Matt: What’s up everybody? This is Matt and Greg here with Project Unbroken and we did a talk about my experience with suboxone not long ago. And we had some people asking about methadone and if that might be the right path for them. I know there’s a lot of information out there but not really about particular experiences with it. So, we got some good feedback from Greg asking me about my experience with suboxone. So I don’t know a lot about what Greg went through with his recovery through methadone. So we’re just going to dive into that a little bit.
I guess, I’ll start with, how did methadone come up for you? Was it suggested by somebody or was that just the first place that you went to look for help?
Greg: Yes, I remember I had a good friend that was on it and it was working decently for him. I had tried suboxone with you a few times, and I tried on my own. I never went through what you did, which I wish I did. You know, if I had to change it I would probably try that before I tried methadone. But in my mind, I really wanted to quit. I was tired of it. So, I wanted to try methadone. That was kind of like the last stop. So, that’s how I got there, I would say. It was kind of like, I tried everything else, I might as well try methadone at this point.
Matt: So, the process for getting on methadone. How did that go?
Greg: I believe you have to go in there and you have to drug test and you have to test positive for heroin. Because they don’t want people coming in there and just, people without addictions, and then getting on methadone where you have a methadone addiction. So, I believe I had to go in. I had to piss and I had to be dirty for heroin and then, once that happens, they can start you the next day.
Matt: Yeah, just a side note. I did, I went into that same clinic. Kind of on my own, when I was trying to figure out what I was doing. And I peed clean and they wouldn’t give me any methadone. They were like, “You need to come back and pee dirty.”
Greg: Yeah, they don’t want people who don’t have problems to come in and just try to get high and then get stuck on methadone, so.
Matt: Right. Yeah, well, I guess it makes sense. So, were you given a specific councilor to work with or a doctor or?
Greg: Yeah, you go in and they give you a counselor and I believe when you first start, you him once every two week, you have to see him, or it’s like once a month, something like that. Each program is probably different. And then if I remember correctly, they start you, your first day, on 30 milligrams. And the place I went to, I believe they did all liquid. I think you could do pills if you got [inaudible 00:02:44], you could do pills for a month, but it was like a liquid program. I think it was four dollars a day when I first started. And then as I moved on it went up to five or six dollars a day. And you go in, you get your dose and that first day they start you at 30 milligrams, that first day.
Matt: So, when you say liquid, is that something you’re drinking?
Greg: Yeah, so, you’ll stand in line. You’ll go up to a window and they say, “What’s your name?” They give you your number and all that. You got to give them a special number. I guess they probably have picture ID and that type of stuff, where they can see your face on their screen. And then they’ll see what dose you’re at. They put it in a machine. It fills up the cup for you. They slide it under. Take it back, and then you have your dose for the day.
Matt: So you had to go there every day?
Greg: Every single day to start. Once you’re there for a while and you’re testing clean, cause you have to take drug tests as you’re going. As you’re testing clean, at first you get one take home bottle, right? And then after maybe six months, you might get two take home bottles. After a year, you might get four. After a year and a half, you might get a week at a time. And then eventually you can get a month if you do the pills, at the program I was at. But if stay on the liquid, you can only get a week at a time.
Matt: So, was there certain hours this place as open? Or what was that?
Greg: I believe you could only go there from 6:00 AM to 12:00. So there was that six hour window for getting dosed. And then weekends it was 8:00 to 10:00, so you had to be earlier.
Matt: Oh, okay. That’s.
Greg: So, it’s always like, “Man, better not sleep in.” I would always set five alarms to make sure I didn’t miss it.
Matt: Yeah. I didn’t know it was every day.
Greg: Yeah. For most people.
Matt: Well, right. At least to get started.
Greg: Eventually, at the end, I was getting six take homes, which is like a week. I would go in for that dose and get my six take homes and I’d go once a week.
Matt: So, your heroin abuse, up until the point that you started methadone, were you using Friday and then Saturday you started methadone? Or was there any time in between?
Greg: Yeah, so I used the day before, definitely. Probably all the way up until the morning I went in, where I didn’t use probably that morning. Then I started methadone and I’d started taking the methadone.
Matt: Did you notice, was there a big difference? Should I say, between the day that you were using heroin and then when you started using methadone? Were you irritable, withdrawing, anything like that?
Greg: No. No. And what’s funny is I remember clearly, I told them that I didn’t feel good even though I was fine because I wanted a higher dose. And looking back, I’m like, “You idiot. Why’d you do that. You just made your process longer.” But going back to my addict mindset, all I wanted was to keep feeling good. I’m like, “Well, if I’m taking methadone I might as well feel good too.”
