Can Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms Be Fatal?

Can Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms Be Fatal?

Can Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms Be Fatal?

For many people, opiates are a doctor-prescribed relief from severe or chronic pain. However, for some individuals, opiates are sought as a means of escape from life’s stresses. Regardless how people may be introduced to these powerful narcotics, opiates can quickly and easily cause the user to become dependent on these drugs. Oftentimes, addiction isn’t too far behind…with the real possibility of a fatal overdose.

Addiction’s Grip Can Be Deceptive…and Deadly

Once users are addicted, they seldom are willing to admit it; they usually have the perspective that they could quit any time they want…but they just happen to prefer taking more drugs. The fact is, in the grip of opiate addiction, the brain has been altered enough that clear-headed decision-making is out the window.  In most cases, addicts require the help of professionals who are experienced in the implementation of successful, evidence-based addiction treatment strategies.

If opiate addicts attempt to go clean on their own, the withdrawal symptoms commonly catch them unprepared and oftentimes drive them deeper into drug abuse. As the first key step in getting clean from an opiate addiction, detoxification typically requires professional help. Those expert services should standardly provide “medically managed detox” treatment for safe, effective results.1

Opiate Overdoses: Becoming Alarmingly Common

More people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. The majority of drug overdose deaths – more than six out of ten – involve an opioid. And since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin) nearly quadrupled. From 2000 to 2014, nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses. The latest data shows that 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.

Overdoses from prescription opioid pain relievers are a driving factor in the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths. Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled. Yet, sadly, there hasn’t been a significant change in the overall amount of pain reported by Americans.2

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Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms Are Distasteful…but Necessary

Because both physical and psychological addiction to drugs is common, uncomfortable symptoms are typically experienced during the detox phase of treatment…or, for that matter, if/when an addict is unable to get a sufficient supply of drugs in order to reach the same desired pain relief or euphoria.

Whether because of lack of availability or by professional treatment design, withdrawal symptoms experienced by addicts can include:

  • Sweating and fever
  • Mild to severe restless leg syndrome
  • Accelerated or irregular heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Goosebumps
  • Insomnia
  • Indigestion, nausea, and/or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cramps and aches
  • Intense craving

Addicts may feel so bad from withdrawal symptoms that they genuinely believe they are going to die. However, opiate withdrawal, in itself, is seldom deadly. The heartbeat irregularity it causes can pose a danger to addicts with pre-existing heart trouble. Also, some addicts going through detox can dehydrate.

In extreme cases of withdrawal, some addicts will unfortunately turn to self-harm or suicidal thoughts, which can be fatal. Caution must be taken by the care providers to be vigilant in monitoring addicts, especially during the initial detox phase.

These life-threatening dangers are precisely why detoxing and drug rehab should be conducted under expert medical supervision. Recovery specialists know how to wean opiate addicts off the drug, how much water and other nutrients to administer, and the safest ways to combat withdrawal symptoms.3

Reach Out for Competent Help…and Feel Confident

There are always risks in getting clean from a drug, but the risks of staying addicted are worse, including:

  • Alienation of friends and family members.
  • Loss of employment and difficulty becoming employed again, which can result in bankruptcy.
  • Death from malnutrition or dehydration, as a heavy addict will oftentimes ingest only drugs.
  • Medical complications (collapsed veins, heart and liver trouble, respiratory disease, etc.).1

If you are in doubt about what to do, we invite you to give us a call on our 24/7 toll-free helpline. There’s no obligation. No strings attached. We just want to be of service to you by sharing our expertise in this area. We can provide you with answers, info, encouragement and some proven-effective options.

Getting clean and living drug-free is worth the price of recovery – not just financially, but in dues paid through some temporary pain, sweat and tears. Rely on people who have shown themselves trustworthy.

1 “America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse”, National Institute on Drug Abuse, , (May 14, 2014).

2 “Understanding the Epidemic”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, , (March 14, 2016).

3 “Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal”, MedLinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, , (June 7, 2016).