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Is there Treatment for Opiate Withdrawal Syndrome?

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Medically reviewed: 02/02/2019
Last updated: 05/13/2019
Author: Medical Review

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Opiate withdrawal syndrome is a concern for medical professionals and society as well as the person who must experience it. It is a primary reason that many opiate addicts continue to use the opiate drugs or relapse after trying to quit and opiate overdoses continue to rise.

Treatment for opiate withdrawal syndrome has evolved into humanitarian and compassionate methods of detox and medication assisted therapies that ensure higher degrees of safety and effectiveness with greater access to the millions of Americans who need it.

What is Opiate Withdrawal Syndrome?

opiate withdrawal syndrome

You do not have to go through withdrawal on your own. Treatment can help!

Opiate withdrawal syndrome causes cravings, physical illness, psychological, and maladaptive behavioral changes as a result of sudden reductions or cessation of opiate use. Physical symptoms are often described as flu-like in nature and while they, naturally, are not life threatening, they can lead to dangerous risks for those who have compromised their health.

In most cases, the physical withdrawals can disappear over several days of abstinence, but, the psychological implications of opioid addiction present more complexity in management of the withdrawals.

Treatment Access

Treatments for opiate withdrawal syndrome involve abstinence oriented detox programs or medication assisted detox using methadone or buprenorphine. Rapid detox using antagonist drugs such as naltrexone may be beneficial to some, but, can be dangerous for others.

Abstinence oriented programs are abundantly available through outpatient programs and community or church providers. They provided limited adjunct medications to alleviate the discomfort of withdrawals and for many, this can prove beneficial, but, for chronic or long term addictions it may prove inefficient in keeping them engaged through detox completion with only short term outcome success.

Methadone detox has historically, been provided by methadone clinics and other registered Opioid Treatment Providers where access to those who needed it remained limited or unavailable in certain geographical areas. With the epidemic rise of prescription painkiller overdoses, a new look at medication assisted detox has led to greater access to methadone detox treatments through registered providers with less bureaucratic oversight, making these programs increasingly available through both inpatient and outpatient detox settings.

In 2002, buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist was approved for opioid detox treatments that could be provided, for the first time, through office-based settings of qualified physicians. One of the key principles of an effective treatment program, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse is “Treatment needs to be readily available.” Every year, more buprenorphine detox treatment providers are becoming available.

Getting Treatment for Opiate Withdrawal Syndrome

Providers recognize that there may be some barriers to treatment such as costs or other limitations. In general, most are making every effort to accommodate those seeking treatment and to get them in as quickly as possible.

Costs may be offset through payment plans or funded by grants and some are offered free as a community or organization sponsored service. Locations are more abundant and there is greater access to programs based on the individual’s needs.