Understanding the Opiate Withdrawal Scale

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Are you familiar with the clinical opiate withdrawal scale, also known as COWS? If you or a loved one is fighting an addiction and facing opiate withdrawal, it is important to become familiar with this scale.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, this is a “clinician-administered, pen and paper instrument that rates eleven common opiate withdrawal signs or symptoms.’

The most important aspect of the clinical opiate withdrawal scale is the final score that makes it easy to assess a patient’s current level of health as it relates to withdrawal.

What are the 11 Assessments?

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Doctors use the COWS to determine your treatment plan.

This test measures 11 opiate withdrawal symptoms, with each one receiving a rating. Here are the 11 assessments:

  • Resting pulse rate
  • Sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Pupil size
  • GI upset
  • Bone or joint aches
  • Runny nose and tearing
  • Tremor
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Goosebumps
  • Yawning

These are 11 of the most common symptoms associated with opiate withdrawal, which explains why they make up the COWS test.

Why is it Used?

As a person with an opiate addiction, you may not care about anything more than getting past the withdrawal stage and moving on with your life. While this is your primary goal, it is important to realize that there are steps you must take to ensure that you are on the right track. This is where the clinical opiate withdrawal scale comes in handy.

Each assessment is assigned a score. Once the total is determined, your medical team can pinpoint the severity of your withdrawal. This then allows them to create a plan of action for somebody in your current position.

If you score between 5 and 12, it means that you are only facing a mild case of withdrawal with fewer, less severe symptoms. On the other end of the scale, if you score 36 or higher you are facing a severe case of withdrawal. This means that symptoms are more serious and you are dealing with more discomfort and pain.

The outcome of the COWS test will determine how you are treated. An experienced medical team knows what to do, regardless of the final score and where the patient is having the most trouble.

It is important to understand the opiate withdrawal scale if you want to make the most of your rehab, knowing what you are going through along the way. Even more so, it is good to know that there is an assessment that gives medical professionals a clear idea of where you stand and how you are dealing with the side effects and symptoms of opiate withdrawal.

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