Matt: Hey guys, this is Matt from Project Unbroken. I’m here with Greg.
Greg: Hey guys.
Matt: We wanted to talk a little about different maintenance programs when it comes to recovery. Greg and I have completely different experiences with transitioning from heroin to I did suboxone and Greg did the methadone route. I honestly, right now I have no idea what Greg’s experiences are with that and I don’t think he has much knowledge of what I went through with suboxone. We’re going to hash it out today. Talk about maybe the similarities and the differences. The positives and the negatives of each. If you guys are out there looking for a path to recovery and you’re thinking about either one maybe you can get a little bit of information from this conversation. I’ll let Greg start off with his info.
Greg: First, I have done both, actually. I’ve done suboxone and methadone. I did suboxone with Matt, actually for a while when we first started trying to quit. I think there’s great things with suboxone and bad things with suboxone just like methadone. For me, suboxone was more of a crutch. I don’t think I was totally ready to get clean when I started taking suboxone. I basically used it to as a crutch, like I said when I couldn’t get dope, I would use that or I would use it for a week, I’d fall off, start getting high and then use it as a crutch again.
Matt: To not withdrawal, basically.
Greg: Right. The doctor I was getting it from was giving me 180 pills a month at the eight milligrams. Basically, I was selling most of it and buying dope with it. I know a lot of people do that as well. I think suboxone can be great. You can talk more about the experience with successful experience, but I can see it being a really good tool when you’re really ready to quit and when you withdraw yourself away like we talked about that in other videos where you can’t get dope or you really don’t want to get it, or you’re really ready to quit, or you’re just in an area where you can’t contact anyone. I think it can be a great tool. I’ll let Matt cover there.
I mainly want to talk about methadone. I’ll cover this in other videos, but I’ll shortly talk about the upsides and downs of that since Matt doesn’t have experience with and he’ll cover more of suboxone. Methadone is one of the big reasons I was able to get clean, but I still have a jolted view on it, I guess you could say. How do you say that? Jainted?
Matt: Jilted. Jainted.
Greg: Recommending people to take methadone is still tough for me, even though it helped me quit because it is a bitch to get off. Let me tell you that. When you’re on it, I don’t really remember much of what I did when I was on methadone. It was like I was a freaking zombie. You don’t think straight. When I first got on it, I was still trying to get high so I took way too much to start. I think they started me at 30 and I kept going up saying, “Oh, it’s not working. It’s not working yet.” I was on way too high of a dose, so if you start, be careful of that.
Matt: What’s, I don’t know, I think about it when you say 30?
Greg: 30 milligrams.
Greg: They’ll gradually send you up as you go through the program.
Matt: So, you start with a lower dose.
Matt: They ramp you up because of whatever.
Greg: You’ll come in and you come in for your dose and they’ll be like, “Oh, how are you feeling today?” And be like “Oh, I don’t feel good.” So I took more and I was trying to get high. I wanted to quit, but I’m taking methadone so I might as well feel good too, right? That’s one of the things you got to be careful of, is getting on too high of a dose. Again, the other thing is that it’s so hard to get off. When I detoxed, I was on 105 milligrams for my maintenance. Every day, I was taking 105 milligrams. When I decided this is it, I’m done. I found out my son was being born and from that point on it was like, bam. I’m done. I’m going to figure out a plan to get off. From that day, I came down 1 milligram a week, alright. It took me two years to detox and still, we were hanging out when I was at the end.
Matt: You were exercising. Yeah. You started working out.
Greg: You got me here right when I was at the end. I still didn’t sleep for two weeks to a month still.
Matt: Let me ask you this, when you started your detox on the way down from the 105, that was the peak? That was the …
Greg: The 105, I was on for a year or two. That was the …
Matt: But, that was the most you would ever get?
Greg: 105 was the most.
Matt: Were you still getting high?
Greg: No. That’s the thing. After a while, if you’re going on methadone, you’re trying to use it to get high, it’s pointless because it’s going to be hard to get off. The more you take, the harder the detox is. Right, so it’s a good question. Also, You’re not going to get high. You might get high for a few days. You might feel good for a few days, but you’re going to get used to it and it’s going to be like let’s say you were taking 40. There’s no point if you do go the methadone route, in my opinion, there’s no reason to go higher than you need to go. I understand from an addict mindset you want to try to feel better, but there’s no point because you’re going to feel the same as you did from a lower dose once you even out.
