Long-Term Effects of Opiates | Psychological and Physical Symptoms
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Long Term Effects of Opiate Use

In recent years, mounting research has helped us to acquire a more enlightened understanding of addiction. The current consensus is that addiction is a chronic, progressive brain disease that’s characterized by altered structure and functioning of the brain, causing individuals to experience an almost obsessive fixation on self-destructive substances or behaviors.

Alcohol and drug addictions are the most common, but there are also a number of behavioral addictions that can be as debilitating. While alcoholism is one of the most difficult substance use disorders to overcome, opiates are extremely addictive and extremely difficult to treat as well. As such, the following will explain the long-term effects of opiates for individuals who have already recovered from opiate addiction as well as those who are still in active opiate addiction.

Long-Term Effects of Opiates for Addicts

Opiates are substances that are very similar in effect and in structure to morphine and which are derived from the opium obtained from the opium poppy. In function, opiates mimic natural chemicals in the body that are meant to calm individuals during times of great stress and also help individuals to overcome pain in instances of injury or painful illnesses. When an individual takes an opiate painkiller, the drug bonds with his or her brain’s opiate receptors, causing a sedative effect that relaxes the individual and alleviates physical pain.

When taken at doses higher than what’s therapeutically necessary, opiates produce a strong sense of euphoria, flooding the brain with feel-good neurochemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, which activate the reward and pleasure pathways in the brain. This makes the use of opiates pleasurable while also reinforced the behavior, causing the individual to associate the taking of high doses of opiates with strong feelings of physical pleasure.

Long Term Opiate Use

Just like with any other substance, a person who continues to abuse opiates over a prolonged period time will develop a physical tolerance to painkillers. When a person takes a large dose of opiates, he or she will have more of the drug in his or her system than he or she has opiate receptors with which the drug can bond. However, with prolonged, habitual, and heavy use of opiates, the brain begins developing additional opiate receptors that can bind with more and more of the drug. As a result, the individual will eventually need to continue escalating dosage in order to achieve the desired effects.

Alternately, the individual will feel an intense deficiency during times when his or her system doesn’t contain a high level of opiates. Additionally, the brain tapers its natural production of neurochemicals and hormones and, instead, relies on one’s opiate use to provide them. Consequently, the individual will experience very uncomfortable or even painful withdrawal symptoms at times when the level of opiates in his or her system is low and leaves a lot of the brain’s opiate receptors vacant.

The implication of these changes is incredibly great. One result of these structural and functional changes in the brain is that the individual loses much of his or her ability to cope with pain naturally without the use of pain medication. In other words, the long-term effects of opioids have been found to cause significantly decreased pain tolerance. Additionally, the individual begins to experience pain more intensely since he or she doesn’t consistently have high levels of opiate painkillers in his or her system.

If he or she were to take a pain medication for pain, it would feel as though it were ineffective, but that’s only because the drug didn’t provide enough opiates in the system to bond with all of the brain’s available receptors. There’s also a major implication for one’s mood as many of the neurochemicals that are affected by opiate use play a role in the regulation of mood and emotions. Unfortunately, one’s neurological functioning has no hope of returning to a healthy, natural level until the addict undergoes recovery and remains abstinent for a period of time.

Psychological Effects of Opiates That Linger Beyond Recovery


The brain chemistry and neurological functioning will begin to stabilize and return to a relatively normal state once the individual becomes and remains sober; however, there are a number of physiological and psychological effects of long-term opiate use that will often remain with a recovering opiate addict for months or even years after having stopped using opiates. Referred to as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) or protracted withdrawal, these symptoms are an unfortunate consequence of having been a habitual substance abuse for a prolonged period of time.

Long-term effects of opiates can include:

  • insomnia and severe difficulty sleeping
  • nausea, diarrhea
  • hot and/or cold flashes
  • cramping or twitching of muscles
  • anxiety
  • agitation
  • depression

The lasting psychological effects of opiates during long-term use are arguably the most persistent. Without the daily, habitual abuse of opiate painkillers, individuals are confronted with their undiluted emotions, which can be overwhelming at first. In fact, it takes a period of time to adjust to this as the return of one’s emotional sensitivity often feels like an emotional flood. Additionally, many people who have overcome a long-term opiate addiction will be prone to experiencing depression, often requiring counseling in order to overcome these bouts of sadness.

On the other hand, many recovered opiate addicts have great success in twelve-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous, offering them an extensive support network of other recovering addicts who can give them advice on how to deal with their emotions, intense cravings that persist for years after becoming sober, and other lingering aspects of a previous opiate addiction.

The Palm Beach Institute is a One-Stop Resource for All Things Recovery

Opiates are some of the most highly addictive and dangerous chemical substances that exist. While there are a number of uses for which opiates are extremely beneficial, the misuse of opiates has cost countless individuals their lives. The long-term effects of opiates are just some of many complications that can arise after long-term opiate use. At the Palm Beach Institute, we believe that everyone deserves the chance to return to a life of health and happiness.

If you or someone you love would benefit from a free consultation or assessment, call us today at 855-960-5456 and speak with one of our intake coordinators. Whether it’s day or night, one phone call can start your journey back to independence and fulfillment.

