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Im new to this board. Ive been on methadone for 22 yrs. 90 mg is my dose.. or it was before I started my taper on 10/31/07. Ive come down 10 mg to 80 mg in 2 wks. Thats faster than I plan to go, in general. What I was wondering is, has anybody posted a taper schedule that seems to work for most people? Ive made plenty of spreadsheets using 10% per month, 10% per 6 wks, 1 mg per wk, etc, etc.. What I decided Id try to stay with is 10% per month. I pickup every 2 wks which is the max allowed at my clinic in NY state. And I have to call into my counselor the monday of the week Im scheduled to pickup with the amount of the reduction I want them to implement.. If I call in a 5 mg reduction, then when I show up on my scheduled pickup day, my dose will be reduced by 5 mg, and the 13 bottles I take home with me will all have that same reduction. They dont like to split take home doses. Im using my 10 percent per month spreadsheet to guide my taper.
So, if anybody has a schedule which seems to work well, and its posted somewhere, Id love to see it. Obviously, Im using percentage reductions rather than mg reductions because obviously, 2 mg on a 70 mg dose is far different than 2 mg on a 10 mg dose. Also, just as obvious is the fact that down below 20 mg, it becomes much more difficult to maintain these percentages since they dont split miligrams, and its impossible to keep doing 10% per month on doses that small. ie, 10 percent of 15 mg would be 1.5 mgs reduced over a month.. not Doable! So, what ill probably do is take it to 1 mg per month. But at that rate, its going to take a year just to get off the last 12 mgs.. but from what Im hearing about the difficulty of those last mgs, maybe thats not such a bad idea at all.
Ive actually got nothing pushing me to finish this quickly, except for one thing.. Precipitating this whole taper for me was a false positive on a routine monthly urine screen for me in early october. The asked me for a followup specimen 2 wks later when I came in which they wanted to observe, which they did. The sample came back fine, so no problem. Except for the fact that Ive now got a bad sample on my record, and if they make another mistake, Ill probably lose my take homes.. I havent used even once in the last 20 yrs, so if that happens, its going to be impossible for me to handle. Its never happened before there, but I guess theres a first time for everything. .For me, it served as the motivation I need to get me off methadone. IT crystalized for me once and for all how much of a pawn I am in their game. Ive kind of hoped all along I would be clean before I reached 60. So now at 58 yrs of age seems like the time to start. Sure is a long time since the 60s when I got my first taste of the drug life, in college! After all, in those days, its what all good college kids did! Never thought it would lead here, though, but it is what it is.
thanks for listening.
first opiates: 1969
first mdone: 1975 - 1976
current mdone: since 1986
taper started: 10/31/07
taper completed: may 7, 2009
Im new to this board. Ive been on methadone for 22 yrs. 90 mg is my dose..
.For me, it served as the motivation I need to get me off methadone. IT crystalized for me once and for all how much of a pawn I am in their game. Ive kind of hoped all along I would be clean before I reached 60. So now at 58 yrs of age seems like the time to start. Sure is a long time since the 60s when I got my first taste of the drug life, in college! After all, in those days, its what all good college kids did! Never thought it would lead here, though, but it is what it is.
WOW! And a huge and hearty welcome, Boost ~
I'm kind'a speechless...which is rare for me.
I'm not ready to try and help with a schedule....but I didn't want to delay in saying that you've come to the right place, my friend. Yes, my dear, it is what it is.
First off...I'd like to tell you that I came after 15 years @250. I was 55+1/2. So I very much feel where you're coming from...and some of the increduility you may be experiencing.
What it is...is difficult. But then again, you already know that. I'm not going to blow smoke up your you know what. This is going to take guts and determination on your part....no matter the reduction schedule. In your case...rather than the specifics of the dosage..it's the length of time on MMT that's going to pose the degree of difficulty.
Physically...age may work somewhat against you. We don't rebound as quickly as some of the younger folk coming off. However...and I've shared this belief before....our age gives an definite advantage. We have a goal...and no time for do-overs. When we come to the decision to get off at our stage of life...we know it for what it is. It's THE time...somewhat like a now or never.
Boost...you will never be sorry that you made this decision. You will know a freedom that is unsurpassed. A sense of self that is so different than the world you've been in living in, that sometimes the light is blinding.
