Does anyone know why narcotics make me CRABBY?!?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 78
   Posted 5/8/2011 9:12 PM (GMT -6)   
I mean, even the littlest bit, like taking cheritussin (with codeine) makes me SOOO crabby! It works, and Tylenol 3 & vicodin take away pain, but make me SOO incredibly crabby! Do ya'll think it's just the codeine doing it or is codeine in everything, like oxycontin, percocet (sp?) (cuz I've never tried them)? I take Tramadol, 6-8 a day, and it works great for me and does't make me crabby, that's kinda what prompted my suboxen discussion thread.....any one have any experience or thoughts about that?

Appreciate ya'll SO much!

Betsey Ross
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Date Joined Mar 2011
Total Posts : 1056
   Posted 5/8/2011 9:27 PM (GMT -6)   
My Dear Blondie

I am like that to and I take different meds than you. i feel that i could yell at the drop of a hat. So quick to be mean.

i dont know why and I dont know how to correct it. I am hoping that the pain management doc can give some light into that on 5-17=11.

Try to stay on even plane stay strong and i will try to do the same.

soft hugs

crushed lower knee and vertical fx of yibia/external fixator placed/plates and screws and tried to place big pieces of cartiledge under knee cap/tremendous pain in affected legcontinously without improving/allergic to metal in left leg/leg isnt straight/need metal removed in July/wait 6 months for healing/then toatal knee replacement/straighten out leg/more phsyxical therapy/take opana er

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Date Joined Aug 2008
Total Posts : 3193
   Posted 5/9/2011 12:28 AM (GMT -6)   
That's not my experience; I usually feel less crabby because I'm not in as much pain. 
Codeine is not in the various medications that you mentioned - oxycontin, percocet and so forth.
I don't have experience w/ suboxen and all that...
Anyway, those are just my specific experiences.  If you have more specific questions feel free to ask. 
Now, re: being crabby/irritable....take away my Effexor (anti-depressant)....and then I can talk :) :)
Dx: Disabled due to many, many health/pain issues
Meds: Heart meds, Effexor, various Pain Meds (I've literally been on them all)...and on the list goes; intrathecal pain pump candidate

Personal: Christian wife and mom; I have six sons...and two "surprise" blessings - identical twin daughters (born 9/2010)

Backpain Sara
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Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 30
   Posted 5/9/2011 12:29 AM (GMT -6)   
I find codeine makes me have vivid dreams and get a rash on my chest with a high dose like 60mg I feel awful and have mood swings. However on Oxycontin I feel stable as it's slow release. Oxycodone and Oxycontin don't have codeine in them nor percocets but they're similar but don't affect me. I hope you get a pain med that doesn't affect your feelings. Take care. Sara
Chronic back and leg pain. Degenerative disc disease for 3 years and unable to work since injuring my back. EMG/nerve test shows peroneal sciatic nerve is being irritated from L4-L5 disc area. Meds-Oxycontin, Cymbalta, lyrica, flexeril,Wellbutrin, Oxazepam for sleep. TX-facet joint, trigger point, nerve block and epidural injections every year x 3 years with temporary relief only. Did PT.

Screaming Eagle
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Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 5005
   Posted 5/9/2011 4:25 AM (GMT -6)   
Good early morning Blondie!

My wife says I get love'y dove'y after my med's kick in, and that I'm cranky when I'm in pain. She is the same, and has been known to snap at me a time or two, when she's in pain.

I used to be in law enforcement, and we had three type of drunks, Silly and Happy, Scared, and of course the cranky and combative drunk. So yes, I can see where maybe a pain med might have the effect you describe.

I really don't have a suggestion as how to remedy it though, but just wanted to say, I can see that it is possible.