46 Responses to “Long Term Effects of Opiate Use”

  1. Mario Castaneda

    I have had 16 major surgeries in my life. I am 55 yrs old. The latest injury was a logging accident which resulted in having both hips replaced and back problems. In 2004 a Pain Dr. started me on my ride, which included hydrocodone, 8oxys per day, 21diliudid per day& 2 100mg Fentental patches every 3days. This lasted 5years until work comp stopped paying for my meds out of the blue and I was cut off cold turkey 12-1-2010. what a ride. almost blow off my head with a 45 to stop the buzzing,still having heath problems I never had before like major depression, bladder problems, confusion,headeches, lots of body pain(at surgery sights). My primary Dr. has me on 3 narco a day which has got me moving and somewhat motivated. I do believe that if I was weaned off these meds I would be better off them I am today. I just don’t know. Also on day 11 of my withdrawal I fell or blacked out and injured myself again when I hit the stone floor in the hospital, Yes I checked myself into a hospital on day 1, but I didn’t start having withdrawal effects until 11 days later, the night before I left the hospital. This is no B.S. and I’m still suffering from my withdrawal experience 4 years later mentally and physically. Hay at least the buzzing stopped.

    • Lou Santos

      I have the same story..My stomach receptors are the very worst..Suboxone I want to stop it as well..constipation.I was almost 10 yrs on pain meds until spine surgery .Stenosis is very painful.the Lumbar Laminectomy Surgery for Spinal Stenosis did wonders thank god..and Dr. Mark Palumbo @ University orthopedics

  2. Ryan Hobson

    I was addicted to opiates at age 15 due to a compound fracture that occurred in a ski accident. I was stuck on a demerral pump for 3 months and then cut off abruptly. No warning, nothing. I had no idea what was going on. A nurse showed me how to inject into a vein instead of muscling it, which hurt and my journey began. I am now 45 and have been addicted to heroin off and on for the past 30 years. It’s ruined long periods of my life and I’ve often wished it would just kill me. No such luck. I have empathy for anyone going through this form of torture. It’s been a living hell and one that others despise that addict for going though.

    • I am so sorry to hear about your struggle. Don’t give up. You are not alone in this world. So many people are right in your same boat Ryan. The people that despise simply do not understand. (And yes, I know there are a lot of them) Just keep trying, one day & one step at a time.

  3. Well I’ve been on oxy’s for ten years and now my Dr. is weaning me off. It’s day one and I’m feeling pretty crappy for sure. Good thing I live alone with my two puppies. I certainly don’t feel like socializing. Tonight I try suboxone for the first time, not sure what to expect but I do know I need to get off the opioids. Wish me luck as it certainly sounds like I need it.

    • I was on hydrocodone for 14 years and was put on Suboxone to stop taking them. Please be aware that Suboxone is also an opiate. I took it without knowing this. I was on it for three years and when I detoxed from the Suboxone I got so sick that I passed out and had to have CPR performed on me and was hospitalized. It was the most horrible experience ever. Please read all about Suboxone and don’t let them keep you on it for a long time because it was worse than the hydrocodone. I didn’t know what it was when I agreed to take it and I wish someone had warned me.. Please read all information you can before you decide to commit to Suboxone. I hope this helps.

  4. Lynn Neering

    I am 54 and believe I’m also very addicted to hydrocodone. I have been taking this since 2008 or 2009. I can’t even remember. I’ve had 2 neck surgeries due to breaking it years earlier and not really knowing. Also elbow surg and next mo will need a hip replaced due to a fall. I have two surgeries coming up so don’t think I can quit until after, but I have terrible, chronic, whole body muscle pain, which I never had before. Does anyone know if the hydrocodone causes fibromyalgia-like symptoms??

  5. Lynn you are exactly right! I have noticed the same thing and Drs are just now aware that this is occurring. Unfortunately they do not want the liability of causing more health problems so I heard they are trying a new tactic – make you ween off and take Narcan, yep an opiate blocker.

    The truth is, Drs keep you sick by eventually undermedicating you and those new symptoms are called tolerance withdrawals. This occurs when Dr’s have max prescribed you for your condition and can no longer accommodate you or your pain by raising the dose. They will also tell you that you have opiate induced hyperdysplscia
    It’s my opinion that it should be illegal to cause more pain then the suffering you were prescribed for in the first place.
    Now you can prob understand why some are labeled as “addicts” when really they are untreated pain patients – it feels ….. INHUMANE.

    Lastly, you will likely get low vit D – and some reason taking it causes bone and joint type pain to even low level lupus.
    Drs have no purpose practicing medicine if science only has detriment rather then long term benefit.

  6. I’m dealing with my boyfriend who has, for now, overcome addiction to vicodin/norco. He’s severely depressed now that initial withdrawal symptoms have subsided. Its been over 7 months and his depression is getting much worse. Does anybody know how long it lasts? Or have recommendations as to what he can do? We are expecting our first baby in June and I think for him it’s important to be able to be a good father. He’s 33 and addiction took 10 years of his life and now he feels more lost than before. Any advice is appreciated

  7. Emily, has your boyfriend talked to a doctor about the depression? There are wonderful medications to treat depression these days. I’ve heard about the depression suffered by former drug abusers who’ve stopped using the drugs. A friend of my family struggles with that. Unfortunately it can go on for awhile, as the person learns to re-experience joy in their lives that doesn’t come from the high they get from drugs. Not many things in our lives can compete with the high highs we can get from a bottle of pills. Consequently ordinary life pales in comparison to artificial highs. The good news is that this will wane over time, but how long, I’m not sure. Just help him understand that he WILL get better. The birth of a child can be a big catalyst for his recovery.

