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Opiate Abuse and Withdrawal

by Cathy D'souza

Millions of people in the United States are using prescription painkillers (aka opioid pain relievers). The commonest examples of these drugs include hydromorphone, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. The problem with using these painkillers is, they are highly addictive in nature. People start becoming dependent on them for non-medical use and in worst cases, even become addicted and start looking for higher versions like heroin.

On the other hand, people who stop taking opiates after weeks or months often experience uneasiness and drastic withdrawal effects. Doctors say that this is one reason why people, even after discontinuing prescription painkillers, start taking them again – just to avoid those unsettling withdrawal effects. Here are some stats on opioid epidemic in New Hampshire.

Opiate withdrawal is not a life-threatening problem but it causes difficult symptoms in every user. The severity of symptoms solely depends on the level of dosage and dependence of the user. If you or your loved ones are struggling to deal with opiate withdrawal, then this guide will help you understand your problem better and ultimately help you with some advice on how to get over it and start living a healthier life.

How Does Opiate Withdrawal Work?

After prolonged usage of opiates, the body becomes desensitized to it and will start wanting more of its effects. That’s when you start getting addicted to the drug.

Medical experts say that over usage of opiates alters the structure of nerve cells in the brain. The mechanism is somewhat similar to brain supplements but it’s more intense with opiates. The cells will start craving for the drug in order to function normally. And when you stop taking them, your body reacts abnormally and that’s what is referred to as withdrawal symptoms.

Let’s get to know some detailed information on opiate withdrawal.

Basically, the withdrawal symptoms happen in two phases – phase one and phase two

Phase one: Symptoms during phase one are mild. They include body pain, tearing eyes, sleeplessness, restlessness, excessive sweating, anxiety, and excessive yawning.

Phase Two: Symptoms include irregular heartbeat rate, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, dilated pupils, nausea and vomiting.

That’s not the end of it. These phases can be followed by major health complications which vary from person to person. They might also include behavioral or emotional problems.

Finding Support

It can be hard to deal with opiate withdrawal symptoms without the help of a medical expert. Make sure to consult a doctor and get professional advice on how to get over the symptoms safely.

Check out the detox facilities in your area to get some quick help. These services can track your health progress after withdrawal and suggest safe and effective procedures to help you overcome the effects. In most cases, you will receive a personal treatment plan for quick recovery. The biggest advantage of detox facilities is that they will help prevent the occurrence of dangerous health complications and ensure permanent recovery from opiate withdrawal.

For example, they might suggest medications like clonidine or Librium which will minimize the effect of withdrawal symptoms. Medications like trazadone and Chloral hydrate can help prevent restlessness and result in good sleep.

If you are to go through withdrawal symptoms by self, you sure wouldn’t know about these medications. Even your regular eating and drinking habits will be affected if you are at home and without medical assistance.

Withdrawal: Home Remedies

At-Home Options:

As mentioned earlier, regular usage (or over usage) of opiates will make your body tolerant to most of the drugs’ effects such as constipation and dryness, and will make you more dependent on it. Withdrawing opiate usage all of a sudden will cause extreme reactions, both physical and mental.

If you wish to fight the symptoms on your own, then it’s important that you are more prepared. The first thing you can do is minimize your dosage day by day before discontinuing them. This will help reduce the intensity of withdrawal effects.

However, there is no guarantee that you will be cool and relaxed after discontinuing them. Phase one or phase two symptoms are bound to occur. Most people experience dehydration and end up getting admitted in the hospital. A good home remedy to prevent dehydration is to maximize your fluid intake – not just water but more of Electrolyte solutions so that you stay hydrated during the time.

Over-the-Counter Help

Sometimes using the right dosage of over-the-counter medication might help diminish opiate withdrawal symptoms. If you are suffering from diarrhea, then consider loperamide (Imodium). In case of nausea, you could ask for dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) or meclizine (Antivert or Bonine). Ibuprofen is good to control body pain.

However, be warned that over-the-counter drugs are for temporary use only. If you experience symptoms for more than a couple of days, then make sure to discontinue medication and consult a doctor.

Alternative Support

There hasn’t been any conclusive evidence of vitamins and supplements being a cure for opioid withdrawal effects. However, having a balanced diet can help keep you in good health. Some treatments to diminish opiate withdrawal symptoms include herbal medicines and acupuncture. Some online user opinions suggest that Chinese herbal medicines are more effective than even clonidine. So, you could give it a shot as well.

Tips for Success

Keep yourself engaged

If you are going through withdrawal symptoms, then it can be hard to stay focused on your work. In order to not let that affect your success, make sure to keep yourself fully engaged by reading books, talking to people, and spending time with pets.

Most importantly, avoid reading any type of negative stories online such as rape, murder, theft and even porn. Instead spend all your time on the Internet discovering positive things and read stories of successful people for inspiration. And do things that boost your body’s endorphins such as exercise and games. This will not only help you during withdrawal but also make you a much better person for the rest of your life. Apart from drugs and doctor’s help, it’s your mind set that matters a lot when it comes to reducing your dependency on opiates.

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