I do not have an addictive tendency with medications, however in my attempt to avoid a spinal fusion, I have been taking morphine extended and immediate release to that I can walk and function as close to normal. I have decided that drugs are not the route I want to go, however I am now after 3+years dependent.
What is in the future for me if I seek to stop taking them? Are there any ways to make it happen quickly?
I assume that your morphine is supplied by a physician and that you are not obtaining it on the street. If my assumption is correct then I suggest you talk to your prescribing doctor about weaning off. This is a difficult, long process that often doesn't work. It is not a sign of weakness on your part, it is just that you are taking a very potent medication that has resulted in a physical dependency and your body is not going to handle to loss very well. It doesn't sound like you are addicted to your meds but rather you recognize the dependency and tolerance building up and are scared that addiction will follow. A long-ish wean down should work for you if addiction isn't presently in the picture with your meds but if it is, in any capacity, I suggest seeing a psychiatrist that can prescribe suboxone in place of your morphine.
You can use suboxone in a short term way to get off another opiate. Not all suboxone users are long term. It seems as if many people see suboxone patients as that same as methadone patients and the two can be very different. If by some strange chance, you live within driving distance to North Salem NY, I can recommend a wonderful psychiatrist there who is lisenced to prescribe suboxone. He doesn't force group or 12-step meetings on his patients but if they would like some additional therapy, he is happy to help coordinate that.
When choosing a doctor, be sure to ask if they take insurance because many of them do not and the treatment is very expensive. Extortion and price gouging seem to be frequent occurrences among some of the suboxone doctors who refuse to take insurance. There are some doctors out there that will not take advantage of their patients and truly are in their vocation to help others. The one I recommend, in North Salem, is one such doctor. He does take most insurance plans and if you have no insurance, his office rates are fair and affordable. I believe he will even negotiate an affordable rate for those with no insurance and very low income. He is a rarity in his field.
When it is all said and done, you still need to deal with your spinal pain or else you will end back up on meds. You are entitled to live a pain free life (or as close to that as you can come) so, if meds are the only answer and the only way for you to have any quality of life, then take them and don't worry about the stigma of dependency if you truly aren't showing signs of active addiction. Some such signs are trying to obtain more than what is prescribed, taking higher doses than you should or taking your meds in a different manner, for example snorting your pills instead of taking them orally. Those are signs of addiction, not dependency. Dependency has such a negative connotation in our society. We are all dependent on oxygen but no one tells us that we need to wean ourselves off of that substance! Ya, morphine and oxygen are quite different but hopefully you get my drift.
However you do it, good luck and write any time for support or help!
PS. I tend to be rather long-winded in my replies, especially when it is a topic I know well and feel passionate about. I am a suboxone patient myself.
I apologize about the length of my previous post but I do hope you made it to the end.
If you like my advice and want to ask more specific questions, just reply and let me know. I am happy to help but don't want to bore anyone with more info that they need!
Chronic use of pain medication can cause more pain than it is relieving, a conditon called hyperalgesia. In males, it can also cause a decrease in the production of the male hormone testosterone which in turn can cause osteoporosis, which used to be unheard of in males of ages 30-50. Very few doctors know about this, yet proclaim to be pain and addiction specialists. Suggesting another very addicting and powerful opiate such as Suboxone is just adding to the problem. Getting off of opiates will let you know where your true pain levels are, reverse hyperalgesia and allow your testosterone levels to come back to normal which will help the bones, depression and will strengthen the bodies muscles, by increasing muscle tone, mass and strength, which in turn will help you be healthier, stronger and decrease pain in the long run.
True Randix, if there is no evidence of addiction then long term use of Suboxone is unwarranted but short term (one week or so) use to ease the withdrawal symptoms from Morphine can guarantee the patient will succeed in breaking the dependency without reverting to using Morphine in order to lessen the symptoms of discontinuation. The symptoms are brutal and most people go back to taking the med of dependency in order to avoid the extreme and prolonged sickness from quitting. Suboxone in its short term use does nothing but increase the odds of success. This doesn't sound like a behavioural issue of addiction. This is physical dependency. Suboxone wouldn't be used long term in this case. Suboxone has no value as a long term pain control med. It loses it's ability to control pain after 5 - 7 days and unlike full opiate agonists, just raising the dose doesn't restore the analgesic effect. Suboxone has a ceiling dosage for that aspect.
I do agree with you that painkillers are not a forever solution unless the patient is willing to accept the dependency and the fact that the dose will have to be increased over time, for as long as they take it. Most patients do not have the money to afford monstrously large daily dosages.