10th day off gabapentin/methadone cold turkey

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After approximately 4 months of 1800mg gabapetin and 15mg methadone daily for nerve pain I made the decision that the long term effects of the drugs were not worth the risk and stopped them cold turkey.  My VA GP was not thrilled with my decision but reluctantly said it was okay and to keep in touch with him if I developed problems with the withdrawal.

Today is my 10th day off of them.  I write this for the benefit of anyone else out there struggling to get off of these drugs.  This is my experience only, and I am certainly not a physician.  This is an FYI only.

The first week off the drugs was horrible...mostly severe insomnia.  I only slept about 1 1/2 to 2 hours each night for a week.  Additionally, I have had almost zero energy.  A walk around the house wears me out, and then I am still unable to sleep.

Two nights ago I began taking some benedryl before going to bed.  It helped a little.  The past 2 nights I have slept at least 3 hours.  I still an extremely lethargic.

I've been tempted to resume a small amount of the gabapentin in order to sleep, but refuse to give in to the evil stuff and am resolved to stay off of it until I am completely recovered.

Please understand that this has been my experience; yours may be completely different.  Just wanted to put it out there.

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  • Posted

    Hello Shumate

    Are the long term effects worse than what you are experiencing now? If so I hope you can stay the course and not risk going back on the gabapentin. I know neither action will be easy. What ever direction you feel you must go  I wish you success and eventual peace.

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    • Posted

      Hello Lynaria

      Thank you for your comments and support.  And, yes, I have come to the conclusion that the effects of long term use of this drug are much worse than the discomfort I am experiencing as I withdraw and retreat from it.

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  • Posted

    May i ask what your side effects from the Gabapentin were? I just started it 2 weeks ago & even tho eventually im supposed to taper up to 2.. 3 times a day, omg just 1 makes me slonber. I will say after a week 1 duznt affect me as much, but 2? Omgosh it made me feel like i was on a morphine drip! I cudnt walk, was so messed up i had to fall into bed and sleep. A week later when 1 hardly helped my nerve pain i tryed 2 again, and i was on the ph when it SLAMMED me and i cud barely talk & my eyes looked like i was on Morohine or whatever! How am i supposed to WORK or DRIVE on this? I cant function. BUT it does take away my nerve pain. So even tho iv read your supposed to not leave out a day as they build up in your system, i take 1 only as needed for nerve pain. No way ill EVER be able to do 2.....3 xs a day? My daughter takes same doseage & it doesnt hardly affect her! She says i must be a rare case? Mine are 300 mg. Each. Other than looking and acting stoned out of my gorde, iv not had any other side effects, YET?

    Kimmi

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. This is why ill never take more than one at a time or a day. Now i will take 2 at night to sleep for nerve pain in my neck shooting up into my skull but omgosh it makes me sleep till noon and i wake up SOO hung over like iv been hit by a truck!

    Kimmi

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    • Posted

      I should add that since iv only been on them approx 3 weeks i prob havnt had time to have other side effects like you since uv been on them for yrs. I didnt mean to make my last reply to u, all about me, im so sorry. So what side effects can i expect kind sir?

      Kimmi

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    • Posted

      Hi Kimmi

      The primary side effects I experienced were occasional, brief blurred vision; significant lethergy; and extended periods of time where I would just stare off into the walls.  I was given the gabapentin for severe pain radiating from under my shoulderblade into my right arm which was diagnosed as being nerve pain.  The gabapentin did away with the pain; but, I'm now wondering if the pain didn't go away in spite of the drug, as I have had no return of the pain since I stopped taking it.  I am rapidly starting to believe that I took this evil drug for 4 months for no good reason and only because the VA told me that if I didn't continue to take it I would never be given any pain medication for any reason ever again.

      I wish you well and hope you find a way of living without pain but are still able to lead a normal life.

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    • Posted

      I'm sorry the VA put you in such a position with their threats of witholding future treatments if you refused gabapentin. That seems at best unethical and at worst downright illegal. Have to wonder what their agenda is in forcing this questionable medication on people. I wasn't forced but when I kept coming up with multiple side effects they were dismissed or attributed to other unfounded conditions. By the time I realized it had to be the gabapentin, neurological damage had been done. I took myself off about 18 months ago and even though I've improved greatly no doctor will admit the gaba caused the damage.

