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Understanding Opioid Detox

Opioids are the number one leading cause of overdose death in the United States. That is a widely known fact. The White House has taken action to fight the opioid crisis, but that does not change the fact that hundreds of thousands of people face the rough road of opioid detox if they are going to abstain from further opioid use.

Facing rehab is a daunting thought for addicts and their loved ones. Education and access to treatment are critical elements for completing the detox process and staying clean. Keep reading to learn more about what to expect from opiate and opioid detox, how to get help, and what treatments are available.

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Types of Opioids

fentanyl

Fentanyl

Fentanyl is a prescription opioid painkiller. The drug is so potent that doctors use it for patients who have fatal cancer. It is available as a transdermal patch and in oral and injectable formulations, which makes the drug very easy to use.
heroin

Heroin

Heroin is one of the leading contributors to the opiate epidemic. Heroin can be ingested in three ways, injecting, smoking, or snorting. The “high” from heroin will last a short amount of time, making the user need more of the drug. Hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, and kidney disease are all common consequences of prolonged heroin use.

methadone

Methadone

Methadone is a drug that is often used to ease the severity of drug withdrawal symptoms that occur during the detoxification process. Methadone assistances people addicted to other drugs experience a reduction in withdrawal symptoms. The drug has the potential to become highly addictive.

oxycontin

OxyContin

OxyContin is the prescription version of an opioid narcotic pain medicine called oxycodone. This opioid is used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. OxyContin extended-release dosages are taken orally, and they shouldn’t be crushed, opened or broken. There is a high level of alarm about OxyContin abuse and addiction among teens and young adults.

percocet

Percocet

Pharmaceutical opiates are a severe threat to public health. Since doctors prescribe prescription drugs such as Percocet, many tend to have the idea that they are safer and less harmful than illicit drugs or street drugs. The associated risk of overdose, respiratory depression, and accidental death are as high as heroin.

suboxone

Suboxone

Suboxone is used to treat opioid addiction, known as a partial opioid agonist, because it binds to the same brain receptors as opioids but is not an opioid itself. However, without proper supervision, addicts can misuse this medication and develop a dependence or addiction. 

tramadol

Tramadol

Tramadol is a synthetic opioid pain reliever available in pill or capsule form to manage moderate to severe pain. Similar to other opioids, many addicts find different ways to tamper with the substance. When people misuse this medication, they often find themselves struggling with dependence and addiction. 

Opioid Detox Treatment Options & Details

There are several approaches to opioid detox that are available for individuals with opioid dependence or addiction. These include medication-assisted detox, medication maintenance programs, and abstinence. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks. Some individuals will have to try multiple approaches to find a strategy that works best, but dedication and determination are essential. 

Withdrawal Symptoms

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

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The physical withdrawal symptoms from opioids much resemble that of a severe case of the flu. These include:

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sweats
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Insomnia or other sleep problems
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tremors
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate

Emotional Withdrawal Symptoms

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Withdrawal is not just physical. It also can mess with your head and produce numerous emotional/mental symptoms. These symptoms are just as serious, if not more so than the physical symptoms. They include:

  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Cravings

Withdrawal Timelines

8-12 hours

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Symptoms begin to appear approximately 8 hours after the last dose. Early withdrawal symptoms may include anxiety, agitation, watery eyes, runny nose, and excessive sweating.

12-24 hours

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In the first 24 hours, symptoms begin to worsen, including nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, and dilated pupils.

36-72 hours

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Withdrawal symptoms typically peak between the 2nd and 3rd day of detox and gradually subside in the days to come. Some symptoms may last up to 10 days or longer.

Opioid Detox Treatment Options

There are several approaches to opioid detox that are available for individuals with opioid dependence or addiction. These include medication-assisted detox, medication maintenance programs, and abstinence. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks. Some individuals will have to try multiple approaches to find a strategy that works best, but dedication and determination are essential. 

Opioid Abstinence

The first option for opioid detox is abstinence. Quitting opioids cold turkey, whether prescription or illicit, is not for the faint of heart. The possible symptoms listed above make that clear. Depending on the factors that affect the severity of withdrawal, symptoms may be mild or extremely severe.

Although it is possible to abstain from opioids without medical assistance, it is not uncommon to succumb to the signs and relapse before the withdrawal is even complete. For those who do want to try abstinence, different measures can help increase the likelihood of completing detox without additional pharmaceutical interventions.

At-Home Detox

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At-home detox does work for some people but carries risk. Without proper training and experience, it can be difficult for loved ones to care for someone in withdrawal. Those who try it need to have a reliable support system and a plan in place if the process becomes too much. 

Inpatient Detox Treatment

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Getting help at a detox center does not mean automatically agreeing to opioid maintenance programs or the use of medication in general. However, detox centers provide the most productive and supportive environment for successful detoxification. Yes, medical interventions such as IV drips and medication are available if desired or wanted, but are not necessarily required.

The most significant benefit of an inpatient detox program is that it provides continuous monitoring and 24/7 physical and emotional support. Many detox centers also over alternative therapies to ease withdrawal without the use of medication.

Alternative Therapies

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Alternative therapies are a vital component of a holistic approach to drug detox. These therapies are non-pharmaceutical practices that ease symptoms and help head an individual physically, mentally, and spiritually. Learn more about each of these alternative therapies and how they help detox:

  • Yoga
  • Massage
  • Chiropractic care
  • Sound therapy
  • Acupuncture

Medication Maintenance Programs

Due to the high relapse rates in those who attempt to quick opioids cold turkey and the high overdose rates, maintenance programs have become the choice of treatment for individuals who struggle with a severe addiction to opioids. Methadone and Suboxone are the two medications approved by the FDA for maintenance programs. Both of these medications are used by physicians today for opioid addiction treatment. Each drug has its benefits and drawbacks.  

Methadone

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For decades, Methadone helps treat individuals who struggle with opioid addiction. This drug works by acting on the same receptors that opioids do. It prevents withdrawal symptoms and the severe cravings that detox usually brings, but without creating the same euphoric high that opioids have. Methadone can only be administered at licensed Methadone clinics and not by individual practitioners. 

Suboxone

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Approved by the FDA for use to treat opioid addiction in 2002, this medication is relatively new. However, the combination of buprenorphine and naltrexone, it is a game-changer for addiction. Buprenorphine is similar to methadone in its mechanism and effectiveness. If Buprenorphine on its own is injected, as opposed to slow-release methods like pills and patches, it would create a euphoric high. Adding naltrexone helps reduce the rates of suboxone abuse by causing withdrawal symptoms if it is injected directly into the bloodstream. This mechanism creates a deterrent from abusing the drug.

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Get Professional Opioid Detox Help

The detox and withdrawal process is particularly challenging when it comes to opioids because the withdrawal symptoms can be beyond uncomfortable and include severe cravings. Don’t go through this process alone. Contact Lighthouse Recovery Institute to learn more about opioid detox and withdrawal options. 

Paying for Opioid Detox

Most insurance policies in the United States include coverage for opioid addiction treatment, including detox. Additionally, your policy may cover methadone maintenance or suboxone detox options. When insurance is not available, other payment options and payment plans can be worked out based on each individual’s needs and circumstances. Finding a way to pay for detox treatment is always an option.

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We are here to support you during your time of need and help you make the best decision for yourself or your loved one.

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