Greg: I think that first days dose would have probably been fine for me, but I’m like, “Well, might as well take this methadone and feel good at the same time, so.”
Matt: I’m sure you’re not the first person in there.
Greg: Right. So, big point there. If you are going to go the methadone route eventually, don’t go higher than you need to. If you really want to get off, it’s just going to prolong the process a lot.
Matt: Yeah. So, 30 milligrams. That’s where you start?
Greg: That’s where I started.
Matt: Does it go down from there?
Greg: For me, it went way up.
Greg: So I went in and I’m like, “I’m not comfortable.” And each day they’ll ask you and eventually … I don’t remember how quickly I went up, I can’t think back that far, I can’t remember clearly, but I got all the way up to 105. So 105 milligrams a day, I was taking.
Matt: Is that one dose?
Greg: One dose. Yeah. So, go up to the window. They’ll get my picture. Oh, he’s on 105. Put it in the machine. The machine automatically measures it out. Give me the cup, take my 105. And I was there for a while.
Matt: So, is that ramping up, is that a matter of you becoming more tolerant to methadone? So, if you just did 30 every day, would you eventually, like heroin, would it just not be enough?
Greg: I think it would have been fine. I think I would have felt the same on 30 as I would have on 105. It’s just that 105, I got high for a little while, maybe a week or so, but then it just felt like 30. So, really it’s a bit waste if you’re to up your dose just to feel better. Cause it doesn’t last long. You level out and just kind of feel, not even normal. Methadone you don’t really feel normal. There’s no pain involved with it, there shouldn’t be if you’re on the correct dose. But at the same time, I didn’t realize at the time I was kind of like a zombie. I was kind of out of it. You’re tired more. So, there’s definitely those down sides. You don’t feel normal, but there’s not pain involved. You shouldn’t be withdrawing at all.
Matt: Okay. What was the environment like? I mean, did you talk to people?
Greg: Nah. You know how I am. I’m pretty quiet to begin with.
Greg: And a lot of the crowd there, it could be a rough crowd. There’s fights in line. There’s people selling their doses outside, trying to sell drugs. A lot of people go there, they just sell their dose to buy drugs, stuff like that. The environment, especially for someone wanting to quit, cannot be the greatest.
Matt: Yeah. How long start to finish? Do you have an idea of the timeline. Like day one, started methadone, how long were you on methadone before you quit I guess?
Greg: Yeah, so I believe it was about four years.
Greg: The first year or so was kind of like my…I’m not ready yet.
Matt: You were still kind of getting high-ish.
Greg: I was still trying to. So, what I would do is I would take my dose and I would maybe skip a day and then try to use and then I was …
Greg: Yeah, try to use heroin and I wouldn’t get high. Which made me realize, methadone is strong. It is a really good blocker, which is one of the big things I like about it. You can’t really get high on it. Now, I wasn’t shooting. Some people who shoot heroin said they could get high still, not as good, but they could still get high and they could transition into heroin. But sniffing it, it was just a complete waste. Man, I would sniff three, four bags and I just wouldn’t feel it. But, for that first year, I kept playing with it. I’m like, “Well, let me try again.” And try again.
Greg: And I just wasn’t ready. And eventually, after a year, I’m like, you know what, “What am I doing?” First of all, I’m not even getting high. And second of all, I got on this to quit so let’s just start taking this seriously and I’m just going to just take this dose. I’m going to stay on it for a while and then that lasted for about a year where I didn’t use. I was just on the methadone. And then eventually I found out that my son was on the way and from that, the day I found out, I’m like, “I’m coming down. I’m coming with a game plan.” I was on 105 at the time and I came down a milligram a week. That was my plan.
Greg: So for 105 weeks, I came down one milligram at a time.
Matt: Okay, so about …
Greg: About two years.
Matt: Yeah. About two years.
Greg: Yeah, two year detox.
Matt: So you found out that your son was going to be born maybe half way through your methadone?
Greg: Yeah, so I was still taking methadone when he was born. Up until I guess he as about a year and a half.
Greg: I was still on methadone. Something like that. Maybe a year.
Matt: So, you and I kind of got back in touch. Your son was born. And I’m trying to think about exactly how long you had left to get off methadone. But I know that you started, we got back in touch, you started exercising. You were getting close to getting off.
Greg: Yeah. I think actually when we got in touch I was on about five to 10 milligrams.
Matt: Yeah, you were towards the tail end of it.