Take care,

SE wink
Moderator Chronic Pain Forum

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Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2011
Total Posts : 816
   Posted 5/9/2011 12:55 PM (GMT -6)   
Hello Blondie, I dont take codeine so I am not sure what is going on with that.  But let me just say this every morning I wake up at 5am and take the first of my 3xday meds.  I start that early so that by the time I get out of bed at about 7am I feel like a person.
My children, grandchildren and my friends will all attest to the fact that if I dont have my meds in my system, nobody wants anything to do with me.  My meds make me feel what I can only describe as normal.  That means I feel as well as I am going to when dealing with cp.
Sometimes, the last 2 or 3 days before I go back to my doctor for my monthly update and my prescriptions, I have been running low lately.  That is why when I go back June 1, I will be getting the increase in my meds that I asked for last month.  I knew that in June I am going to increase my meds, but my doctor asked me to wait this month and gave me some gel for my arthritis in my fingers.  I have no problem with trying the gel and it also worked, but that was not my only issue.
So I dont want to ramble on, I am sorry you are having such a bad time with your meds, I would ask my doctor if I were you and see if there is anything else you can take that wont have such a bad effect on you.  Maybe you are crabby due to the fact that your pain is not being eased enough.  Thats for you and your doctor to decide.  Good luck to you, hope you are having a low pain day. Take care
degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, neuropathy, lumbar laminectomy july 1998 no help, rechargeable neurostimulator unit low right back w/lead wires to left side and right leg unit not working just sitting there.i am 57 years young in may will turn 58. i have 2 grown daughters, 25 and 29. i have 2 grandchildren, 9 year old grandaughter and 5 yr. old grandson

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 78
   Posted 5/9/2011 5:31 PM (GMT -6)   
Hmmm, well, backpain sara, you may have a point, maybe i need to ask for a narcotic WITHOUT codeine?! It's worth a try probably. And, Tina, perhaps if I tried Effexor again, it would help....hmm, lots to think about and pray on. And, no, I don't get tired when I take the Tyl 3's or Vic's (they actually give me a little more energy - probably cuz they reduce my pain)...but then the crabbies hit when it wears off.

What is your regime? I'm curious cuz I have SO SO SO much trouble in the mornings and wonder if I woke myself up at 5 AM to take my tramadol, maybe by 7 or 8 I'd be more able to get up.....

thanks guys, SE too, for all your input!! Sure love ya'll!

Blondie37_Fibromyalgia_terrible back of neck/shoulder area pain_degenerative discs_chronic pain for 15 years_new to pain management_can't take ibuprofin due to taking too many_have taken and tried everything from antidepressants to morphine to lyrica to muscle relaxers to xanax to valium to celebrex, etc.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2009
Total Posts : 2042
   Posted 5/9/2011 10:26 PM (GMT -6)   
Generally speaking pain meds work by blocking pain receptors in the brain and/or by increasing activity in the "pleasure" centers. In short it kind of messes with your brain's chemistry.

When all goes right a person will feel better, have less pain, etc, but because everyone's body is different some people will react differently to things. My bet is that your body/brain is simply "wired" a little differently than other people's. Not saying there is anything wrong with it, just that it is different from those who experience a more calming, euphoric effect.

Just as SE said about people who get drunk. You have those who get silly, those who just want to go to sleep, and those who get angry. When sober all of them may have very similar personalities, it is just the alcohol effects them in different ways. Too add to what SE said I know people who will react one way if they drink beer and another way if they drink some type of whiskey or other "hard" liqueur.
2 confirmed herniated lumbar discs. Spinal Arthritis. Spinal Stenosis, diabetic peripheral nueropathy.

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 215
   Posted 5/10/2011 5:26 PM (GMT -6)   
I think a lot of people have difference responses because we all have different body chemistry.

about 1 week ago, I end up in the hospital because my sciatica had flared up to a point where I had extreme difficulty in walking and my PM doctor told me they could not see me that day. Well the hospital ended up giving me hydromorphone, and the doctor told me that I would get very sick from it and throw up because I'm partially opioid naive (Although I take tapentadol/nucynta which is a schedule II, its binding affinity is 18 times less than morphine). Well I didn't end up getting sick at all and my stomach was just fine nor did I get any kind of dizzying rush. It ended up making me feel very relaxed and reduced my pain from a 9 to 4. My roomate said it made me extremely social.
Years ago when I was prescribed Darvocet by a doctor who obviously didn't understand my pain, it had a negative reaction and made me dizzy, nautious, and depressed.

