According to a study published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 37 million individuals worldwide abuse prescription opioids. For those who may not be as familiar with them, opioids are Schedule II medications that work by binding to receptors in the brain to help block pain and promote a sense of wellbeing. And for this reason, they are among the most commonly prescribed medications for those struggling with chronic diseases that have a pain component, such as HIV, AIDS, fibromyalgia, and certain cancers.
However, in addition to blocking pain and promoting a sense of wellbeing, these same medications can trigger a euphoric high that causes many people to abuse and ultimately become addicted to them. It is important to note that many individuals also abuse street-level opioids, such as heroin, to cope with pain or to derive a euphoric high as well. Fortunately, more and more people have come to appreciate the toll that abusing these substances can have on their lives and have decided to seek help. However, many are woefully unprepared for the withdrawal symptoms associated with coming off of these drugs.
COMMON OPIOID WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS
Depending on how long an individual has been using, opioid withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to intense. For those coming off of short-acting opioids, such as morphine, hydromorphone, oxycodone, or heroin, for example, withdrawal symptoms can start in as little as 6 to 12 hours once they have stopped using. In contrast, those coming off of long-acting opioids, like oxycodone controlled release, Morphine ER, or Duragesic, can expect withdrawal symptoms to start within 30 hours. That said, mild withdrawal symptoms can include the following:
- Watery eyes
- Muscle pain
- Runny nose
- Profuse sweating
- An irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
Intense withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid cessation can include the following:
- Stomach cramps
- Severe drug cravings
HOW ARE OPIOID WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS TREATED DURING REHAB?
Most rehab facilities in America will offer medically-assisted detox to help patients cope with the onslaught of severe withdrawal symptoms. Along with round-the-clock monitoring, medically-assisted detox also includes the use of Suboxone, Methadone, and Naltrexone, which have been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), to help ease withdrawal symptoms. While these medications are effective, they are also highly addictive. For this reason, the FDA recently approved lofexidine, a new medication that many hope will soon become widely available in rehab facilities across America.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT LOFEXIDINE
Approved by the FDA in May 2018, lofexidine, also known as Lucemyra, is a medication that was originally used to treat hypertension and anxiety. However, because of how it interacts with the nervous system, it can also provide many of the same benefits as Suboxone, Methadone, Naltrexone, and Clonidine in terms of offering pain relief and soothing feelings of anxiety. Of these 4 medications, lofexidine has a lot more in common with Clonidine, which is frequently paired with Naltrexone to help prevent relapse. However, unlike Clonidine, it does not cause a drop in blood pressure.
WHAT MAKES LOFEXIDINE A BETTER CHOICE FOR TREATING OPIOID WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS?
The primary reason that lofexidine is a better choice for treating withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid cessation is that it is a non-opioid medication. Therefore, it doesn’t pose the same risk of addiction as other commonly prescribed drugs, which in addition to Suboxone, Methadone, Naltrexone, and Clonidine, include benzodiazepines, a class of medication commonly prescribed to treat the psychological symptoms associated with coming off of opioids. In short, lofexidine is an alpha-2 adrenergic receptor agonist that works by reducing norepinephrine signaling in the brain, which disrupts the transmission of pain signals and promotes feelings of euphoria that can help combat depression and anxiety. It is important to note that because it is a non-opioid, lofexidine does not provide the same kind of relief from withdrawal symptoms as its opioid counterparts. Nonetheless, it is proving to be an excellent choice for individuals who would rather not get high while going through detox.
If you’re ready to end your relationship with opioids but have concerns about severe withdrawal symptoms while going through detox, lofexidine can help make the process that much easier. Furthermore, lofexidine is significantly safer than many of the medications that are commonly prescribed to combat severe withdrawal symptoms. To learn more about lofexidine or to find a rehab facility in your area, consider speaking with one of our addiction experts today at 800-737-0933.