What to Expect When you Stop Using Painkillers
Opiates, NSAIDs, and combination drugs belong to a wide group of drugs generally classified under painkillers. These drugs are normally prescribed to relieve different types and severities of chronic and acute pain. However, apart from the pain relief characteristic, painkillers are known to be habit forming because of their biochemical mode of action in the body. Addiction to painkillers is a global health problem that is often linked with other negative social and economic issues.
In the United States, over 52 million Americans over the age of 12 have used painkillers for non-medical purposes at least once during their lifetime. The U.S. leads in global consumption of painkillers and other prescription drugs, which highlights the extent of the problem in one of the world’s biggest economies. The problem is made worse by the fact that one can easily cheat the system to get medications whenever they want. Therefore, the most effective way to reduce the impact of painkiller addiction is by addressing the habit from an individual’s perspective. Stopping the habit is a gradual process that starts when one makes the decision to quit.
Development of Painkiller Addiction
From the biochemical perspective, painkillers function by inhibiting the transmission of pain signals through nerve fibers. One of the key elements for this transmission are chemicals called endorphins that work by attaching themselves on receptor cells on your nerve endings. This action normally suppresses pain and elicits a calm and relaxed feeling to some extent. When you take most types of painkillers, such as opiates and combination drugs, they attach themselves to these receptor sites and imitate the pain relief function of the naturally produced endorphins.
However, when you continue using these drugs for extended periods, say for more than two weeks, the body gradually stops producing its own endorphins until you completely stop producing these chemicals and effectively creating a dependency on the painkillers. Whenever you stop using the painkillers, sometimes even for as little as 12 hours, you will experience debilitating symptoms that are characteristic of a biochemical deficiency. This is the general basis for withdrawal symptoms that usually accompany your decision to stop using painkillers.
Once you find yourself with an unusual craving for painkillers or that you can’t function without your daily dose, you are most likely addicted to painkillers. The next best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to begin the process of getting off your painkiller prescription. Despite everything you have read or heard about the debilitating nature of withdrawal symptoms, it is possible to overcome them and live an addiction-free life. Once you make the decision, plan ahead and determine how best to go about the process.
There are several paths you may choose to take when getting off painkillers. One of the most common ones is stopping your dosage abruptly, mostly referred to as going cold turkey. This method offers you the opportunity to stop your addiction in as little as a few days though the severity of withdrawal symptoms will be extremely pronounced. The other option is tapering, where you gradually reduce your dosage over a period of time that is dependent upon the duration of drug use, dosage, type of painkiller, among other factors. While tapering offers an extended path to breaking your addiction, it reduces the extent of withdrawal symptoms and offers the best chances of preventing a relapse after you go clean. At CalmSupport, we advocate for tapering as the healthiest method for getting off most addictive painkillers.
What to Expect: Withdrawal Symptoms
Different people will react differently to tapering. While others will show a complete lack of withdrawal symptoms, others will show a complete set of symptoms that may last from a few days to a week. These largely depend on physical differences among individuals, type of drug used, dosage, duration of use, and a myriad of other factors. When the symptoms do show, they will typically start showing between 18-24 hours after your last dose. Early symptoms will include muscle aches, pains, and strains, Restless Leg Syndrome, fatigue, hot and cold sweats, runny nose, and cold chills. These will last anywhere from a few days to a week after your last dose.
After about 48-72 hours, more advanced symptoms will start creeping in. Symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and an elevated blood pressure level will start manifesting. Psychological symptoms will also start showing, which will be the body’s way of showing its deficiency for endorphins and other chemicals that are lacking. These will include insomnia, confusion, mood swings, depression, anxiety, and in some cases, hallucinations.
Despite the uncomfortable and sometimes painful nature of the withdrawal symptoms, it is possible to overcome them. Overcoming them triggers a reward system in your brain that will leave you feeling happy, content, and achieved.
How to Remedy Some of the Withdrawal Symptoms
When tapering at home, it is possible to obtain some relief from some of the more common withdrawal symptoms. As a rule of thumb, it is important to stay fed and hydrated during the process. Depending on which drugs you were addicted to, you might need varying levels of food and fluids to prevent your body from becoming extremely sick. Ensure you carry energy drinks and water with adequate electrolyte content to prevent dehydration from diarrhea, vomiting and sweating. Additionally, avoid take out and other forms of unhealthy food during the process.
Before starting the taper, ensure you speak to your doctor about prescribing painkillers and other medications to manage nausea, muscle and joint pains, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some good options include Imodium AD, Ibuprofen, Advil, and Tylenol for various withdrawal symptoms. Ensure you are also fully stocked with sanitary materials such as napkins and towels to clean up after episodes of vomiting or sweating.
Additionally, keep yourself occupied. Find a good movie, video game, music collection, or a new hobby to keep your mind off the effect of the symptoms. Walk around when your body allows and ensure you get enough sleep and rest whenever possible.
Finally, we recommend using CalmSupport as an added weapon to your arsenal. CalmSupport uses bioavailable ingredients including active vitamins, amino acids, and organic herbs. CalmSupport may be what you have been looking for to give you the relief during the very difficult process. Along with the nutritional benefits of CalmSupport, you also receive a Lifestyle Guide that is packed with useful information and tips to improve your readiness to take on the withdrawal process. Opioid withdrawal is not an easy task and when you are fighting a beast like this, it is best to give your body the nutrients it craves along with the added calming benefits of the ingredients in CalmSupport.