Opiates are some of the most addictive substances in the entire world. Codeine, morphine, heroin, and opium are all considered opiates. Oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and other prescription painkillers are not opiates, as they are not directly derived from the poppy plant. Opiates come directly from the poppy plant, while opioids are semi-synthetic or synthetic and mimic the effects of opiates. While the terms are not interchangeable, all opiates can be considered opioids. This means there are a wide variety of medications that will require opiate detox.
The most widely abused opiate in the United States in heroin. In fact, heroin is abused at a greater rate than most other illicit substances, including meth and cocaine. This abuse did not just come out of thin air, rather it came on the heels of loose prescribing policies regarding opioid-based medications like oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as the masterful push by major pharmaceutical companies to profit off of said medications. Over the past few years, it has become more evident that those who are first prescribed prescription painkillers or who experiment with them turn to the abuse of heroin, as it is cheaper and easier to obtain.
Opiate Addiction and Dependence
Heroin is not the only opiate that is abused throughout the country including the Michigan area, as codeine and morphine are also highly sought-after. When a person abuses an opiate, his or her brain structure changes, causing a continual desire to keep using. Some of the most common symptoms of opiate addiction include:
- Being secretive about opiate use/hiding the severity of it from others
- Neglecting responsibilities at work, home, and/or school
- Spending the majority of time thinking about, acquiring, and/or using opiates
- Possessing opiate-related paraphernalia such as spoons (typically with burn marks on the bottom), syringes, foil, several prescription bottles (most commonly for codeine), etc.
- Experiencing significant repercussions due to opiate use but continuing to use
The longer that a person uses, the more likely he or she is to become dependent on opiates. Dependence refers to the physical necessity of the drug, as going without it can trigger withdrawal symptoms. Someone who is experiencing opiate dependence has the potential to exhibit the following symptoms:
- Feeling ill or unwell when coming down from a high and/or for a short period of time after use
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when unable to use
- Getting intense, all-consuming cravings for opiates
Unfortunately, when addiction and dependence have developed, it can become an extremely difficult pattern to break, as withdrawal symptoms and cravings can push a user to his or her limit.
The Three Main Methods of Opiate Detoxification
Replacement Therapy Opiate Detox
While there are many medications that can be administered to ease the symptoms of withdrawal, some detox facilities may utilize a process termed replacement therapy. Replacement therapy uses a “less addictive” opiate that does not provide the dopamine rush that results in addictive euphoria. This medication is always given by the medical staff and carefully monitored.
- Methadone – Methadone is just as addictive as any other opiate; however, it has a long half-life (up to 72 hours), and is commonly given to opiate addicts in small doses for its long length of action in the brain. This process helps to stave off severe withdrawal symptoms, and the addict is slowly weaned off methadone throughout the detox process until the body is clear of all opiates.
- Suboxone – Suboxone has been proven to be highly effective in treating patients with opiate addiction. Containing the opiate antagonist, Naltrexone, Suboxone has a 72-hour length of action and works on two levels:
- Binds to the opiate receptors in the brain, preventing severe withdrawal symptoms.
- Blocks euphoric effects thereby creating a ceiling effect.
Replacement therapy during opiate detox can be highly effective, depending on the individual and his or her needs and preferences. Because this process requires a slow tapering of the replacement opiates, it can take up to 21 days to complete.
Traditional Opiate Detox
Traditional opiate detox allows the withdrawal from the drugs to happen naturally without the administration of additional opiates. However, this is not a purely “cold-turkey” method. Sedatives and blood pressure medications can be given to manage the severe symptoms of anxiety and insomnia.
Of course, the goal of any detox plan is to remove all traces of opiates from the body of an addict. This method incorporates additional medication to facilitate sleep and reduce anxiety, which can be severe in some cases. Traditional opiate detox lasts from 5-14 days, depending on the individual and his or her circumstance.
Rapid Opiate Detox
This form of opiate detox is a medical process in which the addict is placed under general anesthesia and given an opiate antagonist that produces immediate withdrawal. Since there is no progression of withdrawal symptoms in this process, anesthesia is necessary, as it can be jarring for any individual to experience sudden and full opiate withdrawal consciously. Always performed in a hospital setting, rapid opiate detox is complete within 48 hours with the person under constant monitoring and supervision to ensure safety and avoid any medical complications.
Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawing from opiates, especially when dependent on them, often causes both physical and psychological symptoms to develop. The severity of your opiate withdrawal depends on factors such as how high of a dose of opiates you were consuming, how long you used for, and if you abused other substances with opiates simultaneously.
Physical opiate withdrawal symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Muscle cramps
- Body aches
Psychological opiate withdrawal symptoms:
- Poor memory
- Mood swings
Opiate withdrawal can also trigger the onset of behavioral symptoms like aggression, irritability, self-harm, and restlessness.
How Opiate Detox Can Help
If you are addicted to opiates, then you know how difficult living with this disease is. You may have already made attempts to stop using, but ultimately gave in to the pain of opiate withdrawal and persistent cravings. While you might feel discouraged, know that you do not need to do this alone. A Forever Recovery located in Battle Creek, Michigan can help.
Detoxing from opiates can be overwhelming, to say the least. When you receive professional care at an opiate detox, you will not only have moral support from specialists and peers, but you will also be able to benefit from a drug-free environment and access to medical and psychiatric care.
Specific to opiates, there are medication options available. Both methadone and Suboxone are FDA-approved medications that help decrease the severity of withdrawal symptoms as well as dull the intensity of cravings. When one of these medications is included in your detox plan, it is much easier to deal with opiate withdrawal. When you are not fully distracted by withdrawal symptoms, you are able to focus on other areas of your recovery.
Continuing to try to detox from opiates on your own can be dangerous. Not only can you experience complications with withdrawal symptoms, but you can also increase your risk for overdose by going back and forth between using and not using. The best way to end your active opiate addiction is through professional detox.
Of course, one of the most common concerns after opiate detox is staying sober and preventing relapse. An overwhelming percentage of opiate addicts relapse after detox. Therefore, several contributing factors may be present, some of which are apparent, and others that may be lingering beneath the surface.
Emotional Relapse Prevention
Generally, most addicts suffer from some form of trauma or internal pain. Thus, their inability to recognize these issues and address them increases the risk of relapse.
- Low self-esteem
- Contentious or broken relationship(s)
- Severe grief over a loss
- Guilt from an unresolved transgression against another or oneself
- Co-occurring mental health disorders (dual-diagnosis – mental health disorder + addiction)
- Serious injury or surgery
It is vitally important to address any underlying issues within oneself before returning to a home environment, as there are triggers and reminders of various traumas around every corner. The next vital step is learning to control emotions associated with these issues.
Coping skills are what every individual must have to manage stress, trauma, loss, guilt, disappointment, and victory. Especially for recovering addicts, it is imperative to understand one’s feelings and express them in a healthy and manageable way, so as to avoid becoming overwhelmed and returning to opiates in an attempt to dull the pain.
Do You Need Help for Your Opiate Addiction?
If you are struggling with opiate addiction, reach out to A Forever Recovery right now, located in Battle Creek, Michigan. We can help you get through opiate withdrawal in the most comfortable manner possible. You do not need to go through this alone.
So, do not wait. Call us right now. We can help.