What are the Most Common Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Opiates are a common class of drugs that are prescribed to manage pain. They are also highly addictive in nature, and most drugs in this class are tightly regulated by governments across the world. It is estimated that up to 36 million individuals globally actively abuse opiates. In the U.S., the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that over 2 million Americans abuse opiates.
The relatively high number of opiate addictions can be attributed to the difficulty of breaking the habit once an individual is hooked. Opiates have been known to cause an addiction when used for as little as a few weeks. Once the user decreases or stops taking the drugs, they normally suffer from withdrawal symptoms, which can be debilitating for the user. The effects of these withdrawal symptoms are partly the reason why many opiate abusers find it difficult to break the habit and reclaim their lives.
In this article, we take a look at some of the most common withdrawal symptoms and how an opiate addict can naturally break the habit.
Mechanism of Opiate Addiction
Under normal circumstances, the body produces naturally occurring opiate chemicals (e.g. endorphins) to mediate pain signaling within the body. These endogenous opiates usually attach themselves to receptor sites on nerve endings in the body, which normally reduces the brain’s perception of pain. This effectively confers some pain relief, though, in most instances, it is never enough.
Doctors normally prescribe opiate painkillers to help the body drown out excessive pain, for instance, during surgery or after a painful injury. Most opiates, including heroin, morphine, and oxycontin confer their pain-relieving qualities by binding to the receptor sites on the nerve endings, which works better at pain relief compared with endogenous opiates. However, in addition to pain relief, these opiates can cause increased levels of euphoria and a sense of well-being. These often lead to addiction as users crave this experience.
Additionally, prolonged use of such drugs causes tolerance, which further complicates the biochemistry of addiction. Continued use of opiates causes the body to cut down and eventually cease the production of endogenous opiates. Once this happens, the user becomes dependent on exogenous opiates for even the most basic form of normalcy.
Once an individual misses their daily dose, a sequence of events is set in motion, with the most immediate effect being physical reactions. Since the exogenous opiates numb the muscles and joints around the body, the muscles will be among the first set of organs to feel the effect of withdrawal. Muscle aches, tension, and pains are usually the first symptoms of withdrawal. Many individuals will also experience restless leg syndrome, which may cause sleep disturbances for the individual.
In preceding hours and days of the withdrawal, the user will experience cold chills and sweats, runny nose, uncontrollable shaking, insomnia, and fatigue. The person may also yawn frequently usually because of the fatigue and inability to sleep at night.
A problematic stomach almost always accompanies withdrawal. An individual will experience stomach pains and abdominal cramping accompanied by nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Opiate withdrawal also causes a number of mental symptoms that vary among individuals. Most people become agitated, restless, and irritable after going a day or two without taking the drugs. In the long run, many become depressed and unable to function in society. Both exogenous and endogenous opiates have antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects on the nervous system. Therefore, when both opiate forms are unavailable, the body becomes prone to a wide range of mentally-related health issues.
Duration of Withdrawal Symptoms
The exact duration of withdrawal symptoms often varies from one individual to another. This period also depends on the specific opiate that was being taken, the severity of addiction, and the dose that was being taken. However, many individuals will experience withdrawal symptoms for as long as several months, which is why constant surveillance is always crucial for successful withdrawal.
Managing Withdrawal Symptoms
The severity of withdrawal symptoms and success of any withdrawal program largely depend on how an addict carries out the withdrawal process. While it is common practice for many addicts to opt for quick fixes in the form of going “cold turkey,” a longer taper is usually the most effective way for ensuring long-lasting effects and less severe withdrawal symptoms. This section highlights some tips for tapering from the comfort of your home.
1. Apply Heat
Heat is the universal remedy for many types of muscle and joint pain. Once the muscle and joint aches begin, take a hot shower or run a hot bath with Epsom salt for additional pain relief. The bath also helps to wash away the sweating from the withdrawal and helps you stay comfortable. If the pain becomes unbearable, a heating pad can provide prolonged relief when applied to specific areas on the body.
2. Eat Light and Healthy Foods
During this period, eating fatty food and junk should be strictly restricted. Eat small quantities of mashed bananas, yogurt, and chicken broth during the early days of the taper. Once the symptoms begin subsiding, try eating some chicken and lots of fruits and vegetables to help replenish lost nutrients.
3. Drink a Lot of Fluids
Opiate withdrawal is often accompanied by extreme dehydration which, when left unchecked, can lead to hoards of additional health problems. In addition to plain water, you should always try drinking sports drinks such as Gatorade to help you replenish electrolytes.
4. Watch what you Wear
The wrong choice of clothing can often make the withdrawal period harder. Choose loose-fitting clothing that can be easily taken on and off in case you get hot or cold sweats. The right choice of clothes can also help you stay warm and prevent further health problems.
5. Get A Lot of Rest
When tapering, always ensure you take some time off work to concentrate on getting better. Withdrawal symptoms often take a toll on the body and it is always a good idea to rest up while the body resets its systems.
6. Surround yourself with Positivity
A positive state of mind is also crucial for the success of the taper. Ask a friend or family member to stay with you during this period. This is also the perfect time to try out a new hobby such as yoga, a new book, movie, or video game. These can be a helpful form of distraction when it feels as if your body is breaking down.
7. Use CalmSupport
CalmSupport is one of the top opiate withdrawal aids on the market. CalmSupport may alleviate or lessen many of the symptoms during your opiate withdrawal. CalmSupport contains handpicked ingredients by Naturopathic Physicians and Registered Herbalists who are experts in the field of natural remedies. The active vitamins, amino acids, minerals and organic herbs in CalmSupport may boost the body’s immune system and recovery processes which can have a great impact on the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. Many of the key benefits of CalmSupport stem from its ability to present active vitamins to the body. Active vitamins are absorbed almost immediately compared to inactive vitamins which are found in most aids. Active vitamins require minimal energy from your body which makes an enormous difference when your body is already extremely fatigued.
CalmSupport is manufactured in a U.S. facility under Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) guidelines and procedures. Orders are accompanied by the CalmSupport Lifestyle Guide, which was designed to help people struggling with opiate addiction. Written by CalmSupport’s founder, Ryan Donnelly, the guide offers a practical guide for users to discover a healthy, opioid-free lifestyle.