Opioids are a drug class that contains both illegal substances like heroin and synthetic drugs like oxycodone, which doctors may prescribe to treat severe and/or chronic pain. Despite the dangers of opioid use, such as high rates of abuse, addiction, and accidental overdose, they may be the best option in some circumstances, such as acute, short-term pain. After surgery or a traumatic injury, your doctor may prescribe opioids to help you get through a few days of severe pain. When other treatments have failed, opioid medications can be used to treat cancer-related pain and, in rare cases, chronic noncancer pain.
If you’ve been taking opioids for less than two weeks, you should be able to stop taking them as soon as your prescription runs out. Individuals who use unauthorized opioids or misuse prescription opioids, which means they take them in ways that were not meant example, by using someone else’s prescription or taking more of the substance than was prescribed—are more likely to develop an opioid use disorder.
What Is Opioid Withdrawal?
When a person becomes physically dependent on opioid painkillers, he or she will feel tempted to use them in order to function normally. If they stop taking the drug “cold turkey,” they will experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms as their bodies learn how to live without it. Withdrawal occurs when a person abruptly discontinues or significantly reduces the amount of a drug they are taking. The withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the type of painkiller abused, the person’s established tolerance to the drug, the duration of their addiction, and their mental and medical history. While withdrawal symptoms are rarely fatal, they can cause significant physical and psychological anxiety in the person experiencing them. People who are working to prevent using drugs on their own may resort to using again to avoid the withdrawal process due to the severity of the symptoms.
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms:
Opiate withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe. Patients who have a long history of drug abuse or addiction have the most severe symptoms. Other factors may also influence the types of withdrawal symptoms that a person experiences. A person’s current health and well-being, any underlying mental or behavioral disorders, whether their family has a history of drug addiction, the length and severity of the addiction, and how they administered the substance are all factors to consider. A person will typically begin to experience a mixture of the withdrawal symptoms listed below within 24 hours of their last dose:
- Muscle spasms
- Runny nose
- Abdominal cramps
- Stomach aches
- Constricted pupils
- Fluctuating blood pressure
How long does withdrawal last?
Symptoms can last from a few days to more than two weeks. The worst symptoms for the majority of people improve after a few days. The duration of your symptoms is determined by the frequency and severity of your addiction, as well as individual factors such as your overall health. For example, heroin is typically eliminated faster from your system, and symptoms will appear within 12 hours of last use. If you’ve been on methadone, symptoms may appear after a day and a half. If you were given a drug to reverse an opioid overdose by a doctor or paramedic, your withdrawal symptoms may come on faster and feel worse. They may also cause blood pressure or heart rate changes that require medical attention.
Medications Used in Opiate Detox:
During the detox process, doctors frequently prescribe medications. These drugs are used to treat the long-term effects of opioid withdrawal, such as drug cravings. A doctor will gradually reduce the dosage of these medications until the patient is no longer experiencing acute withdrawal symptoms. Medications may be continued while the patient is in an inpatient rehab center. The following are some of the most commonly used medications during opiate detox.
Clonidine is commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure and suppress withdrawal symptoms. It’s especially good for relieving anxiety and stress symptoms. It’s available as an oral tablet or a skin patch. Clonidine does not produce the euphoric effects associated with opioid pain relievers. As a result, the drug is highly doubtful to be abused or cause physical dependence. This makes it easier to stop taking the drug once the withdrawal symptoms have declined.
Read Also: Detox From Alcohol and Its Benefits
Buprenorphine is frequently used to diagnose alcoholism. It has also been shown to be an effective opiate withdrawal treatment. Buprenorphine doesn’t have the same potency as stronger opiates like hydrocodone. The medication helps patients stay motivated in treatment by reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioids.
Opiate removal can cause a variety of unpleasant and distressing symptoms. Although opiate withdrawal is rarely life-threatening, it can lead to complications if symptoms such as vomiting and diarrheic are not treated. Initial symptoms may appear 6–30 hours after the last dose of opiates, depending on the type of opiates taken. They may develop new symptoms 72 hours after taking the last dose. These signs and symptoms may last up to a week. During opiate withdrawal, it is critical that people seek the advice of a medical professional. A doctor will be able to provide any necessary medication as well as monitor the individual for any signs of illness. Crestone Wellness’s clinical team is dedicated to the therapeutic dimension of addiction recovery and believes that therapeutic support ensures the best long-term outcomes in every client’s journey towards sobriety and wholeness.
You may have to deal with an emergency situation in the future, such as an injury or surgery. If you’ve successfully tapered off opioid pain medication in the past, taking opioids for a short period of time with your doctor’s permission — could be beneficial.