Opioid addiction in the U.S. ranks high among the substance use disorders that threaten the health and lives of many. Unfortunately, opioid withdrawal symptoms are often very unpleasant, sometimes even deadly. For their own safety, people must seek professional medical supervision from a creditable facility before beginning opioid detoxification. In addition to providing medical care, these facilities also make use of what are considered “at-home remedies for opiate withdrawal” in order to keep their clients as comfortable as possible during the detox process.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are intended to manage chronic and severe pain. They can be prescribed by a doctor, but sadly they are often purchased illegally. Popular opioids include oxycodone, fentanyl, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, and methadone. Street drugs that fall under the heading of opioids include heroin. Opioids work by attaching to the receptors on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, and other places. They block pain messages sent to your brain and release dopamine, which causes a person to feel good. Withdrawal symptoms are caused by the absence of opioids in a system that has come to rely on them.
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists the most common medications used to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms as buprenorphine, methadone, naltrexone, and naloxone. These drugs can be prescribed to a person who undergoes either outpatient or inpatient treatment for their substance use disorder.
Withdrawal symptoms can show up as soon as 12 hours after taking the last dosage of an opioid. Common symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:
- Body aches
- Rapid breathing
- Fast heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Muscle aches
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Difficulty sleeping
- Cravings for the drug
How long withdrawal symptoms last depends on a number of factors. These include the length of time a person is using the drug, the amount a person has taken, and a person’s overall health. Symptoms typically last from a few days to a few weeks. They taper down in terms of severity after the first several days.
At-Home Remedies for Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
The NIH describes opioid withdrawal as “a life-threatening condition resulting from opioid dependence”. This makes it imperative that a person undergoing withdrawal from opioids is monitored by a medical professional. However, this doesn’t mean that their care team will not make use of at-home remedies throughout the detoxification process.
The following approaches can help ease symptoms:
Staying hydrated: Vomiting and diarrhea often occur when a person undergoes opiate withdrawal. Both of these contribute to a person becoming dehydrated. Your care team will make sure you drink plenty of water and other hydrating fluids during detox. Drinks with electrolytes, such as Pedialyte, can especially be helpful. Substances such as coffee, tea, and soda will be avoided as they can dehydrate the body.
Eat Healthy and Exercise: While these may seem like standard recommendations for good health, they can contribute to a reduction in symptoms of opiate withdrawal. Indulging in comfort foods and junk food choices often contribute to lethargic feelings. Instead, you will be given regular, well-balanced meals to keep your mind focused and your body in good condition. Exercise releases endorphins, which can help elevate a person’s mood. Exercise has been shown to reduce anxiety and help reduce the odds of relapsing.
Over-the-Counter Medications: Some of the withdrawal symptoms that result from going off opioids can be treated with over-the-counter medicines. People often experience diarrhea, nausea, body aches, and cold-like symptoms while detoxing. Carefully monitored doses of medications that address these conditions can make a person feel much better.
Acupuncture: Many people do not associate the ancient Chinese art of acupuncture with drug withdrawal symptom treatment. Many studies have shown a correlation between receiving a round of acupuncture treatments and the relief of withdrawal symptoms. Acupuncture involves the insertion of tiny needles in key pressure points of the body. While many fear the process may be painful, most people report little to no pain during the procedure.
Make Plans For Your Comfort: As your body rids itself of toxins, you will always have clean sheets and a source of cold air to combat sweating. Your blankets will be soft and your bed comfortable. Speak with your care team about planning entertainment that raises the spirit and occupies the mind. Streaming favorite TV shows and comedic movies can help you stay focused and upbeat. Additionally, a playlist full of inspirational music will help elevate your mood, and make it easier to keep your eyes on your goals.
Opioid Addiction Treatment in Los Angeles
If you or someone you love needs assistance with an addiction to opioids, we can help. Launch Centers offers a long-term program designed to teach you to embrace recovery and plan for your future. We offer detoxification, outpatient, intensive outpatient, and partial hospitalization programs that address substance abuse and mental health issues. Our multiple treatment modalities give you a wide range of ways to heal and stay in recovery.