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The Thomas Recipe For Opiate Withdrawal

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

January 29, 2019

The Thomas Recipe for opiate withdrawal claims to be an at home detox method that uses other medications to lessen opiate withdrawal symptoms. This method, however, is not researched based and has not been approved by medical professionals. Attempting this could result in several serious health consequences.

The Thomas Recipe for opiate withdrawal utilizes a combination of over-the-counter supplements and medications with a benzodiazepine drug to reduce symptoms of withdrawal. This method is not approved or recommended by a doctor, nor are the results research-based or even safe. Without proper support, risk from cravings and relapse can be high. Should a person return to drug abuse during the steps of the recipe, there could be a potentially fatal interaction between the benzodiazepine and opioid drugs.

If you search for The Thomas Recipe online, you will quickly be flooded with a variety of search results with claims like “opiate withdrawal home remedies,” “at-home self detoxes,” and “do-it-yourself guide to detoxing.” Despite these numerous posts on self-help sites, blogs, and message boards, this approach to opioid withdrawal may not only fail to produce optimal results, but it could be dangerous.

What Are The Signs Of Opiate Withdrawal?

Withdrawal causes uncomfortable and even painful symptoms which occur as your body reacts to a sudden absence of an opiate drug, including:

In the early stages:

  • Anxious or agitated state
  • Teary eyes or runny nose
  • Achey muscles
  • Excessive sweating
  • Uncontrollable yawning

In the later stages:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Goose bumps

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What Is A Detox?

Detoxification is a process which seeks to reduce or cease symptoms of withdrawal. This includes reducing the mental and emotional effects, such as anxiety, and any physical symptoms. When this is successful, it aids a person in progressing more smoothly and quickly through withdrawal, so that they may begin treatment sooner. An effective detox also protects a person by helping to prevent cravings and by lessening the risk of relapsing to drug abuse.

What Is The Thomas Recipe?

This “recipe” includes a variety of components, such as:

  • A benzodiazepine; Valium is recommended, however, Klonopin and Librium may also be used, and Ativan or Xanax as a last resort.
  • Imodium
  • L-Tyrosine (500 mg)
  • A multi-mineral supplement containing at minimum 100 percent of the recommended daily allowance of copper, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
  • Vitamin B6

In addition, a person should have access to a hot bath or Jacuzzi tub, however, a hot shower will also suffice.

The following are the steps cited within The Thomas Recipe instructions:

  • A person should begin by taking both the mineral and vitamin supplements. Individuals are encouraged to consume these with food, preferably including potassium-rich foods such as bananas, to combat muscles aches and spastic movements.
  • Take enough of the benzodiazepine drug to induce sleep, before then tapering the dose. In theory, this tapering schedule is supposed to carry a person through the most severe stages of withdrawal. The instructions assert that this should only last about four to five days.
  • Hot bathing is encouraged throughout this time to reduce muscle aches and severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • To combat diarrhea, use Imodium until it is no longer needed.
  • Near day four, a person should be “be waking up from the Valium and experiencing the beginnings of the opiate WD malaise.” At this point, they instruct a person to take a beginning dose of 2000 mg L-Tyrosine, either reducing or increasing the dose (up to 4000 mg) depending on how an individual feels. Also, they suggest additional B6 for increased absorption and that a person wait one hour before eating. The author claims L-Tyrosine:
  1. Will give a person energy to counteract the ill effects of withdrawal.
  2. May cause jitters or diarrhea—decreasing the dose may reduce these symptoms
  • The vitamin/mineral combo should be continued
  • Lastly, a person should engage in light exercise as soon as they are able, to further increase a sense of wellness.

Is The Thomas Recipe Safe?

It is crucial to understand that this method was not physician-designed, nor is it physician-recommended. Even more critical is the fact that it is not physician-supervised. Rather, this “recipe” is founded on the experience and limited knowledge of a layperson and supported only by other user’s claims. This is not enough evidence to prove that it will work or that it is safe.

