Overcoming Opioid Addiction and Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health crises of our time. Every day, more than 44 people in the United States die from opioid overdose. The numbers are staggering, and the impact is devastating communities across the country.
There is hope, however. Treatment for opioid addiction is available and it works. Opioid treatment programs offer a comprehensive approach to care that includes medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with FDA-approved medications like buprenorphine and naltrexone. These evidence-based treatments work by reducing cravings and opioid withdrawal symptoms, making it possible for people to lead healthy, productive lives.
If you or someone you love is struggling with any form of opiate addiction, don’t wait to get help. Keep reading to learn more about opiate detox and substance abuse treatment, and how Icarus Behavioral health in Nevada can help you start your recovery journey.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs that includes illegal drugs, like heroin, synthetic illicit opioids, like fentanyl, and prescription opioids, such as oxycodone and morphine. Legal prescription opioids are responsible for a growing number of overdose deaths in the United States. When used as prescribed, opioids can be used to treat pain effectively.
However, they also carry a high risk for drug abuse and physical dependence. Repeated drug use of opioids can lead to tolerance, meaning that higher doses are needed to achieve the same effect.
This increased tolerance can eventually lead a person to be physically dependent and addicted to opiates, which can also lead to fatal overdoses. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than 100,000 people in The United States died from drug overdoses between April 2020 and April 2021. Many of these included opioid use.
Opioids are highly addictive, and symptoms of withdrawal from them can be extremely difficult. Treatment for opioid addiction often requires professional help.
How Do Opioids Affect the Brain?
When opioids bind to opioid receptors in the brain, they trigger a release of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate pleasure and reward-seeking behaviors.
The release of dopamine creates a feeling of euphoria, which can lead people to keep taking opioids even when they no longer need them for chronic pain relief. Over time, the brain becomes increasingly tolerant to the presence of opioids, which leads to higher doses being needed in order to achieve the same level of euphoria.
This increased tolerance can eventually lead to substance abuse and potentially deadly overdose. Thus, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with taking opioids before starting any medication regimen.
What is Opioid Detox?
Drug and alcohol detox is the first and most important step in overcoming drug abuse and physical dependence to opiates. Detoxification is the process of allowing the body to rid itself of drugs or alcohol in a safe and controlled environment. It is important to note that detox is not a cure all for opioid use disorder, but rather the first step in a long journey towards recovery.
When an individual decides to enter detox, they are making a commitment to sobriety and taking the first step on the road to recovery.
Just like with any other detox program, opiate detoxification comes with a number of challenges. The first few days of detox are often the hardest, as your body begins to adjust to the absence of opiates. Emotional and physical symptoms of opioid withdrawal can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. In some cases, people may also experience hallucinations or delusions.
The Benefits of a Medical Detox Program
Medical detox is the first and most important step in overcoming opioid use disorder. This type of detoxification program offers a supervised, medically monitored opioid withdrawal process that helps to minimize the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and potential health risks associated with opiate withdrawal.
Medical detox for opiates can last anywhere from a few days to a week or more, depending on the severity of the addiction and other factors such as the individual’s age, overall health, and medical history, how physically dependent the person is on the drug, and previous experience with detoxification, among other things.
After completing a detox program, it is important to seek out additional treatment for your opioid use disorder to develop the skills necessary for long-term sobriety.
What Happens During Medical Detox for Opiates?
During medical detox for opiates, individuals will be closely monitored by medical staff 24 hours a day. This allows for any potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms to be quickly addressed. It also ensures that any discomfort experienced during the opioid withdrawal period is kept to a minimum through the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
MAT involves the use of FDA-approved medication to help alleviate cravings and ease some of the symptoms associated with the unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal. While there are many different types of medication that can be used in MAT, the most common medications used in medical detox for opiates are methadone and buprenorphine (a partial opioid agonist).
In some cases, other drugs and medications may be used to manage symptoms such as anxiety, depression, or insomnia. Medications will be tapered off gradually as symptoms of withdrawal improve to avoid any potential for relapse.
Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline
Opiate withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to endure. However, understanding the symptoms and what to expect can help you get through the detox and withdrawal process. Withdrawal from opiates can occur as early as a few hours after the last dose and can last for a few weeks. It is important to seek professional help when detoxing from opiates as serious health complications can occur.
Sometimes people will experience mild symptoms, and other people will experience other opioid withdrawal symptoms that are more severe.
Early symptoms of opiate withdrawal may include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Nausea and vomiting
- Teary eyes
- Tunny nose
- Muscle aches
- Hot/cold flashes
- Stomach cramps
- Muscle cramps
- Drug cravings
These symptoms typically peak within 48-72 hours and then dissipate over the next 7-10 days. However, some people may experience protracted withdrawal which involves long-lasting symptoms that may persist for months or even years.
