Home / Help with Addiction / Opioid Induced Constipation: Solutions from an Expert (Codeine, Tramadol, Morphine)

Opioid Induced Constipation: Solutions from an Expert (Codeine, Tramadol, Morphine)

Opioid Induced Constipation

Struggling with opioid induced constipation? Has excessive use of codeine, tramadol, oxycontin and other opiates caused you great digestive distress? Don’t worry, as we have the cures and treatments for you.

Opioid Induced Constipation

One of the issues that drug addicts face is that while there is a lot of information out there, most of it has been written by doctors. They know what they are talking about to an extent, but they base their knowledge on biology and they make a lot of assumptions. This works with some things, but a doctor can’t explain the chill that you feel when heroin withdrawal kicks in; the all-over itch when you take a large dose; or the ungodly constipation you feel throughout

For that, you need people who have been there and used it. So, we decided to address the issue of opioid induced constipation from the perspective of the user. We spoke with people who have been there and they wrote most of this advice. We just filled in the gaps.

Why Convention Treatments Don’t Worth with Opiate Constipation

We’re not going to tell you to stop using, because we know it’s never that simple. In fact, many of the addicts we spoke to were in the process of tapering their opiate use. In other words, they were preparing to quit and trying to do just that. Yet they had this issue to get over at the same time.

They felt shunned and ignored, because whenever they approached someone for help they were told to stop drugs, eat more fibre and try some laxatives. This is usually sound advice, but it is a different story with opioid induced constipation.

You should definitely look to drink more fluids and to eat more fiber, but this is usually not enough. In fact, addicts told us that psyllium husk had the opposite effect and caused blockages. This is down to the fact that you need to drink water when you take it in order to pass it through. Opiates dry you out, and that can leave to this block of fibre sliding and wedging itself in there.

How to Avoid Constipation on Opiates

Opioid Constipation

Our addicts were unanimous in saying that a cup of prune juice every day helped to get things moving. It can be drunk cold or warm, and you don’t need a huge amount. If you drink this in the morning and then make sure you drink a couple bottles of water over the next few hours, then you should experience some movement.

You can also kick-start things by drinking a cup of coffee when you feel that there is some movement. Don’t worry if nothing happens on the first day. Just keep drinking water and then try a large dose of prune juice the next day. Some addicts recommend nicotine in the morning as well, but we wouldn’t advise smoking just to help with constipation.

If you have access to it, the drug Movicol also works very well for opioid induced constipation. Just like prune juice it works by drawing water into the intestines, which is what opiate users have an issue with. The digestive tract is often dry, producing hard stools that struggle to move through.

Movicol works very well for this and is great to take in the morning or afternoon. In the evening, however, you still need something to get the bowel moving. The prune juice will often do this all on its own, but the Movicol will only add that water to you bowl and you still need something to activate it. For this you need a laxative like senna, which is a natural plant extract that can also be found in rhubarb.

Cures for Opioid Induced Constipation

There are many laxatives that just won’t work. Things like senna and other fast-acting laxatives work by stimulating the bowel. But if you have opioid induced constipation then this is only half of the issue. Your bowel will then try to push hard stools through, and this will be difficult and painful.

What’s more, micro enemas won’t respond in the same way as they would for someone who isn’t using opiates. So, you need to focus on making sure those stools are loose, after which you can use something to stimulate.

If you don’t have any access to laxatives or prune juice, you can use prunes, perhaps with a little rhubarb thrown in for good measure. Just make sure you drink a lot of water and don’t rely on psyllium husk and other bulk-forming laxatives.

A Quick Fix for Opioid Induced Constipation

Opiate Induced Constipation

Sometimes, things can get out of control. The laxatives don’t work. Fibre doesn’t seem to be doing anything and you start to panic. In some cases, there is a blockage and you need medical attention. In others, you have just used far too much opioids and have gained a tolerance of sorts for laxatives.

There are a few options here though, so all is not lost. Just bear in mind that if you have any pain, blood in your stool or anything else seriously worrying, your first step should be to contact a medical professional. Codeine withdrawal and opiate withdrawal in general is nasty and we understand why you would want to avoid doctors so you can avoid entering that sickness. However, you could be in for a lot worse if you don’t.

For those not quite there, these are the three main options we were told by desperate addicts:

  1. Withdrawal: We spoke with a user who had ungodly codeine constipation (cause by codeine cough syrup, which we have covered before) and was desperate for a solution. All seemed lost, but then he ran out of codeine and entered withdrawal. He suffered in that state for 3 days before he could get a supply and continue a taper, but in that time the withdrawal was enough to kick-start his bowls.

You see, one of the major symptoms of withdrawal is severe diarrhea. It just kick-starts your bowels like never before and that means that any grid-lock could be unleashed.

Opiate Constipation

2. Magnesium Citrate: It is not pleasant, but this substance is sometimes all you need to completely clear your bowel. It is used to prep patients before colonoscopies. It is a thick but tasteless substance that you chug down and then wait for it to work its magic. Just make sure you read the label, follow the instructions and are near a toilet.

3. Avoid Colonics: This is more of a what not to do. One of our addicts told us that they sought help from a colonic after they suffered from severe opioid induced constipation. But what they didn’t realize was that they had a blockage and the colonic just made this more painful and gave them a couple of difficult days. Not recommended.

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