Have you decided to withdraw drugs? Seeking ways to get rid of your habit then this is the right place to know all the stuff about opioid withdrawal.
What are Opiates?
Opioids are referred as drugs which are prescribed for treating pain. These drugs include synthetic and natural variants. Synthetic drugs include hydrocodone, methadone, and oxycodone while natural opioids are derived from a plant called opium poppy.
The natural opioids include codeine, morphine, heroin, and opium. The drugs which are usually prescribed include:
- Vicodin also was known as acetaminophen and hydrocodone
- Oxycontin i.e. oxycodone
- Dilaudid also was known as hydromorphone.
According to the list of increasing strength we can classify opiates as follows:
- Hycodan or Vicodin (hydrocodone)
- Contin Kadian (morphine)
- Percocet, Oxycontin (oxycodone)
- Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
- Duragesic (fentanyl)
What does it mean by Opioid addiction?
Opioids are types of drugs which result in the sense of euphoria and well-being that is it acts like an addiction for individuals.
Opioids are prescribed as pain killers, but people develop tolerance against them i.e. they require massive dosages to produce the same effect. It is when patients lead to drug addiction, and they start using more and more opiates, and some may result in the illegal use of opioids ex. Double doctoring.
A high dosage of opioids results in death because of respiratory or cardiac arrest. Tolerance to well-being effects caused by opiates is very fast when compared to the tolerance level of opioids to its dangerous effects. It results in the high consumption of opioids with more and more use of it.
In hospital setup, opioid usage can be reversed by intravenous naltrexone. Contact your emergency setup if you feel over dosage of opiates.
What does the term Opioids withdrawal mean?
Opioid withdrawal also called narcotic abuse or dope sickness is described as the dramatic reduction or cessation of opioid drugs which have been used heavily and for lengthy terms.
The opioid drugs lead to addiction and physical dependency. People between 26.4 to 36 million abuse opiates worldwide. Methadone is a prescription opioid which is used to treat pain,however; it is also utilized for the treatment of withdrawal symptoms in drug addicts.
Reducing the amounts of opioid intake leads to withdrawal symptoms which are physical ones. It affects many symptoms and physical symptoms appear when you have been consuming opioids in high doses.
Withdrawal symptoms occur because your body takes the time to recover from drug addiction.
Opioid withdrawal is very uncomfortable, but it is not life threatening if you are only withdrawing from opiates. However, if you have been using a combination of drugs such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, then the symptoms will be perilous.
What are the reasons of Opioid withdrawal?
Opioid withdrawal involves physical dependence, tolerance, and addiction. The opioid drugs travel to the brain through the bloodstream. These molecules then activate the opiate receptors in the brain. The biochemical reaction then enables the analgesic effects along with a release of neurotransmitter i.e. dopamine and suppresses the release of noradrenaline.
The suppression of norepinephrine decreases the alertness and energy levels. Dopamine causes the euphoria effect which encourages the person to continue the use of opioids.
So with time the brain starts acting in drug use and abnormally when the drug is absent. The need to continue the use of opioids is referred to as “physical dependence.” The brain needs to consume a high dose of opioids to produce the same effects otherwise it will not respond to this tendency is referred to as “tolerance.”
If you attempt to stop the use of opioids, then you will experience high levels of noradrenaline and low levels of dopamine. The combination of imbalance of neurotransmitters explains the unpleasant effects of opiate withdrawal.
What are the stages of Opioids withdrawal?
Opioid withdrawal is categorized into stages such as mild, moderate, moderately severe or severe phases. The primary care person of your opioid usage determinant evaluates the history and symptoms of your opioid usage by utilization of diagnostic tools such as “clinical opiate withdrawal scale.
What are the symptoms of Opioid withdrawal?
The symptoms of opiate withdrawal depend upon the dosage and experience of drugs.
