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Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms Make Recovery Difficult

Table of Contents

man laying on table with white opiate pills on table under one hand

More than 2.1 million Americans suffer from addiction to prescription opioid painkillers, drugs such as Tramadol, Vicodin, and even Suboxone, which, like Methadone, is used to treat opiate addiction. Additionally, another 500,000 more suffer from heroin addiction.
Only a fraction of people gets professional treatment for their condition. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, relapse rates range from 40% to 60% among those who do try to quit. Generally, relapse rates depend on a variety of factors, including the quality of treatment received. However, the severity of withdrawal symptoms poses a significant barrier to successful recovery from opiate addiction.

Opiate Relapse is a Major Problem Facing Addicted Individuals

Going through withdrawal from opiate addiction is severe. Many people who try to quit give up because of the exhausting withdrawal symptoms, particularly those who try to stop without the appropriate professional support. For example, when users attempt a cold turkey opiate detox.
This sort of at-home drug detox is not only uncomfortable but dangerous. For those who have a more extended addiction history or a higher opioid use, withdrawal symptoms may be more intense. The withdrawal process can even be dangerous for those with certain medical conditions. Getting treatment in the right professional facility can ensure that you will receive the medical support needed to manage these difficulties.
There is no disguising the fact that opiate abuse recovery is challenging. Many people who relapse cite unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings because they went back to opioid use. However, getting the appropriate assistance during the detox treatment process can ease the withdrawal symptoms and make opiate detox safer and less unpleasant.

Common Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

Opiates affect receptors throughout the body, particularly those located in the brain and gastrointestinal system. Over time, using opioids causes the metabolism to be accustomed to getting a dose of the drug. This causes changes in the way particular body systems respond and function during everyday life.
When opioids are no longer present, as when a person is trying to quit using, the body is unprepared to respond. This results in opiate withdrawal symptoms, which may be the most challenging part of the recovery phase. Although each individual has a unique withdrawal journey, some symptoms are more common than others.
The early stages of withdrawal can begin within the first 24 hours and may last a few days. Common early opiate withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning
  • Increased tear production
  • Muscle aches
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

As the withdrawal syndrome progresses, other symptoms are more likely to emerge in addition to the ones mentioned above. For some lucky people, symptoms might subside within one week. Whereas, for others, symptoms may linger for up to a month and even longer in some cases. Common symptoms during the later stages of opiate withdrawal may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Intense cravings

Is it Possible to Find Painless Opiate Detox?

Many patients ask about the possibility of a painless opiate detox process. It is important to note that there is no such thing as painless opiate detox. Regardless of the detox protocol a patient chooses, there is always a period of adjustment afterward. Your organs and metabolism must become accustomed to an opiate-free state, and it may take some time to rediscover what baseline functioning feels like.
 Despite this, there are certainly some opiate detox protocols that are more painful and challenging than others. Numerous factors contribute to the discomfort experienced during detox. These may include:

  • Age
  • Medical history
  • Amount of time a person used opiates
  • Amount and type of opiates used.
  • Dosage of medications to assist with the detox process
  • Tolerance for discomfort
  • Anxiety
  • Depressed mood

Sedation Detox Advantages 

Emotional factors such as anxiety can play an enormous role in determining how a person responds to the withdrawal process. People with higher anxiety often feel things more intensely and worry more about the recovery process. For these individuals, sedation detox can be an excellent and compassionate choice. During sedation detox, a person is placed in a lightly sedated state while medications are provided to flush opioid molecules from their receptor sites. Being sedated through the worst of the withdrawal symptoms prevents someone from quitting before the detox is complete. It also allows an individual to focus on their recovery and less on physical discomforts after detox.

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