    I would encourage him to talk to his doctor about antidepressant medication.

  8. I would like to post about my long-term use of narcotics. I started about twelve years ago when the disk between two of my lower vertebrae wore down to about ten-percent of the height it should’ve been. I was essentially bone on bone.

    My orthopedic doctor sent me to a pain management clinic, where they prescribed me two strengths of morphine to take every day, in addition to six Percocets for “break through” pain every day, plus Flexoril muscle spasms. If I’d decided to be a drug dealer I’d have been rich!

    At any rate, I could not take that much medicine without basically comatose 24/7. I chose to only use 4 or 5 of the Percocets each day.

    Well I ended up having back surgery, which worked great for several years. After my surgery I developed a staph infection, which required two more surgeries within the four months following the original surgery. All told I used narcotics daily probably three years. I only used them as directed. I spaced them evenly throughout the 24-hours per day. I got to a point where I never really experienced a “high” any more, and worked diligently to avoid that, which meant that I always took them with food in my stomach, an two of them I took at two different times during my sleep at night.

    I didn’t enjoy taking them, perhaps because I’d had enough “pharmaceutical recreation” when I was younger. At any rate, I wanted to stop taking them, so my doctor’s advice was to gradually tritrate off of them over a period of weeks, which I did… for about three days, then just went cold turkey and discontinued them altogether. Because I never abused the medications this worked great for me.

    My doctor explained to me that there is a difference between dependency and addiction. I became dependent, not addicted, because I didn’t seek to increase my dose, didn’t take them in a way that would get me high, and if there were days that I didn’t hurt as bad I didn’t take all of them. In so doing I was fluid in how I took them, and my body became accustomed to having a variety of different levels of them in my system. When it came time to quit I didn’t have a hard time at all, although I would include the caveat that I have a pretty high pain tolerance.

    Sorry I wrote a book here, but good luck to all of you.

    • Lúcia Gunn

      Hi Roger! I’m sorry you had to go through so much but I truly appreciated your testimony. Not only you are a living proof that quitting long term narcotic use is possible but you cared to mention what I have been trying to tell people who dare to call me a “drug addict”! There are distinct differences between a post major surgery/surgeries, whose body becomes conditioned by strong prescription opioid pain killers and a person or patient whose body AND mind becomes conditioned by narcotic drugs. Drug addicts aren’t just physically conditioned by narcotics…they’re also mentally conditioned by it. Drug addicts don’t seek to stop taking drugs, rather the contrary. After 5+ years of heavy narcotic drugs and narcotic patches use, God blessed me with stop consuming narcotic pain killers…actually, I am off all pain killers, including Tramadol, which is said to be non-narcotic yet works as narcotic in the brain and therefore, it’s a form of synthetic narcotic, which happens to definitely be as habit forming as opioids. I’m dealing with a lot of PWAS but in terms of pain, my spinal physical discomfort got much, much better once I stopped using narcotic pain killers. Narcotics literally impair our central nervous system and it doesn’t take much to ruin pain receptors and the decoding of pain within our brain! I read that only 2 weeks of strong narcotic use changes the neurological processes. It’s not surprising that after several years of constant use (100 mcg of Duragesic patch – that’s name brand for Fentanyl patch – plus Tramadol 3 to 6 times a day!) I’m experiencing some very difficult physical discomfort but it’s slowly but surely getting better. Exercise, diet, stress level, support system, spiritual and moral life, finances, education/knowledge about human anatomy drugs, addictions x formed dependency, doctors, etc, all play a major role in our ability to sustain PAWS without succumbing to narcotic drugs use relapsing. God and my faith in Him were absolutely what made possible for me to quit narcotic patches in just 8 weeks (I tried cold turkey but 15 hours later, I was as a wounded wild animal, feeling as if I was going to have a heart attack and die). Five months later, this past January, I quit Tramadol for good.

      After my faith in God, I was left to do what God leaves me responsible for:

      Physical therapy and highly exerting yet enjoyable physical activities, especially intense aerobics, along with good doctors, healthy diet and support system were absolutely key to my getting off narcotic drugs.

      Since it’s been only 3 weeks, I’m still experiencing many tough physical discomfort but over 5 years of narcotics isn’t like 5 days! Quitting narcotics ASAP is what one must do in order to work on reversing the harsh effects of narcotics in our central nervous system. Long term narcotic use actually keeps us slaves to chronic pain. The sooner one stops using narcotics, the sooner the brain readjusts into knowing how to decode pain signals hence the sooner we feel pain relief through the producing of endorphins, our God-given “natural pain killer”! The brain cannot decode pain signals during narcotic use hence our bodies can’t produce endorphins normally, if any at all. This causes us to feel more pain than it’s actually there. It’s quite real for us but physically speaking, it’s a side effect produced by narcotics, as it highly impairs our nervous system, neurons (brain cells), and consequently, all our body systems become inevitably impaired.

      Whoever said that narcotics “fry our brain cells” is a wise person. Whoever is brave enough to face the “defrying” of our brain is even wiser!

