How to Manage Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

How to Manage Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

How to Manage Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

People in recovery often live fuller, happier and healthier lives than they did even before opiate abuse began. If you are considering ending your opiate use, you know that life with addiction is no longer enjoyable or maintainable. You are ready to change, but you may hesitate to begin recovery because of fears of withdrawal symptoms. You may have tried to taper opiate use on your own and experienced discomfort or pain, or you may have had one or two attempts at cold turkey. You may have simply heard the horror stories of others. No matter your concerns about and experience with withdrawal, you can safely end opiate abuse with the help and guidance of recovery professionals. Detox and withdrawal symptoms can be eased, and they are only a short-lived aspect of recovery when weighed against the pain and discomfort of continuing addiction instead.

Medically Supervised Detox Services

The best option for easing opiate withdrawal symptoms is a comprehensive treatment program that includes medically supervised detox services. These programs keep medical professionals on staff to monitor your health, ensure your safety and address and ease withdrawal symptoms as they arise. Choosing a treatment program that includes detox services, rather than attempting detox on your own or through a separate medical channel, ensures you get continuous, comprehensive care. Counseling can begin once you start feeling better, even if withdrawal symptoms haven’t completely ended yet. There will not be a break between withdrawal and treatment because, a break that leaves space for relapse when physical health is largely regained but mental health recovery has not yet begun. As WebMD1 shares, “Opioid addiction is more than a physical dependence on drugs. Even after detox, when physical dependence is cured, addicts are at high risk for relapse.”

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Another benefit to choosing a treatment program that offers medically supervised detox services is that in an integrated program, your medical team will be in direct communication with your therapeutic team. This makes it much easier for them to work with you to create and begin your recovery plan. Recovery is not a uniform experience for everyone because your life and your addiction is not identical to anyone else’s. Treatment programs should recognize the individuality of patients, their experiences and their recovery needs. WebMD continues, “Several counseling therapies are available for prescription drug abuse, and no method is known to be the best. Likewise, no one approach is appropriate for everyone with opiate addiction. The right drug abuse treatment plan is tailored to a person’s addiction and his or her individual needs.” Integrated treatment recognizes that you are an individual, and when the professionals on staff in such programs know more about all aspects of your health and recovery, they can better tailor treatment to your needs.

What About Buprenorphine?

After careful consideration, your medical and therapeutic team may choose to include the use of buprenorphine as part of your complete, integrated treatment plan. Opioid partial agonists like buprenorphine, methadone and naloxone can supplement recovery efforts, but they are not a cure to addiction. You may be tempted to use buprenorphine as a first option for treating opiate addiction in the hopes that withdrawal symptoms can be avoided or that more intensive therapy, skills training and social support won’t be needed. Buprenorphine helps with neither of these goals. In fact, using buprenorphine can worsen rather than ease withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine can cause precipitated withdrawal. The National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine2. Treatment explains that this, “…is a rapid and intense onset of withdrawal symptoms initiated by a medication. In the case of Buprenorphine, because it has a higher binding strength at the opioid receptor, it competes for the receptor, ‘kicks off’ and replaces existing opioids. If a significant amount of opioids are expelled from the receptors and replaced, the opioid physically dependent patient will feel the rapid loss of the opioid effect, initiating withdrawal symptoms.” Buprenorphine is not a quick answer to withdrawal. It is potentially one of many tools you can use to manage your recovery, but it should only be used after withdrawal has finished and if other treatment options alone are not enough.

Recovery Doesn’t End With Detox

It is important to find continuous, professional care to get the support you need to ease withdrawal symptoms, begin therapy and find a healthy and happy life. We are here 24 hours a day at our toll-free helpline to connect you to the best programs for finding and maintaining recovery. Our caring admissions coordinators will talk with you to learn who you are, what challenges you face and what services will best support your long-term recovery and health. There is no wrong time to call, and all conversations are confidential and no pressure. Please reach out, and begin your recovery journey today.