For anyone who has ever experienced it, the nightmare of opiate withdrawal is not something easily forgotten. Just the thought of repeating such a hellish thing is enough to make the strongest person cower in terror. Most people simply refuse to do it. It’s a main reason why many people remain addicted to their opiate drug of choice.
There are many terms used to describe opiate withdrawal, and all of them are terrible. Opiate withdrawal is horrible. It’s painful. You’re plagued with the following symptoms:
- Bone and muscle pain
- Stomach pain
- Intestinal cramps
- Feeling hot and then cold
- Cold sweats
- Drug cravings
- Restless leg syndrome
- Extreme anxiety
- Feeling extremely weak
It’s Best to Get Professional Help
Forget about getting any sleep or even rest during opiate withdrawal. There is no position that is comfortable. Just getting up to shower drains your last bit of energy. You may be hungry and nauseated at the same time. In severe cases, not even a sip of cool water will stay down. You’re so thirsty you could scream, but you can’t drink and hold it down. Your abdominal muscles ache from the relentless vomiting. Your stomach hurts really bad, and it feels like there are worms crawling around in there. You may become severely dehydrated.
Opiate withdrawal is no joke, and it’s no wonder why no one will willingly go through it. It’s simply just too much to bear. Symptoms can last for up to a month or more, depending upon the opiate, the dose used and the duration of use. Severity is almost always dose-linked, but even relatively small doses can produce profound withdrawal symptoms in the physically addicted person.
This is why you need help to detox from opiates. The pain and discomfort of withdrawal can be greatly reduced with certain medications. Opiate detox centers don’t want you to be in pain from withdrawal. They offer very effective medication protocols that will keep you comfortable as your body adjusts and withdraws from your drug of choice.
It’s critical that you be honest with detox center staff. Your dosages of withdrawal medications will be based partly on what you have been using, so don’t lie. Just tell them the truth. You won’t shock them, and they need this information in order to best help you.
Medications Used By Some Facilities to Help Get Off Opiates
Some medications used to help clients through the opiate detox process are:
- Muscle relaxants
Suboxone is a combination synthetic narcotic product. It contains a narcotic called buprenorphine. It also contains naloxone, a drug used to reverse opiate overdoses. It’s included to prevent abuse of the buprenorphine. In small oral doses, naloxone will not affect the actions of the buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is long-lasting. Only one daily dose is needed. It helps to curb drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms by occupying certain opiate receptor sites in the brain.
Methadone acts in a similar way to Suboxone, but it’s a pure opiate product. It’s also very long-lasting. Methadone is extremely effective and will relieve withdrawal symptoms in virtually everyone. This includes those persons not helped by Suboxone.
Muscle relaxants help the client with involuntary muscle jerks and restless leg syndrome. These are common during opiate withdrawal and can prevent the client from getting restful sleep. They are also extremely annoying.
Benzodiazepines are drugs that relieve anxiety and promote sleep. They are less commonly used, but they are very useful in the short-term for the extremely anxious client.
Clonidine is not a narcotic. It’s a beta-blocker that’s used mainly to lower high blood pressure and also for certain heart conditions. Its actions aren’t completely understood, but clonidine will relieve much of the opiate withdrawal syndrome for many people. Clonidine has the added advantage of getting you through withdrawal without the use of other opiates.
Thorazine, a non-narcotic, is a drug used mainly to treat psychoses such as schizophrenia. In small doses, it’s also very helpful for the opiate withdrawal symptoms.
You will not likely receive all of these medications at once. Your detox center will decide which is the best combination for you.
Opiate Detox: Why you Experience Withdrawal
To understand why your body goes through a withdrawal syndrome when opiates are suddenly withdrawn, you must first understand the body’s endorphin system. Endorphins are natural opiate-like substances produced by the body. These natural endorphins relieve pain and promote feelings of well-being. They work on the very same brain receptor sites that pharmaceutical opiates do. The body has a checks and balances system, so if you take opiates on a regular basis, your body will begin to produce less and less of its own natural endorphins.
When you abruptly stop taking opiates, the brain now has a shortage of natural endorphins. Without the presence of these endorphins, you will not feel very well. You will experience typical withdrawal symptoms until your body can ramp up its own endorphin production again.
Taking pharmaceutical opiates will also cause the brain to actually grow extra opiate receptor sites. When the opiate is stopped, it will leave these extra sites empty. The brain is used to having them occupied by your opiate drug of choice. This probably causes some of the withdrawal symptoms and most of the drug craving.
Your Comfort is Paramount During Withdrawal
Don’t let the fear of withdrawal prevent you from getting the help you need. Drug detox centers have medical professionals on staff who are experts in managing opiate withdrawal symptoms. It’s what they do. Most have doctors on staff who are specialists in addiction medicine. The entire staff will be warm and supportive. They don’t want you to be in pain. There’s no advantage or reason for that. You can be gradually withdrawn from your opiate drug of choice with minimal discomfort. If your medication protocol isn’t working for you, speak up. Everyone is different.
If you’re ready to take the next step to a drug-free life, we are here to advise and guide you. Please call us at 866-802-6848. We are here to assist you 24 hours a day. It may be the most important phone call you will ever make.