      There’s a much better “sober” healthy life after long term use of narcotic drugs. But you must want it before you see yourself willing to tap into God’s strength to get you through PAWS. In my case, the worst symptoms lasted about 2 weeks. I’m in my third week now. It’ll likely take a year or two for my 52 y/o body to adjust and fully recover from long term surgical traumas and narcotic use. My God, my husband,, our son, our extended families, friends, and highly supportive doctors and church family all deserve that I tried and trusted God to help me through thick and thin. If God helped me win over drugs, I know He’s waiting to do the same for you. All you gotta do is be willing to do as the Nike slogan says “Just do it!”. Nevertheless, you’ll need support, starting with God and your faith in Him and His strength, which can be your own, if you only ask!

      If exerting yourself physically is too much of a challenge for your body, try using different ways to spend energy, such as sauna, jacuzzi, dancing to your favorite songs, laughing at Britain’s Got Talent funny auditions (I’m not kidding! Sheer agony got me having trouble sleeping so I decided to spend a few nights laughing and guess what? It actually provided physical relief and pain soothing comfort…I exerted myself by laughing enough to feel exhausted enough to sleep some 4 to 6 hours!). Valium my doctor prescribed offered a half hour nap break. Dancing, laughing, and using jacuzzi with some Epson salt and herbal essences plus essential oils provided far more hours of rest than Valium did. I only took 1 Valium out of 4 my doc prescribed. I actually regretted taking it only to nap for a mere 30 minutes.

      Physical exertion is key to soothe PAWS discomfort! Nevertheless, God is The Only One Who can make what’s impossible to us become very attainable and tangible! Your spiritual and mental (emotional) condition (your faith/trust in God!) and your willingness to consider how you impact others (before you consider your temporary physical discomfort) are major factors in moving God towards providing full recovery from pain and drug use. All you gotta do is believe He loves you and has far more than it takes to heal you. Addiction isn’t a disease! It’s a choice…and a choice that translates in sin and waste of the joyful, productive, selfless life God calls for us to live because out of His goodness, it’s what He has in store for us!

      There’s a much better life after pain and drugs. But you must be willing to live it!

      With much respect and sympathy for all of you who are currently struggling due pain and drug consumption. I’m praying you’ll turn to The One Who can actually help you start a new, narcotic drug free better life! All you gotta do is say “Father, I need Your help” and never give up saying this while doing your part in claiming your sober life! God blesses!!

  9. In regards to Emily, long term opiate abuse will cause your brain to stop making dopamine which is the natural chemical (opiate) that gives a person a sense of happiness. At least that’s the best simplistic answer I can give you. When a person abuses opiates over a course of years the body needs time and or chemicals to assist itself to heal and begin to recreate it a more natural way. I too have been using for over a decade but much higher doses and stronger pills. I more recently in last couple weeks have “woken up” and decided to be honest to myself and have started the process of lower my daily dosage and eventually rid myself of these mess altogether. In saying that one of my main worries is the depression that I suffer already and that I know will get much worse before it gets better. My suggestion would be to see a physician because one reason I myself and how many people begin to abuse drugs in general is not only the high it gives a person but also bec it gives the body more dopamine then it creates which in turn leaves a person (in the beginning of drug abuse) feeling happier then they have felt before. Because of the length of time he used, 7months is a relative short time to expect it to heal. There’s a lot of unknowns in your situation such as was it originally prescribed because of an accident or why? Does he or did he abuse other drugs or alcohol? Had he ever had depression prior and many more things. Seeing a physician will help him decide whether or not it is a healing issue now that he’s not using, or is it something he had before but because of his age or what not was never diagnosed. I know he probably feels like he got through the detox portion and he may have thought that was the worst part but as I’ve heard and found out from others I know that have become sober, sometimes as the body heals and reality of the cloudy haze or fog he has lived through the last 10years may be more than he can handle on his own. I wish you and him well. I can’t tell you how jealous yet proud I am of him for detoxing and getting as far as he has. It is a constant thought in my head, it’s tiring and wearing and probably the hardest thing he will ever experience in his life. I pray all goes well for you both as your journey into parenting begins.

  10. Emily,
    Both of you hang in there. Prescribed pharmaceuticals make street drugs look like pez candy. I was in a state of denial addiction from 1994 to 2011 until the Grim Reaper looked me in the eyes. I took Ambien, Dilladuid, Demarol, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Loratab, Lorazaprome, Sinaquil, or anything else within reach. For the 1st 72 hours to 120 hours I went through a living hell. Have a very high pain threshold so I can make it through/tolerate most any pain. I no longer am a slave to pharmaceuticals & see/know what they’re about. Mental & Physical Weakness. And as it goes, “Weakness is Pain Leaving Your Body.”
    P.S. Always treat it for what it is, don’t turn your back on it, & keep it at bay and in check.

  11. I am an 8 year opiate addict. I’ve been off of shooting dilaudid for a year and a week, but have been taking suboxone for the whole abstinence from the needle. I’m scared of the withdraw that is to come because the last time I did, I have since had many mental instabilities. Major confusion, minor depression, and very horrible almost intolerable anxiety. I would love for some insight on this journey I am going to take once I decide to withdraw from the suboxone. Will it amplify my anxiety and physiological issues? If so I don’t want to. I feel I have damaged my brain and thought process so much that any more damage will severely hinder my mental status. I’ve had clean time before, mainly from incarceration and prison, that was the last time I felt 95% healthy mentally and physically. Right now I’d rate a maximum of 70. I want it back.

    • Deja Holley


      Please check the email you provided when leaving your comment or give us a call at 1-855-960-5456. We’d like to discuss this with you privately.

