“Nearly 80 percent of Americans using heroin (including those in treatment) reported misusing prescription opioids prior to using heroin.”
It’s not unusual for many opioid abusers to relapse when signs of opiate withdrawal start to appear. Opiate and opioid addiction affects millions of Americans. This is one of the most common types of drug addiction. In 2015, 2 million people were addicted to prescription opioids and 591,000 people were addicted to heroin. These numbers continue to rise every year.
Those who are addicted to opioids and opiates have a higher risk of experiencing an opiate overdose. Heroin overdoses have continued to rise over the years. Opioids can cause irreversible and irreparable damage to both the body and mind. Those who are addicted to opioids should consider getting help through one of the many treatment programs available. If a loved one is struggling with opioid abuse, consider using one of the many intervention programs available to get through to them.
One of the most difficult parts of quitting is having to go through the addiction withdrawal symptoms. The effects of opiate withdrawals can cause many drug abusers to relapse. To learn how to manage withdrawal symptoms, get help from a recovery center. Here are some techniques that can help treat some of the more difficult withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid drug use.
#1. Muscle Aches and Pain
Getting up and moving around can be difficult when withdrawing from an opiate addiction. These physical symptoms usually start to emerge within a day after quitting opioids. These symptoms can last over a week depending on the intensity of the abuse. There are many factors that may have an effect on the body.
One of the most common treatment options for treating muscle aches and pains is already available in most households. Ibuprofen is widely used. It can treat inflammation and any pain that stems from it. This drug inhibits the production of prostaglandins, which is a hormone that causes inflammation. Ibuprofen can prevent swelling and alleviate any discomfort caused by muscle pain.
Those who are using ibuprofen and other similar prescription drugs should be cautious about the regular use of these drugs. While it’s rare, they do have a potential for abuse. They can also be fairly addictive. Some patients find opiate detox to be helpful in easing muscle aches and pains. Drugs, like methadone and buprenorphine, can come in handy in easing these symptoms.
Some supplements are also believed to help. A study published in the National Library of Medicine has shown that those with an opioid dependence may be deficient in calcium, magnesium and potassium. A possible substance abuse treatment is to take vitamins during the drug withdrawal process. It’s possible to get these minerals through a healthy diet. For example, bananas are high in potassium.
Other Treatment Options to Consider
There are many other types of substance abuse treatment for easing pains and aches. Some other popular alternatives include:
- Getting a massage in areas that are tender or painful
- Using aromatherapy to relax and help loosen up the muscles and treat pain
- Stretching with yoga and other exercises; it’s best to stay away from vigorous exercises as they can aggravate the affected area
- Taking a hot bath; add Epsom salts to further alleviate any discomfort
Sudden or intense muscle pains and aches can be a sign that the medical detox process is not working. It can also be a sign that the drug abusers are tapering off of the drugs too quickly.
Anxiety, agitation and irritability are also common opiate withdrawal symptoms. Opioid abuse will interfere with your mental health. Opioid abuse and mental health disorders often come hand in hand. Many drug abusers struggle with co-occurring disorders. With that said, there are ways to treat these opiate and opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Medications Paired with Behavioral Therapy
Most recovery centers recommend a combination of medications and behavioral therapies to treat agitation and irritability. Medications can help balance the neurochemical levels in the brain and body. SSRIs and other medications can help manage mood swings. Before taking any medications, speak with a medical professional at the recovery center to see whether the medications will interfere with your treatment.
Behavioral therapy, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can help patients learn how to manage their actions and their emotions. Patients who are experiencing anxiety, agitation and irritability due to a traumatic event may benefit from Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Patients should also try counseling and other treatment options that teach them how to relax and meditate.
#3. Opiate Cravings
Opioid cravings are some of the most difficult opioid withdrawal symptoms to deal with. Cravings are part of all types of substance abuse. Depending on the length of the heroin use, along with various factors, the intensity of the cravings will differ. Cravings often come with other physical symptoms, like a runny nose and an increased heart rate and blood pressure. They are difficult to ignore.
Factors that Can Trigger Cravings
Although the cravings are due to neurological changes in the brain, some factors can trigger the onset of opioid cravings. The cravings can be so intense that they’re difficult to bear through. It’s so difficult to overcome that it’s responsible for the high relapse rates among opiate addicts. While the relapse rate for other illicit drugs fluctuates between 40% to 60%, the relapse rate for opioids, like heroin, hover between 80% and 95%.
