The United States is in the grip of an opioids epidemic, with estimated 2.6 million Americans dealing with some form of opioid addiction. What makes opioid addiction particularly frightening is the prevalence of overdoses leading to more than 40,000 deaths per year. If you or someone you love is addicted to an opioid, it’s imperative that you get them treatment as soon as possible. In doing so, it’s important to know that proper opioid addiction treatment requires a medical detox as part of the process.
While it’s possible to stop taking opioids ‘cold turkey’, the process is intensely uncomfortable both from a physical and mental standpoint. When you combine that with the fact that opioid addictions are among the most powerful addictions out of any narcotic or addictive substance, the odds of recovering from an opioid addiction without a robust and supportive regimen including medical detox are low. Defeating an opioid addiction is one of the more difficult feats a person will undergo, and treating it with a medical detox is the most effective way known to get clear of opioids for good.
Why Opioid Addiction Requires Medical Detox
An opioid refers either to the street drug heroin or any of a number of pharmaceutical medications like OxyContin, Fentanyl, Percocet, Vicodin, Morphine, Codeine or several others. These drugs operate in a similar way in all cases, though their strength, release cycle and a few other attributes may be different. The bottom line I that the drug attaches to the opioid receptors in the brain cells, producing feelings of euphoria and blocking out the feeling of pain.
The body becomes dependent on regular infusions of the opioid of choice, and in the absence of any medical intervention will begin to manifest a number of negative physical, mental and emotional symptoms as withdrawal occurs.
Symptoms of Untreated Opioid Withdrawal
Depending on whether the opioid of abuse is a short-acting or a longer-acting one, symptoms of withdrawal will generally begin to manifest themselves anywhere from between 12 hours to 30 hours of the last dose. It should be stressed that the symptoms of opioid addiction aren’t generally life-threatening, in contrast with withdrawal from certain other substances like alcohol. However, they tend to be extremely unpleasant, and medical detox treatment can go a long way toward smoothing the transition off opioids into something the person can bear.
Symptoms of opioid addiction withdrawal include both physical and mental/emotional symptoms, and are as follows:
PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS OF WITHDRAWAL
- Alternating Chills and Sweats
- Feelings of Nausea
- Muscle Aches
- Excessive Tearing of the Eyes
- Runny Nose
- Difficulty Sleeping
MENTAL/EMOTIONAL SYMPTOMS OF WITHDRAWAL
Opioid withdrawal symptoms will usually begin to abate by around the week mark after the last dose, though certain opioids have longer half-lives and remain within the body for longer periods of time.
Ways to Medicate Opioid Addiction Treatment
A number of medical techniques exist to mitigate or ease the effects of opioid withdrawal. The first one, in certain cases, would be to taper the dosage of the specific opioid the person is taking. This is a more viable treatment option of certain opioids, and a far less viable one for something like heroin. The alternative would be to use another medication to substitute for the opioid of abuse. The most commonly used medication for this is Methadone, which is a long-acting opioid used especially to treat heroin addiction. It’s worth noting that Methadone being an opioid itself means that some risk of abuse and overdose remains.
Other medical options include Suboxone and Subutex, two more opioid-substitutes which are regarded as even less overdose-prone than methadone. Any of these options will cut down on the physical symptoms of opioid withdrawal, and therapy and treatment can lead to the prescription of mood stabilizers to deal with some of the mental and emotional symptoms as well. A combination of medications can smooth the transition from extreme physical and mental dependency and dramatically reduce cravings.
There’s no shame or stigma in needing help to beat an opioid addiction, and a medical detox to treat opioid addiction is critical to producing a successful outcome. If you or someone you care about is suffering from an opioid addiction, don’t wait. We can help - call now 800-737-0933