Please read the forum...check out the success stories. Our mod, Dave (Peacenik) has 20 years clean. Dee & Syd both successful detoxed on the forum more than a year ago. Zandy just finished her detox and is doing great. Sedate just posted at several months clean. Mr Z...is I believe 6 months clean.
You are worth the move you are about to make. You matter...to yourself...and to us.:)
Exodus From MMT;12-25-02
<center>THIS TOO SHALL PASS</center>
Hey Arlene, thanks for the quick response. At least, Ive started... Coming down from 90 to 80 in a couple of weeks was easier than I expected.. But, lest you think Im conning myself, I have a graduated eye dropper.. Ive calibrated it such that 1 ml = about 3% of a take home dose. Since IM at 80, that means 2.4 mgs. So two nights ago I got too big for my britches, and reduced my 80 mgs to 75. NOt a good idea.. I felt this tension in my legs, and my mind wouldnt turn off, and I couldnt sleep. Same thing last night.. Today, I said screw it, and took my whole dose.. See, knowing that every other week IM going to request a 5% reduction, I like to 'season' myself to that reduced dose before I actually pick up my 2 wks worth of it. However, I see that it was a little too soon to reduce what the clinic had given me. At least, doing it this way I have some control. Perfect for a control freak like me. I also go to the gym for an hour a day, 5 days a week, to lift the iron.. Been doing it for 3 yrs now.. So I think the bod is in pretty good shape, ready to kick this mdone beast right in its ***, instead of the other way around... Least, I hope so :) later..
Hi boost welcome :) Boy Arlene has said a lot and I too wish you the best.
You know, I wonder whether the 22 years is really all that different from the 6 years I was on. I mean yeah it's a long time but maybe not so much different than the rest of us who kicked several years or more. You stayed at 90 and that's good.
As for a schedule, I don't think there is a schedule that works for everyone. But in general I think there are two different types of people. The ones who want to drop, drop, drop, symptoms be dam*ed, till they get to zero, and the people who go 1 or 2 mgs a time avoiding severe symptoms, no matter how long it takes.
You sound like you are willing to take your time, so I'd just say this. You can usually get down to 50% of your dose without too much difficulty. So most people drop off till they get down below half, and then slow it down. And then there's the "wall" that most people hit down lower. The wall, I think, is where you're really kicking the habit and once you get past that, down into the single digits, you got it made :)
The main thing though, is to psych yourself. Like Arlene said, this is your time - pick a good schedule and go for it. Don't go backwards no matter what the idiots at the clinic tell you. Go as slow as you want to, but make a promise to yourself that you'll never take another increase and you'll make it.
Thanks Dave for that perspective.. The reason I use percentage reductions rather than flat mg reductions is that the research Ive done seems to indictate that its all about the dying off of unused receptors, and however long that takes. I see no reason why the body should react differently when 100 goes to 90 mgs in a month's time, vs when it goes from 10 mg to 9 mgs in the same time.. To the body, in each case, its 10% less, so the reaction should be the same. I think the reason that people seem to feel reductions from below 20 mgs more is because they often try and maintain the same mg expectation they did when they had a larger base of methadone in their systems, without fully realizing that 2 mgs from 10 is a 20 percent reduction...So when it has as large a negative effect on their systems as if they had gone from 100 mgs to 80, they really shouldnt be all that surprised. Its why you have to slow down so much more as you get below 20.. its NOT because theres something magical about that low a dose being so hard to come off of; its about the percent that is being reduced.. I believe that if we can hold that percent roughly constant, than what works for is from wk to wk at a higher dose should work at a lower dose as well. But what it may mean is, instead of having wkly or biwkly reductions, we may have to wait a month on a low dose before going down. Its because they dont give fractional mg dose reductionsthat we need to do it this way; to maintain the percentage. Below 10 mgs, thats going to mean holding a dose for a month.. but i dont see why is should be any different wrt the body and the opioid receptors we have left. its about the percentage of receptors being filled, or being empty, and its a ratio, meaning Percent! At least, thats my take on it from my understanding of what Ive read. Hope it works out :)
How the heck did I miss this yesterday? Another mad scientist like me! (don't laugh at me, Arlene[:I])
Yes, your theories on the tapering sound accurate. Now, you do know that the extra opiate receptors don't actually "die", right? They just go inactive...and can become active very quickly if we use again (or spike during a taper, of course).