Medical Complications During Opiate Detox
Medical complications associated with opiate withdrawal are rare but can be very serious if they occur. Complications that have been reported during opiate withdrawal include: irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia), high blood pressure (hypertension), and agitation. Many people who are coming off of opiates also abuse alcohol, and the withdrawal symptoms can be deadly, leading to seizure activity and delirium tremens (DTs).
DTs most commonly occur in individuals who have a history of alcohol dependence but can also occur in individuals withdrawing from other drugs such as benzodiazepines. Additionally, those who are withdrawing from alcohol and opiates could experience delirium tremens. DTs typically peak 3-5 days after cessation of drug use and involve intense shaking, confusion, and hallucinations. If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms it is important to seek medical help immediately as DTs can be life-threatening.
Opiates are powerful drugs that can lead to addiction and dependence. If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to opiates, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. Opiate withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to endure but understanding what to expect can help you get through the process.
Can Opioid Withdrawal Cause Death?
One of the main dangers of opioid withdrawal is dehydration. When people are withdrawing from opioids, they often experience severe nausea and vomiting. This can lead to dehydration, which can in turn cause low blood pressure, electrolyte imbalance, and organ failure. In extreme cases, dehydration can.
What is the Post-Acute Withdrawal Phase?
Many people are familiar with the acute phase of withdrawal, which is experienced in the hours to days after a person’s last drink. However, what happens after the acute phase is often not as well-known.
The post-acute withdrawal phase of withdrawal refers to the symptoms that occur after the acute phase has passed. These symptoms can last for months or even years and can be just as debilitating as the acute phase.
Symptoms of Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS)
The symptoms of PAWS can vary from person to person, but there are some common symptoms that many people experience. These include:
- Mood Swings
- Sleep problems
- Loss of appetite
- Cravings for substances
- Memory and concentration problems
You might experience some of these symptoms while you’re still in detox, but they should start to dissipate within a few days or weeks. If they don’t, that’s when PAWS might set in. Symptoms of PAWS can range from mild to severe, and they can last for weeks, months, or even years in some cases.
How to Cope with Milder Withdrawal Symptoms
If you’re experiencing milder symptoms of withdrawal that are affecting your mental health, like anxiety, insomnia, or sweating, there are some things you can do at home to help ease your discomfort.
Anxiety from Opiate Withdrawal
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations. However, during drug withdrawal, anxiety can be more intense and harder to manage. To cope with anxiety during withdrawal, it’s important to practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation. You should also avoid caffeine and other stimulants, as they can make anxiety worse.
Insomnia During Opioid Detox
Many people struggling with addiction also have trouble sleeping. Withdrawal can worsen insomnia, making it difficult to get the rest you need. To cope with insomnia during withdrawal, establish a regular sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine.
Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of drug and alcohol withdrawal. To cope with these symptoms, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking clear liquids like water or broth.
You should also avoid fatty foods or spicy foods, as they can make nausea and vomiting worse. If you vomit more than once an hour or if you cannot keep liquids down, seek medical attention immediately as you may be at risk for dehydration.
Headaches When Coming Off Opiate Drugs
Headaches are another common symptom of drug and alcohol withdrawal. To cope with headaches, drink plenty of fluids and take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. However, if your headaches are severe or if they last for more than a few days, seek medical attention.
If you’re experiencing more severe symptoms like DTs or seizures, it’s important that you seek professional medical help right away. These symptoms can be life-threatening, and they require special medical treatment that you will not be able to get at home.
If you’re struggling with an addiction to drugs, know that you are not alone and there is help available. Be sure to reach out to a medical professional or drug and alcohol rehab center before beginning any detox or withdrawal process so that they can help monitor your progress and ensure your safety.
Find Assistance with Opiate Detox in Nevada Now!
Addiction is a serious disease that can have devastating consequences. In the case of opiate addiction, those consequences can include death. However, there is hope for those who are struggling with addiction. Treatment options are available that can help people to recover and live healthy, productive lives.
For anyone who is struggling with addiction, it is important to seek out help as soon as possible. The sooner you get help, the better your chances are of making a full recovery. Don’t let addiction control your life any longer.
All calls to our center are confidential. Our admissions counselors are here to answer any questions you may have about our program, and they will treat your call with the utmost confidentiality.
Reach out for treatment and start on the path to recovery today. Contact Icarus Behavioral Health in Nevada to get started on a new path in life, free from being chained to your next opiate!