Opiates, the family of drugs that are all descended from the forebear of opium and the poppy, include legal drugs like the painkillers morphine and oxycontin as well as illegal drugs like heroin. However, regardless of which opiate someone has been using and the reasons why, it is likely that the cessation of even short term use will result in withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately for users, there are a variety of opiate withdrawal treatment methods that can help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Detox and Withdrawal
The reason opiate withdrawal treatment is so often necessary is because of how addictive these drugs can be to both the body and mind. When the body gets used to the presence of an opiate, and that opiate is removed or stepped down, this leads to a variety of different symptoms. More mild symptoms include cold sweats and shakes, as well as anxiety and insomnia. More extreme symptoms like nausea and vomiting, loss of libido and others tend to come in the latter stages of withdrawal. As the body attempts to establish equilibrium in the absence of the opiate, the results can often be uncomfortable and painful. In some cases of heavier use they can be lethal, causing shock and the shut down of the body. It’s for that reason that opiate withdrawal treatment is such an important part of the detox process.
Step Down Opiate Withdrawal Treatment
One method that ensures withdrawal won’t be as taxing on the body is to use a step down method to lower the amounts of opiates in a user’s system until it gets to a level that can be easily handled. Often this is done with a less addictive replacement, such as methodone for heroin users. The goal is to slowly introduce less and less of a drug so that, while the withdrawal symptoms are irritating and uncomfortable, they aren’t life threatening. It’s like jumping off a curb, rather than off a roof.
Treating the Symptoms
Opiate withdrawal treatment tends to focus on controlling the symptoms of withdrawal. For individuals that have light symptoms from only mild or light use, over the counter medications are often enough to get the job done. For those with more severe symptoms and more fragile states of health however, doctors will prescribe specific medications to take the edge off of withdrawal symptoms. Patients should always follow the doctor’s instructions.