Going through opiate withdrawal is difficult. It’s an extremely uncomfortable process that often causes people to relapse. But recovering from opiate addiction is worth the struggle.
Today we will be talking about opiate withdrawal, and what to expect when someone is going through it. But first, let’s discuss what opiates are and why they are abused.
Opioids are helpful medicines that can alleviate pain. They are derived from the opium poppy plant.
Common kinds of opioids include Fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone, and codeine.
These drugs can help patients get through different kinds of pain, ranging from moderate to severe. It can treat cancer pain, surgical pain, and traumatic pain. Opioids and opiates are two terms that are often used interchangeably. They are also referred to as narcotics. But no matter what it is called, these substances are habit-forming drugs that can cause dependence and addiction when abused.
Recreational use of opioids involves much higher doses and more frequent intake of the drug than is normally prescribed. This often leads to drug dependence. At this point, a person who tries to quit using the drug may experience different withdrawal symptoms.
What to Expect
Opioid withdrawal can be very uncomfortable. But unlike other illicit drugs, opioid withdrawal is not life threatening—unless the person is using it alongside other drugs, or substances such as alcohol. And although opioid withdrawal isn’t likely to be fatal, it could still be distressing.
Quitting the drug often makes the person feel anxious, agitated, and irritable. Sleeping would be difficult even though they maintain a low energy throughout the day.
They may even experience depression, as it is a common symptom of withdrawal.
Other common side effects include muscle pain, hypertension, runny nose, teary eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and fever.
These effects may vary from person to person. It depends on the dosage taken, the frequency of abuse, and whether they are abusing another substance or not. The body’s overall health condition also factors in when it comes to withdrawal symptoms.
Expect the person to crave the opioid often. This, along with the negative effects of withdrawal, causes people to relapse. Willpower alone may not be enough to enable a person to get off the drug. This is why medical assistance is often necessary.
To make matters worse, these physical effects are only just the beginning. Long term withdrawal may cause some psychological effects, wherein the person goes through behavioral changes. They may act irrationally because of the drug’s absence. Proper guidance and professional counseling may be needed in this case.
In less severe cases of opioid abuse, self-help may be possible. The opioid-addicted individual is advised not to quit the drug abruptly. Instead, they should detox by gradually lowering their intake, using the substance in lower doses and less frequently. They will need to manage their own withdrawal symptoms.
Before attempting this, it is still important to consult a doctor and inform them of what the patient is trying to accomplish.
Self-regulating their intake is harder than it sounds. Addiction makes a person act more compulsively. It is best to give them your support throughout the process.
There are over-the-counter medicines that can help with withdrawal symptoms as the person detoxifies. Loperamide (Imodium) can help treat diarrhea. For body aches and pains, acetaminophen (Tylenol) may help treat it.
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Just make sure the person does not take any medication in higher doses, or for longer than is recommended. If self-regulation does not work, consider looking for the best treatment facility nearby.
There is no specific timeline for opioid withdrawal. Be prepared for a long battle ahead, because it is a continuous process during which the patient will struggle not to relapse. Keep them safe, hydrated, and comfortable. It also helps to keep their mind occupied with different enjoyable activities, to keep them from thinking too much about their problem
With dedication and commitment, recovery can be achieved.