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The opioid epidemic in the United States continues to grow. Approximately one-tenth of the population in the United States has abused opiates. The more an addict consumes a drug, the higher their tolerance becomes, and most addicts will go to great lengths to prevent feeling the symptoms of withdrawal.

When choosing to overcome an addiction, the withdrawal symptoms can be rough. The pain and discomfort will not last forever. To overcome the opiate withdrawal, first you must know what to expect during the process.

What are Opiates?

Opiates are a group of medications prescribed to individuals to reduce moderate to severe pain. Opiates originate from opium that is made from a poppy plant. Opiates refer to natural or somewhat altered elements of opium which can include morphine, heroin, and codeine. Opioids refer to synthetic opiates such as Fentanyl and Oxycontin. Now both terms are used for the entire class of opioid medications.

Common Opiates

Opiates are more commonly known by their generic names. These include:

  • Hydrocodone (Hycodan, Vicodin)
  • Codeine
  • Oxycodone (Percoset, Oxycontin)
  • Morphine (Kadian, MS Contin)
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)

What to Expect During Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

First, you will experience detox. This is when your body is ridding itself from the chemicals of the drug. You will experience physical withdrawal symptoms. The detox process depends on many factors including:

  • Overall health
  • Choice of opiate
  • Severity of opioid addiction
  • Length of opiate use

There are different stages of withdrawal the body goes through.

Early Stages of Withdrawal

In the early stages of withdrawal, the symptoms can occur between six and 30 hours after you have quit using. The time depends on the type of opiate that was consumed. The symptoms during the early stages may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Muscle pain
  • Body aches
  • More tired
  • Sweating
  • Trouble sleeping

Later Stages

Approximately 72 hours after the last use of opiates, the severity of the withdrawal symptoms may increase. These symptoms can include:

  • Stomach aches
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Overall Timeframe

The first week of the withdrawal process is usually the worst, but symptoms may last longer. The symptoms can last from a month up to a year. The symptoms that typically last longer than a week include depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and feeling more tired.
Do not give up on your recovery process. The opioid withdrawal symptoms can be painful, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. There are ways you can get through the opiate withdrawal process.

How to Get Through Opiate Withdrawal

The discomfort caused by opiate withdrawal can make recovery challenging for most addicts, causing a relapse. Below are a few tips to help addicts overcome the beginning withdrawal symptoms.

1. Support

Having a reliable support system is extremely important. Support can be from a family member, friend, doctor or from attending a support group. Having a support system allows addicts to have someone they can lean on and talk to during their weaker moments. This support system can help decrease the feeling of anxiety as well as the risk of relapse.

2. Exercise

Participating in exercise routines can help some of the beginning withdrawal symptoms. The body aches can make a person feel like being still, however, exercising releases serotonin, which can help reduce some negative feelings you may have. Even if all you can do is walk around the block, or take a small bike ride, anything to get your mind off any cravings, triggers, or stressors. Exercise is beneficial for the detox process.

3. Rest

Getting enough sleep during the beginning stages of detox can be difficult. However, sleep helps your body recover from the damage of opiates. Whether you have just begun your detox process, or you are nearing the end, getting at least eight hours of sleep every night can help your body recover.

4. Eat Healthy Foods and Drink Plenty of Water

During detox, many individuals lose their appetite. When your appetite returns to normal, eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water. If you are not able to eat solid foods in the beginning, be sure you are staying well hydrated. Dehydration can occur and can be even more harmful to your body and can increase the severity of the detox symptoms. Some healthy foods that can help with liver support include:

  • Broccoli
  • Artichoke
  • Leafy greens
  • Wild fish
  • Nuts, seeds, and olive oil
  • Taking vitamins and minerals can help with withdrawal symptoms. These include:
  • Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB)
  • Black Seed
  • Passionflower

5. Participate in Detox

If you have been addicted to opiates for some time, attending a professional detox center can be beneficial in reducing the risk of relapse. Professional medical detox centers are staffed with professionals experienced in helping reduce the severity of detox symptoms. Also, in some rehab centers, professionals provide medications to help lessen the symptoms of withdrawal.

Medication-Assisted Withdrawal Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment programs are available for individuals who qualify and are monitored during the withdrawal process. These medications may include:

  • Buprenorphine – this is used along with naloxone during withdrawal to help lessen the symptoms or after medical detox to minimize the risk of relapse.
  • Naltrexone – used to reduce the risk of relapse.
  • Clonidine Hydrochloride – used to treat common withdrawal and detox symptoms.
  • Naloxone – used in the reversal and help treat heroin overdose.

When a person is severely addicted to methadone, some doctors may prescribe methadone during the withdrawal process. By giving patients methadone, the doctor will slowly lower the dosage to help lessen the opioid dependence.

Opiate withdrawal can be challenging to overcome, and the symptoms can be painful. If you are ready to take the first step to sobriety contact a medical professional who can help you safely detox. As uncomfortable as detox and withdrawal can be, the symptoms are not typically life-threatening. Overcoming the struggles of opiate addiction, cravings, and withdrawal allows you to move forward with your life and live a happy and sober life. If you are ready to fight your addiction and live a sober life free from opiate use, contact Serenity Acres.