Opioids are helpful medicines that can alleviate pain. Almost all of the medicines classified as opioids have medical uses, except heroin. These drugs can help patients suffering from cancer pain, surgical pain, and traumatic pain. In some cases, it is prescribed for the treatment of toothaches.
But while these powerful drugs are considered beneficial, they also come with a certain degree of risk. Even at pharmaceutical doses, these drugs can be quite habit-forming. That means there’s a higher chance that the person using it could develop dependence.
Opiates are often used recreationally as well. And because recreational use of the drug involves much larger doses than is necessary, users put themselves at risk of various adverse health effects.
Not counting these negative effects, opioids may also cause addiction, overdose, and withdrawal effects. This article will primarily talk about the withdrawal symptoms that are associated with opiates.
Opioids are substances that are derived from the opium poppy plant. They go by a variety of names including opiates and narcotics.
Common opioids include codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, oxycodone, Fentanyl, and hydromorphone. Vicodin and Hycodan are brand names for hydrocodone. Oxycontin and Percoset are brand names for oxycodone. Lastly, Duralgesic is one of the brand names for Fentanyl.
Opioid Withdrawal: What You Need to Know
Opioid withdrawal is a difficult challenge for anyone who is going through it. It can be very uncomfortable. However, it is good to know that opioid withdrawal is not life threatening—unless the person is abusing other drugs aside from opiates. There are many substances that produce dangerous withdrawal symptoms. In the worst cases, they may cause death.
Opiate withdrawal symptoms won’t be fatal, but would still be distressing, to say the least.
When a person tries to quit the drug, they feel anxious, irritable, and agitated. They may have low energy, but they won’t be able to sleep comfortably. Depression is also a common sign of withdrawal.
They may also experience muscle aches, muscle pains, fever, hypertension, runny nose, teary eyes, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These effects occur because the body has already grown used to the drug’s presence. It reacts violently when it doesn’t get enough of the drug.
Throughout the duration of these effects, the person will experience strong cravings for the drug. This often forces people to relapse.
These withdrawal symptoms may last for up to a few months, especially if the person abused the opiates for a long time before quitting.
Keep in mind that the intensity of these symptoms will vary from person to person. The dosage taken, the frequency of drug use, the person’s health condition—all of these play a part in the withdrawal symptoms that follow.
Psychological support through therapy is very important at this stage, because willpower alone won’t be enough to resist the drug cravings. The withdrawal symptoms are also hard to ignore. If the patient does not want to relapse, proper medical attention is required.
Treatment for Opioid Addiction
An addicted individual can still recover. It is important to do so properly.
The first step towards recovery is accepting that you need help. Convince the addicted individual to accept your support, and be there for them throughout this challenging journey. You can take the initiative to find the right rehabilitation facility for them. There are several treatment options available for the removal of opioids from the body. And a well-equipped medical facility will be able to form the best treatment plan based on the patient’s specific needs.
Detoxification is often employed for these scenarios. The patient is slowly taken off the drug by gradually reducing their intake. Their withdrawal symptoms will be managed accordingly. This method makes use of both pharmacological and psychological treatment to get the desired results.
This detox will be performed under the close supervision of medical professionals. It may be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting, again depending on the person’s condition.
Inpatient treatment allows the opiate addicted individual to gain access to round the clock medical care. They are provided a safe environment where they can focus on getting better.
Outpatient treatment allows the patient to stay with their family during the detox period, but involves scheduled visits to the hospital. It gives them the chance to recover while remaining in the care and guidance of the people who love them the most.
Opiate withdrawal may be very uncomfortable, but medical detox provides the safest and most effective way to get through it.
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In addition to the medical attention that the patient will receive in a rehab facility, there will also be mental health professionals that will evaluate and guide the individual during the process.
There is no specific timeline for the detox period. But once the person recovers, there will be a much lower chance of relapse. They will be educated on the negative effects of drugs, and they will be taught on how to readjust with their sober life.