Greg: Yeah, it was pretty low.
Matt: Were you uncomfortable then? And if not, when did, cause I know it got uncomfortable, when did it get uncomfortable?
Greg: Yeah, so, I don’t think I was uncomfortable then.
Greg: I was pretty comfortable around the five, 10 mark. I would say around five was when I started, like, “Eh.” I mean you talk about your suboxone, I don’t know if it was mental or if it was a combination of both where I was kind of withdrawing a little bit and it was kind of mental. I’m like, “Oh, I’m getting low. I’m getting these single digits, I’m getting low, I know the end is coming soon.”
Greg: To bring it back. One mistake I think I made was I came down to slow at first. So I think if people are on a high dose, you can probably come down five milligrams a week until you get to the 30, 40 mark, then you can switch off to maybe one milligram. But I would definitely shorten my time by coming down five a week at the higher doses. Because one milligram a week at that high of a dose, it’s not going to matter.
Matt: Well, it’s funny, cause I think I mentioned that in my video with my experience with suboxone. Right off the bat, I think the first couple months, I cut the dosage in half.
Matt: I was like, “I’m good.” I don’t need quite that much.
Greg: Yeah. I definitely took it too slow at first. I mean, there’s no too slow. I’m clean. You know what I mean? So, it worked. But for those just to give you guys information, if you’re on a higher dose, coming down five milligrams a week is not going to hurt. You’re probably not going to feel it. If you do start feeling it, just stop, stay there, and then start slowing that to one milligram a week. But going back to the five. I think around five milligrams is when I started getting a little uncomfortable.
Matt: Yeah. I mean, again for me, with the suboxone it was also when it just started getting low. It’s almost like somebody’s taking away your security blanket from a kid.
Matt: You’re like, “I need that.”
Greg: I mean, we started doing pills at what, 18? By 20 we were doing pills just about every day and then we transitioned to heroin every day. Then I transitioned to suboxone or methadone every day. So, that’s, I mean 20, I guess I was around 20, so that’s like eight, nine years of having something every single day.
Matt: Yeah, it’s just a habit. It’s something that you’re really used to having to help you out.
Matt: What were some of the symptoms, when you started feeling uncomfortable? I mean, what was the uncomfortability?
Greg: The biggest thing I can remember is a little bit of anxiety, restless legs I had pretty bad, and then not being able to sleep. So, there was nothing terrible. I’m comparing this to normal heroin withdraw or normal methadone withdraw or opium withdraw, where it’s just absolutely horrible. And we talked about this in your video on suboxone, I was comparing it to that. And I was like, “All right, this sucks but it’s not that bad. I could deal with this.” Probably the worst part was not sleeping because I would just lay up all night and I wouldn’t be tired and my legs would hurt and I would hop in and out of the shower. But, again, I’m comparing it to regular withdraw. And it just wasn’t, when I made that comparison, I had already gone through this two year detox. I’m like, “I’m committed. I’m doing this shit. I’m not turning back I got to keep moving forward.”
Matt: Yeah. I think once you make that decision and it’s final, and you had a big transition in your life with your son being born. I think you’re more prepared to just deal with, again, it’s not as bad, but you’re ready to deal with whatever uncomfortability you’re going to have at ya. It’s not going to be as bad as, you know, now you having a child and falling back into your addiction.
Greg: Definitely. Definitely. Yeah, so, I remember the day I got to zero, I actually went back to the clinic and got another week worth. We talked about this before.
Matt: Oh, yeah.
Greg: And I got a week worth and I actually kept it at my house. And I was like well, that was my security blanket. I’m like, “All right, I’m not going to take this but I know it’s there just in case.”
Matt: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Greg: So what I did is, you got to be careful about doing stuff like this, but I just knew I was done. So I had those six bottles, my take homes, and I’m supposed to take them honestly, but I just didn’t. First day I didn’t. Again, I was uncomfortable, but I was like, “All right, I can do this.” I mean like, this sucks but let me just take the next day and see what happens. So the next day, I got up and worked out and I was at the gym five o’clock feeling like shit but I still worked out. And I was like, “I feel, I guess, a teeny bit better today, I can get through today. Let me get through tomorrow.” I just kept doing that. Right? After a week or so, I felt decent. I still wasn’t sleeping but my restless legs were kind of going away. I’m definitely not as anxious and I got through a week without taking anything. Threw out the bottles. Like, that’s it. I’m done.
