Citation: SensationSeeker. "Somehow Took the Worst of the Symptoms Away: An Experience with Tramadol & Gabapentin (exp104074)". Erowid.org. Oct 3, 2019. erowid.org/exp/104074
Tramadol Finally Beaten with Gabapentin
I spent 7 years on Tramadol, tried to get off of them multiple occasions, and eventually ran out of luck.
I spent 7 years on Tramadol, tried to get off of them multiple occasions, and eventually ran out of luck.
It’s been about 8 months since my last Tramadol, and I will never take another one because I know I will be right back in the same boat. The withdrawals are unreal, and last for 2 ½ weeks acute and months for post-acute depression. I have to say up front, and wish this was more out there, I COULD NOT HAVE DONE IT without a drug called Gabapentin (aka Neurontin). Here’s the narrative, it’s long, but I feel like I need to get it out there, because I could not find anything when was looking. Skip to the bottom if you are just interested in the Gabapentin solution:
When I got out of the military, I had persistent neck and shoulder pain, with an associated arm tingling and numbness. I knew it was from a service-connected injury, but foolishly never documented this while I was in. Regardless, I was receiving care from the VA and used them as my primary care giver.
One week in 2007 I had a flare-up and was tired of not being able to turn my head, so I presented to the ER. I had been prescribed Perc’s before for an unrelated after surgery, and found that….well…..I loved them. Between 2002 and 2008 whenever I could get my hands on them I would use them recreationally. I love a good dopamine/ serotonin rush, who doesn’t!?!?
Anyway, much to my disappointment, I was sent out of the ER with 30 50mg tabs of Tramadol. Something I had never heard of, and was told by the ER doc was non-narcotic and non-habit forming. Well, I popped one on the way home, and felt nothing, except pain relief……what a gip! The sad thing was, whenever I took opiates when I was on Tramadol, I felt very little. I think my receptors were probably all taken by Tramadol. So at my next regular VA doctor appointment I discussed it with my physician. He reconfirmed the non-narcotic classification, but this time referred to it as “pseudo-narcotic”. OK, whatever, it works, and it doesn’t give me a buzz, so it can’t have withdrawal, right? After a year or so, I ended up changing to a private practice because the VA was unwilling to prescribe Ambien, which I wanted.
So I go in to the new doctor, let him know the deal and he had me on a prescription for 30 50mg Tramadol. The thing was, while I had started seeing a new private practice doctor, my VA script was still active, and yes, I was still filling it. So I was steadily stepping myself up to 60 tabs over a 30 day period. Why? I have no idea, I wasn’t getting anything recreationally from them. I remember thinking to myself “I wonder if I will get addicted to these”.
I remember thinking to myself “I wonder if I will get addicted to these”.
In hindsight the crazy thing is I probably already was. This new doctor again reconfirmed the “Low-risk for abuse”, and he gave me the Ambien, Score!
So over the next 3 years, I started refilling the script a few days early every time. As it worked out, my scripts had 3 refills on them. Whenever the pharmacy called in for a new refill, the doctor apparently noticed that I was early and upped the qty. So over a period of 4 years I periodically stepped up from 30 tabs, to 60 tabs, to 90 tabs, to 120 tabs, finally arriving at 240 tabs of 50mg Tramadol tabs for a 30 day supply, plus my 30 tab supply from the VA. I stayed at this level for a while, during which I first realized that I may be addicted.
My wife had a job interview around three hours away and had to leave at 5:30 AM. Well, I had accidentally left my Tramadol in the car, and didn’t realize until I woke up around 10:00 AM. I wasn’t working that day, but I can’t remember why. So didn’t really matter, right? Wrong!
Fast forward 6 hours and the fun begins. Our son was 7 at the time, but was very self-reliant and entertained, thankfully. I started feeling cold as hell, which is contrary to my normal state of always being hot. Despite being cold, I was sweating and was having the worst muscle aches and body pain. Everything inside my body was screaming for the Tramadol. I guess anyone who has come withdrawn from narcotics understands this, but Tramadol is my only experience with this. So I can’t and won’t say it was any better or worse than coming off other drugs, it just SUCKED! I was roaming around the house going through waves of anger (at myself for forgetting), depression, resignation, motivation (to be able to wait for wife to return), rinse repeat. The god-awful symptoms finally leveled out after about 7:30 PM, I had no idea how late she was going to be back. So as a distraction, I watched ‘Hurt Locker’. Finally, at 11:30 PM, she arrived. While trying to not show any signs of “Your Husband is a Junkie”, I calmly walked out to the car and popped 4 Tramadols into my mouth, and laid on the couch content to wait for these terrible symptoms to subside. This was the largest single dose I had taken to this date, I remember making a note of that as I popped them. This is also the first time Tramadol gave me euphoria, or a noticeable high. It was more of a “HOLY FUCK” I’m glad I feel better. I felt better, a lot better, almost high. As the Tramadol kicked in with great enthusiasm, my hair was tingling, euphoria, everything was great.
