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When you cut back on your intake of opioids and opiates after having become physically dependent on them, the immediate physical results of this drug withdrawal are unpleasant. But opioid withdrawal leads to sobriety and a new enjoyment of life, particularly when withdrawal is performed under the care of an addiction treatment professional.

What Is Withdrawal?

If you have been taking a prescription drug painkiller such as oxycodone, for example, you may notice that over time, you need an increased dose in order to feel the same pain relief. Your body has developed a tolerance for the drug and higher doses are needed in order to achieve the same effects. Whether the intended effect is to relieve pain or to experience a euphoric high, once you need more of an opioid to feel good, you are becoming dependent upon that drug. Once you’ve developed a tolerance to opiates, symptoms can occur when the dose is cut back.

If you begin to lessen your intake of opiates after becoming physically dependent upon them, you will notice some unpleasant symptoms. Your body needs time to recoup and get used to the absence of the drug that it has become so used to having. The body reacts to this cutback or stoppage in a variety of ways.

Withdrawal from Opioids and Opiates

If you have become addicted to opioids and opiates, please understand that you are not alone. In 2014 in the United States, 4.3 million people used opiate analgesics that can lead to drug tolerance, addiction and subsequent withdrawal symptoms.

When long-term use of opiates occurs, the body needs time to recover. The reactions to withdrawal of the substance can be both physical and mental.

In the early stages of quitting opioids and opiates, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Muscular pains
  • Increased eye tearing
  • Sleeplessness
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Excessive yawning

As withdrawal continues, later symptoms include:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Fast heartbeat
  • High blood pressure

Opioid and opiate symptoms after stopping use are very discomforting but usually become much less severe within three days.

What Is Detox?

Detox is a method of withdrawing from drugs of addiction. Detox is done in a controlled environment to help you avoid the most unpleasant effects of withdrawal. Medical intervention can lead to greater comfort and a better chance of successful sobriety.

Detox may involve the administration of a drug as mild as acetaminophen, aspirin or NSAIDs, plus fluids and rest. Medications can help control symptoms such as diarrhea and nausea.

For those who experience more intense withdrawal symptoms, clonidine may be given to reduce effects like anxiety, cramps, achiness, nervousness, sweating, tearing and runny nose.

Buprenorphine and naloxone may be given. These actually are opiates, but they do not have the addictive effects of other opiates, making them unlikely to be abused. These drugs can lessen the intensity of detox and withdrawal symptoms. Methadone may also be useful for long-term therapy when used in a controlled way.

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Opioids and Opiates: Withdrawal
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