Greg: Threw out the bottles after about a week and I just, from there it was just like better and better each day. You know? It took a while for my sleep to get back on track. I would say it took …
Matt: It was a while for you.
Greg: It was a while. I mean that first month I probably was sleeping an average of a half hour a night.
Matt: Yeah, that’s not, yeah.
Greg: You know. And that was definitely the worst of it, was the sleep and at first the anxiousness but that went away after about a week. So, yeah, I mean, the first month or so was a little rough with the sleep but I would just look forward to getting up and working out. We talk about the importance of exercise, and that would kind of just keep me going. And then after about two or three months I was up to about two to three hours of sleep a night. And I don’t remember the timeline after that but I’m up to now, where I have problems with sleep on and off but I changed my diet and I’m able to sleep pretty good, so.
Matt: Yeah, do you remember how long it was or how long that you were off of methadone before you could just operate day to day and not think about it? Was it a long time or was it always kind of in the back of your mind or were you thinking about it? Or when were you just like … when did you go through your first normal day and not think of yourself like a drug addict?
Greg: It probably took a little while. Just cause of the sleep. I was always … I remember this clear, and usually I don’t have a good memory but with this I can remember clearly, I was just up so much at night that it made me like, “God damn.” I’m up because of my addiction.
Greg: I’m up because I used drugs for so long and I had to go this route. So that kind of reminded me.
Greg: But after, I guess, about six months when my sleep started getting more regular, or I guess I started getting used to just not sleeping, and when I first talked about it with my fiance she was like, “How do you do it?” I’m like, “I’m just used to it.” Like, I deal with it. It’s not a big deal. But I guess after about six months I started getting used to it and I started sleeping more, so I would say, after about six months.
Matt: Yeah. I think that’s a big part. And I don’t really remember that moment personally. But I know every day you kind of just start operating without anything. And there’s almost like a little thing, or there’s a little thing in the back of my head that every day that I got further away from it, I’m just happier. Kind of.
Greg: Yeah. It’s just like you just feel so good you’re like, “Oh my. I don’t need it.”
Matt: Your free.
Greg: Yes. Like, you talk about in your video on suboxone how hard it was to get off suboxone for you and your process. How that one day when you left, and you left your suboxone at your house. Well, for me it’s like I had my six take home bottles, what if I lose them? There not giving you more. You know what I mean? Sometimes I dropped them in my car and I’ll get home and I’ll count four bottles, and I’m like, “Oh my God! I’m missing two bottles.” Just that feeling of not having to rely on that crutch. I was like, “This is great.” Maybe I don’t feel great right now, like in the beginning but, at least I don’t have to rely on anything.
Matt: Yeah. Cause I know you mentioned this not long ago, and I’m the same way, neither one of us take anything for anything. I don’t like taking Advil.
Matt: And it’s more, I just feel like subconsciously I don’t ever want to rely on something.
Greg: Yeah. I don’t know if it’s like a mental thing but I took NyQuil, maybe a few months ago, I was kind of sick and I couldn’t sleep. So I took a little bit of NyQuil and I started getting really bad anxiety. I think it was just like having a foreign substance in my body. It’s just a turn off for me.
Greg: It’s like you said, I just don’t want anything foreign in my body cause it’s crazy.
Matt: Yeah, well that’s probably a good thing.
Greg: Yeah. And that even goes into clean eating and all that, which we’ll talk about in other videos.
Greg: And that was my process on methadone.
Matt: Yeah. Well I think that’s super helpful because now we have a little bit of a background of what an experience looks like with methadone and then if you guys go back and look at the video of what my experience with suboxone looked like. It might be helpful for you if your kind of weighing the two options out. I think there’s definitely positives out of both of them. They both have their ups and downs.
Greg: I would highly recommend checking out that video first, before you try methadone. Because if I could go back, I would do what you did.
Greg: Under a more monitored. Cause I was just think maybe suboxone is not for me cause I kept using with it and stuff. But I think under the right circumstances it can work extremely well. Cause methadone is a slippery slope. It can be really tough to get off if you don’t have the proper mind set and you don’t get on the right maintenance program with it and do the right detox. It can be really hard to get off. So, even though it helped me get off drugs, helped me get off heroin, I still have a tough time recommending it. Maybe as a last step, but definitely try that route first, I would say.
Matt: Yeah, well, I think that’s some helpful information.
Matt: Thank you for watching guys. Don’t forget to check us out at Projectunbroken.com. Check our contact section if you have any questions or topics that you would like us to cover, we would be more than happy to. So, we will look forward to talking to you soon.
Greg: Have a good one guys.