Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal
If you or anyone you love has made the strong decision to enter drug rehabilitation, it’s key to be mentally prepared of the experience. Everyone who enters drug treatment must start with a professionally supervised drug detox. This is to ensure that the body is safely cleaned out in preparation for mental changes that will follow.
When it comes to opioids, it’s important to remember that we are talking about some of the most overwhelming drugs one can take. In essence, their introduction to the medical world was precisely for extreme pain. Pain so devastating, only a substance of power can truly take it away.
And though opioids have done some wonders in the medical world, they’ve only done harm to the streets. For people who end up experimenting with these substances almost always end up hooked being the power of the high.
It’s important to be aware of this due to the fact that the withdrawal symptoms are just as overwhelming. Your body is going to experience a change so impactful, it’s not going to understand how to properly handle the metamorphosis immediately. It’s going to take lots of time and effort in order for the body to return to its normal, functioning state.
This is what you or your loved one should be mentally prepared for. If you are unaware of the types of substances that are considered opioids, refer to the following list:
- Oxycontin (Oxycodone)
- Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
- Vicodin (hydrocodone or acetaminophen)
The Causes of Opioid Withdrawals
Just as with any other substance, over a period of time, your body becomes more and more immune to its effects. Therefore, you’ll need more of the substance in order to feel a high. This increases your risk at death and is one of the prime reasons for overdose. To put this into picture, the National Institute on Drug Abuse claims that 90 Americans die daily from an opioid overdose.
As your tolerance constantly builds, your brain and body come to need opioids. This is due to the fact that the chemicals become apart of your regular functioning. Your body expects to intake the drug on a regular basis and if it doesn’t, your mind comes to only desire the next intake. During withdrawals, it should be expected that your conduct will be an experience out of this normal.
Withdrawal symptoms have been comparable to an extreme flu. With this, there are many users out there who don’t even realize they’ve become dependent. In fact, even after the first couple uses of opioids, the body has already begun to miscomprehend the drugs as something normal. When this happens, the dependence slowly builds upon itself – to an extent where the user truly isn’t aware of the dependence they’re creating.
This is especially true for those who’re prescribed certain opiates. Often, individuals are overprescribed a particular substance and, inevitably, start taking more than necessary. People who find themselves in this position will build tolerances that cause dependence. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, around 24% of people who’re prescribed opioids for chronic pain will end up misusing them.
The withdrawal symptoms that will be experienced vary from one individual to the next. Tolerances are built at different rates. Therefore, not everyone has the same dependence. With that, it can be expected that the withdrawal symptoms will, likewise, vary.
However, there’s one condition that’s pretty common amongst opioid addicted individuals. This is called acute opiate withdrawal. It is a condition that occurs when the body starts losing that normality it had felt from the opioid drugs. It’s also when the brain experiences a major deficiency of dopamine – a happy hormone opioids trigger.
This should be something you need to mentally prepare for. The journey that follows after will be that of replacing the void opioids always filled. And in order to that, your body and mind must be completely taken off the chemical.
The Five Most Common Withdrawal Symptoms
Typically, when it comes to opioid addiction, individual’s experience five common symptoms. It should be noted that there are many factors which go into these symptoms, but the following are something to be expected;
- Agitation and anxiety
- Excessive sweating
- Symptoms similar to the flu
- Depressive/dysphoric state
Let’s look into these symptoms a little deeper in order to properly understand them for the benefit of your expectations.
Being that your body is going through an overwhelming amount of pain during withdrawals, it’s going to be difficult to sleep at night. The withdrawal caused by opioids is traumatizing for the body to experience. Insomnia only worsens these symptoms because it leaves the body continuously feeling worse as the mind lays in bed wide awake.
Agitation and Anxiety
Being that your brain experiences a lack of dopamine, there’s this constant urge to find an instant kick of the chemical to balance out the mind. Previously, opioids were what brought the brain to this balance. Yet, as you go through withdrawal, you’re going to realize that dopamine won’t come so easily anymore.
