Opiate withdrawal can be uncomfortable, and in some cases, it can lead to serious health complications. As a result, medical detox is needed. Therapies that can help include:
The symptoms of opiate withdrawal whether the opiates in question are prescription drugs or heroin can be extremely uncomfortable.
Although these symptoms are eased through monitored medical detox programs, they can still make detox frustrating to undertake. According to an article in ACP Hospitalist, the symptoms may include:
For many of the symptoms of opiate withdrawal, there are a number of tips and tricks that can be used to bring relief from the discomfort and make the detox process easier. In addition, there are some methods of care that can be considered based on how they specifically counter the action of opiates in the brain.
There are also some methods that, while they may promise relief, can cause complications in the recovery process. These should be undertaken under a doctor’s care to provide optimum safety during detox.
Oftentimes, replacement medications are needed as well as medical intervention to ensure the safety and comfort of the individual detoxing. For all opiates, including prescription painkillers and heroin, medical detox is recommended. An inpatient treatment program that offers medical detox can provide the most effective care to ease the discomfort that comes from opiate withdrawal.
The following are some standard treatments for the symptoms of opiate withdrawal that resemble cold and flu symptoms.
Again, at-home detox for opiates is never recommended; seek medical detox at a professional treatment program to ensure a safe and healthy detox experience.
Taking a multivitamin or supplementing in areas of deficiency can help with recovery and ease symptoms.
In many cases, using an enhanced hydration beverage, such as sports drinks, can help restore some of the electrolytes that are also lost when a person is dehydrated.
Avoid hot baths during episodes of fever; in this case, a heating pad can be helpful to soothe achy muscles while keeping the rest of the body cool.
The following methods are perhaps not as intuitive as the ones listed above. However, they have value based on the action of opiates in the brain and the body’s natural responses to the treatment methods.
Because of this connection, when an individual who is struggling with opiate addiction is going through withdrawal, exercise can be a great way to relieve some of the symptoms. For example, in one study from the journal Physiology & Behavior, rats who ran on a wheel were less likely to demonstrate anxious behaviors both during addiction and during withdrawal than rats that remained sedentary. Exercise may even contribute to a better outcome in opiate detox. As reported in the journal Pharmacological Reports, a study showed that addicted rats that exercised were less likely to dose themselves with heroin that they could access, demonstrating that exercise may help lower the desire or need for heroin.
In addition to these benefits, exercise can help reduce the occurrence of restless leg syndrome and insomnia. Because of these outcomes, exercise in concert with treatment of opiate withdrawal can be extremely beneficial in managing withdrawal symptoms.
The hypothesis about how this works is that acupuncture affects dopamine release in the brain; this may counter some withdrawal effects and thereby diminish the urge to use opioids again. While some analysis of the research behind acupuncture for opiate use questions the ability of this method to prevent cravings, such as one meta-analysis from Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, acupuncture is still considered by some to be useful in helping individuals ease the discomfort of individual withdrawal symptoms. It can help individuals relax and feel a diminished level of discomfort from these symptoms, making the detox process easier and more comfortable to manage.
There are many tips and tricks for opiate withdrawal found online that, if followed, could increase the risk of complications or promote the development of additional dependencies if not prescribed as part of a professional medical detox protocol. The use of over-the-counter medications is often recommended; however, medications should only be used as part of a controlled, reputable treatment program when advised by a doctor.
Some of the symptoms of opiate withdrawal are common and can be helped through medications that can be obtained over the counter.
For example, diarrhea that sometimes occurs with opiate withdrawal can be eased using a non-prescription diarrhea medication, such as loperamide (found in brand names like Imodium AD). Other nonprescription medications and supplements for opiate withdrawal symptoms that could be taken under the care of a professional treatment program include:
Because any over-the-counter medication has the potential to interact with other drugs, a doctor can help to make sure that the individual is avoiding anything that might interfere with other medicines that are prescribed to address the addiction.
The experienced doctors and therapists who provide professional treatment for opiate detox understand the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms and can advise further helpful tips and tricks to aid with opiate withdrawal.
Using these methods in concert with a managed, compassionate, and professional treatment program can help ensure that recovery from opiate addiction is less uncomfortable and ultimately more successful.