Coping with Opiate Withdrawal

Making it Through an Opiate Withdrawal

As many as three million Americans struggle with opioid addiction. Whether the addiction revolves around prescription medications or heroin, combatting the addiction has to include detox. During detox, the body will go into withdrawal, which can be accompanied by some unpleasant symptoms. Make it through opiate withdrawal with professional medical help and some techniques proven to reduce discomfort.

Understand the Timeline for an Opiate Withdrawal

A major reason so many individuals struggling with opiate addiction don’t get help is because they are worried about the upcoming withdrawal. This is normal, but a little bit of information and education can help eliminate some concerns. By understanding the timeline of an opiate withdrawal and what to expect, incoming patients can worry less and be better equipped for the days ahead.

Another primary concern is that withdrawal will last much longer than anticipated. While the reality is that all patients follow timelines unique to their individual situations, most patients will see withdrawal end within a week.

Withdrawal will begin as few as eight hours after the last consumption of opiates. Mild symptoms can begin at this stage. Often, patients are already familiar with these symptoms, as they can appear after a full night of sleep or after a day of work or travel without drug use.

Withdrawal symptoms tend to gain momentum over time. Between 24 to 48 hours, patients may become very uncomfortable. This stage is often comparable to having the flu. Thankfully, symptoms peak around 72 hours.

After the withdrawal symptoms peak, patients will begin to feel increasingly better. Often, 90 percent of withdrawal symptoms are gone after just four or five days. Knowing that even the most unpleasant withdrawal symptoms are short lived can help patients cope with this process.

Specify the Goals of Detox

There is no easy way to overcome an addiction to opioid drugs. One of the biggest tools patients can use is their desire for a better life. Often, it is helpful to focus on goals during detox and throughout addiction treatment.

Most patients will have one primary goal–sobriety. However, what that sobriety means can be different for people. Some people may be eager to become better parents to their children, better spouses for their marriages or have more fulfilling lives. Others simply want the pain to stop.

Leading up to detox, and when withdrawal is severe, it helps to have these goals accessible. Patients may want to write down what they hope to achieve in the future. Being able to reference these goals, whatever they may be, can provide extra motivation and encourage patients to continue with their path to recovery from addiction.

Beginning Detox With a Full Assessment

One way to better cope with opiate withdrawal is to begin detox starting with a full, comprehensive assessment. This is a way to collect information about patients, and it is also an assessment of physical and mental health. A full assessment can guide medical professionals during detox and help patients cope with any potential problems likely to arise.

The most obvious benefit of a full assessment prior to detox is that any major medical issues will be addressed. Since withdrawal is stressful for the body, identifying any physical concerns can ensure that patients can get help if necessary. In addition, an assessment can diagnose mental illness. This diagnosis can be helpful for detox, and it will also be critical in further addiction treatment and therapy.

An intake assessment also helps patients by explaining more about the process of withdrawal and how it will impact them. A successful evaluation doesn’t just collect information from patients. It also answers any questions that patients may have. Armed with important details, patients will be more confident and prepared for detox.

Relying on Medical Professionals

Perhaps the biggest mistake that individuals make when it comes to opiate withdrawal is thinking they can do it alone. Trying to quit taking opioids cold turkey, and alone, is both dangerous and often unsuccessful. Make the entire process simpler, more successful, safer and more comfortable by taking advantage of medical professionals in a formal detox facility.

Medical professionals who work in the addiction recovery field are experts on withdrawal. They understand which withdrawal symptoms are common, how to treat these symptoms and how to avoid problems in the future. When patients are under stress, feeling unwell and unable to make logical, rational decisions, medical professionals will know what to do.

In recovery from drug addiction, relying on the support of others is crucial. The beginning of that is relying on the support, knowledge and assistance of medical staff in a detox facility.

Focusing on Dehydration

When talking about the symptoms of opiate withdrawal, dehydration may seem like a small and inconsequential issue. However, many bigger problems can stem from a lack of hydration during detox. Focusing on hydration can combat a lot of other problems during this time.

During opiate withdrawal, common symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and sweating. This means that the body loses a lot of water and electrolytes, but an upset stomach may prevent patients from rehydrating properly.

In a detox program, medical professionals can help patients stay hydrated through many different approaches. Electrolyte drinks and even IVs can go a long way in reducing discomfort and preventing more severe problems.

Taking Advantage of Pharmacological Assistance

Patients in an opiate detox program are often there because they are addicted to prescription medications. For this reason, it is smart to be wary of other medicines. However, it is wise to be open to the many different pharmacological options that can be tremendously helpful during withdrawal.

It is important to keep in mind that patients should never self-administer medicines during withdrawal. To start, it is easy to lose track of dosage or frequency, which can be dangerous. In addition, medical professionals will know which medicines are contraindicated and which can help, not hinder, recovery.

Opiate withdrawal is no easy task. However, patients will be better able to cope when they have knowledge, awareness and help from medical professionals.