  12. This is the same Jordan from above. I updated my email address to a functioning one.

  13. You guys have me so scared! I too was in a bad accident with many surgeries. Been on heavy dosages of morophine switched over to oxycontin with oxcocdone then out of the blue the Doctors are lowering my dosages. I cant take it! The pain, the mood swings, the depression and let alone I cant get off my couch for the past five weeks. Even though it is not legal in my state, I have been smoking marijuana. I have been able to do things I have not been able to do since before my accident. Long story longer, I am unable to smoke anymore and the pain and all the problems are back.
    Now, the docoto wants to put a morophine pump in my body. I do not want to do this!
    I have called 10 doctor’s and pain clinics in the area and no one will take me on because I am currently on opiates. I have never lost a prescription, or even asked for higher dosages. I am treated like some hype, and I was a cop for 16 years with a great record, it pisses me off so much, let alone I cant keep living like this!!!

    • Deja Holley


      Please check the email you provided when leaving this comment or give us a call at 1-855-960-5456 so that we can assist you privately.

  14. I quit all hydrocodone, Valium and Zoloft August 2013. Finding this site today was a godsend. After two and a half years of struggling with the many symptoms both physical and mental it’s refreshing to have my feelings validated as my last doctor was very dismissive implying that aftrs three months the withdrawal symptoms should be over. I haven’t visited him since preferring to go it alone.i plan on visiting a new doctor next month . I hoplng she will be more knowledgable and helpful. Thanks all of you commenters and Palm Beach . I have found walking twice a day really helps with all the physical and mental symptoms.

  15. michelle

    i have just recently quit opiate pain medication after battling 16 years on it. I have tried to quit repeatedly in the past including cold turkey withdrawal and the longest i stayed sober was 6 months. it has been a battle so long and hard that i reached a pointof being so unhealthy that i would die if i tried to quit cold turkey again. so there was a tremendous fear over the last 2 years to keep medicine just so i wouldn’t die not to get high. i’m getting help right now with an addiction doctor. i stay very close to God and i believe i will make it this time. i enjoyed your website. it was very informative. Thank You….

    • Deja Holley


      Congratulations on taking the first steps to your recovery, you can do this! We appreciate your comment and providing inspiration to others who are struggling just as you. (:

  16. I been with my boyfriend for 6 years. I just learn that he hads been abusing pain pills .. but he said he winged him self off. i feel he is still on them because Im tring to leave the relationship because its unhealthy he is being paranoid, staking,snopping .

    • Deja Holley


      If you suspect that your boyfriend is still using, please call our center for assistance. One of our staff members will be able to walk you through the steps of what to do. 1-855-960-5456

  17. Brenda Saunders

    I’m withdrawing from Dilaudid given to me after a femur break more than two years ago. Withdrawal started at 26 months post surgery. It took 22 months post surgery before I became aware that my executive functioning had been shut down, and now, after 28 months, I finally seem to be leveling off. With each passing week, I’m clearer headed and less depressed as my physical withdrawal symptoms wane.

    I’ve found answers to a lot of my initial questions about what I’ve been through, but I still have one nagging question that I can’t seem to find a breakthrough to: How will this experience affect me further? I know there has to be more validation for my experience, but it’s just not out there as far as I can see. Most of the information centers around addictions, not hospital use of Dilaudid.

    An interesting twist to my story is that I applied for disability because of the horrific effects of Dilaudid on my life, when I made significant changes while cognitively impaired. After one single interview by a SSD evaluator, I was awarded disability. I know this is virtually unheard of – so it prompted further research. Receiving disability is hardly a consolation for the aftermath I’m having to suffer through. I’m stunned at being drugged and released from the hospital without any warning of the possibility of an adverse impact on my ability to function – especially considering that I’ve learned that Dilaudid is 3-5 times stronger than heroin. So frustrating not to find anything that helps me understand what happened to me as I struggle through recovery.

  18. My boyfriend just came to me about abusing pain pills. Apparently been abusing/addicted to for the past 10+ years with short breaks because of jail. He is telling me he can get clean on his own and I want to know if that is possible? I thought he was cheating every time he would disappear for days sometimes weeks and come to find out it was pill use. Another question does getting high on pills go hand in hand with cheating? Supposedly he has been clean now for five days and I want to know what the heck have I gotten myself into?

  19. Thanks for all the comments posted, and here I thought I was unusual. My story is much like most of you, a small accident 15 years ago, then two surgeries, and increasing prescription opiates.
    I had come to the place in my life, that I had decided that I was refusing to have any more surgeries. Each surgery seemed to be a precursor to more pain in my left ankle, then my left leg began to atrophy. In the process of increasing health costs, my company contracted with an HMO. They were even worse. They had no interest in helping the underlying causes of my maladies, they just threw more drugs at my pain. I went from oxycontin and oxycodone, as much as 560mg combined opiates per day, down to two 100mg Fentanyl patches and oxycodone but about half what I was taking, but the HMO still was not searching for the real problem.
    Then I retired and moved to Arizona, where I have begun to receive real help. The pain doctor in which I am working, is the same as the one who worked on the AZ governor’s prescription plan to meet new federal guidelines. He began to rally other doctors around me finding the underlying causes of my pain.
    He said when treating patients in pain. I use a multi-modal, comprehensive approach to treating chronic pain through minimally invasive procedures, medication, physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture, diet, research, and behavioral therapy are usually the best solution in achieving pain relief.
    To show what I mean, he referred me to a neurosurgeon, and another pain doctor on staff, whose specialty is nerve conduction studies, and Electrodiagnostic medicine. They both came up with the same conclusion, not only do I have arthritis in my left ankle, but I also have a pinched nerve in my back causing me to have neuropathy.
    One of the real tragedies of using opiates for 15 years has been the moral downward spiral. Through the pain I lost my faith, a love for logical and philosophical thinking, a mental illness bordering on schizophrenia and nearly my loving and wonderful wife of 40 years.
    I am writing a book, for therapeutic purposes. I am on my way down from using opiates, even though I never abused them, I was yet dependent upon them. I have a Medtronic Neuro – simulator, and I hope to be a candidate for a DRG, dorsal root ganglion stimulator in the very near future. You may consider asking your pain doctor, to see if you are a candidate for a Neuro-stimulator and or a DRG.
    Good luck to the rest of you, my fellow sufferers’ and travelers on the path and a life of pain.

