What to Expect When Withdrawing from Opioids
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention notes that abuse of opioids and similar drugs has taken the lives of over 200,000 Americans since 1999, with prescription opioid overdose deaths increasing fivefold since then.
Prescription opioid abuse often results in increased tolerance to the drug, sedation, nausea and vomiting, respiratory depression, hormonal dysfunction, difficulty breathing and coma in extreme cases. Moreover, people who abuse prescription opioids are at a greatly increased risk of turning to heroin due to its widespread availability compared to opioids. If one is abusing opiois or similar painkillers, reducing and eliminating this drug is critically important.
Prescription Opioid Detox and Approaches to Quitting Opioids
When addicted to prescription opioids, attempting to quit on one’s own, often “cold turkey,” is not advisable. The risk of relapse with opioids is extremely high. Because of this fact, a doctor-supervised medical prescription opioid detox program is highly recommended.
Many programs for the treatment of prescription opioids and similar addictions involve a gradual decrease in use of the drug with the help of a medical professional. This approach is known as “tapering” off the drug. Some others prefer a cold-turkey approach, though this may result in more severe withdrawal symptoms. Either way, a medically-supervised drug detoxification program ensures that trained medical professionals can work with patients to ease the discomforts of the withdrawal process and ensure the patient’s safety throughout the process.
Common Prescription Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms and Timeline
Multiple weeks of heavy use of prescription opioids is enough to form a dependence, so any situation where the drug is used less or eliminated after this point can cause withdrawal symptoms. Time for withdrawal from prescription opioids differs depending on a variety of factors, but typically lasts from about one to two weeks.
Withdrawal often occurs in stages. In the early stages – within 24 hours of discontinuing use – the patient may experience restlessness, anxiety, muscle aches, insomnia, or flu-like symptoms. After a day or more without using, the patient may experience abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, blurry vision, a reduced appetite, or a rapid heartbeat, often referred to as being “dope sick”. Beyond the first week or so of withdrawal, some symptoms such as depression, tiredness, and anxiety may persist.
Dedicated Treatment for Prescription Opioid Addiction
After going through detox and withdrawal from prescription opioids, attending a dedicated inpatient rehab treatment program for addiction is a crucial next step. Such programs are an invaluable part of recovery. One is much more likely to prevent relapse with professional post-detox care at an inpatient rehab center versus simply going home after detox, as the post-detox period places the recovering addict at high risk for relapse. Inpatient rehab centers offer a safe environment, therapy, structure, and social support that are key to long-term recovery.
Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire offers a unique combination of 12-step work and clinical care in its treatment plans that addresses the root causes of substance abuse. Recovering from opioid abuse is not easy, but Granite Recovery Center’s compassionate, professional team will give you or your loved one the comprehensive care needed to quit abusing drugs and live a better life. Call Granite Recovery Centers at 603-339-4160 for help.