Following are the symptoms of drug withdrawal within early hours of stoppage:
- Teary eyes (lacrimation), runny nose
- Irritability, restlessness, low energy, anxiety, insomnia along with agitation
- Cold and hot sweats
- Muscle pains
Later symptoms after the first day of withdrawal include:
Nausea, abdominal cramping, goosebumps, diarrhea and vomiting, blurry vision, dilated pupils, high blood pressure along with rapid heart rate.
It takes around 72-80 hours in the improvement of withdrawal symptoms.
A pregnant mother who is addicted to opioids, their babies experience opioid withdrawal symptoms such as poor feeding, digestive issues, dehydration, and seizures along with vomiting.
Opiate withdrawal symptoms may last for around a week or a month. The emotional symptoms last for a few months as soon as you stop the high dosage of opioids.
The factors that affect the withdrawal symptoms include the frequency of usage along with addiction severity, the timing of dosage, type of drug, method of drug usage, underlying mental and health conditions, environmental and biological factors, family drug history, trauma history, and stressful surroundings.
Specialists claim that it takes around 6-7 months for complete abstinence which is referred to as “protracted abstinence.”
As soon as early symptoms last you still may feel the post-acute withdrawal symptoms although they are less severe but takes the time to get over.
Concerns about Opioid withdrawal
The opiate withdrawal is neither life-threatening nor medically dangerous. It is uncomfortable, and this discomfort depends on multiple factors such as:
- Type of drugs used.
- Amount of drug use.
- Total time of drug usage.
- Physical and medical health status.
Indirect dangers may occur during the withdrawal such as severe depression along with intense cravings to take more drugs.
Reuse of the opioids during the cravings may cause a greater risk of overdose especially when opioid tolerance of such individuals has reduced.
Severe depression during this phase may also result in suicide or self-injury.
Tests and exams for identifying Opioid use:
Your healthcare will perform the following tests to determine the opioid use along with it will ask about your medical history: blood and urine tests for identification of drug use.
Other tests which may be required for provider’s concern include:
- Liver function tests which include CHEM-20 and blood chemistries.
- CHEST XRAY
- CBC (complete blood count such as red blood cells along with white blood cells, platelet)
- Tests for HIV, Hepatitis, and Tuberculosis as these are the underlying conditions in such patients with opioid use.
Attempts of withdrawal
Following efforts of opiate withdrawal include:
- AT HOME
- BY DETOXIFICATION
- AT A HOSPITAL SETUP
Home remedies which work well for Opiate withdrawal
Be careful while attempting the at-home options as you may undergo dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting. Drink plenty of water to go through the withdrawal phase otherwise; you will end up in the hospital leading to severe medical conditions.
1) Refill your brain neurotransmitters
Artificial neurotransmitter i.e. dopamine is released in high doses if you consume lots and lots of opiates. After you stop using dopamine, then your body slows down the production of dopamine and other neurotransmitters which are why withdrawal symptoms are produced.
Neurotransmitters or brain chemicals have effects on your body which helps you determine your feel,attitude, motivation, energy, mood along with sleep. You can increase neurotransmitters naturally by following ways:
- Start eating chocolates.
- Take intense sunlight for atleast 15-20 minutes.
- Exercise vigorously.
- Take supplements of Vitamin D.
2) Therapeutic supplements
These supplements help in the healing process of body, mind along with emotions while you are on opiate detox. The nutrients in these supplements assist in replenishing the deficiencies which occur by drug abuse.
These supplements help to ease the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. They enhance the brain chemicals naturally and quickly by nutrients such as L-dopa, 5-HTP, B-vitamins, Calcium, Magnesium, and GABA. The supplements work well with neurotransmitters and provide a positive result.
Supplements such as Ginkgo biloba, Huperzine-A, Ashwagandha and Bacopin all have shown vast improvement in clarity and thinking.
3) Over the counter drugs for relieving the withdrawal symptoms
There are multiple over the counter medicines which help in reducing the uncomfortable symptoms of opiate withdrawal:
Benadryl which contributes to stopping itching, watery eyes, and sometimes aids in sleeping.
