How to Stop Opiate and Opioid Cravings
Opiate abuse is one of the most common forms of substance abuse in the United States. Addiction to opiates and other classes of prescription painkillers has had a negative impact on the country’s social and economic well-being for the better part of fifty years. In spite of the destructive nature of opiate addiction, many people still find themselves trapped in the cycle of addiction.
In 2014, a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that over 400,000 individuals in the U.S. were addicted to heroin. A further 4.3 million individuals were found to be chronic abusers of painkillers.
A significant part of the addiction problem usually centers on cravings that develop after prolonged use of the highly-addictive drugs. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to counter the problem is by dealing with the cravings that come with opiate abuse. This article looks at the biochemistry of opiate cravings and how addicts can deal with withdrawal symptoms and other issues that come with overcoming the cravings.
Development of Opioid and Opiate Cravings
The stage for opiate and opioid craving is usually set long before a potential addict takes that first pill or injection. The body naturally produces its own opiate chemicals, which include endorphins and encephalins, to mitigate the perception of pain. These chemicals normally attach themselves to opiate receptor sites on nerve endings where they alter the transmission of pain signals to the brain stem. These naturally-produced opioids, however, are usually produced in limited quantities that still leave a substantial amount of pain.
Synthetic opiates and opioids are prescribed to augment the pain-relieving qualities of endogenous opiates. Like the endogenous versions, synthetic opiates and opioids bind to opiate receptor sites on nerve cells. However, since the synthetic forms are able to bind in large numbers, they are much more effective at drowning out the pain.
When used for a short period, opiates and opioids hardly ever cause any addiction-related issues. In general practice, opiates and opioids are usually prescribed to manage pain in patients with chronic conditions. In hospitals, drugs such as morphine are used in the ER and surgical departments to ease extreme forms of pain. In such situations, these drugs hardly ever become addictive when used sparingly and in the presence of a tapering regime.
However, when these drugs are used for a long time, the body shuts down the production of endorphins and encephalins. This marks the beginning of dependence and tolerance since the body will become fully dependent on synthetic opiates and opioids to function normally.
Tolerance is an important precursor for the development of addiction and opiate craving. Tolerance develops when normal doses of the opiate or opioid are not adequate to elicit the same level of pain relief. When this happens, the user finds that more of the drug is required to maintain the same level of relief.
Eventually, chronic opiate and opioid users have high chances of becoming addicted. Users often crave their next fix and are typically unable to function without it. In advanced cases, addicts may become completely unable to function economically or socially.
Stopping Opiate and Opioid Cravings and Addiction
Once you are hooked, stopping the cravings is one of the most difficult tasks to accomplish. The battle is often fought between a small part of you that wants to get well versus thousands of molecules and cells within your body that are pushing for the next fix. Making the decision to quit is often an easy one, with the hard part being the implementation phase. Skipping your daily fix will often lead to a sequence of painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, so it always pays to be mentally prepared. If you are looking to quit, the first step is to make a sober decision to quit, irrespective of the difficulties of the road ahead.
There are different ways that an individual can use to get clean. The most effective way is by using a slow taper, which involves gradually reducing the dosage of your favorite opiate or opioid painkiller until you eventually wean off. CalmSupport offers a comprehensive tapering guide for some of the most common opiate and opioid drugs.
Still, the tapering regime is almost the same for most opiates and opioids. The basic idea is to reduce the daily dosage by a small factor, which allows the individual to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, gradual tapers have been found to decrease the chances of relapses in future.
A gradual taper offers the best way for individuals to come off the drugs and eliminate the cravings with the least amount of side effects. It also offers you the ability to carry out the taper at home without the need for hospital-based interventions. When tapering at home, the following pointers will come in handy when dealing with cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Firstly, stock up on all the necessities prior to starting the taper. Movement will be greatly limited once the withdrawal symptoms are at their peak. Shop around for healthy food, fruits, and vegetables that are going to be at the center of your diet. It is also important to stay hydrated. Make sure you get an energy drink with electrolytes to help balance out your body’s biochemistry.
Secondly, get prescription medicine to help manage muscle and joint pains and aches. Medicine such as Immodium AD for diarrhea, Pepto Bismal for muscle cramps, and the antihistamine Benadryl can be crucial aids to help with the withdrawal.
Recent studies are finding more evidence that supports the efficacy of prescribing anti-craving medication to help taper off opiate and opioid addiction. If your doctor prescribes one for you, makes sure you stick to the required dosage.
Thirdly, get a lot of rest. Withdrawal symptoms take a heavy toll on the body at the cellular level and adequate rest helps with the repair process. Read a new book, watch your favorite movies, or indulge in any of your favorite pastimes to keep your mind off the taper.
Withdrawal aids like CalmSupport are an important addition to any tapering regimen. CalmSupport contains numerous active ingredients that help to hasten the body’s repair mechanisms. For instance, CalmSupport contains active vitamins that are quickly absorbed by the digestive system. This withdrawal aid also contains organic herbs that are easier for the body to process as they have not been touched by any chemicals that our bodies reject, which is important considering the level of weakness in the gut.
In addition to CalmSupport, join a local addiction support group for psychological support. These groups offer a great platform for like-minded individuals to network and help each other overcome common problems associated with opiate and opioid cravings and addiction.