If you’re addicted to an opiate or opioid, you have probably experienced unpleasant withdrawal symptoms in the past when you have tried to quit. In fact, these symptoms may have been so painful and distressing that they actually forced you back to using your drug of choice just to get relief. It’s a vicious circle that ensnares many addicts into a never-ending cycle of addiction and withdrawal. Most people need help to stop. Because all opiates and opioids affect the brain in similar ways, yes, the detox process for all of them is more or less the same. What may differ is the length of time needed to complete the withdrawal process and the exact medication protocols needed for an individual. Not everyone is the same.
Technically, an opiate is a drug directly derived from opium. Examples would be morphine and codeine, both of which are naturally present in the opium poppy. An opioid is either a semi-synthetic or completely synthetic drug which acts like an opiate in the brain. Semi-synthetic opioids include oxycodone, which is made from a naturally occurring substance in opium known as thebaine. Other opioids, such as fentanyl and methadone, are completely synthesized in the laboratory, with no opium origins at all.
Detox and Withdrawal Symptoms
Whether a drug is an opiate or opioid, its effects on the brain are very similar. That’s why the same detox procedures will work for all of them. No matter which opiate or opioid is involved, the withdrawal symptoms will be similar and may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Bone, muscle and joint pain
- Stomach pain
- Severe diarrhea
- Restless leg syndrome
If you have become addicted to an opiate or opioid and fear withdrawal more than anything, you are not alone. Addiction doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It just means that you have a disorder that needs treatment. Your genetic history may account for as much as half of your risk of addiction. You are not responsible for the genes you have inherited. You are, however, responsible for your recovery and continuing sobriety.
The good news is that modern withdrawal from opiates and opioids is actually quite comfortable and not bad at all. It’s only one reason why you should seek professional detox and counseling help. Why struggle through up to a month of agonizing withdrawal symptoms, assuming you even make it that far, when there is an alternative available just for the asking?
Medications Used for Detox
Some medications used for opiate and opioid withdrawal include:
- Buproprion and other antidepressants
- Muscle relaxants
Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine, a synthetic opioid, and naloxone, a drug used to reverse opiate and opioid overdose. The naloxone is there is prevent intravenous abuse of the buprenorphine. It has little or no effect when taken by mouth as directed. Buprenorphine typically relieves most of the symptoms of withdrawal. For many people, it works like magic.
Like all drugs, Suboxone doesn’t work for everyone. For these people, there is methadone. Methadone is also a synthetic opioid, but it has full narcotic actions, not partial ones like buprenorphine does. Both buprenorphine and methadone are long-acting and require only one oral dose per day. However, methadone will completely relieve withdrawal symptoms in virtually everyone. Buprenorphine also has a waiting period before it can be safely administered. This period can be as long as 48 to 72 hours from the last opiate or opioid dose. By then, most people are in full withdrawal and quite uncomfortable. Methadone may be administered at any time. It has no waiting period. Once in the brain, both buprenorphine and methadone act to occupy and satisfy opioid brain receptors. This is what so effectively relieves the symptoms. Doses for both are gradually decreased over time.
Benzodiazepines are tranquilizing drugs. Common brand names include Valium, Ativan and Xanax. They very effectively relieve both anxiety and insomnia.
Buproprion and other antidepressants help the addict during withdrawal by helping to relieve the depression so common during this period. This depression may occur whether the addict has a dual-diagnosis of depression or not.
Muscle relaxants like Soma, Flexeril and Robaxin may help with muscle spasms and restless leg syndrome. Both are fairly common withdrawal symptoms, although they may not occur in everyone.
If you’re struggling with opiate or opioid addiction and withdrawal, you don’t have to do it alone. You shouldn’t do it alone. With professional help, your chances for recovery are astronomically higher. We are drug treatment counselors, and we are here for you. We help people just like you find help every day. It’s what we do. Just call us at 844-639-8371. We are here 24 hours a day. We will be happy to help you find the best treatment options for you.