Matt: What was the … I’ve been in that methadone clinic and I’ll touch on that later about what happened there, but what was the culture inside the methadone clinic? I’m guessing you have a counselor that you’re working with that you’re telling how you feel or whatever?
Greg: Somewhat, you see I think I saw my counselor maybe once a month.
Matt: Did they give you any shit about saying like I need more? Or is it they don’t want you doing heroin?
Greg: Pretty much.
Matt: They don’t care if necessarily you’re getting high off of methadone.
Greg: The program I was in they basically, they more you test clean the more you can do take home bottles. Eventually, I was taking home a week at a time. If you do pills, you can actually home almost a month at a time, but if you test dirty, you have to go every day. You’d show up every day. Eventually, if you keep testing dirty, they kick you off. I think it’s different for each methadone program. It changes from program to program, but that’s how it was there.
Matt: Okay, got it.
Greg: On my way down, so you know how this went. I was comfortable the whole way down. Remember I started at 30 milligrams and I probably could have flatlined there. I probably could have started on 30 and stayed there and be comfortable. All the way down, I would say I started feeling withdrawal systems around ten or so. A little bit, not super uncomfortable. I got down to the three, two, one milligrams those last few weeks and I started feeling it. It wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t like normal withdrawal, but I could sleep. I had restless legs and that was the most of it. It wasn’t really intense withdrawing, but I was uncomfortable.
The big thing with methadone is you got to know that it’s going to be hard to get off. You got to be ready for that battle to come off it because in a way methadone I think can be harder to get off than dope. There’s a lot of people in that program where they go to jail or they have to come off quick. If you get caught taking a poor drug test and you fail for whatever and they end up saying, “Look, you’re done.” They’ll take you off 5 milligrams a day until you’re at zero. You’re withdrawing like you would on heroin for a month instead of a week.
It’s really dangerous as an alternative, although it worked for me. I would still say proceed with caution because it’s hard to get off and again when you’re on it, you’re like a zombie. It’s really tough for me to say, “This is a great alternative.” It is an alternative that can work obviously, it worked for me, but you got to be very careful. I think suboxone’s a way better route because I think in the same situation, at the point I was at, by the time I started coming off, if I was on suboxone, I would have been just as good.
Matt: Yeah. Right.
Greg: You got to be careful with methadone. It can work, but there’s a lot of dangers to it.
Matt: Yeah, I guess they probably both come with their areas that you have to watch out for. Going back, I know Greg and I we saw a billboard and it was like, get off of opiates or whatever. Call this number. There was a doctor in Wilmington who has definitely lost their license. I think there was a big lawsuit against them.
Greg: I remember that.
Matt: Greg and I, this was around the first time we started to try to quit heroin, we saw this sign and we’re like let’s give it a shot. Called up there. It was so … they charged you for the initial meeting. It was not cheap. It was a couple hundred bucks.
Greg: The whole thing, I remember was $600. I remember clearly.
Matt: It was $600 and I remember we scrapped this money together. Greg paid for it. I don’t even remember what it was, but I remember it was a large investment if you’re a heroin addict. $600 …
Greg: Shit, that’s a full log right there. That’s a 130 bags of heroin.
Matt: We were really trying to quit and this was the first thing that we came across. I remember Greg went in and I was with him. I was waiting in the car. It was $600 per person. We couldn’t do that so we were like we’ll split whatever this is. I think the doctor … the whole thing, the whole program, he sent you out with maybe 10 pills.
Greg: At the most.
Greg: I think it was a week’s worth.
Matt: Yeah, it was a week’s worth of pills.
Greg: To get you through the withdrawal stage.
Matt: To get you, yeah. Supposedly, you’re supposed to be able to get through this withdrawal stage and then you’re good.
Greg: You’re good. That’s it.
Matt: After seven days.
Matt: We were like … we split them. We split these pills and we were like let’s see what happens. I’m pretty sure it won’t be hard for you to guess what happened. A couple days later, we were back on the boat. That was super discouraging and that’s a whole other topic is that there are definitely predatory …
Greg: Hell, yeah.
Matt: Forces out there trying to pry on people that are struggling with addiction and that are realizing their lives are becoming unmanageable. This was one of those people. There’s a special place in hell for people that are doing stuff like that.
