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Opiate withdrawals can occur in anyone who has developed a dependency to opiates, whether prescribed, legitimately, by a physician for pain or taken for recreational purposes. When the person stops taking the opiates or dramatically reduces their use, the brain signals that more opiates are needed to keep physiological systems in check.
For an opiate addict, the fear of these warnings keeps them compulsively using to avoid the withdrawals while the inability to control use intensifies, despite adverse consequences.
Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Opiate withdrawal effects can be characterized as a storm of effects that begin to occur within hours after opiate levels are reduced in the opiate dependent person’s system. Beginning with a craving or intense desire to reinstate the opiate use, physical symptoms that resemble the flu begin to appear accompanied by agitation and restlessness that make them feel all the more unpleasant.
According to the World Health Organization, “The intensely dysphoric withdrawal syndrome is characterized by watery eyes, runny nose, yawning, sweating, restlessness, irritability, tremor, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increased blood pressure, chills, cramps and muscles aches; it can last seven days or even longer.” The severity and duration of opiate withdrawals will be different in every individual based on their dependence levels, health status, usage patterns, durations and types of opiate drugs used.
Ways to Help Opiate Withdrawal
The best way to deal with opiate withdrawals is to get professional help, but, if a “cold turkey” approach is attempted at home, the following are ways to help reduce the distress and dangers they can cause.
Remaining hydrated is critical when going through opiate withdrawals. Physical symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive sweating can lead to dehydration and the loss of nutrients and electrolytes or imbalances that can impact vital organs. Drinking lots of fluids and juices can also help flush the toxins from the system and supply important nutrients needed for the body to repair itself.
Over the counter medications can help to reduce fever, pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, but, they may be a little difficult to keep down. Although appetite may seem out of the question, light broths and crackers, may ease abdominal discomfort enough to get the medications into the body. When appetite returns, stay away from heavy and processed foods, eating healthy things that will speed recovery.
Hot showers can help alleviate agitation, gooseflesh, muscles aches, and cramps while also soothing nerves enough to get some rest. Rest is important as the body does most of its repairs during this time. If anxiety is overwhelming, an antihistamine such as Benadryl may be used. It will also help to get into a safe and quiet environment away from people and other reminders of use, while focusing on recovery goals and the benefits of being healthy again.