NSAIDs i.e. Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or acetaminophen i.e. Tylenol to relieve muscle and body aches along with headaches and others.
Immodium which prevents frequent restroom visits.
Loperamide i.e. Imodium can be used for diarrhea.
You can treat nausea by consumption of dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or meclizine (Bonine or Antivert) or antihistamines such as Benadryl.
4) Prescription medicines used for Opiate withdrawal symptoms
Following are the three essential medications which help in relieving the withdrawal symptoms from opiates such as narcotics and heroin along with other painkillers:
Clonidine- a blood pressure medicine that is non-addictive but helps with opiate withdrawal.
Benzodiazepines- these drugs are very brutal to quit but take them in enough amounts to just get rid of withdrawal symptoms.
5) Hot baths and showers
The hot water offers complete relief from tension, body aches, anxiety, headaches, muscle pain, restless leg syndrome and other withdrawal effects.
Home Detox Tip.1: Fully submerge yourself in water and perform swimming which elevates your mood and works as a therapy for your body. Visit a nearby beach, ponds, lakes, rivers or pools that might prove invigorating or relaxing.
Home Detox.2: Make yourself busy in your daily routine practice being sober as soon as you wake up. It helps in keeping your mind away from drug dosages.
Home Detox.3: Flush your system as much possible by drinking large quantities of water. Avoid drinking soda,beverages, and coffee that result in dehydration.
6) Start taking walks and get sunlight
Sunlight helps in faster healing from withdrawal effects of narcotics. Following are the benefits of the sun for withdrawal effects:
- Sun provides Vitamin D which helps in relieving depression.
- The bright sunlight helps in the production of neurotransmitter i.e. serotonin which promotes sleep and mood.
- The sunlight enhances the body energy and warmth by encouraging positive feeling.
7) Massage on your stimulation points
It helps in improving the blood flow to your muscles.
Patients take opioids for healing their injuries and deal with their chronic pain. However, you can treat chronic pain by massaging the deep tissues within your muscles to release muscle aches, tightness, back pain, and spasms. Massage is an easy and quick remedy to treat withdrawal symptoms.
8) Take more sleep
Sleeping is a great detox which helps in healing faster with complete recovery. You can try supplements to sleep well during your detox which contains GABA, Melatonin, Mucuna pruriens, Theanine or 5-HTP.
9) Schedule your food at right time and consume balanced diet
Avoid eating fast food such as ice-cream, candies, microwavable meals which have zero nutrition. The drugs users are usually deficient in many essential nutrients due to consumption of fast food. Your body is not used to breaking down of preservatives, chemicals, pesticides, processed food and dangerous additives such as MSG (monosodium glutamate).
The junk food also results in multiple health problems such as cancer and heart diseases. Avoid processed foods and consume vegetables, proteins, fruits which make you healthy day by day.
Exercise daily which helps in the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins which are natural opiates within your body. The stronger physical activity, the greater release of endorphins. Weight training exercises are an excellent remedy to treat drug addictions along with it helps in work ethics and self-confidence.
11) Acupuncture treatment
Acupuncture treatment helps in relieving the withdrawal effects of opioids. It is claimed that natural energy i.e. chi flows within the body through pathways referred to as meridians. The blockage of such channels results in illness. Opioid addiction along with several factors cause blockage of meridians.
Acupuncture helps in relieving the stress by insertion of thin needles at specific points on the skin. It helps in the release of endorphin chemical along with the improvement of blood circulation.
Drugs such asTai-Kang-Ning which is effective to treat moderate to severe withdrawal effects of heroin and U’finer helps in repairing the opiate damage to the brain.
Prepare yourself to minimize the levels of withdrawal symptoms of oxycodone, hydrocodone or oxycontin, and detox properly. Motivation is the key factor which helps in achieving the positivity.