Certain triggers induce cravings. They cause recovering addicts to fall back into the same habits again. Some of these triggers include:
- Being around the same people who drug abusers used to do opioids and opiates within the past
- Getting paid or having extra money; payday is a difficult day for most recovering addicts
- Feeling anxious, stressed, depressed or unhappy in general
Drug abusers should try to remember that cravings are a normal part of the withdrawal process. The key is identifying that the cravings are causing an obsession with the drug. A part of the withdrawal process is learning how to manage and ease the cravings. One way is to stay away from as many triggers as possible. This might include transferring extra money to a savings account immediately or hanging out with a new group of friends.
How to Ease Cravings with Medications
Medical detox is one of the most important steps in recovery. The medications help rebalance neurochemical levels in the brain to ease cravings. A number of medications can help ease cravings. Some of these medications include:
- Buprenorphine, which is a partial opioid agonist. It’s a semi-synthetic narcotic that attaches to the same opioid receptors as heroin and fentanyl. The only difference is that it’s a weaker opioid and is easier to wean off of.
- Methadone, which is a full opioid agonist. It’s been a successful treatment since the late 1970s. This medication is similar to buprenorphine; however, it’s an addictive narcotic. Patients must slowly taper off of the drug.
- Naltrexone, also known as Vivitrol. While this medication blocks the effects of opioids, it cannot be used until patients have stopped using opioids for at least 7 to 14 days. If patients don’t wean off the drugs first, they are at risk of sudden opioid withdrawals.
- Cortisol, which is a stress hormone that can decrease the intensity of cravings by about 25%. This type of medication is only effective for users with a mild to moderate addiction.
- L-alpha acetylmethadol or LAAM. This medication acts like methadone, but it’s longer-lasting. It produces no euphoric effects; however, it can come with some serious side effects, like nausea and rashes.
Speak with a professional at the treatment center to find out which of these prescription drugs are best for your situation. The length of the opiate detox will depend on the intensity of the addiction. Some patients can get away with a shorter treatment length, while others may need opiate detox for months.
Other Options that Don’t Involve Medications
Other than with opiate detox, there are many other ways to deal with cravings. Some techniques to try include:
- Being mindful of the cravings. The key is to acknowledge the cravings, but not giving in to them. This involves being mindful of when the cravings happen, allowing them to peak and watching them pass.
- Distracting oneself. Recovering addicts should find something that will keep them busy. This might include going for a run, reading a book or learning a new hobby or a language. Make a list of possible distractions in advance.
- Going for therapy. Cravings can wreak havoc on one’s mental health. Therapy, like contingency management and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can be great outlets for dealing with the cravings.
- Reminding oneself of the negative consequences of relapsing. This might include losing important relationships with loved ones, having to face jail time or losing a job opportunity.
- Talking with others. Many American addiction centers recommend joining a 12-Step Program, like Narcotics Anonymous and SMART recovery programs. Sharing feels of anxiety and personal experiences with a support system can help.
Even when a physical dependence on heroin has passed, many opioid abusers continue to experience psychological symptoms. These symptoms can last for months and even years. Learning how to manage these symptoms is vital to a successful recovery.
Treat Opiate Addiction at Our Rehab Center Today
Other than these medications, there are also other options available for treating specific symptoms. For example, medical professionals may prescribe sleeping pills to patients who can’t sleep. These medications are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating opioid withdrawals. However, they’re still very effective.
Before the withdrawal symptoms kick in, meet the team at New England Recovery and Wellness to get a better idea of the type of addiction treatment that will offer the most relief. During recovery, the treatment is individualized to each patient. The customizations are based on the withdrawal signs and symptoms that appear. Some patients require a higher dose of medications than others. As opiate withdrawals can be quite dangerous, medical detox is absolutely necessary. Medications can ease withdrawal symptoms for a more successful and comfortable recovery.
Our treatment center offers intensive outpatient treatment programs. Patients who require 24-hour medical supervision and a more intense level of care should consider receiving treatment from our other location, Amethyst Recovery. They offer inpatient treatment programs.
Talk to our specialists to determine the type of treatment that’s most suitable. We’ll walk you through the entire treatment process. This way, nothing will come as a surprise. You’ll be more than prepared for what’s to come. Our goal is to make the recovery process as comfortable as possible.