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1. Take Over-the-Counter Painkillers for Muscle Pain
One of the most intense symptoms of opiate withdrawal is the muscle pain caused by the absence of the drug in the individual’s system. Opiates cause pain relief, and when they are no longer present in the body after a long time, the individual will often feel real or phantom pains in the muscles, bones, and joints. Taking over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen can help with these issues.
2. Take Medications for Diarrhea and Vomiting
Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are also common issues during opiate withdrawal. Constipation is “the most common and debilitating symptom” of opioid-induced bowel dysfunction, and withdrawal from the drug can cause the opposite effect (NCBI). If you take over-the-counter medications and follow the directions, you can ease these symptoms and make the withdrawal process much less intense.
3. Get Plenty of Sleep
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of helping you get through withdrawal. Whether you are in the first stages or the last, it is important that you get at least eight hours of sleep when you can. You will be feeling pains and also dealing with cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other issues, so whenever you can sleep you should.
4. Ease Back on Your Workload
Whatever your responsibilities are, if there is a possibility that you can ease back on your workload or anything else that causes you stress, you should. You will already be having a difficult enough time dealing with your symptoms, and adding more stress to your day will only make your withdrawal syndrome more difficult.
5. Talk to Someone
Whether it is a friend, family member, your doctor, or individuals in a self-help group, talking to someone about what you are going through is important. Anxiety is one of the earliest symptoms of withdrawal which can make you want to start using again. If you can discuss these feelings with someone, it can help you avoid relapse.
6. Be Comfortable
If you are prepared to go through withdrawal, you should have a comfortable place in which to do so. If you are in your own home, make sure the room you’re going to spend the most time in has things to occupy your interests and a comfy place to rest.
7. Rest Up
Even if you are not sleeping, you should be resting. Exercise should be light and not strenuous. You should rest as much as possible because your body will be going through a lot and it is best not to put it through more if possible.
8. Taper Off the Drug
If you are doing withdrawal at home and you have the ability to, rather than going cold turkey, taper off the drug slowly. The VA suggests tapering amounts for methadone, morphine, and oxycodone, usually starting with decreasing the “dose by 20-50 percent per day” and then getting more specific from there.
9. Attend Detox
For severe withdrawal symptoms, detox can sometimes be extremely beneficial and even necessary. If you are considering attending formal detox for opiate withdrawal and you have been addicted to one or more opiates in the past, you should attend formal addiction treatment as well, as detox will not treat your addiction to opiates, just your withdrawal.
10. Don’t Go It Alone
Even if you decide not to attend formal detox, don’t go through withdrawal alone. Ask a friend or loved one to stay with you for a while and help you through this difficult time. One of the symptoms of withdrawal is usually some level of depression, and having a friend nearby could be very helpful toward keeping you from feeling extremely low.
11. Drink Lots of Water
Drinking water and other liquids will help replenish and rehydrate your body during the episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. You will also sweat during withdrawal which can dehydrate you, so making sure to stock up on juices, sports drinks, and just water is very important.
12. Keep a Consistent Temperature in Your Home
You will likely go back and forth between getting goosebumps and chills and sweating profusely. Withdrawal from opiates feels similar to the flu which is why making sure that your home is consistent in temperature and that you are not somewhere too hot or too cold will be necessary to your comfort. Dress in loose-fitting clothes that are good for relaxing and keep blankets nearby.
13. Remember This is Temporary
Withdrawal can sometimes last a week or more and can be very painful and uncomfortable. Knowing that it is temporary and that you will soon be back to yourself again will help you resist the urge to start abusing the drugs again. As stated by the NLM, when someone who has been taking a drug for so long that the body depends on it suddenly stops, “the body needs time to recover, and withdrawal symptoms result.” Eventually, they will wear off.
14. Engage in Activities that Make You Happy
Whether this means watching your favorite show, playing a fun video game, or just spending comfortable time with those you love, try and lift your spirits by doing things that make you happy. Still be careful and take it easy with whatever activities you choose to participate in, and stay away from things like busy events and alcohol as it is a depressant and can cause you to become very upset or even relapse. Try for a calm state of contentment and comfort.
15. Reward Yourself
Choose something as a reward for getting through each day of withdrawal and give it to yourself. Whether this means a treat like chocolate or something small you’ve been wanting to buy yourself, it shouldn’t become too difficult or expensive to reward yourself this way if you think of small things that can be a prize for getting through each difficult day. Withdrawal is not easy, and only you will truly understand what you are going through in that moment. Reward and praise yourself for each day you make it through.