Within addiction medicine, there is a foundational concept referred to as evidence-based care. These treatment modalities are those which have been exhaustively tested and researched countless times to determine consistent, safe results. It is only then that these modalities are implemented within comprehensive care. When a do-it-yourself method, such as The Thomas Recipe is attempted, too many variables could occur. These could have potentially disastrous results.

Detox is only the first step towards sobriety. If a person attempts this alone, there is a good chance they may not follow up with addiction treatment, significantly decreasing the chances of a successful recovery. In negating this care, they are missing the opportunity to learn coping skills, receive counseling or therapy, and treatment for any co-occurring disorders. Even if a person detoxes successfully, the behaviors, mindsets, and emotions which fostered drug-seeking and -using will still be present, drastically increasing the chance of relapse.

Are Using Benzodiazepines Safe?

One major cause for concern within this regimen is the instructions pertaining to the benzodiazepine dose which urge a person to “Start with a dose high enough to produce sleep.” Benzodiazepine drugs vary in their purpose and effect and are offered in either a short- or long-acting form. If a person doesn’t understand or take into account the duration of the drug’s effects, the amount which may cause sleep could be close to the dose which could cause ill or even fatal effects. An unspecified amount such as this, left open to the casual interpretation of a non-medical professional could cause overdose.

In any treatment regimen, a person needs to be especially careful about ensuring that none of their current medications or supplements interfere with any of those within treatment. Without the knowledge of a trained medical practitioner, this information is not readily available or fully understood. In fact, within The Thomas Recipe, there is what could potentially become a fatal complication—an opioid/benzodiazepine interaction.

How Are Opioids And Benzodiazepines Dangerous Together?

In August 2016, the FDA issued boxed warnings, their “strongest warning” on the dangers associated with combining opioid and benzodiazepine drugs. Separately, these drugs cause intense central nervous system (CNS) depression. Together, this effect can become so severe, that “extreme sleepiness, respiratory depression, coma and death” may result.

You may wonder why this would be a concern with an individual who has stopped using their opioid drug of abuse. During withdrawal, one of the number one concerns is of relapse back to substance abuse. This is one of the primary reasons why treatment is both necessary and widely effective for sobriety. Without this expert support, a person, unattended, may choose to use an opioid drug to further decrease unbearable symptoms of withdrawal.

Should this occur during the time which they are using benzodiazepines, such as is recommended during The Thomas Recipe, the situation may become hazardous. This could become even more dangerous—and fatal—during the period in which a person is taking an amount significant enough to induce sleep.

Why Is Medically-Supervised Detoxification Recommended?

Foremost, a medically-supervised detoxification are safer. During this time, an individual will have 24-hour support and monitoring from a highly-trained staff who is intent to a person’s needs. This includes routine vital sign checks to monitor for any abnormalities that may require a medical or medication-based intervention. During this time, a person will likely receive evidence-based medications designed to counter the symptoms of withdrawal.

Again, a medical detox helps to alleviate any cravings and prevent relapse. A relapse to certain opioid drugs after withdrawal can be deadly. Case in point, a supervised detox can help to protect your life.

A medically-supervised detox should be considered only the first stage of treatment. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse comments on this, cautioning that “detoxification alone is rarely sufficient to help addicted individuals achieve long-term abstinence.” Because of this, an expert, evidenced-based addiction treatment program should strongly be considered to increase the chance of a long-term recovery.

We Can Help You Find A Safe Detox

If you or someone you love is considering quitting opioid drug abuse, we strongly urge you not to take matters into your own hands. Instead, why don’t you let us help shoulder some burden. At we understand the wide-range of demands and risks which are associated with opiate withdrawal. This knowledge helps us to better design a detox plan that will be safe and successful. Additionally, we can help you find a good inpatient drug treatment program—even one that offers both detox and addiction treatment. Look no further—contact us today.

Disclaimer: does not endorse The Thomas Recipe. You should contact a licensed addiction professional for assistance in choosing a detoxification plan that is right for you needs.

MedlinePlus - Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal

NIDA - Principles of Effective Treatment

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