The agitation and anxiety that follow will be out of a loss of focus as to how to receive dopamine without a substance. What you’ll learn in drug treatment is that there are many ways to find this dopamine within your average day-to-day life. It’s important you focus on these ways.
The amount of agitation and anxiety one feels all depends on how big of a dependence you have to opioids. It’s said by professionals that the more one intakes, the harder and longer they will fall during withdrawals.
Due to the large amount of chemical changes the body will be going through, it’s going to react in a natural sense to the stress it bears. One of these ways is through excessive sweating. Just as with agitation and anxiety, the amount of sweat one experiences has lots to do with the level of their opioid dependence.
Excessive sweating can, likewise, cause much of the insomnia experienced at night. Just remember that it’s nothing more than the body trying to find a way to feel normal again. And it will ease off just as the other withdrawal symptoms with time.
Symptoms Similar to the Flu
Just like excessive sweating, the flu-like symptoms are simply out of the body trying to rebalance to its natural chemicals. The symptoms that can be expected are diarrhea, runny nose, body aches, and puking. This is a primary reaction of the immune system, for most it’s the part of the body that’s most affected by withdrawal.
Just as with agitation and suicide, the depressive state of withdrawal is due to a lack of dopamine. Your mood is going to be greatly weighted once the body no longer feels a normal amount of the chemical. Depending on the individual, each will experiences different senses and levels of depression. However, extreme sadness and dissatisfaction should be expected.
On top of everything mentioned above, you may also experience the following;
- Pupil dilation
- Increased heart rate/blood pressure
Treating Opioid Addiction
As mentioned above, the body’s detox of chemicals comes before any kind of therapy. Depending on the individual and their circumstance, the timeframe for withdrawal symptoms vary. Generally speaking, the symptoms mentioned in the section above hold possibility for around twelve to thirty hours after the last intake of the drug.
However, in order to truly clean the body out of the chemical, these symptoms should be expected to last for anywhere between 4 to 10 days. There are instances known as “extended release opioid” in which recovering individuals will experience the symptoms for up to 21 days.
To further the withdrawal period, there’s also the situation known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). This takes place after the acute symptoms are no longer apparent and can be defined as similar symptoms to those mentioned above, but at minor levels of pain. Depending on the individual and their mentality throughout treatment, these symptoms can last up to months. They mostly include; depression, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, and mood swings.
Being the overall state of the opioid epidemic happening in America, there are numerous treatments being offered to the public. One example is known as medication-assisted withdrawal. This is when a person eases off opioids by taking smaller and smaller doses over a period of time.
There are also a few behavioral therapies to look into that focus on treating the mentality of opioid addiction rather than the body.
The first is cognitive-behavior therapy. A treatment that centers its focus on the effects opioids have had over the individual. You can expect to explore your thoughts, beliefs, and experiences on the drug and what you desire out of a life without it. This also includes Intensive Outpatient therapy. Stonewall Institute Treatment Center provides services for drug and alcohol dependency and co-occurring issues. Our program allows for clients to sustain life responsibilities while providing an intensive treatment environment 3 evenings per week for 10 weeks. Clients in our Drug and Alcohol Treatment program will learn about underlying issues that contribute to substance dependence and obtain the vital skills necessary to sustain long-term sobriety and recovery.
The second is contingency management. This is a reward based treatment in which individuals who remain drug-free will receive prizes for their productive behavior.
The third is motivational interviewing. Just as the title intends, this is when individuals are interviewed for the sake of discovering what motivations will help them through their recovery. And to discover their true desires in such a major life change.
Lastly, there’s family therapy. Depending on your family and friend’s situation in terms of your drug use, you may want to consider this option. It’s meant to inform any loved ones of what the experience of substance abuse is truly like. It’s also meant to build relationships through recovery.
If you or anyone you love is interested in an opioid treatment or looking for more information on the topic, Stonewall Institute Treatment Center is glad to help. Please, give us a call today at (602) 535 6468 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.