Opioids are potent medications prescribed by doctors for pain management. They include oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, and morphine. Some brand names may be familiar to people, such as OxyContin, Percocet, Dilaudid, Lortab, Vicodin, and Subsys. These medications are similar to heroin and equally addictive. Normally, they are prescribed to people experiencing pain that ranges from mild to severe. Since opioids and opioids can make individuals extremely calm, they are misused, resulting in opioid addiction.
According to The World Health Organization, close to 3 million people in the U.S. and Europe are addicted to some type of opioid. In the U.S. alone, there are over 2 million people addicted to prescription opioids.
Often these medications are prescribed for pain resulting from injury, surgery, or other conditions. While people prescribed the painkillers have no intention of abusing them, it can happen very quickly. As the body builds up a tolerance to the opioid, people will take more to continue managing their pain. When this begins to happen, an individual is considered dependent, while not necessarily addicted.
A person may become addicted to opioids in as little as a few weeks. If a person has been taking more pills than prescribed to manage their medical symptoms, they may run out of medication. When this happens, they begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. To stop this from happening, some people will start “doctor shopping,” meaning they make appointments with several doctors in hopes of getting new prescriptions for opioids, thus avoiding withdrawal. Others steal pills from friends and family members, buy drugs illegally, or turn to heroin.
People will go through different symptoms based on the level of withdrawal they are experiencing. Several elements play a role in determining how long a person will have these symptoms, such as dosage and how long one has been using them. Each person’s experience with opioid withdrawal is different.
Some of the first opioid withdrawal symptoms a patient will experience are:
Later on in the withdrawal process, one may feel the following symptoms as well:
Individuals can take medications that can help ease withdrawal symptoms associated with opioids. Some medications can also shorten the duration of the opioid withdrawal symptoms experienced.
Some medications include:
Seeking an opioid addiction professional team’s care and supervision is highly recommended, as going through the withdrawal process alone can be dangerous. Individuals should also rely on family and close friends for emotional support during this time. Also, stock up on things that can help, such as fluids (Gatorade or Pedialyte), to help with dehydration and over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen to help with side effects. Reading, watching movies, and listening to music are great activities to enjoy to help keep individuals occupied during this time and take their minds off the symptoms they are experiencing.
Some individuals may choose to go through the opioid detox at home, while others prefer an inpatient detox as part of a treatment program. Inpatient detoxification typically lasts between a few days to a full month.
Other patients may need to go through ultra-rapid opioid detoxification. This inpatient detox method will require patients to go under general anesthesia and receive different medications to flush the drugs out of their system.
People who choose to self-detox have a higher risk of relapse and other safety issues. Self-detox is exceptionally challenging, and it should only be done for those experiencing mild withdrawal symptoms.
Detoxification is necessary because one needs to rid themselves of all drugs and toxins in the body. Further treatment is more effective after an individual has completely and successfully detoxed. Additionally, an evidence-based drug and alcohol treatment program will require detox before starting any in- or outpatient treatment, which provides a foundation for therapeutic work.
If you feel like opioids are negatively affecting your life, there is a good chance that you could benefit from professional recovery treatment. While it can be hard to ask for help, doing so is a sign that you value your life and your loved ones. You can begin to turn your life around by getting help today.
Do you believe that you or a loved one are suffering from a substance use disorder? Talk to our experienced addiction professionals by calling: (844) 978-1524