It's now been about a month that I've been trying to wean off of OxyContin, (Oxy) and although I'm able to take a much lower dose than I used to be on, I still experience withdrawal symptoms if I'm late taking a dose. I am now down to a little more than half a pill per day, divided into two doses.
I spoke to a friend who successfully helped a relative wean off of Oxy not long ago. With advice from a pharmacologist, they reduced the dosage in small increments and stayed on that dose for three weeks before reducing again. The overall weaning process took five months!
A few days ago I spoke to the physician's assistant (PA) in my oncologist's office about the need to have an "exit plan" before prescribing Oxy. It was an interesting, and sobering, discussion. Although she agreed that such exit plans are sometimes necessary, most patients with metastatic cancer have pain that will never go away and there is no plan to get them off of Oxy...ever.
I will say that Oxy is a great drug for controlling pain because it not only took my pain away, it also gave me a feeling of wellbeing that I've never experienced before. I would feel warm in the core of my body and relaxed enough that I could sleep if I wanted to. It's very obvious why it is so highly addictive.
I expect that in the course of this cancer journey I'm on, I will need to consider taking Oxy again in the future. I will do so with my eyes wide open and will likely only choose to go back on it when I know that I will need it forever. Withdrawal symptoms while weaning are unpleasant and annoying, but as I see it, the only thing worse is being on a drug that I don't need. Celebrate with me being pain-free for now and hope it lasts a long time...