Matt: I think after Greg and I went our separate ways when we were trying to get clean. I struggled for a while with it. I ended up finding a reputable doctor, not far from where I lived. It was not an easy program to get into. The way they had it set up is you have to go see a physician and part of the program is you would have to go see a psychiatrist. They were like a partner team together. The guy was cool. I’d go once a week. He would write me a weeks prescription for suboxone. I started with 8 milligrams a say, which is a regular pill.
Greg: They come in eight, two, and four, I remember right.
Matt: I think so. Actually, when I was doing them, I would break them into quarters. They were, you know, whatever. That started the process, for me. It was great. I found a lot of success with that. It took me about a year from start to finish with suboxone. I would constantly ween myself down and ween myself down. To be honest, I still to this day, don’t know because there was a drastic change from the last sliver of suboxone I had. It was maybe a milligram, I think, to the day one of nothing. I don’t know if it was physiological.
Greg: That’s what I was going to ask you.
Matt: I don’t know. There was a dramatic difference.
Greg: We’re so used to taking something every single day to feel better for years and then all of a sudden, you have nothing. Even it’s a little sliver, I think that’s definitely probably some phycology and some physical.
Matt: I remember specifically what I was doing. I was in Philadelphia. Keep in mind, I was still drinking. I was still drinking pretty regularly. I was in Philly. I went out, had my last dose of suboxone, woke up the next day and I was like what now? I got to do this on my own? I did not feel good about it. For a long time, and I knew it was going to be a long time. It took me awhile to get back to a base level of feeling okay. I prepared for this. I expected it and again maybe it was a placebo effect of not having a crutch to fall back on every day. It was tough. I really had to work hard to keep my mental health in a decent place.
By now, I was trying to exercise and do things like that to create the healthy chemicals and hormones in my mind naturally. I was trying to eat better. It was difficult. All in all, it was a good experience. One thing I really liked about it is I was able to completely remove myself from other addicts. I know at the methadone clinic, you’re surrounded by them.
Greg: Half the people at the methadone clinic are selling their methadone to get high.
Matt: They’re gaming the system. I realized that it was nice to not be around that anymore. Half of that, those are easy things to fall into. When you get a bunch of addicts together, the conversation goes south real quick when it’s like hey, let’s sell this or let’s go get this.
Greg: It’s a whole other topic. That’s one of the things that I don’t like about out-patient rehab is almost putting fuel on the fire sometimes.
Greg: To stay on topic, one of the things I did when I was on methadone is like you said, it’s been so long since we haven’t taken something. I actually went and I said I want to get another weeks worth. I went and at that time, I was getting a week at a time. I got my weeks worth where I had six bottles. I took my dose that day and they give you six bottles. I had six bottles. They each one milligram in it. I did that for an extra week. What I did was, alright, I’m going to take these home, but I’m not going to take them. That way, if I start feeling like complete shit. I’ll take it. Maybe I’ll do an every other day or I’ll do it every third day.
It got to the point where I got today one and I was like I’m not comfortable, but it’s not horrible. Day two, same thing. I’m not sleeping, but look, I don’t got cold sweats. I’m not throwing up. I don’t got too bad of anxiety. You all know how bad withdrawal can get. It wasn’t that bad. It sucked, but it wasn’t that bad. I knew that I had my bottles there just in case. Maybe if you’re coming down, keep that little bit there, if you’re ready. You got to be at the right stage. I was ready to quit. I was done. You got to keep that mind out. In my head, I was done. I just wanted to not be super super uncomfortable and I knew if I ever got to that point, I had the one milligram there to keep that withdrawal more stabilized. That’s an option you can do is when you’re coming down, maybe keep a very very low dose for that time where maybe you’re scared of being super uncomfortable.
Matt: Yeah, a lot of stuff can happen. It’s a stressful time. A lot of this stuff, you have to look at all the things that are going on in your life. Prepare yourself as much as you can for dealing with that level of discomfort or whatever it is. It’s a slippery slope, man. It’s one of those things because that’s definitely keeping that little stash for yourself is definitely coming from a place of addiction.
Greg: That’s why I said I was completely ready. You know what I mean?
