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What Are Opiates?
To define it briefly, opiates are drugs classified as “downers” that come from the opium poppy, which have an effect on the pleasure receptors of the brain. Legally prescribed opiates, such as codeine and morphine, are used in order to help patients deal with pain. Opiates in small doses and for short periods of time are not only safe but often recommended. The main issue with opiates is when they are taken for longer than usually 5 days, and without proper medical supervision.
When this happens, a patient can be at risk of becoming addicted to the drug. At this point, they can either keep on taking legal substances to feed their addiction or actually start seeking illegal ones once they can’t get prescriptions anymore. One of the main reasons why a lot of people can get addicted is not just the relief from pain, but the actual stage of euphoria the drug can give.
But even though any opiate might cause an overdose, most illegal drugs tend to be more dangerous than prescription opiates. Since they are synthetic and not manufactured in a lab, it is much harder to predict the effects it might have, and therefore, any dose could actually be lethal.
How Does Opiate Detox Work?
Once someone has decided to quit the drugs for good, they can start what is called opiate detox. While the concept of detoxing from opiates is simple in theory, there are many factors to be considered as you start to get rid of them and start your opiate detox process. That is not just because of the effects of the drug in your body as you take them, but also as your body feels the abstinence.
Using opiates for long periods of time has its toll on the body, and addiction becomes something beyond the psychological aspect of dependence, as it actually starts affecting a user physically and chemically as well. The higher the amount taken, the more resistant to the drug an addict becomes, and the more they require to feel the euphoria and the pain relief they once felt. And since it has such a strong neurological effect on the body, the brain starts requiring it just to function properly.
Cutting out that supply to the body, and mainly the brain, can cause a lot of strong reactions. This is why there is a “right” way to go about your opiate detox: it should not be treated like a simple cleanse or like starting a diet. Some of the effects can be dangerous, especially if you cut opiates abruptly and at once as you detox. And that’s where the problem is if going through it alone: slowly lowering a dose might be hard, and even lead to a relapse.
There are many options out there for opiate detox, some of which might require other medications to treat both the side effects and the addiction itself. Inpatient, outpatient, and at-home opiate detox are all possible, but you must be honest with yourself about your limits when making that decision.
Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal: A Timeline
No matter how you decide to go into your opiate detoxing process, it is inevitable to feel the effects of withdrawal. If you have reached the point of addiction, your body feels like it needs the drug. But there is no cause for real concern: it might hurt now, but it will feel much better later as you get your life back.
In the initial phase of your detox, a lot of the symptoms seem more related to the nervous system, such as:
- Agitation and restlessness
- Muscle aches
- Sweating profusely
- Low energy
- Tearing eyes
It’s possible to see that some of the symptoms can affect the other. For instance, being constantly agitated and not being able to sleep will eventually cause low energy, as this might be too much for the body without rest. Although not solely caused by lack of sleep, low energy can certainly worsen without it.
But as this first phase fades, other symptoms can take over. While this might feel discouraging at first, it is important to keep in mind it is in fact part of the process, and it means you are moving forward. In this second phase, one can experience:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Goosebumps and chills
- Irregular/accelerated heartbeat
- Dilated pupils
If you are not careful, these more physical symptoms might cause other problems, such as dehydration. Unfortunately, relapses are also common from intolerance to such strong effects.
Together, these symptoms might last up to a month and can start in a few hours from taking the last dose. This, as mentioned, would all depend on how deep into their addiction a user was – in other words, what drug was taken, how much, and how often. As a patient goes through these two phases, the next part of this opiate detox is made up of long-term withdrawal symptoms, which will be linked to the emotional and behavioral nature of addiction.
We Are Here With All The Help You Need
The opiate detox can be quite rough on the body for all the reasons listed, and going through it alone can be too traumatic for most people. There is proven efficiency in starting a program made to help anyone who has gone through the hardships of addiction for too long, and a number of options are available. So why risk relapse and unnecessary pain when you can have a properly trained team giving you the medical and emotional support you need?
We at Granite Mountain Behavioral Healthcare can give you different solutions for your problem. One of the greatest benefits we can offer for opiate detox, for instance, is the Recover Strong program, which is based on the neuroscience of body movement for healing. As you get the therapy and support you need, you’ll get a chance to work through the physical toll of your detox by training your body to become more resistant physically in a healthy way.
No matter what kind of help you need, we will be happy to meet with you and discuss your needs, our programs, and answer any of the questions you might have. Visit our website and contact us today. Substance abuse stops the second you decide to get help, and we want to be there for you all the way.