What Is the Detoxification Process Like When You Are Addicted to Opiates?

Opiate addiction is becoming a growing problem in the United States. While many think only of heroin use when they think of opiate related drug problems, there are actually a lot of prescription pain medications that contain opiates, such as Oxycontin, Codeine and Hydrocodone, and what can start as normal use for pain management can end up as a dependence on the drug, with the same compulsion to use and withdrawal symptoms upon going without the drug that heroin addicts experience.

What Is the Detoxification Process Like When You Are Addicted to Opiates?
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As with many other addictions like alcoholism, many people who are dependent on opiates are no longer taking them for their original purpose of managing pain, or even for a pleasant feeling, but because they are afraid of the withdrawal process. This can leave them feeling trapped, as they want to be free from the addiction but are frightened of how traumatic an experience detox will be.

Coming Off Of Opiates

Happily, if you have found yourself with an opiate addiction, there are facilities that can help you go through a supervised detox where you will be safe and medications can be used to ease withdrawal symptoms. Rehab centers like Balboa Horizons help people overcome their opiate dependencies and also help them address any longer term problems that may have led to their addiction, or which may make them likely to relapse. However, whether you choose to go into a rehab facility or try and overcome your addiction at home with the support of friends or family, it is a good idea to know what the detox process feels like so you know what you might experience:

What Is the Detoxification Process Like When You Are Addicted to Opiates?
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The First Stage of Opiate Withdrawal

Opiate withdrawal can last for days up to a couple of weeks, and general has two phases of symptoms, though you may experience some longer lasting symptoms like mood swings for a while after the initial detox is over. The first stage of withdrawal brings with it some physical problems, like eyes watering a lot and excessive yawning, as well as excessive sweating and insomnia. Probably the most problematic symptom most people report in this phase however is anxiety and agitation. This is not life threatening and will pass, but can be very frightening, which is why many people feel better detoxing in a rehab center where they know they are safe and medical assistance is available.

The Second Stage of Opiate Withdrawal

The second phase of opiate withdrawal is generally the most problematic. Most people experience very bad stomach cramps, nausea, sickness and diarrhea, along with an elevated heart rate. The pupils of the eyes also become dilated. This stage is painful and most people can’t face eating when they are going through it, which can also leave them feeling weak and dizzy.

What Is the Detoxification Process Like When You Are Addicted to Opiates?
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The Dangers of Opiate Withdrawal

Opiate withdrawal is unsettling, however it is not generally as dangerous as the ‘DT’ phase alcoholics are at risk of experiencing, which can actually be fatal. With opiate withdrawal, the main risks of complications are from dehydration, electrolyte loss and malnutrition, due to sweating, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite. In a rehab facility someone can be properly looked after, and if vomiting is too severe to take on fluids normally then an intravenous drip can be used to prevent loss of salts and ensure dehydration doesn’t become a bigger problem.

Detoxing at Home

If you do decide to attempt to go through withdrawal on your own, rather than at a facility, then it is a good idea to plan the period so you can stay at home and have everything you need to remain comfortable. Fans and spare sheets can be very helpful in the early stages when you will sweat a lot, and it is good to make sure you have plenty of things to keep your mind distracted like books, movies or video games to help you get through the anxiety. Stock up on non-prescription painkillers like ibuprofen to help with any aches and pains. Some people also find antihistamines help with the runny eyes and sleeplessness. Buy electrolyte rich sports drinks and foods that won’t irritate your stomach, though do be prepared to call for medical help if you start to be at risk of dehydration.

Many people go through opiate withdrawal and go on to lead much happier, healthier lives as a result of kicking the habit. If you, or someone you love is in the grip of an opiate dependency, now is the time to start planning for a safe recovery.

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