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Opiate Withdrawal – Uncomfortable To Downright Painful

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

March 12, 2019

Opiates are a group of very dangerous and extremely addictive drugs that depress the central nervous system and are usually prescribed to help manage pain. Opiates interact with the limbic system of the brain to cause feelings of relaxation and euphoria and works with the nerves in the spinal cord to reduce pain. Withdrawaling from these medications can be extremely difficult and dangerous. It is best to seek professional help before attempting to detox from opiates.

The Difficulty Of Opiate Withdrawal

These drugs cause extreme physical dependency, both in between highs and when trying to stop taking them all together. Over time, addicts end up developing a tolerance to opiates, causing them to use more and more of the drug to produce the same high. When this tolerance develops, the brain can no longer function as it used to and needs the drug to combat even the slightest pain.

Depending on the severity of the addiction, withdrawal can vary from uncomfortable to downright painful.

Mild opiate withdrawal effects include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Runny Nose
  • Fever

If an addict has been abusing opiates for a long period of time, they may experience more severe effects.

Severe opiate withdrawal effects include:

  • Abdominal Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid Heart Rate

Opiates are also psychologically addictive, and those coming off the drug often feel anxiety, agitation, restlessness, and go through a variety of mood swings. These mental effects combined with the physical ones can make withdrawal a very tedious and unpleasant event.

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Opiate Addiction Treatment

Hitting its peak at about 30 hours, withdrawal is the first stage of a recovering addict, and it can last for up to a week. First, they must rid their bodies of the drug, which causes the previously mentioned symptoms. This is often recommended being done under the supervision and care of a doctor so that complications do not occur.

Thus, many experts believe that an inpatient treatment plan in a rehab facility is key to the detoxification process. During this detox, many addicts will receive the medication clonidine to relieve the uncomfortable effects of withdrawal. Buprenorphine has also been used to shorten the length of the detox.

Alongside detox, therapy is given in the form of cognitive behavioral treatment, individual therapy, and group support. Whether you choose a more traditional and faith-based 12-step program or an evidence-based SMART Recovery program, addicts will receive support from doctors, counselors, and others like them. These programs give addicts the necessary tools and coping mechanisms to help them avoid temptation and relapse in the future.

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If you or a loved one have decided to quit your opiate addiction, you don’t have to face this decision alone. Contact us today, and we will help you find the drug rehab that best fits your needs.

View “Opiate Withdrawal” Infographic

View Opiate Withdrawal Infographic

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