Then a year or so later I moved, away from where the VA was and I needed to find a supply to supplement my script. I looked online and it didn’t take long. They specialized diagnosing you over the Internet after you fill out a form. No narcotics, but they did offer Tramadol, and that’s all I needed. I was a little nervous about getting scammed, but low and behold, it worked. So for a mere $100 per month, I could replace my VA supplement. Sweet!!
I rode this train for the next year or so, slowly increasing my dosages. I used a local pharmacy that let me pay out of pocket for early refills when insurance wouldn’t. Always made sure I had them. Sometimes even pushed myself into withdrawal to see how far I could go, but also because the feeling of dosing to relieve the symptoms was awesome
the feeling of dosing to relieve the symptoms was awesome
! And now the house of cards starts to shake…
I was coming to the realization that my current path was unsustainable, and I needed to get off these pills. I tried probably 15 times with varying levels of results, but never succeeding. I tried writing down my dosages (at this point I didn’t know, I just took them), tried to pushing doses later, and cutting one tablet off the end of the day, tried a shit-ton of ways with no success. I wasn’t even able to bring my tolerance down….Sucked. By the end of my ordeal I was regularly taking 8-10 tab doses 3-5 times a day.
So obviously at this level of consumption my supply was weakening. I have spent many an hour in a number of Urgent Care clinics complaining about this neck pain that reoccurred every 6 months or so. I was always careful not to go to the same one twice, and always filled my scripts at local pharmacies without insurance. I had no idea what lists I was on, or if there were actually lists to be on, quite paranoid. Sometimes I scored 3 tabs, sometimes 5 (Doctor called my bluff). Around this time, the online company I was using grew some sort of morals, and cut me off.
It so happened one day in early July last year that I ran out, but had nothing in the pipeline, huge fail. I told my wife (who didn’t realize what I was doing) that I had left my pills in the hotel I stayed in during the previous week’s biz trip. It was a Sunday, so I called the pharmacy and asked them if I could get an early refill and gave them my excuse. Mind you this was 2 weeks since my previous script was filled. She told me I needed to have my doctor call it in. So I called the emergency number and my doctor called me and we discussed what ‘happened’. He said, no problem, and said he'd call it right in. So I was happy. Well apparently the narcs at the pharmacy told him of my habitual early refills. This was probably the most uncomfortable, degrading, demoralizing discussion I have ever had. Not only was I being called out, I wasn’t getting any Tramadol that night AND he cancelled my all my refills saying I needed to come in for consult. I told him I was going to withdraw if I didn’t get any. His answer was ‘Well I guess you have to go through that then’. Now I’m all for tough love, and think this was the trigger event for the eventual ending of my addiction. Going cold-turkey from that high a dose and 7 years can cause seizures, and this was the guy who kept stepping me up. I spent that evening in the ER telling the doc about my ‘neck pain’. He said “well, I know you’re not a drug seeker, no one ever asks for Tramadol!” It was time to get off this shit.
So while skipping some details, cause this is already too long, I was saved by Gabapentin. My uncle is a doctor and first suggested this when I was honest with my family. Now, this stuff works, but one has to be committed, and willing to take a shit-ton of Gabapentin, and willing to throw the shit away. My uncle prescribed me 540 600mg Gabapentin, which is funny because it takes a huge paperbag full of pills. I cold turkeyed and got up to about 7,200mg of Gabapentin in a matter of 2 weeks. I built tolerance to this stuff very quickly, but it somehow takes the worst of the symptoms away. I still knew I was withdrawing, I could function though, and I didn't become exhausted. After about 2 weeks, I realized I could start tapering off the Gabapentin to nothing. What I was left with was no acute symptoms, but I still felt like shit. I was depressed as hell, so my new doctor (fired the last guy after he hung me out to dry) put me on Cymbalta, which is doing the trick.
I know this was long as shit, but hopefully this will give someone hope. I think a 7 year, 2,500mg/ day Tramadol habit is close to as bad as it gets with this drug. Good luck.
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