Opiate addictions are notoriously hard to kick. These powerful narcotic painkillers affect both brain and body to create a dependence that impacts just about every aspect of a user’s life.
Detoxing is the first step toward breaking that dependence – and to be effective, it needs to be done safely, under medical supervision. With the help of trained addiction specialists, opiate detox can open the doors to recovery – and an addiction free life.
Why Are Opiates So Addictive?
Opiates belong to a family of substances called opioids. True opiates – morphine and codeine –are naturally derived from opium, a product of certain poppy plants. This family also includes the opioids – opiate like drugs that are either entirely or partly created chemically.
The opioids, including heroin and the prescription pain medications Vicodin, Percocet, Dilaudid and Demerol, work like morphine and codeine to depress the central nervous system and block pain messages to the brain.
Opiates and opioids alike boost feelings of relaxation and calm. Over time the body and brain accept the drug as the new “normal” and users may need to take more and more in order to get the same pleasurable feelings they did at first.
These drugs also create new pathways in the brain, so that stopping the drug throws the user’s entire system into shock and triggers the many symptoms of withdrawal. Because taking the drug again stops the symptoms, users fall into repeating cycles of stopping and relapsing, without ever really detoxing from the drug.
Detox Sets The Stage For Recovery
Detox is short for detoxification – the process of clearing the body of a toxic substance. During detox, users stop taking the addictive drug. Once the drug is stopped, withdrawal symptoms begin, because the body and brain are now dependent on the drug.
These symptoms can begin within hours of stopping the drug and typically last a week or more. Detoxing isn’t typically life threatening unless a person is very severely addicted, using more than one drug, or has other kinds of health problems. But detox can be difficult and uncomfortable – so much so that without medical supervision and support, it’s easy to relapse once withdrawal begins.
Medical Detox Makes Withdrawal Easier
Most people who try to quit opiates on their own don’t succeed. Faced with the reality of withdrawal symptoms like muscle pain, nausea, diarrhea, anxiety, insomnia and chills, they turn to the drug again. But supervised detox that offers support and a variety of medications to ease withdrawal symptoms has a high rate of success – especially if done as part of a comprehensive inpatient treatment program.
Medical detox can take place on an entirely outpatient basis, and those with less severe addictions and mild withdrawal systems can do this under the supervision of a doctor or clinic. Dedicated detox facilities also offer a range of options, ranging from rapid detox under anesthesia in about half an hour to a stay of days or weeks while the body detoxes naturally. From detox facilities, patients usually move on to a structured rehab program, either outpatient or residential.
During a medically supervised detox program, experienced healthcare professionals offer continual support through the acute and longer-term stages of withdrawal. Medications like clonidine, naloxone and methadone are available to reduce severe withdrawal symptoms, and a range of simple treatments also manage symptoms like watery eyes and a runny nose. If a person has complications from withdrawal, or very severe symptoms, emergency help and even hospitalization are available too.
Inpatient rehab programs frequently offer detox services as part of the treatment package. This allows people to move seamlessly from detox into an environment where they can work toward recovery with round the clock support from trained addiction professionals, away from the distractions and triggers of daily life.
Opiates are among the most addictive drugs available. If you or someone you know is struggling with an opiate addiction, we have the answers for you. Call us at 800-584-3274 to learn more about options that are right for you.