How to Quit Methadone, Part 1: Do Not Quit Methadone

Don’t. Switch to something easier to stop using and less dangerous to quit, like heroin. Maybe time-release morphine for six months to two years depending on the duration of your methadone maintenance. Buprenorphine, even. Really, methadone withdrawal is incredible torture and medically dangerous. I think it fucked me up permanently.

I once watched a man dying from methadone withdrawal in a redneck county jail. He was in his forties. They wouldn’t even give him clonidine. After two days he stopped getting up off his bunk. After three days you could smell death coming on him, like a sick animal smells at the pound. Pretty soon it made you want to vomit if you got within ten feet of him. He really was dying, so the redneck jailers took him to a hospital where doctors shot him full of morphine. This was out of character for the kind of scum that ran that county jail, so you can understand how sick he was. He came back looking fantastic, like he’d been to a dinner party where Jesus Christ did magic tricks. Now, he didn’t willingly subject himself to that. But you can, if you want.

If you have strong motivation, you will find you have the willpower to do just about anything. Most junkies develop a strong will. It takes a lot of willpower to go out sick and score, suffering all manner of degradation and discrimination. Most junkies don’t quit in the face of this because they don’t want to. The will to continue using is stronger. The two opposing desires can coexist simultaneously; both an exercise of willpower.

If you want to quit methadone (or any opiate; the others are easier), whoever or whatever your motivation is, it will have to move you on more than a practical level. Quitting to save money is a practical reason. Beyond the impulses of the lizard brain, intellectual and emotional reasons are the only true motivators. Those who do have the emotional will to quit but lack intellect will gravitate towards adopted ideologies as a coping mechanism. Those are the crazy-eyed ex-junkies who go to AA meetings and shout about abstinence with desperation. They have relapses you could set a train schedule by. That’s because they sought out an ideology to suit their needs instead of finding what they believe in. Willpower is an existential urge. It doesn’t really matter what motivates you, but you have to believe in it to the death.

There is no opiate harder to quit than methadone. If you never intend to quit and never have to, methadone is ambrosia, a cure-all elixir, a miracle drug, a fountain of youth. If you want off methadone, it suddenly becomes the kind of thing Nazi scientists tested on freezing Russian prisoners.

If the quitting doesn’t kill you (or seriously harm you) and you make it all the way to the other side, you will suddenly find you have some questions for Nietzsche; because while quitting methadone will kill some people, far more people will survive with lasting damage and new health problems. That which does not kill us makes us stranger.

With or without complications, you will feel like your brain needs rewiring. You will remember that you quit methadone because all it did was make you feel normal, only to find that you can’t feel normal without it, even after your unforgettable withdrawal is a distant memory. You have evolved into Homo morpheus. You will literally become like a fish out of water.

The quitting may leave you so broken you have to get back on methadone for health reasons totally unrelated to the chemical dependency you just beat. When you get to the final stages of tapering (assuming you’re not insane and didn’t try going cold turkey after years on the stuff), you may find that methadone was treating medical conditions you didn’t know you had: anorexia, anxiety, depression, eczema, hypotension, stomach disorders (yes, Kurt Cobain wasn’t just whining). What else? Who knows? Only junkies. Doctors won’t even be able to explain how methadone treats your suddenly revealed health problems, because no modern doctors have bothered studying opiates for anything but pain and addiction. You will probably never find the explanation, because the doctors from ancient cultures that knew the medical value of opium are all dead.

Now that you have stigmata to match your stigma, no drug the doctors prescribe will treat your symptoms as well as methadone did. You will wonder how people suffer these various illnesses without opiate treatment. If you suffered from depression or anxiety while on methadone, you will really have some problems waiting for you. SSRIs are toxic, ineffective garbage compared to methadone when it comes to treating anything but the most extreme depression and anxiety. And benzodiazepines for anxiety—don’t even bother, unless you like withdrawal and dependency-induced anxiety so much you want to experience it every day with symptoms that rival methadone withdrawal in life’s constant contest of miseries.

