Painkiller Withdrawal Symptoms
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Learn how to prepare for opioid detox and withdrawal.

Breaking free from opioid dependence is not an easy feat. First you must commit to stopping the drug, but after that you are starting down the detox process. Many who really want to quit opioids are not able to progress in recovery because they attempt to detox alone. This is next to impossible.

Going through opioid detox is a challenge, period. To do so, it is vital that you have the support around you to be able to make it through to the end. Without this support, chances are you will suffer so much that you quickly return to drug use. 

There is a safe way to approach painkiller withdrawal. A doctor-led team of detox experts will guide you through the process and have your back the whole time. They will closely observe your symptoms and use meds to help reduce any pain or discomfort.

This kind of support, for both mind and body, will assist you in pushing through the symptoms and getting to the other side. At that juncture, it is time to begin life-saving treatment.

Learn About Painkillers

Painkillers, or opioids, are drugs that block the pain signal from reaching the brain. These are man-made versions of opium, the substance that comes from certain types of poppy plants. Synthetic opioids mimic the effects of natural opiates. This class of drugs includes:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Oxycodone
  • Methadone
  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • Meperidine

The opioid binds to the brain’s receptors, blocking pain signals while causing the brain to produce large amounts of dopamine. These two actions result in the “high,” which is a deeply relaxed state combined with euphoria. The brain’s reward center will record this effect and become wired to desire it in the future.

Signs of Opioid Addiction

With repeated use of the drug, the brain will begin to reduce its own natural production of dopamine. This is the start of a dependence on the drug. Without the drug, the person will feel sick and joyless. To feel better they then return to the drug, creating the addiction cycle.

As tolerance builds, it will take more of the drug to feel the early desired effects. As more of the drug is consumed, the brain pathways are altered and the person becomes dependent on it.

Some signs of an opioid use disorder include:

  • Obsess about the next dose and having enough of the drug on hand.
  • Lie about the amount of the drug being consumed.
  • To avoid social events once enjoyed.
  • Isolate from others.
  • Sneaky behaviors; stealing to finance the drug problem.
  • Continue to use drug despite consequences.
  • Can’t stop or control use of the drug.
  • Increased tolerance; higher and more frequent dosing.
  • Intense drug cravings.
  • Problems at work or at home.
  • Doctor shopping.
  • Frequent constipation.
  • Sleep problems.
  • Loss of motivation.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Sweating
  • Tiny pupils.
  • Reduced sex drive.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Mood swings.
  • Withdrawal symptoms emerge when the drug wears off.

When a cluster of these signs is present it is time to see a doctor who can assess the severity of the opioid problem and recommend treatment.

Prepare for Detox and Treatment

When you are ready to get help for the opioid use disorder it helps to be prepared. The better prepared you are, the smoother the treatment process will be. Some things to do in advance of starting rehab include:

  • Meet with your H.R. agent to plan for a leave of absence.
  • Call your health insurer to get details about covered treatment services.
  • Plan for the out of pocket expense.
  • Start to research about opioid treatment and aftercare.
  • Narrow the list of rehabs and call or visit them for details.
  • Plan for childcare in your absence.
  • Plan the family finances for the time you are in rehab.

Opioid Withdrawal Timeline

Before you start the treatment process you will first need to complete a detox. During detox the body will attempt to become stable in the absence of the opioid. This equates to some harsh painkiller withdrawal symptoms. 

Prior to the detox process the doctor is likely to order a taper of the drug. By slowly dropping the dose over a period of days, the symptoms will be less harsh. 

The opiate detox timeline includes two basic stages:

Early stage: Painkiller withdrawal symptoms emerge within 12 hours and may include:

  • Muscle aches.
  • Joint pain.
  • Tearing eyes.
  • Runny nose.
  • Insomnia.
  • Sweating.
  • Fever.
  • Constant yawning.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Racing heart.
  • Anxiety.
  • Agitation.

Late stage: Withdrawal symptoms peak on days 2-3 and may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Stomach cramping.
  • Symptoms of depression.
  • Goosebumps and chills.
  • Intense drug cravings.

By day four the symptoms will begin to subside. In all, opioid detox can take 3-14 days, and this timeline depends on how severe the opioid problem was.

Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

Treatment interventions include:

  • Individual Therapy Sessions. During these one-on-one sessions a therapist will help you delve into factors that might be driving the opioid abuse. These might include using it to self-medicate a mental health issue, chronic pain, or a life event or trauma.
  • CBT. CBT teaches you how your thoughts can lead to drug abuse actions. CBT helps you replace those distorted thoughts and behavior patterns with healthy ones.
  • Group Sessions. Group therapy provides the social support that is so helpful for people in early recovery. The group will share their own stories and feelings with each other, as well as bond with each other. 
  • Coping Skills. In recovery skills such as conflict resolution, problem solving, anger management, and communication skills will be quite helpful. Rehabs include classes that teach these skills.
  • Holistic. Learning new ways to manage stress is essential. Rehabs show you how to practice mindfulness, yoga, and other methods to reduce stress. 

When it is time to commit to treatment, know that an opioid use disorder can be overcome and a full life awaits you.

LifeSync Malibu Luxury Rehab for Treating Opioid Addiction

LifeSync Malibu Healing Center is an upscale substance treatment program. LifeSync Malibu is committed to helping people make lasting changes in their lives. Using a blend of evidence-based and holistic treatments, the expert team at LSM will guide you into recovery. For any questions about opioid detox, please reach out to the team today at (866) 491-4426.