View Full Version : Percoset withdrawal nightmare

12-12-2010, 04:25 PM
I was trying to lengthen the time between doses of Percoset, and noticed that I couldn't get to 6 hours without disabling pain. Then I noticed that a lot of the pain was in places that shouldn't hurt -- shoulders, knees, feet. I figured I'd developed not only a dependency, but a tolerance to this horrible drug, and tried cutting the pills in half for a day, followed by quitting completely. After five days of withdrawal symptoms that got worse and worse, I called my pain management doctor, who prescribed Clonidine to reduce the symptoms while I completed withdrawal.

Clonidine was a whole new nightmare in itself. Incredible dry mouth. Still couldn't sleep. Irrational thoughts and obsessive thinking. Weakness, faintness, no appetite, and still with some Percoset withdrawal symptoms too. The topper was today when I finally went to the pharmacy to check my blood pressure, and it was 81/48. No wonder I felt so terrible.
Perhaps these doctors should monitor Clonidine more closely, especially if the person they give it to only weighs 110 pounds and has a normal blood pressure of 110/58, which is normal but on the low side to begin with. I could have ended up with kidney damage.

My last dose was 3:00 a.m. today. I still feel weak, but the Perc withdrawal has lessened, since it's run its course pretty much. Good luck to all trying to get off this drug! It's probably better to be more patient than I was, and wait it out with decreasing doses. I just couldn't stand it anymore. Looking forward to feeling human again. Oh, and my back barely hurts at all now, almost seven weeks out. I probably could have stopped the painkiller a long time ago, only the dependence/tolerance on the Percoset was causing me to feel bogus pain whenever I tried to taper off. Lesson learned.

12-12-2010, 04:37 PM
Well that's good you are almost over it, and happy to hear you're doing well otherwise being 7 wks post op. Drug dependence is tough one. My doctor is known for not being a big pain killer prescriber. I left the hospital with only a prescription of hydrocodone 5mgs. Had to deal with a little more pain with only hydrocodone but didn't have to worry about dependence on stronger stuff. A good heads up post to those going in to surgery. Either feel more comfortable post op and have to be careful about getting off the pain killers, or be less comfortable and not have to worry about dependence. I'm 10 wks post op and back is doing very well.

12-12-2010, 07:01 PM
Regulating the pain meds. is one of my bigger worries. I want to control the pain enough that I feel like I can walk as often as I should, but I worry about the constipation caused by the pain meds. as well as the possibility of going through withdrawal. It's easy to think that it would never happen to me, but I'm sure Bad Kitty never thought she'd have a problem weaning either.

12-12-2010, 08:05 PM

I was also prescribed that drug to 'help' with the withdrawls. When I picked it up the pharmacist told me to take it right before bed because it could lower my BP and he didn't want me to fall over. I paid for the stuff, brought it home and reconsidered, because like you, I have naturally low BP and didn't want to take the risk. I also had that wierd paid in strange places that shouldn't have been hurting.

It sounds like you're almost there. Within a week or so, I bet you'll feel like a million bucks!

12-12-2010, 08:32 PM
sometimes doctors will slow down the weaning process to try to slow the withdrawal symptoms...and some meds have a worse withdrawal than others..
it sounds like the worst is over for you...
i hope it gets easier and better as the days pass...


12-12-2010, 08:42 PM
well i agree with Jess on this one most doctors slow the time of the getting off pain meds

12-12-2010, 08:48 PM
Thanks, everyone! Since I'm "med-free" now, I hope this was the last major hurdle.
I never thought I'd have a problem with this ... but this evening I feel SO much better already! I even went out to dinner with the family ... a first since surgery!
Back to the walking program tomorrow, after having been laid low for almost a WEEK!

12-12-2010, 09:34 PM
What a relief to be off the big time pain meds! Going off of them was very uncomfortable for me, even though I thought I was doing it very slowly. I felt just plain YUUUUCKY and depressed for about a week - I had to wrack my brain to think of one thing I felt like eating. I hope every day is better and better for you!

12-12-2010, 09:37 PM
Oooh those withdrawals were hell. It's an amazing feeling when the symptoms disappear and you start to feel GREAT again. Glad to hear the worst is over now.

12-13-2010, 01:31 AM

It seems that 6 weeks is the average time that posters post about this subject matter. In fact, its so predictable.

If you are off, stay off and replace with nutrients. I started with my protein smoothies and a few days later felt so much better.....

There are increased pain periods upon termination, this usually happens for 2 to 3 days. Drink water to flush from your kidneys. Replace the chemicals with nutrients, your body will heal.

Hang in there, this is the last hurdle.

12-13-2010, 01:38 AM
It took me 3 days to kick it. It was horrible with no sleep. I still take pain meds when I over do it, but I never take them two days in a row. I started back to the gym, so I had some pain on some days, but I only take them every other day. I don't want to ever get hooked again. I did see that our local news station interview a person who had harrington rod surgery, who was promoting medical marijuana. He looked like she was just using it as an excuse.


