Opiate withdrawal is a painful and difficult process and in some cases it can be prolonged over many months. The right knowledge and guidance is all you need to get through though and in this opioid and opiate withdrawal article we’ll try to help you with that, discussing symptoms, detox, and rehab centers.
Opiate Withdrawal Help
There is a lot of help out there if you need it. Many addicts going through opiate withdrawal prefer to go it alone, maybe with the help of family and friends. This is always advised. Not only can family and friends help, but by telling them you are avoiding any issues whereby they might make your cravings worse or generally make the withdrawal process harder to get through.
There are opiate detox clinics as well, which we’ll discuss at the bottom of this article. But we find that the best course of action is to make sure your friends and family are there to comfort you, to avoid hanging around with the people you took drugs with and to join an online community or Facebook group.
At any one time there are tens of thousands of people going through opiate withdrawal and opioid withdrawal around the world. There are also millions more who have been through it and know your struggles. The Addictive Addiction site was built by similar people and is maintained with advice from them. But we’re a one-way street, so make sure you join a forum or Facebook group that will let you open up about your troubles and get advice based on your situation.
Opioid withdrawal is not too different from opiate withdrawal. As discussed in our piece on Opiates v Opioid, the two are often used interchangeably but opioids typically refer to synthetic derivatives while opiates refer to drugs that come from the opium poppy. The withdrawal will depend on the drug, but as these drugs all act on opiate receptors in the brain and cause similar effects, the withdrawals are not too different and relate more to length of use and amount used than the drug itself.
Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal
There are many symptoms associated with opiate withdrawal and opioid withdrawal. The exact symptoms and the severity of them will depend on the drug used, the amount used and the length of time it was used for. However, you can expect the following symptoms of opiate withdrawal to be present throughout.
- Digestive Distress
- Loss of Appetite
- Anhedonia (not able to derive pleasure from anything)
- Excessive Yawning
- Running Nose
- Aching Joints and Bones
- Feeling Uncomfortable in Own Skin
- Brain Fog
- Memory Loss
- Difficulty Concentrating
Opiate Taper: Gradually Reducing Dose
If you stop using opiates or opioids immediately then you will experience something known as “Cold Turkey”. This is one of the quickest ways to go from addiction to sobriety (see Stages of Addiction), but it is also one of the most difficult, with all opiate withdrawal symptoms at their most severe.
To avoid this, may addicts prefer to go through an opiate taper. This basically involves taking less and less of the chosen drug until they are taking nothing at all. In the event that the drug of choice is something like heroin, where the strength isn’t always known and it can be hard to measure doses, the drug is often substituted for another opiate prior to the taper.
There is no set rule on what works and what doesn’t, but the first step of an opiate taper is to avoid increasing your dose. Addicts will always chase the high they experienced when they first used, but tolerance will make this difficult so they increase the dose. Once you stop increasing then you can gradually decrease.
Some former addicts say that the best opiate taper involves a reduction of 25% every 4 days. So, if you take 20 pills, then you should reduce to 15 after four days, then 11.25 and so on. You will still experience opiate withdrawals, but they won’t be severe. Often, the best thing to do is just to try that 25% reduction and see how you fair. If it’s too much, then try 10% or 15%.
As long as you keep reducing and you have a clear goal in mind, then you will be successful.
Opiate Detox Tips
You should exercise caution when undertaken any opiate detox plan. These days everyone is obsessed with the idea of detox, as if some lemon juice, cayenne pepper and a few fruit smoothies can somehow magically remove toxins from your body. This sort of detox should be avoided. They are worthless at the best of times and when you are going through opiate withdrawal they can be dangerous.
You need nutrients, you need calories. You won’t feel like eating anything and you may even bring it back up, but you have to try. Smoothies are actually good for this, especially if you can mix in oats, peanut butter, protein powder or some greens. Anything that provides a comprehensive nutrient profile and also gives you plenty of protein and carbs.
Fibre is less important — for reasons that will become obvious on day 3 onwards of the opiate withdrawal timeline — but high fibre foods like beans can help to slowly release energy. Drinking water is important and you should drink tea if you can. You may also want to consider a vitamin and mineral supplement to help you get through this difficult period.
Don’t be afraid to have a little sugar and caffeine either. If you overdo it then the crash will make you feel terrible, but a little here and there can perk you up and give you the energy you need to continue through your opiate or opioid detox.
Opiate Detox Centers
There are many opiate rehab centers in the United States. These can also be found the world over, but they seem to be more concentrated in the United States. In fact, there are many such centers in California, with plenty opiate detox centers in San Diego, Orange County and Los Angeles.
The opiate epidemic is rife in this region, which is part of the reason, but it also has a lot to do with the fact that Californians seem more relaxed about drug rehab in general. They are more open to everything from marriage counseling to mental health treatment and that’s why you will find so many of them here.
If you are in the United States and you have medical insurance then you should be able to use it to get treatment. Nearly all comprehensive plans cover it, as do many other plans. It has been the norm for a number of years now and this is how many addicts get help. If you don’t have insurance or a big budget then you can limit yourself to outpatient treatment at opiate detox centers.
However, this may be unnecessary. The truth is that you are the only one who can truly help you through the opiate withdrawal. It’s good to have support and advice, but you can also get the former from friends and family and the latter from the internet, so it’s not essential and you definitely should bankrupt yourself for it.
We can’t recommend any particular opiate detox center or clinic. We have experience of a few of them but they change so quickly and there is so much to consider that we don’t feel comfortable recommending any of them indefinitely.