem through prayer, meditation, diet and exercise.
I started going to the gym and jogging after I quit in order to raise my serotonin levels, however, a very specific sort of exercise has truly helped me stay clean, and that exercise is Bikram yoga.
Bikram yoga seems to work for many recovering addicts. I found it about 2 months into my sobriety from opiates. I wish I'd found it sooner, though! Bikram yoga boosts the amounts of oxygen in your blood, thereby allowing your body to heal itself faster than it would normally. I found the heat in the hot room was really excellent for stress relief, and after a few weeks, I started using it as a regular maintenance program for cravings. In a social psych class, I learned that it's a fairly useful psychological technique for changing a behavior to substitute a healthy, positive behavior in place of a negative behavior. This should be done in a way so that it's incompatible to do the negative behavior at the same time. So, if I wanted to take opiates, I'd go do yoga.
After a few weeks of doing the yoga, it became a habit. Today, I teach Bikram method yoga because it worked so well for me. =) If you have a Bikram studio nearby- check it out. Other types of yoga will of course, work, but they just take longer.
I wish you joy and success, Fellow Opiate Addict Who is Ready to Quit. Please feel free to write me if you have any questions.
BrIGhteSt BleSsiNGs, God Speed, and *Namaste*!