And also, one other issue is that of course, the opiate receptors we started with do not go inactive...so depending on the amount of natural endorphins that are being released again....could possibly affect any withdrawal symptoms we experience after the jump...until we begin to produce our own adequate natural endorphins....of course, the next question would be if one tapered slowly enough, esp. at the end of the taper, would the body begin to produce it's own endorphins gradually...so that there would be a sufficient amount at the jump?
When I first read "22 years", I thought it was a typo. Do you mind if I ask you if you ever had any side effects from methadone?
I have a few theories myself now that I tried it the other way and raced thru the taper and jumped off before I got to the end...then thought later how I should have done it differently.
In terms of your current calculations regarding your taper and the deactivation of your extra receptors...did you set some sort of parameters on the type of symptoms you deem tolerable in order to gauge the speed? Theoretically, we do have to experience some degree of discomfort in order to have the receptors go inactive, right? Or do you think this is incorrect?
It's very nice to meet another theory person.:D
I guess keeping my mind preoccupied with my theories keeps me from thinking of things I shouldn't...that's my rationalization.:D
Hey Dee... I see youre off too.. I love to hear of you guys who have been through the war. I can see this isnt going to be the cakewalk I thought it was at the very start.. I went from 90 to 86mg and held there for 2 wks, with no problem at all.. Didnt feel it a bit. Then, went from 86 to 82 for another week.. Again, no problem ... Went to 80 for another week.. again, no problem.. Then I made a mistake.. I got overconfident, and went from 80 to 75, and it all hit HARD. Tried to stay there for 3 days, but kicked it back up to 80..
For some reason, when I hit 80 on the way down, it was fine, but going back to 80 from 75 didnt do much... Am not feeling great... Its been about 20 yrs since I remember what this felt like! But I think I can ride it out. in anotehr day or two Im sure Ill be ok.
What Ive done is scheduled with my clinic a reduction based on about 10% per month, and I call the amount in every other monday before the wed when I pick up, every other week. I have a graduated eye dropper with which I can measure out ccs, which Ive converted to mgs... I learned a lesson from this.. DONT GET COCKY and try to speed up. IT wont work. But it also made me realize how 'medicated' Ive been for the last 20 yrs. I mean, for the first time in all those years, I actually felt waves of depression, sadness, etc. Ive been pretty devoid of any such feelings. Also, the insomnia is back with a vengence.
The clinic started my taper, reducing me from 90 mg to 86 on 10/31. Prior to that, I had already taken myself to that 86 for over a week using my graduated dropper. And I thought Id try and stay just one reduction ahead of the planned 10% per month schedule Im calling into the clinic. But, I see i got ahead of myself, and wound up going to 75 mgs with the dropper just about 3 wks from a 90 mg start. Thats about a 15% reduction in about 3.5 wks... And for me, thats TOO FAST.. So, now I know.. Ive found my limits.. I guess its good to find this at some point... Better not be such a big shot.
My eye is fixed firmly on the prize. Living life medicated is a game I used to like, but now LOATHE. Better late than never to wake the hell up, I guess. BTW, if I got such a strong taste of incipient withdrawl symptoms from just going from 90 to 75 to 80, I shudder to think what going cold turkey from this stuff must be like. Scary sh*t.. Im so pissed at myself for living my last 20 yrs this way.. I dont care that I got a masters in computer science during this time, and accomplished alot of other good sh*t. The fact is, I feel like that was some other person. A Fraud; somebody who managed their emotions with chemicals. Somebody who gave up on himself, in other words. I dont know.. I sure managed to work out one great rationale and justification for it.. 'Oh, what do you mean. its just like insulin.. Bi Polar people live their lives on lithium.. Loads of accomplished people regulate themselves with chemicals'.. etc.. Bottom line is, I guess we just construct rationales that allow us to live the life we have chosen. Or the life that has chosen us.. (not sure which) I just know that at 58 yrs of age, I feel like I want to live out the rest of my life being able to feel what its like to be me again; its been That long since ive done it, yet i remember what it was like.. Wasnt all that bad either...