  20. I’ve been prescribed Fentanyl patches and Oxycodone tablets since January 2001 – yes fifteen years. It’s the only thing that keeps the chronic pain and Fibromyalgia at bay. Without them alleviating the pain, I don’t thing I would be alive today.

    Through the years I’ve adjusted doses a few times, but have stayed at the same Fentanyl dose for a long time now (75). For the Oxycodone, I most always take 45 mgs first thing upon waking, and another 30 mg about 12 hours later. This dose works for me.

    I did try to reduce the doses a lot, but without some sort of a replacement to alleviate pain, I just cannot do it. And yes, I’ve tried just about everything – epidural injections, acupuncture, TENS, physical therapy, counseling, meditation – yo n same it, I’ve tried it.

    Oh, one important thing is that when I take pain meds, I do not get high, nor sense any sort of euphoria. All I get is a feeling of pain relief.

    I do know that I’m physically addicted to these meds, but like I said, without an adequate replacement killer of the pain, I have no inducement to stop using them. For without them, I’d suffer day in, day out with debilitating pain. Life would suck even more then it does now.

  21. I have been on opiates for 20+ years, up to 300 mgs. for the first ten years then I weened myself down to 30 mgs. a day and stayed at that for the last ten years. then suddenly I couldn’t get them any more (consistently). i have been as long as two months without. and it was two months of hell on earth. i dont know if I can survive without it. when I stop taking I have no motivation to do anything on top of the pain. I am thinking about checking my self into a methadone clinic. is this a good idea?

  22. Hi. I’m alive, barely, after 40 years of using various prescriptions of opiates. Doctor’s have been quite happy writing scripts for my genuine pain issues, and now fibromyalgia, that I think I developed as a result of this horrible drug. This was my final dose of Norco at age 61. The withdrawal was different this time, and even though I am just on Day 10, I know that I will never go back. I would rather die in my pain than live for the daily destructive effects of this drug. I truly prayed for death to take me, and would have welcomed it. For me, God has clearly given me a message that this was my final script. I was a physically, happy woman with light in my life, and in my eyes. Now, it feels like death to me – death of my body, mind, and now spirit. Those of you that are young, and have your lives ahead of you – do whatever it takes, walk through the pain, and save your life. I cannot go back (wish I could), but I know how our life will look like as you continue to depend on a drug that WILL SURELY KILL YOU. I hope this helps at least one person today. God Bless and Keep you. It will be the hardest and best decision you will ever make in this life. Don’t listen to what the doctor’s say – listen to your heart, and you can have a happy life.

    • Thank you, Leah. I also have had a similar experience and am so tired of the system. I’ve used oxy and a few others while they tried to diagnose my pain, to no avail, and I also would rather find a different way to manage my pain than with these drugs. I haven’t gone to the doctor because they all act like I’m wearing a rattlesnake around my neck or just trying to get more drugs. I HAVE NEVER ABUSED MY MEDS, they abused me. Good luck.

  23. PLEASE stay away from suboxone ,take this from long time experience . its being said ppl will have to take it like insulin for the rest of there life due to getting off of it being so evil

    • I stopped subutex 5 months now it’s still everyday struggle nausea anxiety depression insomnia I trust god will get me through this each day is a little bettr

  24. I am looking for long term use effects on the anatomy. I.E. long term use of alcohol will cause liver disease. What are the long term effects of narcotics? what are the long term effects of fake narcotics? i.e. buprenorphine? Subject used heroin for 25 years and stopped with buprenorphine. Buprenorphine use over the past 10 years. Thoughts? I have yet to find any reputable information on this.

  25. The depression does subside. I found getting in to recover through a 12 step fellowship and going through the process of the steps and being loved and surrounded by others who have been through the same troubles has been fundamental in getting through the loneliness and despair that addiction brings to your life. It is really difficult to go through it alone. I used opiates for a really long time. I shot heroin and meth off and on for years. Also very addicted to heavy pain pills. Worse pains of my life. The mental torture is worse than the physical. My deepest sympathies go out to anyone going through this. Just remember you don’t have to go it alone and there is a way out.

  26. My husband stopped taking hydrocodone and oxycontin earlier this year after 5 plus years of use. He has been extremely self conscious, anxious and paranoid within the last couple of months. Is it normal to have such changes in personality six months after using opiates?

  27. Don’t ever go on suboxone. Your nervous system is altered forever. The pain medication doesn’t work. Just got fentanyl .25. I took sthe oath off after 3 days and am trying to sto cold. Ben over 15 years. I believe the long term use has caused deep muscle pain. Hop I make it.

