Help with Opiate Withdrawal
Opiates are one of the most dangerous and addictive classes of drugs out there. Millions of Americans abuse opioid medications every year, and many move on to use illicit opioids and street drugs. Because these drugs are so addictive, detoxing the body from them can be difficult and painful.
What are Opiates?
When we talk about opiates, we often are actually referring to opioids. The difference here is that opiates are naturally-occurring chemicals from the opium poppy. There are three main opiates: codeine, morphine, and thebaine. Although people do abuse codeine and morphine, far more people are abusing opioids. Opioids are drugs that are synthesized in a lab, sometimes from the naturally-occurring opiates. Commonly abused opioids are:
- Meperidine (Demerol)
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Oxycodone (Oxycontin and Percocet)
Opioids are central nervous system depressants that are often prescribed to individuals to help treat pain. Many people who become addicted to opiates start with prescription pills and medical conditions. Although opiates have powerful medical value in their ability to alleviate pain, individuals may become physically dependent even if they are taking the opioids exactly as prescribed.
Withdrawal from opioids is caused by the body’s dependence on the drugs. When going through detox, a person is dealing with the body’s difficulty working without the drugs. Opioids work in the brainby causing an uptake of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for our experience of pleasure. The rush of dopamine is partly responsible for the rush or high we get when abusing opiates.
When we remove the opiates from the brain and body, the body suffers. It has learned to function with an increased amount of dopamine, and suddenly its dopamine supply has run low. This can cause the symptoms of pain and discomfort in the body. It also causes us to experience the opposite of pleasure and euphoria: irritation and discomfort. Although it may not feel good, the brain and body can get through the withdrawal process and rebuild, especially when you have professional help from a detox facility.
There are many ways to get through the process of detox. From medication-assisted-treatment to getting your nutrients, there are ways you can ease withdrawal symptoms and make it through the detox safely.
Opiate Withdrawal Medication
There are a few medications that are used to help ease withdrawal symptoms. Some of these are currently used, while others were popular in the past but have since been replaced with better alternatives.
Suboxone is a medication that is commonly prescribed to help people wean off opiates. There have been studies like this one finding suboxone to be an effective treatment, but individuals will often end up experiencing suboxone withdrawal symptoms when coming off the drug. Like many other treatment methods, suboxone has pros and cons and it’s up to you and your doctor to decide what is right for you.
Methadone was a bit like the suboxone of yesterday. Used as a form of opioid replacement therapy, it was thought that methadone was much less addictive and safer for long-term use than drugs like heroin. However, methadone has been phased out in favor of buprenorphine, the active ingredient in subutex and part of the makeup of suboxone.
Naltrexone is a more recent discovery, and is an opioid-blocker. This means that when an individual is taking naltrexone, they are unable to achieve a high from abusing opiates. This discourages people from using drugs and can help people get through the withdrawal process.
Drugs like clonidine may be prescribed during the withdrawal process. Clonidine is traditionally a medication used for high blood pressure, and can help lower blood pressure and ease symptoms of anxiety during detox.
Ways to Help Detox from Opiates
There are things you can do to help the detox process. However, we recommend taking these actions in the safety of a professional detox facility. You may start by tapering off the opiates. This is the idea behind opioid replacement therapy, and can dramatically help ease the discomfort.
During the detox process, you’re likely to experience some dehydration as a result of vomiting and diarrhea. As such, it is important to make sure you stay hydrated. Drink a lot of water and keep your body working smoothly. Becoming too dehydrated can be really dangerous, and will certainly make your symptoms worse.
There are many non-narcotic medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen that may help ease the muscle pains and discomfort. At a detox facility, your doctor will work with you to find the right treatment methods to make sure you are safe in both mind and body.
Home and Herbal Remedies
Many people look online for herbal remedies for opiate withdrawals or opiate withdrawal remedies over the counter. Although there are things that may help, the best way to go is always seeking professional help. It can be overwhelming or scary to think about going to a detox facility, and it is indeed a big commitment. However, going to a detox facility will offer you the best opportunity for building a new life sober so you don’t need help withdrawing from opiates ever again.