People's bodies process medications differently and often narcotics affect more than just MU recoptors....they can also have affects on things like the GABA system. Just something to keep in mind. :)

You mentioned Tramadol, which has an m1 metabolite that activates MU receptors but only at 1/30th the binding power of morphine, so its narcotic activity is significant enough to have a mild effect on pain levels but its narcotic side effects are relatively low due to its potency. Most of tramadol's pain relief comes from its SNRI action so for people that are sensetive to narcotics, medications like tramadol and its more potent cousin tapentadol can be wonderful things.
The flip side of that coin is that a lot of people have trouble tolerating the SNRI effects of tramadol and the NRI effects of tapentadol. It causes anxiety and headaches for some, and tons of relief for others.
Interestingly enough, I have issues using tramadol but my body can tolerate tapentadol better. I think its because my body is sensetive to the seratonin effects in tramadol (which are stronger in tramadol) and it makes me feel really weird for like 12 hours (a bad weird)
MRI revealed disc bulge and test injections revealed RA. Radio Freq procedures have decreased the severity of pain but did not "fix" the issue. currently on 75 mgs of Nucynta (tapentadol) 2 to3 time per day. Its similiar to tramadol but with more opioid receptor activity. Can use percocet 5 mgs for breakthrough pain and 10 mgs of flexiril.

Post Edited (grainofsalt) : 5/10/2011 4:39:52 PM (GMT-6)

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 78
   Posted 5/10/2011 8:49 PM (GMT -6)   
Thanks grainofsalt, very informative, I didn't know about tramadol's cousin......why don't doctor's suggest these things?? I mean, I'm always having to go to my doctor and say, why don't we try this, or that, how about this one, and he's like, ok. I mean, that is sort of his MO, he said he more likes the patient to tell him what they want to try/take and then he'll give his "opinion" but that it's really up to the patient.


Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2010
Total Posts : 215
   Posted 5/11/2011 8:58 PM (GMT -6)   

I do think Tapentadol (Nucynta) is a great option for some people and specifically for acute neuropathic pain. However, has a few things against it, which have prevented its widespread use by PM doctors, though it has been gaining more acceptance slowly as particularly to those that normally use the lower range of doses of oxycodone and hydrocodone for pain relief (as tapentadol would definately fit into that category in that its for moderate to moderately severe typically treated with 7.5 to 15mgs of those medications). Tapentadol is not suitable for severe pain in my opinion but could serve as an adjuvant pain killer to reduce the dose needed of stronger pain medicines. 75mgs of tapentadol gives similiar pain relief to roughly 10 mgs of oxycodone.

The big things it has going against it are as follows:

Its a schedule 2 medication despite trials showing it should be labelled as a schedule 3 or even 4. So far from everything I've read up on it, many "seekers" do not enjoy the effects of the medication. This is probably due to the fact that they are taking 3 or 4 times the pain management dosage and experiencing side effects like hallucinations. Its also not well studied. Its the first accepted narcotic style pain killer in 25 years so doctors are approaching it with caution in prescribing. Due to its low abuse rate, it will likely gain more popularity over time.

Keep in mind, it is still a narcotic and still can be addictive. It also causes anti depressant AND narcotic withdraw when you come off the medication.

For me the pros outweigh the cons but its much more of an "individual" thing.
MRI revealed disc bulge and test injections revealed RA. Radio Freq procedures have decreased the severity of pain but did not "fix" the issue. currently on 75 mgs of Nucynta (tapentadol) 2 to3 time per day. Its similiar to tramadol but with more opioid receptor activity. Can use percocet 5 mgs for breakthrough pain and 10 mgs of flexiril.
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