You will feel like you possess a powerful secret when you quit methadone. You will wonder how people get by without opiates. If you’re free from withdrawal but now a prisoner of any of the potential side effects of quitting methadone, you may refuse to go back to the drug because you’ve been through months or years of agony just to get off it. Even if you want to get back on methadone, you may refuse to go back to the kind of places or people (greedy clinics, rip-off treatment programs, corrupt doctors, etc.) that you were forced to deal with to acquire the medication. It’s harder to subject yourself to being treated like a subhuman when you have the stubborn will to avoid it, and by now your willpower will be very strong.

If you decide to go back, you will wonder why you can’t just go to a normal, decent doctor. You will certainly feel frustrated if you feel that you need to go back to the medication for health reasons, and not because of addiction. After all, if you made it this far, you’re no longer physically dependent, and the terrible months of withdrawal have probably conditioned you to hate methadone. You are supposedly no longer a junky, and they only give this stuff to junkies. Where does that put you? If you didn’t know that methadone could alleviate your symptoms, it would put you with everyone else who has whatever you have. But you know a secret, and with wisdom comes the terrible frustration of knowing when everyone else is wrong.

Regardless of what you do, you will continue to live in an age that treats opiate addiction with hysterical fear and inexcusable ignorance. There are deep historical reasons for this. Public health is not among them. Due to cultural beliefs, the medical community thinks it’s appropriate that you suffer because you are an “addict”.

The insanity of the age means that surviving quitting can be harder than surviving using. the_ludovico_technique_by_biscutbuu-d52inxcIdiots at the FDA who have never ingested Tylenol 3 argue about how much naloxone cut is needed in your buprenorphine to induce the desired punitive effect if you fail to put it your mouth properly. Big Pharma scientists are busy to distraction with their insane quest for the oxymoronic holy grail of “non-euphoric” opiates. Apparently, the foremost thing they need to figure out in order to help you is how to make sure you never accidentally feel good. This is being taken to even greater extremes by the medical foot soldiers of the Drug War, so-called “addiction specialists”, the people who pass for doctors and are supposed to be treating you though they usually know very little about medicine let alone addiction. If they ever knew what the Hippocratic Oath was, they long ago traded it in for a paperback copy of A Clockwork Orange. Nowadays, their “new” idea is to force you to take naltrexone to ensure you never feel good again. Maybe implant it in you. It was done in the 1990s by shady rapid detox clinics. Assorted quacks are “very excited!” to try it again. It only killed a few people and it had no success to speak of, but it has the punishment element.

So, if you do this, if you quit methadone, then at some point you are going to be all alone with your existential angst, and it will be severe. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry, you’ll soon be able to lecture Kierkegaard about his incomplete understanding of the subject.

This is not medical advice. I am not a doctor of medicine.

Suboxone: Corporations and Doctors Exploit Addicts For Profit

Reckitt Benckiser chasing opiate addicts

Reckitt Benckiser chasing opiate addicts

Alexander Trocchi once wrote a dreamy tale (though not perhaps as strange and nightmarish as this one), in which he said there is no more systematic nihilism than that of being a junky in America. Systematic nihilism sounds like an oxymoron, but let’s continue anyway. Another happy storyteller advises we judge the degree of civilization in a society by entering its prisons. Wait. Don’t be frightened. Most of the prisoners here are admittedly harmless. They were persecuted for crimes in which they did no wrong and didn’t hurt a fly. Why would scientists and politicians and corporations want to hurt these harmless souls? Lest you judge this society not harshly enough, let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time, there was an exception made to the not-so-golden rule of leaving addiction treatment in the dark ages, which only served to illustrate it. Two generic potions, buprenorphine and naloxone, were compounded together by an evil corporation with the demonic epithet of Reckitt Benckiser. Reckitt’s financial wizardry yielded a magical patent from these simple, garden-variety potions. He named the newest monster he’d created Suboxone. Curiously, buprenorphine was already in use for the very purpose Suboxone was created. Even curioser, Reckitt added naloxone to poison the new potion!