  28. Ed Smith (Anon)

    I wont bore you with my list of injury’s, I will simply say I was blown up in Afghanistan and I will never walk normally again. After to discussing my injures and quality of life with many pain Dr I came to the conclusion that I did not want to put myself into the position that every one to three months I would require higher doses of opiates and at some point throughout my life reach the limit, this would only exacerbate pain and simply add other problems. Long story short; I have come up with an abstinence program , most months I use opiates for fifteen days, then taper for a week and stop completely for another week , what this has allowed me to do is to stay on the same basic does that I have been on for a decade. The most problematic issue with attempting this is not the monthly withdrawals, its finding a doctor that will allow this type of usage, you would think that limiting the amount of opiates prescribed would be a god sent for our currently overly bureaucratic FDA intrusion, yet prescribing out of the norm instantly labels you as someone who is abusing the system.

  29. Richard Gomez

    I’m currently on percocet 8 pills a day I’ve had 4 neck surgeries in the past 5 months Ive been on various narcotics for over 30 years. I have now become so depressed and I believe the pain pills are making things worse ! I dont take the pills to get high i want the pain to go away. I’ve been on patches 3 100 mg patches every 3 days with oy’s for breakthrough pain whatever that means. I’m being treated like a junkie b/c through the years I’ve needed stronger n stronger doses to feel relieve only to Overdose 3 x’s in the last 5 months. I’m scared to death of dying and my family treats me like an addict. I over came alcohol,meth,cocaine 8 years ago ut I must say this is the hardest thing to stop . I quit smoking for 2 months and that seemed easier than even the thought of quitting pain meds. For now my depression is so severe I wish God would take me I know I wouldn’t have to deal w/this anymore. yeah I know it’s the easy way out and for me it’s just a thought i could never take my life …EVER ! I went to school for drug n alcohol counseling graduated with honors and then had neck surgery which just about wrapped up my career as a counselor. So I know the ill effects of all I have done but the brain is so into a groove that i can’t see a way out w/out some form of freaking out. My drug dealer I mean my doctor says she wants to help me but her help was just to give me more pills My ER doctors are tired of seeing me and want me to turn in my doctor for the abuse that she has put on me and I just dont know where I’m headed I’m scared and no one wants to find the real cause of my pain and it’s real. I know I need help and I know I’m not alone but that’s not what my brain is telling me. My brain says you’ve tried and failed so just roll with it take more you’ll feel better but in the end i feel more depressed and i want to die i just can’t see another way out anymore i guess I’m slowly giving up I have faith I believe in God And Believe he will help but if I don’t do my part things will remain the same. I feel for you out there who are suffering and if your a younger person (i’m 54) get the hell off these pills you will ruin yourself , I may not be able to recover from this but I can help stop someone younger who has there life ahead of them to just stop and walk away from all this IT”S NOT WORTH IT ! PLEASE LISTEN there was no one for me back in the days but that doesn’t mean I can’t help someone now save there life. I believe that is my sole purpose is to save someone else from this horrible and scary ride I pray for all of you out there suffering from addiction it sucks and it hurts everyone around you trust me when I say this If you don’t have support get some this cant be done alone this I’m finding out now . PLEASE for the last time this is no joke the consequences are real. God Help Us All !

    • Christian Witte

      Richard, it is never too late for anybody. Please give us a call at 1-855-960-5456 and one of our treatment representatives can aid you in finding the help that you desire.

  30. i was on high dose’s of Oxycontin, then fentynal patches for over 10 years, then once i was winged off those i was put on suboxen for 2 years, i don;t recommend.. i am at 10 months off subs, and i still feel like crap it feels like i am never going to get better, mentally my receptors are starting to function a little, but the emotional, and physical is still kicking my butt, at times i think i will never feel good again. but then i get on read about the lengths, of time it will take to feel better, so i keep putting one foot in front of the other… i am highly into essentials oils, 12 step meetings, and talking to people about how the pain pills and suboxens have depleted my whole body. i have done a lot of reading about our neurotransmitters and they will heal over time… i get depressed, i have no energy on most day, but i am hear to tell you i feel better then i did months ago, i would break down crying over everything, that has calmed down too.

