Opiates are drugs that cause physical and psychological dependencies after repeat exposures whether you use them for medical purposes to relieve pain or recreationally for their euphoric and pleasurable effects. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Dependence develops when the neurons adapt to the repeated drug exposure and only function normally in the presence of the drug.”
Opiate withdrawals occur as the drug breaks down in bodily metabolism processes and the levels of the opiate chemicals become insufficient in maintaining the adapted tolerance the person has developed. The adverse symptoms of opiate withdrawal worsen as the elimination process continues and is experienced in the most extreme measures with sudden reductions or cessation of use. If you are one of those people struggling to quit using opiates, the following are 10 opiate withdrawal tips you should use.
1.) Don’t Go It Alone
Ranging from flu-like symptoms, anxiety, and cravings for more opiates; to intense pain and senses of impending doom, the opiate withdrawal syndrome becomes a primary motivational factor in compulsive and uncontrollable opiate abuse and behaviors in those who are dependent on the drugs. Don’t go through this alone. You’ll need all the support and encouragement you can get and having someone to look after you in case physical or psychological complications become severe, is an opiate withdrawal tip that just might save your life.
2.) Talk to Your Doctor before Reducing or Ceasing Prescribed Opiate Use
Your doctor should be aware of your desire to discontinue using opiates, especially if you have been using them a while or have ongoing pain conditions. A gradual reduction in use can help to minimize the withdrawal symptoms you experience and your physician can advise you of other options suitable for your future health.
3.) Get into a Safe Environment
Safety is a primary concern because many opiate abusers suffer compromised health conditions that they may or may not be aware of and throughout the course of opiate use and the disregard for heath issues can add to the complexity of the opiate withdrawal.
Opiate withdrawals, although generally, not life threatening on their own can cause or exacerbate underlying physical and psychological conditions that can lead to more serious complications. If you have been consuming the drugs via alternative routes of administration such as smoking, snorting, or injecting, there is a high probability that you have developed health problems from drug toxicities or the sharing of paraphernalia such as needles and straws.
4.) Seek Professional Detox Help
Although abstinence is the key to recovery, most opiate dependents are ill-equipped to achieve and maintain abstinence for a significant amount of time without repeating the cycles that increase their risks and consequences without professional help. Professional detox treatment services are the best approach to remain safe with maximized comfort, support, and guidance when going through opiate withdrawal. To find a facility accredited by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in your area, visit: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/
5.) Get Out of Any Environment That Would Influence You to Use Opiates Again
Anywhere there is a lack of encouragement or continued drug abuse by others is not conducive in helping you to remain abstinent and complete your opiate withdrawal. You will be at a high risk of relapse from the additional cravings and stress these environments can cause. According to the Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology, “drugs that are abused activate appetitive motivational systems of the brain, inducing behaviors and emotions that very rapidly become associated with stimuli and events in the environment where they are experienced.”
6.) Do Not Resume Opiate Use
You’ll need to take extra precautions to remain abstinent after decreasing your tolerance during opiate withdrawal because resuming use increases the risk of overdose. The CDC, reports that, “In 2013, 43,982 drug overdose deaths were reported including, 16,235 associated with prescription opioid analgesics (e.g., oxycodone), and 8,257 with heroin.” Many of the overdoses that occur are a result of resumed use when the opiate withdrawal is at its peak or when the person becomes overly confident in their withdrawal success.
7.) Get Rid of All Leftover Reminders of Use
Drugs, paraphernalia, bottles, baggies, aluminum foil, dealers or associated user phone numbers, and any other reminder of opiate use can trigger uncontrollable cravings that make your opiate withdrawals much harder to get through. Get rid of them and don’t add to an already stressful situation.
8.) Take Care of Yourself
As central nervous system depressants, opiates produce a sense of relaxation and sedation, slowing down heart rate, respiration, and autonomic system activities. When withdrawals set in, the dysregulation of brain stress and reward systems wreak chaos in virtually every part of the body. The greater your tolerance and dependency on the opiates are, the more symptoms, severity, and duration you will endure.
It is important to take care of yourself by eating light, healthy, and well tolerated foods, getting plenty of rest, and staying hydrated. OTC medicines can also help combat nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, fever, pain, and anxiety, but, use them with caution.
9.) Get in a Clean Environment where Comfort and Hygiene Can Be Maintained
A clean environment with access to toiletries, clean clothes, showers, and bed-sheets will help to keep you comfortable. Excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, and insomnia are common opiate withdrawal symptoms that can be extra disturbing if you unable to maintain good hygiene and hot showers can also relieve muscle tension, pain, and the chills to help you relax.
10.) Stay Focused on Recovery
The more you occupy yourself with healthy thoughts, goals, or plans for your recovery, the less occupied by opiates and the easier the withdrawals will be. Staying busy, taking walks, enjoying your time with loved ones to the best of your ability, and maintaining hope each step of the way is encouraged.