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    • Posted

      Hi Lynaria....Here is a bit more to the story.  In late February of this year I was sitting on the couch watching the evening news on TV when out of nowhere I felt like someone had stuck a knife in my right tricep and started twisting it.  It was a solid 9 on the 1-10 pain scale.  I went to the VA the following morning (the pain was down to about a 5 by then) and the GP there, without examining me, said he thought it was probably a torn muscle or, maybe, a torn rotator cuff.  Regardless, he said it might correct itself, but, if it didn't do so within 2 months to come back and see him again.  He sent me home with 60 hydrocodone and told me to take 2 of them/day.  The pain went completely away within a couple of days and I stopped taking the hydrocodone.

      Almost exactly 2 months later I was, again, sitting on the couch watching the evening news when the same knife as before stabbed me under my right shoulder, and, like before felt like it was being twisted.  The pain was so severe it levitated me up off of the couch and threw me down on the floor where I was literally unable to get back up for about 30 minutes.  Again, went to the VA the following day...by then the pain was down to about a 6 or 7.  At that point the GP said he thought I had a pinched nerve in my neck and put me on the gabapentin and methadone.  Additionally, I had to sign a contract attesting that I promised to take the drugs as prescribed, and, that I would consent to a drug test at any time.  The GP told me that in reality I would be drug tested once a year at the same time I have my annual physical exam.  Additionally, he explained the VA policy of doing this was to assure that I was actually taking the drugs and not selling them (I assume that primarily pertains to the methadone since I don't believe gabapentin has any street value).  Also, he said this was to make sure that I wasn't taking any street drugs.  He said if I failed to take the drugs properly, or if the blood/urine tests showed that I was using street drugs, I would be taken off of everything and not be given any further pain medication.  Over the next few days the pain moved from under my shoulder blade to my arm to my shoulder back to under my shoulder blade.

      About 1 week later I suddenly lost virtually all strength in my right hand; can't make a fist; and, my right index finger doesn't move at all with zero strength.  The underside of my right forearm became numb and my forearm started to atrophy noticibly.

      VA did an xray of my neck. Negative.  Took them another month to schedule an MRI of my neck. Negative.  Still convinced that this was being caused by a pinched nerve in my neck, after yet another month I was sent to a neurosurgeon.  EMG confirmed that there is no pinched nerve in my neck, so the next guess was a tumor in my left lung or in my brachial plexus.  Chest xray and CT scan of my chest was negative.

      After another month I was sent to a neurologist.  He screened me for ALS and seemed genuinely disappointed that I passed the tests.  I told him that I had been doing some reading and asked if he thought it might be Thorasic Outlet Syndrome....seemed to me that it fit the description.  He scoffed at me and told me that was highly unlikely because of my age; I'm 67.  He said he thought it was somehow connected to my brachial plexus and wanted to do an MRI and another EMG.

      Now that even more time has passed I was notified earlier today that someone will be contacting me to schedule an MRI of my brachial plexus within the week.

      In the meantime, my right hand and forearm continue to atrophy.  The pain, for the most part has stopped.  At first I felt it was reasonable to believe that the pain had stopped because I was taking the gabapentin and methadone 3x daily.  The more I thought about it, and remembered how the initial pain in my tricep had gone away after a few days, I made the command decision to cease the drugs cold turkery.

      Now, I guess I'll have another MRI, EMG and some blood work to see if "they" can figure out how to get my hand and forearm to start working once again.

      I apologize for being so long winded, but that's about the full story up to this point.

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    • Posted

      Hi Kimmi, I was the same way initially and I started about 3weeks ago. First week it would drop me/sleep. But ur body will build a tolerance for it just give it time. My only issue is it makes me so bloated and initially increased my appetite but that has calmed down. Good luck
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  • Posted