Well, hope I didnt bore too many of you.. Sometimes, it feels good to unburden, and places like this are about the only place I feel comfortable talking honestly about these things. So, thanks for listening.. BTW, you know, ive checked out most of the methadone forums which google takes you to, and this is the only board that has a special section devoted to Detoxes, tapers, etc. IT was a very wise decision to create this section; the other boards with general methadone sections just dont spend alot of time on this aspect; most of it is spent on how great methadone is.. like I said before, we create rationales to justify what we are doing at the time... [:x)]
Fact is, when we're trying to taper, we
Great post! There are several methadone sites on the net...we basically consider them pro-MMT sites. And they are mainly for discussing methadone maintenance, clinic issues, stuff like that. This is the only forum for methadone detox and Dave keeps it that way. I also found it by googling methadone detox...lucky for me, I landed here first....and found out about the other sites later.
Now, let me ask you this...does your clinic use the liquid methadone? And do they use the computer-driven dosing machines? And do they mix water with the methadone in your take-home bottles or do you do this yourself at home? And how many times per month do you face dose at the clinic? Twice?
My clinic used the liquid red methadone and they mixed it with water in the take-home bottles so I would have had to measure EACH bottle first and then calculate (assuming an equal/even dispersion)...in order to do an eye-dropper taper. Or have I misunderstood what you've written?
Let me just tell you a little data about me...but want to let you know that I really had severe side effects from methadone and felt much worse on it than I felt while tapering...so my case was a bit unusual.
Because we had computer-driven dosing machines, I dropped 1 mg./day...and because of my side-effects situation, I actually was feeling better and better as I dropped...except for some serious gastrointestinal stuff...but I had had this while ON methadone...and it just got worse during tapering. But the lethargy, joint aches, and a few of the other side effects improved while tapering.
I had been on methadone for about a year and a half and wanted off it desperately...mainly due to side-effects. I was just miserable on it...trapped ON it and terrified to get off of it. I was so happy when I found this site...I landed on Arlene's story, as a matter of fact, and my desperation turned to hope. At that time, it was just exactly what I needed.
Now, it is a known fact that methadone gets stored in your fat and tissues...and due to the fact that I coincidentally noticed that I was no longer smelling methadone coming off my skin, right around the 5 month mark after jumping off it....I developed a tentative theory that had I tapered slowly, this might have allowed for the stored methadone to also taper down and I might have not have had to crawl for 5 months. Syd tapered slowly and went back to work a few weeks after she jumped...she had a much easier time than I did after jumping...so one of my theories is that tapering not only allows for slower down-regulation of the receptors but could also allow the levels of stored methadone to decrease and this could effect the length of the sub-acute detox period after the jump.
The other thing I wonder is how huge the significance is of the size of the drop...in addition to the percentage of the total dose thing...because at 1 mg/day, the drop was so small that I honestly couldn't tell the difference....whereas, had I dropped 7 mg/week, in one fell swoop, I'm thinking I might have significantly felt that...see what I'm saying? Is there any way you can drop in tiny amounts at shorter intervals...and still accomplish the same percentages within your time frame? Do you think that would work better?
Of course, this worked fine for me from 100 mg. down to 32 mg....had I continued to taper below 32 mg. instead of jumping...1 mg. drops may have been too big once I got down to single digits....so re-calculation would have been required....unfortunately, I can't tell you how that worked below 32 mg. because I jumped so therefore, I have no experience with what tapering all the way down feels like.
Hey Dee... thanks for the post... In answer to your questions:
>>Now, let me ask you this...does your clinic use the liquid methadone? And do they use the computer-driven dosing machines?<<
Yes.. the red syrup, computer dosed.
>>And do they mix water with the methadone in your take-home bottles or do you do this yourself at home?<<
They dont mix water.. they just fill the take home bottles with the computer measured doses from the syrup bottle
>>And how many times per month do you face dose at the clinic? Twice?<<
Yup.. every other wednesday.
On wed, 10/31, I received my first cut in dose.. I went from 90 mg to 86 mgs. Each of my take home bottles had 86 mgs. They will not vary the doses in those take home bottles.. So if Im getting a 4 mg reduction, thats in all 13 bottles, plus my window dose in the cup.