12-13-2010, 02:34 AM

I agree. She is using it as an excuse, and she would know after going through a scoli surgery that it takes major sedation to battle major “pain” levels....


I was up to 100mg of percs which drops down near fentanyl levels on the chart. Where would weed be on the chart? Notice that morphine=1.

I still like a hot water soak for pain. There really isn’t anything for major bone and nerve pain on the market. My pain levels were excruciating after my corpectomies... It was a test of faith.

On the gym workout question, I have not seen any literature on building muscle mass after fusion surgery. I think the best approach is to take it real slow, and feel things out. It took me awhile to build up my skiing muscles, it was a slow process. Since I had an incredibly painful “soft tissue” injury which felt like a soldering iron for 14 days, I would move slow on this and stage at least 2 days. Don’t workout every day. I enjoyed the arm bike for paraspinal “toughening” and the pull-up machine, which doesn’t require force on the lower spine.

12-13-2010, 04:49 AM
years ago, i was given fentynl patches...(haven't had surgery)...for pain...i hated them...stopped using them myself (hadn't use many)...later they were pulled off market for defects...

i also know that at times, marijuana, medical or otherwise, can cause a person to become more aware of certain types of pain, and the substance does not serve any useful purpose in terms of pain relief...

there are some personality types who will use more rather than less of pain medication without concern for tolerance or dependence levels developing...others fear dependence so much they may under use the pain medication...anyone can become dependent on the stuff...but some are more careful about taking the meds than others...

but it is a tough situation to be in, when pain becomes so overwhelming!


12-13-2010, 07:51 AM
Such a timely thread!

Since my hardware removal surgery (11/2) I have been fairly miserable. I am taking Oxycontin 20mg and Lyrica 75mg, morning and night, and Oxycodone 5mg for breakthrough pain. I had cut back to 2 oxycodone/day, but my pain level increased about 2 weeks ago, so I was taking usu 4/day. On Thurs, I had a 2 hr dental appt. I took 3 in anticipation of the appt, then maybe a 3 more later in the evening. My back, by evening, was starting to let me know that it didn't appreciate 2 hrs in that chair. By Fri am, my lumbar pain (which usually exists on a low level these days) was substantial. But, because I felt that I had so much of that crap in me, on Fri, I only took my Oxycontin and Lyrica. As the day progressed, the spasms were worse. By late afternoon, I could hardly walk. I continued taking only my scheduled meds. On Sat, I was still in a lot of pain. By late Sat afternoon, my husband commented that not only was I clearly in pain, I looked sick. . .my color was funny. That's when he said, "I think you're going through withdrawal". So, I took an oxycodone and felt maybe a bit of pain relief, but felt generally better. Yesterday, I went ahead and took 1 in the early afternoon and 1 in the evening.

If you've suffered through reading all of that, what I am looking for is advice.

Does this sound reasonable? I am not sure that taking a single, or even 2, oxycodones is really providing adequate relief for breakthrough pain, at least not enough to warrant their use. I'm not totally sure that the Oxycontin is doing much, either. My hope is to, slowly, be down to next-to-nothing/nothing by the end of the week, other than Tylenol. I'm curious if my pain is pretty much the same, with or without this stuff, unless I go to higher dosages. My husband suggests that, if I'm not significantly better in a month, I try a pain clinic.

I have learned a lot reading people's histories here. Am I looking at this correctly? Has anyone else said, basically, I'm in pain with or without the pain meds I'm taking, so "without" is a reasonable choice - even if there is some relief with the scheduled Oxycontin and the 4 - 6 Oxycodone/day. . .is that "some relief" worth the side effects?

I see my surgeon this afternoon. I look forward to hearing what he thinks is going on - I did not expect to be in this much pain (not including the situational spike in lumbar pain on Fri - Sun) 1 1/2 mos post a "simple" hardware removal.

I hope to hear everyone's feedback. For now, since I have this appt, I have to go and try to figure out how to shave my legs. :) (On Sat, I gave it a try, and the logistics were daunting , so I decided that I'd get them waxed this morning - ouch! - but we ended up with a blizzard, so extra driving around isn't a good idea.) Tomorrow afternoon, I have a 45 min dental appt. Drat.

12-13-2010, 08:04 AM
i think your surgeon is the best one to ask about your situation...he could refer you to a pain management doctor if he thinks it would help...but you are so EARLY from your surgery date!! and i dont think there is any "simple" surgery when it comes to scoliosis!!!

i have not had scoli surgery...yet...and i am on oxy when needed, and hydrocodone daily!


12-13-2010, 03:01 PM
That clonidine is BAD. Low blood pressure can lead to kidney failure. My kidneys had almost shut down in only 30 hours, trying to keep my blood volume up enough to keep me conscious. It made me feel worse than the withdrawal. I advise avoiding it if you have low-normal pressure, or at least talk to the doctor about cutting it in half (the lowest dose pill is 0.1 mg - too much for me).