    I find it interesting that for quite a few people gaba *helps them* sleep....or their nerve pain for that matter. It never, NEVER! helped with my pain, nor made me tired. What it, eventually, did do was even worse. I have sfpn complicated with fibromyalgia. Started 04, keeps getting worse every few years some new doc throws me back on gaba after I've said "it does nothing but mess with my vision ". This last round i stuck the course, 3000mg a day. Severe swelling, feet and ankles, pain so much worse. And things got worse, felt like something was in my armpit trying to rip my shoulder off my body, elbow constantly felt like I hit my funny bone. Which isn't funny . Watch your body and know your mind if you start thinking of things that aren't normal,THIER NOT! And if you notice new or more inflammation/swelling/pain ,IT IS A SIDE EFFECT! rare my ass! Now I'm wondering how long it will take to undo the damage the gaba caused, as the lightning bolts rage even after being off the meds, or can they be fixed. What did they do? Be cautious, ask questions ,write them down; I didn't do that. Keep journals, take pictures, i did do that!, when you bring this to your doc and they smile and say its anxiety. Don't stop, make them listen. This stuff can be horrific.

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    • Posted

      I can't emphasize how much I agree with your comments about documenting what is happening to you.  I agree wholeheartedly that you should keep a journal, take pictures and ask friends for their observations.  The more documentation you can present to your physician the better off you will be...in my opinion.

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    • Posted

      Lower back, chiropractor and acupuncture. I went almost every day for 2 weeks because of sciatic nerve pain. It worked but, finally got lower lumbar injections because I could feel it wanting to start up again. Now nothing. I'm tapering myself off of all pain meds and trying the CBD oil in sync. Out with one in with the other only the other isn't an opioid. Hopefully it can rewire what these pills, fentanyl and gaba have done to my brain and if its just to much for me to handle I will then try the med Marijuana. There's got to be a better way then popping pills, slapping on patches and then having to discover that the damn gaba is making it worse! I want to start from scratch. I will find a way to ease this without my life being run by a doc with a script book. Im 40, now is not the time.

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  • Posted

    Up this morning for day 11 of gabapentin/methadone.

    Last night I took some benadryl with a couple of shots of whiskey before going to bed.  I tossed and turned quite a bit and had a couple of sessions of night sweats before finally getting up, drinking a glass of milk and going back to bed.  After a bit more tossing and turning I did manage to fall asleep, and stay asleep, for a lilttle over 4 hours.  I see this as progress.  Still no energy, but I am going to force myself to get out and run an errand or two today just to push myself.

    I don't know if this is relevant, but I'll put it out there anyway....I've got 2 great dogs that have seemingly instinctively turned themselves into therapy dogs.  They seem to understand that I've been out of sorts and are doing a great job of giving me attention and helping me keep my spirits up.

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    • Posted

      I work with doctors and spoke to a couple of them about my symptoms.  Neither would agree that gaba is a factor, simply shrug their shoulders saying they don't think gaba would have started my symptoms or that I would be suffering from possible withdrawal 3 weeks after stopping.  Interesting but then they will be contuining to prescribe these meds in their job. 

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    • Posted

      Starting off day 12 off of gabapentin/methadone cold turkey.

      No night sweats last night, but I didn't sleep well again.  I might have gotten 3 1/2 hours.  All in all, compared to the many others who are posting of problems much more severe than mine, I must say that I'm feeling fortunate at this point.  I'm going to try to get a few things done around the house to check my energy level today.  At the moment, just sitting here at the computer, I don't feel nearly as exhausted as I have the past few days.

      I'm taking a magnesium supplement and drinking lots of milk.  I don't know if that's playing a part in my slightly improved sleep, or not.  But, I don't think it can hurt.

      I got a call from the VA sleep therapy clinic yesterday telling me that my GP had asked them to give me a call and encourage me to give them a try.  I'll return their call today and see what they have to say.

      Thanks again to all who have offered, and continue to offer, support to me in getting off of this stuff.

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    • Posted

      Glad you are getting some improvement and hope the sleep therapy clinic will be of further benefit and not just the VA avoiding the real issue by offering you a bandage. Sorry, don't mean to be negative but I've seen so many horror stories when it comes to the VA's practices. You all deserve better treatment and support. At least you are doing what you can to support yourself through this ordeal and we are here for you also.

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    • Posted

      Yes, I'm learning that the VA health care leaves a bit to be desired...just my opinion.

      Regardless, I got a call from them today advising me that I will be contacted to be scheduled for another MRI within a week.

      Thanks for being there.

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    • Posted

      Think we all need to fight for our right to care.  We all seem to be reasonable people - we just need some help and care.  What do you think to a FB group?
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