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Thread: Question about methadone for pain relief

  1. #1
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    Question about methadone for pain relief

    My doctor put me on a combination of oxycodone and methadone to help with pain. The methadone was described to me as being long lasting. I got the script filled and looked at the patient insert info. Normally I do not freak out over these warnings because they can make even the most innocuous of medications seem potentially fatal, but the methadone has a warning in bold print that it can cause breathing problems, respiratory distress, and a cessation of breathing in some patients who have not built up a tolerance. My doctor is a primary doc, not particularly knowledgeable about SCI, but a good overall doctor. As a quad should I be scared of taking this medication? I had it filled yesterday but have been too nervous to take any yet. Thank you.

  2. #2
    Hi Eileen, All the narcs cause respiratory depression. I wouldn't worry about the methadone and it may be very helpful to you.. I just would have healthy respect for it. The tricky thing about methadone is that it has a half life of 55 hours. That is over 2 days. So you can get in trouble if you take too much and then take something else on top of that. But it is also great that it has a long half life because that is what makes it a long acting pain med. So I wouldn't increase the dose too rapidly. Stay on a particular regime for many days before upping it - at least 4 days. But it doesn't really cause any more respiratory depression than short acting oxycodone. It is only tricky because it stays in your system for such a long time. What did your primary doc write for you? How much per day?

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    Senior Member rdf's Avatar
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    Because of the long half-life, it's hell when/if you decide to stop. Many heroin addicts say it's more difficult to stop Methadone than heroin.
    Please donate a dollar a day at http://justadollarplease.org.
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    Senior Member StevieP's Avatar
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    Eileen
    I have had a great effect from the methadone on my pain. at first I had a freak out thought that I would never ever sleep again and I could never ever tell any one or they would never ever sleep again, but then I sat up and realized i was just sleeping woke up and went back to sleep. I was trippin hard. Kinda fun when I realized it. Dr said we need to slow down on the ramping up. I take 5mg 3x a day now. The Neurontin is what was messing me up causing me to have what I call Turrets of my hands (my muscles would let go (relax) all of the sudden and I would drop stuff stopped as soon as I quit taken the Neurontin. now I am taking Topamax I think it is called. I like the Methadone it works for me and no side effects.

    Stevie P

  5. #5
    I agree with Arndog, Methadone is a great pain med - and docs do need to be extra careful with it.

    The thing with methadone, is that it's hard to convert the dose from another opioid - there isn't really a direct conversion, people respond differently to it. So basically, they need to start you at quite a low dose, and increase it slowly. As long as that's done, and they are careful, it's a really effective pain med.

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    Thank you so much for your responses.

    Arndog, the doc wrote the script for 5mg twice a day, with the oxycodone to be used for breakthrough pain.

    rdf, I had wondered about the addictive effect of methadone, but to be honest if it can do something to help my pain it is probably worth it. It feels a little funny to even think of being on methadone, mostly because I once worked in a place that dispensed it to addicts, so that has been my only previous exposure.

    Stevie, thanks for letting me know your experience. It is remarkably helpful to hear from someone taking it. I was on Neurontin for awhile and it played havoc with my stomach, so I stopped taking it. Hopefully the combo of methadone and oxycodone will work better.

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    Thanks Tam!

  8. #8
    Eileen - 5mg twice a day is a safe way to start. It has been over 5 years since I was prescribed it but I was impressed that it helped with pain without euphoria which was good.
    I agree with RDF that getting off methadone is hard but no harder than the duragesic patches. But if it can give you help now, I wouldn't worry too much about stopping it. There are ways to do gradually that work.

  9. #9
    Sounds good Eileen.

    After a while, you may find it works better three times a day (every 8 hours). If you find you are using your breakthrough meds more near the end of the dose, let your doctor know that.

    Sometimes they even split it into 4 doses (every six hours) - not necessarily more, just splitting the dose up.

    As far as addiction - your risk of addiction is very low as a pain patient. Your body will become physically dependant - you'd have to taper off gradually etc. But actual addiction - with the associated behaviors - is very low for people who are in pain.

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    Thanks arndog! You help a lot of people on this site, and now me too. Much appreciated.

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