  31. crazyeyed ty

    First off, ive been an addict for 10yrs. ive worked on myself and getting clean for 5. ive detox for 1-2 months at least 3 times and 1-2 weeks countless other times. ive read lots of testimonies, storys, and different types of information online about opiate addiction`/dependence. I believe I’m an honest person..with myself and others. lately ive been seriously questioning myself weather I truly want to “get clean” or not. i question myself a lot. then i get pissed and confused and start think self destructively again. but sometimes i wonder if my only goal in life is to get off opiates. like i said before i tried HARD to get and stay clean before but i never get to a point where i am not soo damn lethargic that i can do anything but hang out around the house. ive had weird issues all my life where I’ll all of a sudden get sick and week and basically faint and pass out and hit the floor…every time its when I’m around a lot of ppl so i think its anxiety. but ive never gone to a doctor and talked to anyone, who could help.my teeth will chatter like I’m cold even tho I’m sweating and I’m in a completely peacefull situation. I’m grow up now but my body still get shakes and i can feel the blood flow in my body when i get excited or nervous. so when i have to deal with the PAWS its a pretty big issues for me. I’m someone who will always have one of the very physical low paying jobs so its that much harder for me to work/live with PAWS. when i do detox i mentally feel great, almost high…the “emotional flood” this article talked about feels good..its the physical stuff that gets to me. I know theres ppl out there that have acted,experienced, and thought the same things that i have. i honestly feel like ive opened a box that cant be closed. I’m tired of suffering to try and get back to normal. i wish i could do/pay something to feel like i did before i ever used opiates but i realize it doesn’t work that way. i feel like i have to tell myself “yes i lost at life”and get back on suboxone ,and try to get the closest thing to a life that i can. everytime i detox i get to feel those natural endorphins. I’m a half-ass musician and drugs hinder the creative flow. i cant keep going through hell for a month then feeling like shit forever. the place i live isn’t easy and doesn’t help either. my uncle killed himself cuz he had a fucked up back, got prescribed pks up to fentanyl, got cut off, couldn’t pay bills, and found out he had cancer.i was working at a greenhouse/landscaping place when i seen the ablulance and got the call from my sister crying telling me he killed himself. at the time i couldn’t understand why someone so strong could do that. i truly understand now and i have a lot of home issues i cant describe to anyone either. its very hard. Ive tried my best in life. ive thought about suicide and how someone comes to that point too many times.i lost my gf of 6 yrs, who was kinda fucked up and psychotic herself a few yrs ago then ended up losing my job cuz i was using too many diff drugs. i was hangin out with coc dealers who are in prison for murder now.i live in the UP of Michigan this shit wasn’t supposed to happen here.moved in with my mother and her husband and i am very greatful. I’m doing 10 times better than i was. but I’m damn near 30 yrs old and cant better my life cuz i cant get clean. i always think about everyone who cares about me and how it would hurt them if i were to commit suiside but i sometimes truly feel like that’s the best thing to do. i cant tell anyone this face to face but i always feel like I’m getting closer to that point.im glad this country is finally starting to realize how powerful opiates can be. same shit happened to china when it was just opium. well that’s all i have to say about myself. hope someone will truly relate.

  32. katy sharp

    Wow… Hi everyone… what a journey reading all your posts. It’s astounding what is happening to so many of us. I’ve been on an 11 year journey, stopped fentynol and oxy, first reducing then cold turkey. Mentally I was determined, so that helped. I stayed off for 29 days, during which time I had two really painful flare-ups of whatever disease I have that’s causing so much pain, sickness, and fatigue – plus more. Then I started Norco, 3 per day, but it’s quickly increased. I need to stop soon, but I don’t know what to do about such extreme bouts of pain episodes. Any suggestions? I’m also afraid of the long-term brain chemistry changes. I think the main problem, at least for me and probably for so many others, is that doctors are not trying to find the cause/diagnosis and instead are just throwing pain meds at you. It’s been since 1991 that I became chronically ill, I’ve been diagnosed with so many different medical issues/conditions/diseases – but not the underlying condition that’s causing it. I hate our medical system, and I hate most of the doctors I’ve seen – they have been verbally and even physically abusive – suggesting that I’m not being honest about my symptoms and diagnoses. It’s incredibly ugly. Our system MUST change, there are far too many people suffering needlessly due the incompetence or disinterest or financially motivated doctors/system. IMPORTANT for everyone out there suffering: google about supplements to increase serotonin and dopamine, I haven’t tried them yet but have hope they will help with the depression/mental issues CAUSED by opioid use. Some of the supplements are amino acids, which I’ve read about, and appear to be scientifically studied and quite effective. Wish me luck – as I wish all of you much luck too. These opioids are true hell – also google long-term affects on brain chemistry from long-term use of opioids. It’s really scary getting off – but it’s also really scary staying on… lots of good info though when you research what you can do to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Thanks everyone for sharing, it’s helped me to not feel so all alone – as I’ve become extremely isolated (being completely bedridden for five years can do that). Would love to have someone respond. Thanks.

  33. I have been on opiates for the last ten years in different forms from Vicodin then switched to Percodan because Vicodin has Tylenol and Percodan has aspirin then went to a pain ,management doctor that introduced the Fentanyl 50 every 2 days along with 120 qty. Percodan prn per month for a period of 4 years then went to Fentanyl 25 patch every 3 days along with 90 qty Percodan prn per month then stretched the Fentanyl 25 patch over a period of 1 year then slowly got down to every 5 days but still taking 90 qty. Percodan prn . Now I stopped the Fentanyl patch but still took the Percodan but cut it in half prn. Now last Sunday I have stopped taking the Percodan completely. The only thing I have noticed was I got was restlessness leg spasm but only one leg and I have found by eating cottage cheese when the spasm starts it goes away quickly. So this is how I conquered my opiate use. So it might work for others and may not it all but depends how you hard you want to stop and where your mind is set.

  34. I have been clean for 7yrs 14 yrs of my life was given to a drug. That was suppose to help me I had 3 surgeries boom I was hooked I don’t blame that it’s just a fact I destroyed my life and every one I loved . I overdosed more times then i can count my heart has stopped 3 times thank god i was in the hospital at my worse I was taking 10 1000 mg Norco a day and 4 40mg morphine tabs and then throw in my adderall i dont know how i survived I lost my mind my marriage and my kids I have repaired the relationship with my kids and I’m getting better every day I ain’t the man I used to be and work at it daily. And for those still struggling you too can do it take control back you too can be a 1% percenter God bless and my prayers are with you.



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