How to Ease Opioid and Opiate Withdrawal
Opioids are highly addictive and extremely dangerous substances, especially if used other than as directed by the prescribing doctor. The term “opioids” refers to all-natural, semisynthetic, and synthetic opioids, while “opiates” refers only to natural opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns nearly 69,000 Americans died in 2020 from opioid overdoses, with over 82 percent of those deaths linked to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
Although withdrawal from opioids can be a challenging and uncomfortable experience, most would agree the trade-off for a drug-free life is more than worth temporary discomfort. Fortunately, there are ways to ease the withdrawal process and minimize the intensity of the symptoms.
This article will provide practical strategies and techniques for managing opioid withdrawal symptoms effectively. Following these recommendations can increase your chances for successful long-term recovery.
Seek Professional Help
Addiction professionals play a crucial role in supporting individuals through opioid withdrawal. Their specialized knowledge and expertise enable them to provide valuable services that can significantly improve the experience and outcomes of withdrawal patients.
Here are some ways addiction professionals can help:
- Medical detox – Medically supervised detox provides a safe and supportive environment for individuals in withdrawal. Addiction professionals monitor vital signs, administer medications to manage withdrawal symptoms, and quickly respond to complications, ultimately setting the stage for a safe and successful detox experience.
- Treatment Planning – Addiction professionals can assess your needs and create a personalized treatment plan tailored to your circumstances. They consider factors such as your addiction’s severity, medical history, and co-occurring mental health conditions.
- Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) – Medications such as buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone can help stabilize your condition and ease the discomfort of withdrawal, and antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications may help calm the body and reduce anxiety. MAT can provide a smoother transition and increase your chances of completing the withdrawal process.
- Emotional Support – They do not only support you physically but your addiction professional is also trained to help you cope with the psychological and emotional aspects of withdrawal.
- Education – Addiction professionals are also a valuable source of information and education about opioid withdrawal. They can explain the physical and psychological symptoms you may experience, helping you understand what to expect during the process.
- Referrals and Additional Support – Detox is the first step in addiction recovery. Entering a drug rehabilitation program after detox decreases the risk of relapse and improves your chance for long-term sobriety. Recovery professionals offer a safe and supportive environment where you can discuss your feelings, fears, and challenges, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and learn to manage triggers to addictive behavior.
Addiction professionals bring expertise and support to individuals undergoing opioid withdrawal. From personalized treatment planning to emotional support and ongoing monitoring, their guidance can significantly ease the challenges associated with withdrawal and increase your chances of successfully transitioning to a healthier, drug-free life.
8 Ways You Can Ease Withdrawal and Support Long-Term Recovery
While addiction professionals provide invaluable support, there are numerous actions you can take on your own to ease the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Here are some practical strategies and self-care techniques to help reduce physical and emotional discomfort during withdrawal and lay the foundation for a healthier lifestyle.
- Increase Hydration: Increase your water and electrolyte-rich beverages intake to flush toxins and byproducts and replace fluids lost to excessive sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea. Adequate fluids also help relieve headaches, muscle cramps, and gastrointestinal discomfort. Avoid excessive caffeine and sugary drinks. Sports drinks, coconut water, and electrolyte-infused water help replenish essential minerals.
- Healthy Sleep: Good sleep is crucial during opiate withdrawal as it supports the body’s healing and restoration processes, conserves energy, regulates mood, helps manage pain, and improves cognitive functioning. Seek professional guidance if you experience severe sleep disturbances.
- Use Over-The-Counter Medications: Common OTC drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help alleviate pain and reduce the fever commonly experienced during withdrawal. Additionally, anti-diarrheal medications like loperamide can manage the diarrhea that often accompanies opiate withdrawal. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional or pharmacist before using any OTC medications.
- Eat a Healthy Diet: Consuming foods rich in fiber, protein, and complex carbohydrates can support the body’s recovery process. Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are nutritious choices that can contribute to overall well-being and provide the necessary energy to cope with withdrawal.
- Regular Exercise: Engaging in physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, which act as natural painkillers and contribute to pain relief during withdrawal. Exercise promotes better sleep, reduces stress levels, and alleviates anxiety commonly experienced during withdrawal.
- Alternative Therapies: Therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and aromatherapy and practices like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness help promote relaxation, reduce stress, and enhance mood. They can also relieve pain and contribute to overall well-being during withdrawal.
- Stay Positive: Staying positive during withdrawal helps to improve overall emotional well-being and resilience. By focusing on progress and adopting a hopeful outlook, you can better cope with the challenges and discomfort associated with withdrawal. Take a break from negative people, news, movies, and TV shows. Get outside and connect with nature. Read inspirational stories.
- Support Groups: A strong support network can make all the difference in your recovery. Surround yourself with friends and family who respect and support your journey. Join a local or online support group; the advice and encouragement you receive from a like-minded community is invaluable.
Although opioid addiction and withdrawal present significant challenges, professional support and your commitment to practical strategies can make the process significantly more bearable. Recovery is a gradual process; taking it one day at a time is essential for healing and achieving a drug-free life.
At Midwest Recovery Centers, we emphasize the importance of a safe and supervised detoxification process as the foundation for a strong and lasting recovery. Our residential detox program allows individuals to rid their bodies of harmful substances, preparing them to fully engage in our residential or outpatient treatment programs with a clear mind and a dedicated commitment to recovery.
Reviewed and Assessed by
Taylor Brown, B.A.Com., CADC
Tim Coleman, M. of Ed.