Then, in my next clinic visit, on 11/14, I received a 6 mg dose reduction, down to 80 mgs, which is where I am now.. Ive been prepping for my dose reductions by using my graduated eye dropper to remove some from the bottles. 4 capfuls of water added to my dose will fill the bottle to a point near the top. I found that these bottles hold 11 full eyedroppers, and the eye dropper is divided into 3 ccs. So, each eye dropper CC holds about 3% of my dose when the bottle is filled to a mark near the top with water. For instance, from 10/18 to 10/30, I had been prepping for my first clinic reducion by taking 4 mgs out of my 90 mg bottle, which I measured by taking 1.5 ccs out of it, after filling it to near the top with 4 capfuls of water on top of the dose. I saw there was no ill effect, so I went ahead with the taper as planned. Then, when I received my 13 bottles with 86 mgs, I removed about 4 mgs from 6 bottles, and then 6 mgs from the balance. And since I seemed to tolerate it all well, I called in for a 6 mg reduction for my pickup date of 11/14. And, they dutifully gave me my 13 bottles with 80 mgs, which Ive got now, and which will last me til my next scheduled pickup on 11/28. The problem for me came when I reduced this 80 mg dose to 75. For the first time in years, I started experiencing the first ill effects of dope sickness. Wild mood swings, loosening stools, complete insomnia, tearful bouts, etc, etc. I tried to stay at this 75 mg reduced level for 3 days, after which I just said screw it, and stopped taking anything more out of my 80 mg dose. Even the 80, though, seems more difficult to tolerate. Not more difficult than the 75, but more difficult than when I did my 80 mg 'test', ie, from 11/7 to 11/13 by removing those ccs from the bottle I described above. Luckily, when I removed them, I saved them off in another bottle for just such an occasion.
Im documenting everything, so I will have a complete, day by day record, of the taper, ie, what was easy, what was hard, personal observations.. Everything. The clinic is leaving the taper schedule up to me. I just call into the counselor on the mon before my scheduled wed pickup dates every other wed the amount I want reduced. Ive learned NOT to be so impatient, and not to try and speed up the schedule... Ive planned a general 10% per month reduction, and I made myself needlessly uncomfortable by speeding that up. Trying 75 mgs just about 3 wks after I started at 90 is a 17% reduction in just 3 wks. Way too fast.. No wonder I felt so lousy. Also, I realize now its going to be very hard to gauge and to test, because of the long half life of methadone.. IF it takes 3 days to start getting really sick from a complete withdrawal, then Id imagine it can take 3 days in order to gauge the effects of a dosage reduction as well. Bottom line is, aside from my impatience, there is really no reason whatsoever to speed this taper up to the point where I feel miserable. I think Ill just stick to a 10% per 4 wk schedule. I can may slow it down a little from time to time, but theres no need to risk everything by speeding it up to the point where its miserable.
Bottom line is, aside from my impatience, there is really no reason whatsoever to speed this taper up to the point where I feel miserable.
Yes, certainly at the higher doses, there is no need to suffer at all. The cuts are generally pretty easy during the first half of the taper. Now, I'm not totally sure how the 22 years factors into this...this may require the taper at the high end to go even slower than we normally see...in your particular case.
The thing we always worry about here is that we often see people doing fine, then they seem to stall...and then disappear. And we presume they never completed the taper and jump. Then we have to reconcile that with the reality that if a taper is too fast or too precipitous, the person will become alarmed or scared and not continue. You seem very motivated to me and at this time my opinion is that you will stick to this taper no matter how much you have to revise it or how long it takes and you will get this done.
In fact, I am very interested to see how this works for you. Although my story may give others hope, I would NEVER recommend anyone do it the way I did. So I need to gather information so that I have some base of knowledge from actual experiences, particularly those who tapered slowly, got to their goal, and were able to ameliorate the intensity and length of the acute withdrawal period this way. Right now there is Syd and KatieK...but Katie has not been here for quite some time...but luckily, I have Syd who accomplished this and I can get advice from her on how to do this properly, to help with giving advice to others. I would love to have your experience to add to this. And, of course, would love to see you get off methadone.
We LOVE to see someone successfully get off methadone here...it is really a big deal here. I will always remember my experience doing that here and love my milestones. It's acknowledged as a huge accomplishment here and it's really great to experience it here on this forum.
I am particularly intrigued by the reason you suddenly decided to do this after 22 years. It's funny, I stupidly and naively thought that the methadone clinic I went to would be so thrilled to see me taper and get off methadone. I totally misunderstood their agenda and thought that the greatest goal there was to see someone get clean.
