Dangers of Opiate Detox

Getting addicted to opioids is ridiculously easy. Opioids are regularly prescribed for serious body aches and pains and they are probably the most highly addictive painkillers on the market. In the last decade, more than 7 million persons were using opioids medication to relieve body pain and quite a few of those patients do get addicted to the prescription medication. According to the latest SAMHSA statistics, more than 5.1 million patients are addicted to at least one type of painkiller.

Opioid Facts

Opioids are very effective medications as they do block off all pain sensation. They are particularly effective as they can block pain sensations after serious injuries like surgeries, fractures etc. However, the drugs belonging to the opioid group can cause tolerance inside the body. That means after a certain period of time, the same dose of opioid medication does not cause pain relief.

The patient will still feel a little pain and in an effort to be completely painless, they will increase the dose. This is a vicious circle where the patient keeps increasing the dose to dangerous levels. Eventually, the patient’s body requires the drug to function normally and stopping the drug results in a range of uncomfortable reactions.

These reactions are a way for your body to tell you that it needs the drug. These reactions are referred to as withdrawal symptoms and they can get progressively worse. Typical symptoms that are seen in a withdrawal reaction include:

  • Chills
  • Itching
  • Cramps
  • Rhinitis
  • Diarrhea
  • Sneezing
  • Priapism
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Tachycardia
  • Excessive sweating
  • Restless leg syndrome

Dangers of Opiate Detox

Physical symptoms are always accompanied with psychological symptoms like

  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Malaise
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Inner restlessness
  • Cravings for the drug

The reactions can get so bad that most opioid addicts dread the withdrawal reaction even more than the actual addiction.

Self Detoxing from Opiates

We do not recommend a detoxification done at home without medical supervision. Detoxification means clearing the body of accumulated opioids and then training the mind and body to stop taking the opioids. As a result, when the addict has entered the withdrawal phase while detoxing from opiates, they actively crave the medication and it can be unbearable for them.

Addicts may go out searching for the medication just so that they can avoid the painful physical and psychological symptoms. In a medical opiate detoxification center, a doctor or nurse supervises and observes the addict during the detoxification process. Medications like suboxone and methadone are provided for the patient during this period of time and they can mitigate the symptoms of withdrawal by as much as 80%.

Addicts sometimes state that they can take these medications from their home. However, this is not a good idea as suboxone and methadone have an equally high potential for abuse. Medical detoxing from opiates is absolutely necessary.

As soon as the patient is admitted into a center for detoxing from opiates, a range of medical tests are done to detect underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. These conditions can complicate the withdrawal process and it is necessary for them to be controlled before drug-based withdrawal protocols can be started.

A few patients do go cold turkey, but for the most comfortable and quick method of detoxing from opiates, we suggest you get admitted into a medical detoxification center. Most withdrawal symptoms can be controlled with simple medications, but rare and serious complications will require medical intervention.

Addicts may develop cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, dehydration and strokes. Psychologically affected addicts also may attempt suicide and medical supervision during this period is important. Typical onset and duration of symptoms can start within 8 hours of withdrawal of the drug and extend to as much as 80 hours after withdrawal. Typically, symptoms peak at about 72 hours.

Although most opioid addictions follow the same routine, the exact pattern of withdrawal will depend on the age of the addict and the duration of the addiction. Doctors may also start IV medications to ensure that the patient is comfortably sedated for the most difficult part of the withdrawal process.

Without medical supervision, it is usually impossible for an opioid addict to complete the detoxification process from home. Psychological symptoms like cravings and insomnia will persist for more than 6 months after treatment. Please note that most doctors will use a combination of medical drugs to mitigate the symptoms and to soothe the withdrawal symptoms.

However, the exact combination of medications will vary considerably from patient to patient. Along with medical detoxification, most doctors will suggest a psychological consult and rehabilitation therapy after the treatment is done.

We do not recommend home remedies for detoxing from opiates. However, you will find thousands of websites that offer home remedies and tips for home withdrawal. You can try them at your own risk, but we suggest you have a person who can keep a close eye on you during this period of time.

Please remember that an unsupervised detoxification from opioids may extend anywhere from 3 days to 6 days and you will need help from a family member or friend to ensure that you get through the withdrawal process. If required, the person may be able to drive you to the hospital in case the home remedy does not work and serious problems come up.

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