Opioid Addiction: How To Cope With Opiate Withdrawal

Sad Man on the Bench at the Winter Park

If you’re one of the two million people in the United States suffering from opiate or heroin addiction (or you know someone who is), it’s important to know that you’re not alone.

The first step toward recovery is to stop using the drug, which can often lead to withdrawal symptoms. The fear of experiencing withdrawal is what keeps many opiate addicts from getting clean in the first place. As scary as it may be, the reality is that you can overcome opiate withdrawal.

What Happens During Opiate Detox

Once you stop taking opiates, your body will begin to go through detox, and you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms. The amount of time spent in each stage of withdrawal depends on a number of different factors including frequency and severity of use, the type of drug you were abusing, your overall health, and more.

Symptoms Of Opiate Withdrawal

As the opiates start to leave your system, you’ll begin to experience early withdrawal symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Muscle pain
  • Body aches
  • Tiredness
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating

As withdrawal continues, the early symptoms may begin to increase in severity. You may also experience new symptoms such as:

  • Chills
  • Stomach aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Options For Opiate Detox

Once you’ve made the decision to lead a clean lifestyle free of opiates and other drugs, it’s time to decide how/where you will detox. There are a couple of different options available to you:

In A Hospital Or Treatment Center

Detoxing at an inpatient treatment facility or hospital is what most medical professionals will recommend – and for a good reason. The withdrawal symptoms from opiates can be severe, and being under the care of professionals allows you to receive around the clock care.

Treatment centers can provide you with medications to help ease opiate withdrawal symptoms. They’re also able to monitor your vitals to ensure no complications occur, though opiate withdrawals are typically not life-threatening.

Opiate detox in an inpatient treatment facility gives you the best chance at success since you receive both detoxification and treatment in one location.

At An Outpatient Treatment Facility

Going through detox at an outpatient treatment center is usually safe and effective for people who are more likely to have mild to moderate withdrawal symptoms. In an outpatient setting, you may also be prescribed medications to help with withdrawal such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.

There are three main stages to outpatient treatment for opiate withdrawal: detox, counseling, and long-term care. Although you’ll be at home during the stages of detox, it’s still important that you go back to the facility for continued treatment and care.

3 Ways To Cope With Opiate Withdrawal

Opiate withdrawal can be painful, and many addicts quit before the process runs its course. Abusing opiates soon after attempting to quit increases your risk of an overdose or death since your tolerance decreases with periods of abstinence.

Although you need to let the detoxification and withdrawal stage run its course, there are ways to cope with opiate withdrawal. Here are three of the best ways to do this:

1. Rely On Your Support System

Make sure you have a support system through the withdrawal process. This can include friends and family, but don’t be afraid to seek out medical help as well.

During detox, you’re going to experience mental withdrawal symptoms where you want to give up, and the mental toll it takes is severe at times. It’s best to have a loved one near you who can support you and be a shoulder to lean on. This is especially true if you choose not to detox under the supervision of a doctor.

2. Join A Support Group

No one expects you to do this alone. Joining a support group like Narcotics Anonymous can provide some well-needed support and guidance during this difficult time.

Talking to people who have been through this before can be an invaluable source of guidance and companionship. You also have a good chance of finding a sponsor by attending a support group, which is often valuable for people just starting out in recovery.

3. Take Care Of Yourself

During detox, it’s incredibly important that you take care of yourself. Drink plenty of fluids during the initial detox period. Stay nourished by eating bland foods, such as saltines, bananas, and yogurt, that will sit well in the stomach. As difficult as it will be, try to get some rest and do your best to relax.

Meditation is often beneficial for people trying to cope with opiate withdrawal because it helps release positive energy and thoughts in your mind. By focusing on the positive, you will have a better chance at reducing your anxiety and depression while withdrawing from opiates.

Opiate withdrawal and detox are scary and overwhelming for many addicts, but the reality is that you can get through it and lead a fulfilling life in recovery.

 Written by: Christina Bockisch 
Christina is a blogger based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She writes about mental health, fitness, and life as a whole on her blog,My Life in Wonderland. Follow her on Twitter.