Matt: It’s not coming from a bad place. You do have to be because I did the same thing with suboxone. I would cut up little pieces and I’d like I’ll just keep these up in the cabinet. Save it for a rainy day. I did this and I wasn’t quite ready yet. When you make that decision, I think it’s good to leave yourself a little bit of leeway in case you do if you’re not comfortable with a certain situation or whatever. Leave that there. Be smart about it. You have to be ready for that level of discomfort. You don’t want it to be overwhelming, to Greg’s point.
A lot of may have been for you too, psychological. You’re like I’m not getting these sweats. I don’t have the restless legs. I don’t want to have these flu-like systems that come with rough withdrawal. I just kind of miss that crutch. I think a lot of it is in our minds. Mentally, you have to remember what your goal is, what your mission is.
Matt: With the whole thing and stay strong.
Greg: I just knew when I did that, I think it’s very important to bring this out, I knew I was done. I went through two years of this detox, my son was here. I am not going back and I knew that. It was there just in case I’m going to get very very uncomfortable. I’m going to do this no matter what. If I’m very uncomfortable, I might go through those six bottles, after that, it was done no matter what. It was nice for me knowing it was there as a backup.
I think what Matt was bringing up, you got to be careful with that as well because you don’t want that and for different people that could bring you down the wrong path. Be aware of where you are in your recovery and how confident you are that you’re going to quit if you’re going to use something like that as a crutch.
Matt: Yeah, no. I think that’s a great point.
Greg: One thing that I’m wondering as we’re shooting this is there’s probably parents out there that are wondering, should I put my kid on suboxone or methadone? I think we can do a different video for that because I think there’s different aspects of that, but as far as this one for you addicts out there, it can definitely help. Matt used suboxone. I used methadone. It really depends on where you are. Be aware of the how you can use it as a crutch. It can end up making things worse. You can sell it to get more dope. That’s the main thing we wanted to talk about, I think.
Matt: Dude, take whatever path you think is going to be most successful for you. You may know people that have used one method or the other or both. Do your research. When you’re ready to make a decision, do your research. Again, we’ve talked about today, in this conversation going to the first billboard we saw and we got ripped off and it really was a huge roadblock for our recovery. It was almost one of those things where we were like, well we tried and then we were make on the wagon.
If you start thinking about, if you’re still deep in your addiction, you’re starting to look for ways out, don’t just jump at the first flashy sign like we did because a lot of times there’s a little more behind the curtain there.
Greg: If you start taking suboxone or methadone and you’re trying to take a higher dose to still get high, you might not be totally ready. You might want to put yourself in check.
Greg: We talk about accountability before. If it’s going through your head, well, let me increase my dose so I can get high like I did with methadone like we’ve done with suboxone. Got to put yourself in check. What am I really doing? Do I want to really get clean right now? You know what I mean? Put yourself in check.
Matt: A lot of times, it’s still and maybe in your case when you started that road through methadone and you were still trying to get high, still trying high, I would imagine it’s still not a healthy behavior to deal with addiction, but it’s better than just grabbing heroin off the street, especially nowadays with the fentanyl and everything they’re cutting it with. Raising overdose rates through the roof. It’s still better to be in some form of recovery, but think about what you’re doing. Think about your thought process through the whole thing. Try to talk to the addict part of your mind and be like this isn’t healthy behavior.
Greg: That’s actually one of the strengths I forgot to cover about methadone is I couldn’t get high on it. I tried. The first year I was on methadone and every once in a while, I’d try to get high on heroin and I just couldn’t.
Matt: I didn’t know that.
Greg: Yeah the methadone is so strong. Now, if you’re shooting up and you’re shooting up a lot, you can probably feel, but not nearly as much. In my case, I was sniffing heroin and I would sniff like four five bags and I still wouldn’t even feel it. So, now I’m like why am I even going to keep doing this? I wasn’t going to get off of the methadone so I could start using dope again because that meant I had to go through withdrawals. That’s one of the strengths is it’s a lot harder to get high than it is off with suboxone where you can take a 12 to 18-hour break, not really withdrawal that much and get high, whereas, methadone’s a lot longer. It blocks it a lot longer.
Matt: Right, so you’re going to deal with the consequences more. Alright, I think that about covers it for our thoughts on suboxone and methadone or at least some of our experience with it. If you guys have any more questions on that topic, leave us a comment below and we would be happy to touch on that later.
Matt: Alright guys, thanks for watching and make sure to check us out at projectunbroken.com. We will be talking to you soon. Take care.