Meanwhile, buprenorphine was thought to be safer than mean mister methadone because buprenorphine is just a partial agonist. Weak willed. And naloxone, you see, doesn’t mix well with buprenorphine, because naloxone is an opiate antagonist, which is to say it reverses the effects of opiates and can cause people to suffer the tortures of the damned if taken in the wrong way. And the wrong way to take naloxone is to take it at all. Unless, perhaps, you’re dying in the ER from a heroin overdose. It’s not the sort of thing you want for breakfast with your Honey Smacks.

So, evil Reckitt Benckiser bribed Congress and told the certain kind of doctors who don’t care much for their victims–sorry: patients–that the poisonous naloxone would provide for a very instructive punishment. It would happily cause unbearable agony if people misused nasty Suboxone. And if they didn’t “misuse” it, they’d still be taking naloxone anyway, even though it might be quite bad for their bodies! Evil Reckitt and the careless doctors showed little compassion, as they were quite prejudiced toward these people they were supposed to be helping. Governments, too, found the punishment element quite appealing, what with the aforementioned and widespread cultural prejudices that exist toward harmless, innocent, flower-loving, hippie junky scum. After all, these were the same evil scientists, evil doctors, and evil politicians who made sure all forms of prescribed codeine in the land of America would be cut heavily with Tylenol, in order to kill children by inducing liver failure if they tried to enjoy taking the pills! After lots of pressure, even the good doctors in Italy who had been prescribing buprenorphine switched to the toxic Suboxone, the better to protect themselves from the social prejudices generally aimed at their patients.

Before crooked old Benckiser rolled out his toxic potion, the politicians in their Congress rushed to help him by passing an enabling act for doctors to prescribe Suboxone. The National Institute on Drug Abuse helped fund evil Reckitt’s new cash cow with Mommy and Daddy’s taxpayer money, awarding Suboxone orphan drug status—pretending the evil monster was even good enough to be called an orphan drug at all! Reckitt, for his part, claimed he faced poverty and was doing this for all the children of the world. He begged and begged for government aid. Then, in 2011, Reckitt reaped $1.3 Billion in sales of the pointless drug and laughed all the way to the nearest, crookedest JP Morgan Chase Bank.

When Reckitt’s patent was about to expire on the Suboxone tablet, he patented a sublingual film version, and promptly claimed the tablet he had previously sold was killing children (literally, that’s what Reckitt claimed). Insane as it sounds, using this kind of propaganda made a lot of sense, because Reckitt was talking to people who had been brainwashed by hysterical antidrug TV ads in the 1980s. This attempt to keep the harmless patients paying through the nose didn’t work, however, as Reckitt was promptly sued by an eager manufacturer of generic Suboxone, who wanted to join the cash cow. That cash cow is still being slaughtered today since generic Suboxone costs more than generic buprenorphine which does the exact same thing without the added risks and side effects of constantly ingesting naloxone without reason. Why is it so? Because the evil scientists and politicians and doctors, just like drug pushers, conspired to make sure no one can get buprenorphine without the dirty naloxone cut added to it.

Monstrous Suboxone, of course, should never have been born. Buprenorphine already existed to help people. Reckitt behaved no differently than the mythological drug pusher of those hysterical 1980s taxpayer funded TV ads. The government predictably put its weight behind the giant corporation. Medical professionals predictably cashed in with Big Pharma, and are even now lobbying the government for less arbitrary restrictions on prescribing Suboxone. And we all lived miserably ever after.

So, children, does it all sound pleasant and just? Would you like to be treated as a social pariah without any redeeming qualities except when you’re seen a cash cow for the butcher’s block? Would you like to be subjected to punishment without crime and have force set before you in place of choice? When you get sick, would you like to have no other choice but to swallow medication designed to inflict harm upon you, and pay dearly for that privilege?

If so, maybe you would like to become a systematic nihilist too.

p.s. don’t use drugs