I naively bought into their ministering to me as caring parents, my caretakers in my time of desperation. Very gradually, I began to notice their penchant to become overly punitive for slight infractions. And began to suspect that certain ones there actually enjoyed doing this, probably due to the enjoyment of feeling superior.
You are very lucky that your clinic is being cooperative with the taper. There are many who create multiple roadblocks during these efforts. I tend to be a non-assertive person, prefer to mediate. But I actually, for one of the few times in my life, got not only assertive but aggressive with the doctor at the clinic, demanding he taper me off (with accompanying eye rolls from the nurses). I was a nurse for many years and NEVER got aggressive with a doctor before...ever.
But yes, it did end up to be a personal battle for my rights...so I totally understand how you feel.
Dee, Im really glad I found this place. Its not usually in my nature to share that easily. Ive got a pretty tough outer core and its not easy to penetrate it. But this forum is so unique, ie, its the only one Ive found that concentrates on and encourages trying to get off methadone (if thats what the posters want to do). Aside from this board, about the only ones Ive seen encouraging the same are those awful Harmd type places which I have little patience for. Im all for methadone because it successfully helps keep alot of people off other drugs that are worse for them and for society. I do think, though that today, the clinics make it too easy to 'join up'. Nowadays, I believe that all you need is to show any opiates in your system at all, and bang, youre in. I had another stint on mdone maintenance back in 1975 for a year.. Then it was smack. Even then, I wasnt using every day, but it was a preoccupation that I couldnt get rid of.. So failed 30 day detox led me to that years stint in maintenance. As I recall, getting off of that wasnt bad at all. I forget my dose, but I think it was 30 mg; maybe 60 tops. From 1976 to about 1986, there was no more smack, but loads of pain meds, til I developed a nice little hydrocodone habit.. So, since I had a history at that clinic back in '75, it became an easy readmission, and Ive been there ever since.
As you said, I feel very committed to completing this taper. The reason my counsellor gives me such control over my dose decrease is very simple: hes rotten at paper work, and functions as assistant director also, so, since the regs there require him to put into a request for each and every dose reduction, he said if I dont call him the monday before my wed pickup with my desired reduction, he'll never remember to put it in. So, that puts all the onus on me, which is a good thing. I think... At least it allows me, if I start to get ahead of myself, to slow up, or even stall for a week. And as I said, I can test various reductions during my 2 wk take home supply. But as I saw, that can be dangerous, because it can take a few days for an over-reduction to hit me, like when I tried to reduce from the dispensed 80 mg to my own reduction to 75. Didnt work.. In Spades! Really felt miserable. But, my response wasnt to 'jump'.. it was just to put it back to 80 mgs, and stay there til 11/28 which is my next pickup date. Because I got knocked around a bit with the 80 to 75 trial, I may limit my next reduction to just 2 mgs downto 78. Ill see. That was my counsellors initial suggestion.. He said just do a mg a wk. Ill try to keep to my 10% per month schedule, though. According to the spreadsheet I did up, I should be at 82 now, and go to 78 on the 28th of the month. Im at 80 now, so maybe ill slow down and just go to 78 on the 28th, and allow myself to 'catch up ' some.
Whats driving me? Alot of things.. Im scared sh*tless of the labs, now that Ive seen a perfectly good urine sample come back with a crazy result.. Imagine, after 20 years, coming back Neg for Methadone, Positive for Opiates, and a non-existent creatine level! Interestingly, I had just started taking a new supplement for the gym which was hi dose Creatine Monohydrate! The way you take that is to Load up on 4 times the normal dose for the first 4 days, and then slow it down.. its to saturate your muscles with it. Well, 5 days after I started the loading phase, I gave this supposedly positive urine sample. But... even if that were the cause of the anomalous creatine level, it certainly would not explain the positive for opiates and the neg for methadone.. Besides, athletes take this stuff, and who is drug tested these days more than athletes.. Besides us, that is? Exactly... And I contacted the company and the lab who makes the stuff, and they said its impossible.. So, it just goes back to a goddamn sloppy lab or lab tech's work, ascribing someone else's rotten urine sample to moi! So, it goes back to the whole issue of the clinic's control over us.. I think alot of us just reach a point where we say
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