Opiate Detox

Opiate detox is the process of cleansing the body’s system of such drugs as methadone, oxycontin, codeine, morphine, heroin, and other such substances that fall under the opiate category. The opiate detox process can be difficult without the help of professionals due to the severity of the withdrawal. Opiate detox or withdrawal, sometimes called dope sickness, is the result of the user’s body going into shock. An individual who has used opiates forms a dependency on the drugs. Once a person reduces or stops use of these drugs during the opiate detox the body goes into shock, and withdrawal symptoms begin.

Early symptoms of withdrawal during opiate detox can include anxiety, irritability, runny nose, yawning, insomnia, sweating, an increase in tearing, and achy muscles. Later symptoms are goose bumps, dilated pupils, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Besides being terribly uncomfortable, withdrawals can be fatal. Therefore no one should have to, or attempt to go through an opiate detox alone or unaided by professionals. People who specialize in opiate detox have the knowledge and the resources to carefully monitor opiate detox patients and to administer the appropriate medications to help alleviate many of the withdrawal symptoms. A counselor or specialist who can keep tabs on the patients’ psychological states should also monitor patients undergoing an opiate detox. Besides being an intense process for the body, opiate detox can be emotionally difficult as well. Many users become addicts in an attempt to self medicate an emotional or psychological problem. Specialists at a detox center can help determine whether psychological strain during opiate detox is the result of withdrawal or that of a deeper, underlying mental or emotional problem. Other medications being taken by patients, such as antidepressants, should not be withheld from them during their opiate detox.

Opiate Detox Methods

An opiate detox is made up of a variety of treatments as the patient progresses through the process. There are medications that may be administered to help relieve withdrawal symptoms during the opiate detox. Clonidine is commonly administered during opiate detoxes to reduce muscle aches, anxiety, perspiration, runny nose and cramping. There are also other medicines for treating diarrhea and vomiting. Patients undergoing an opiate detox for the cleansing of methadone may be given Subutex or Buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is one of the best medications for treating opiate withdrawals, and can even shorten the length of the opiate detox. Some centers offer opiate detox under anesthesia. Many refer to this as rapid opiate detox. This treatment process is exactly what it sounds like. Opiate detox patients are placed under anesthesia, and then injected with high doses of opiate-blocking medications. The idea behind this form of opiate detox is that the body will detox more rapidly, avoid the mental stress of a more typical, conscious opiate detox, and return to a normal, post opioid state of being. Opiate detox under anesthesia is not highly recommended due to a high number of deaths associated with the procedure. The biggest risk involved in this form of opiate detox is choking or suffocating on one’s own vomit, produced by the withdrawals, while unconscious. In addition, there is no evidence to suggest that the time spent in anesthesia actually shortens a patient’s overall opiate detox time. If an Individual decides to pursue this course of opiate detox despite these dangers, opiate detox under anesthesia should only be performed in a hospital.

Withdrawal during an opiate detox is painful but usually, with proper care, it is not fatal. Some possibilities for complications during the opiate detox can, however, include aspiration, (the inhalation of stomach contents into lungs, which may then result in a lung infection), severe dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea, which could then lead to a mineral and chemical imbalance. Surprisingly, the biggest risk posed to individuals who undergo an opiate detox is not any of the symptoms resulting from withdrawals. The biggest threat is resuming the use of drugs after an opiate detox. Overdose deaths are most common in people who have recently undergone the opiate detox process and then return to their drug usage, using doses that had previously been typical pre opiate detox. Since the user’s body is cleansed during the opiate detox, his or her tolerance of the substance has been greatly lowered from what it was before the opiate detox. The user takes the same dosage they had always taken previously without considering this, thus resulting in overdose and death. This is why the involvement of professional help in an opiate detox is so crucial. By tracking patients’ commitments to stay sober, offering encouragement, counseling, and a safe place to heal, patients have a much greater chance of a successful opiate detox experience.

Opiate Detox Success

There is more to an opiate detox than simply aiding in in the cleansing of the drugs from the body. Having a support group is key to successfully overcoming any addiction. Even though a person’s physical body may be free after an opiate detox, that person’s mind is probably not prepared to live life without the substance that was once so heavily depended on. The next step after the physical opiate detox is the mental and emotional opiate detox. Many excellent support groups exist that are designed to help recovering addicts during and after opiate detox. SMART Recovery and Narcotics Anonymous are only two examples of these types of groups. Professional counseling is highly advised and a psychological evaluation after an opiate detox is important as well. All of these elements work together to create a successful opiate detox for the present and a fulfilling, drug free future.

Everybody’s body reacts differently to different substances, and while drugs grouped together in the opioid family share similarities, they too have their differences. An opiate detox can last anywhere from a week to three months. It is highly dependent upon the individual. Some opiates, such as methadone, usually require a longer period of time for the opiate detox to complete its course. As mentioned earlier, all opiate detoxes, no matter how long or short, should be followed up with group support and therapy. The opiate detox process is difficult, but with proper support it can be done safely and effectively. Opiate detoxes can help individuals get clean and stay clean.