Treating Opiate Addiction By Detoxification
Detoxification defines the body’s ability to help in breakdown and excretion of toxins from the body. Detoxification helps in the management of acute intoxication and eases the withdrawal symptoms.
Rehab program can be provided to the individual as inpatient or outpatient services however it depends on:
- The level of stressors or and supports.
- The intense level of opiate withdrawal symptoms.
- Treatment attempts and previous detox.
- Transport availability and living situation.
Doctor & Hospital Setup
Doctors may prescribe drugs which help in the treatment of opiate withdrawal
- Buprenorphine (Subutex)
It helps in shortening the detox period along with a reduction in withdrawal symptoms. It can also be used as maintenance rehabilitation for the extended time.
- Methadone It eases the detoxification period along with relief from withdrawal symptoms. It helps in maintenance therapy of the long term.
- Clonidine is a blood pressure medicine that decreases the effects of fights or flight response. It helps in treating the restlessness, runny nose, sweating, agitation, anxiety and muscle aches. Clonidine helps in reducing the symptoms of opioid withdrawal by 55 to 75%.
- Naltrexone helps in preventing relapse. The drug comes in injection and pill form. Rapid detoxification is done with the use of opioid blockers i.e. Naloxone or Naltrexone. The method is rarely used because it results in vomiting which may lead to death under anesthesia.
- ProbuphineIt is a form of buprenorphine implanted under the skin. It helps in prevention from opiate relapse. To continue the withdrawal phase again and again individuals should be treated with long term buprenorphine or methadone maintenance. Take advice from your doctor or consider a rehab facility that may help to get through the withdrawal symptoms. Nausea and vomiting may lead to dehydration so find medical treatment. Dehydration results in an abnormal heartbeat and can lead to heart and circulatory problems. The following are the symptoms of dehydration: less or absence of urination, irritability, fever, disorientation, dry mouth, extreme thirst, rapid breathing and heartbeat along with sunken eyes. Avoid attempting home remedies for opioid withdrawal if you already have diabetes or heart condition.
After detox, most people require long-term treatment which includes: outpatient counseling, inpatient treatment, self-help groups such as SMART RECOVERY or Narcotics Anonymous (a type of 12-step program which helps to overcome the narcotic addiction) and day hospitalization i.e. intensive outpatient treatment. Individuals going through detox need to be evaluated for mental illness and depression. Antidepressants should be given to treat these disorders.
Alternative therapies to 12-step-based programs are cognitive behavioral therapy, couples and family therapy along with motivational interviewing.
Complications of Opiate withdrawal
It includes ingestion of stomach contents in the lungs along with vomiting. It is termed as aspiration which results in a lung infection. Dehydration can lead to electrolytes and body chemical disturbances. The biggest complication involves the reuse of drugs. The overdosage may lead to death in these patients who have been detoxed.
Don’t attempt to treat opioid withdrawal at home as it maybe dangerous. Take help from medical professionals and doctors. They prescribe medicines to ease the withdrawal symptoms and make them easy to manage.
Detox facilities help in monitoring the process to be safe and effective for your health. Medical professionals assist in treating the side effects and dangerous complications. They make sure that your recovery lasts. The detox facility uses the drugs mentioned above to ease the opioid withdrawal phase.
Consult your doctor if you have vomiting and diarrhea issues with your diet intake. Take help from support groups to stay sober and avoid getting addicted to drugs. Seek help from health care provider or doctor to reduce accidental overdose, the risk of relapse and medical complications. The complete improvement in mental and physical health is worth the discomfort and pain of withdrawal.
Seeking help for an opioid addiction will recover your total health and reduce your risk of relapse, accidental overdose, and complications related to opiate dependence.
Consult your doctor or healthcare provider about treatment programs or support groups in your area. The overall improvement in physical and mental condition is worth the soreness and distress that an individual needs to go through for opiates withdrawal.