I'm done with pain meds! My spine feels great, bone-wise. The muscles in the lumbar area spasm and ache a bit, but not nearly enough to take anything but Tylenol if I think of it. Not quite ready to give up my four pillows yet, though I tried -- I guess the muscles need to heal a bit more before giving up that extra support at the waist/hip curve.

I still feel a little shaky today from the low blood pressure episode, and still with a bit of withdrawal a week out from quitting --- mainly sleeplessness (I have to FORCE myself to stop thinking at night), hot & cold, and that nasty burning skin feeling, but not as bad.

For me, quitting the pain meds was much harder to deal with than the surgical pain and adjustment, and learning to move differently (which can only get easier). If you have surgery coming up, PLAN AHEAD about how you are going to manage this.

12-14-2010, 11:56 AM
Juliet, I am so sorry to hear of your pain med nightmare. To say that was worse than dealing with your post surgi pain says it all. I am glad you are on the other side, eating, and with a clear head.

I was on so many pain meds while I was in the hospital for 19 days so when I got home I was frightened to stop, but I tapered off the Percocet within the 1st 10 days of being home. Thank goodness.

I thought med marijuana was more for appetite and not pain management? The pain pills do make you anorexic so I can see how it could help!

12-14-2010, 07:03 PM
Thanks for sharing all of your stories, so that we are prepared. Knowledge is the best weapon!

This is honestly one of the things I most fear. My doc says I don't have an addictive personality, so she isn't too concerned about me getting off the meds. I have to be limping, and dragging my foot and stumbling before I resort to a vicodin. But still....

I hate pain meds. But I know they are necessary for a short time frame. It really helps to ease my mind having my husband here to help me. He is a pharmacist, and a very compassionate one, so he knows the ropes. He is amazing and will help me deal with it.

27 days to go!!! Aye yi yi...

12-14-2010, 08:47 PM
Jenee, I'm with you. Pain meds have their purpose but they have such awful side effects. Its great that your husband is a pharmacist. Who is performing your surgery?

12-17-2010, 02:11 PM
Almost two weeks, and finally able to get some sleep with the help of Bendryl and melatonin (thanks to suggestions from my friendly pharmacist)!

12-18-2010, 07:06 PM
Laurie, Dr. Kathleen Moore is doing mine. I know this is a relatively small town, but it is full of great doctors who have moved here from the cities to enjoy our quality of life. (We have been one of the fastest growing cities in the nation for the last decade or so...) She did her internship in Minneapolis, at the spine center there. She was under some of the best doctors, from what I've heard. (I've researched online about her, and read some of her papers.)
Our teaching hospital in the state, OHSU, (Oregon Health Sciences University) has even sent people down to her. She has a very good reputation. She and her husband have a non-profit organization where they do free surgeries on children with severe scoliosis who don't have insurance. They are such warm, gentle, caring people. Very patient, and takes all the time in the world with me. I adore her, and I totally trust her, which is 90% of the battle for me. I have seen several that I just didn't feel 100% ok with.... It seems like you hear both good and bad about all doctors, but in all these years, I have never heard one bad opinion of her or her work. Even from the nurses I know. So I feel pretty good about being in good hands!

Juliet, I'm glad you found some sleep!! Hooray!! Should have known it would be the pharmacist that would help..... however, I MAY be a bit biased!!!

12-18-2010, 07:11 PM
Oh, I forgot to tell you that I went to UC Davis when I was a teen. They were the folks who talked my parents out of surgery. I was seeing a doctor (in another town) that really didn't know what to do with me, and thought surgery was the only option. The Dr. at UCD felt it was better to wait until I had more problems, and to allow technology to advance. I need to send them a big thank you!!! I wish I remember who I saw. I know he looked just like Tim Conway. Kinda funny for a surgeon......

12-23-2010, 08:15 AM
I had so much trouble with pain when I was on the Oxycontin. It was like the pain was amplified when I did have a little it felt HUGE. I was also on Percocet when I came home but my doc took me down to vicodin reg strength at 3 weeks postop (still I was on the oxycontin twice daily) I finally just stopped it all and for 2 days it was AWFUL, then gradually got better and just took the vicodin prn and flexeril at bedtime. It sounds like you are on the right road and starting to enjoy life. Peace to you.

12-23-2010, 10:11 AM
i have 30 mg oxy and it gives me general relief, to the point that i can move...i never take it 2 days in a row, and try not to take it unless i am desperate!
i have not had surgery...yet...but my waist is starting to look like the pre-op pix on here!

i also have hydrocodone for usual pain days...
i don't get constipated from the pain meds...i said before that i have a weird stomach...
BUT...the side effect i suffer from is ZERO appetite...i've lost a lot of weight...down to 93 pounds, up from previous 87 that i sunk to! i do not understand, personally, how everyone on the pain meds doesn't lose the same amount of weight that i have! i just can not eat! i guess everyone is just different...
i've stopped meds for a few days at a time...biggest result is extreme pain in spine....