Opioids Detox

When Should You Consider Opioid Detox?

You should consider opioid detox treatment if you have used high doses of opioids and developed physical dependence. Physical dependence occurs when reducing the dose or stopping the drug causes uncomfortable symptoms, affecting your ability to function normally. 

Treatment for opioid dependence begins with detox – a process that helps your body eliminate opioids in a safe and controlled environment. Detox centers provide customized medical services to help you cope with withdrawal symptoms that may arise during the process.

Opioid Detox

What are the Prescription Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms?

Detox or withdrawal symptoms can be mild or severe. The severity depends on the dose and duration of opioid use. Besides, your health, underlying medical condition, and method of use can affect the intensity of the symptoms. 

Most users will experience the following effects, usually with 24 hours after the last intake:

● Restlessness ● Anxiety ● Muscle spasms ● Insomnia (difficulty falling asleep or interrupted sleep) ● Runny nose ● Sweating

● Abdominal cramps or aches ● Diarrhea ● Constricted pupils ● Changes in blood pressure ● Nausea ● Shaking ●Vomiting

Opioid Withdrawal Timeline

Why do you Need Opioids Detox?

“Abruptly stopping opioids even after a few weeks of use can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms and other health consequences.”

Addiction experts recommend medically assisted detox because detoxing on your own is very hard and can sometimes be dangerous. The National Drug and Alcohol Research Center reports that opioid withdrawal can cause death. Fortunately, detoxing under medical supervision dramatically reduces the risk of complications, including death. 

Moreover, medications used in prescription opioid detox are available only with a doctor’s prescription and require trained professionals to administer them. As such, at-home detox is not possible in these cases. 

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What Happens During Opioid Detox Procedure?

It is often your doctor who refers you to a detox center. Detox centers have a medical team assessing your condition and designing a customized detox plan to meet your unique needs. Opioid detox programs involve medications, counseling, and nutritional support. These programs are available in both inpatient and outpatient facilities.

Tapering

Tapering is a detox technique in which your dose is gradually reduced until you no longer need the drug. Besides, it may be an option if you are maintained on an opioid maintenance drug, such as methadone or buprenorphine. However, tapering should be done only under medical supervision. 

Medications used in detoxification for prescription opioids

Mild withdrawal is usually managed with Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Aspirin (Ascriptin), or Ibuprofen (Advil). You may need to take drugs to control diarrhea and nausea, such as Loperamide (Imodium) and Hydroxyzine (Vistaril). Apart from medicines, it is essential to get enough rest and drink plenty of fluids. 

Severe withdrawal requires medical treatment at a facility and can involve the following medicines. 

Methadone 

This synthetic opioid relieves withdrawal symptoms and helps with detox. It can also be used as a long-term maintenance medicine.

Buprenorphine 

Also known as Subutex, it helps shorten the duration of detox. Like methadone, buprenorphine can also be used for long-term maintenance therapy. 

Clonidine 

This drug helps relieve anxiety, restlessness, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose, and cramping. 

Naltrexone 

Naltrexone is effective in preventing relapse

Nutritional Support

Death during prescription opioid detox can occur due to dehydration from persistent diarrhea and vomiting. If untreated, severe dehydration can result in high blood sodium levels and heart failure. 

Thus, maintaining proper hydration is key to preventing dehydration and related complications. If you have severe dehydration, you may need intravenous (IV) fluids and salts. 

Is Rapid Opioid Detoxification Safe?

Rapid detox - under anesthesia - is rarely done these days. It is because the risks, including death, clearly outweigh the benefits. 

The risk of death is high if a person vomits under anesthesia. Thus, most experts do not recommend this detox technique. Moreover, studies show that rapid detox does not shorten the duration of detox.

Long-term Addiction Treatment

After completing a detox program, most people need long-term treatment, including:

  • Self-help groups, like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or SMART Recovery
  • Outpatient counseling
  • Intensive outpatient treatment (day hospitalization)
  • Inpatient treatment
  • Screening for depression and other mental disorders

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