Opiate Detox What to Expect

Whether a person is addicted to heroin or pain medications, the opiate detox process remains the same for anyone battling an opiate addiction. More than a few Americans battle opiate addictions everyday with as much as nine percent of the population hooked on heroin and prescription pain remedies at any given time, according to the U.S. Library of Medicine.

Detoxing from any medication entails a shock to the body that’s felt for weeks, and even months after a person stops using. Opiate detox programs offer a range of treatment methods designed to relieve withdrawal symptoms and begin the process of addressing the emotional and psychological issues that drive a person’s addiction behaviors.

Opiate Detox Effects

Opiate Detox

Opiate withdrawal often entails feelings of irritability and flu-like symptoms.

The person who takes prescription opiate pain medications on a regular basis is headed down the same road as the person who shoots-up opiate drugs, legal or otherwise. Once a person reaches the point where they’re ready to quit using, opiate detox effects will happen.

For most people opiate detox effects take the form of:

  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Hot/cold flashes
  • Irritability
  • Depression

According to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, these effects result from the body’s nerve receptors readapting to the absence of the drug. In effect, the body begins to heal from the damage done by frequent opiate use. While it’s possible to stop using through sheer will power, more oftentimes than not a person will start using again, if only to find relief from withdrawal.

Opiate detox treatment programs use medication-assisted withdrawal methods designed to minimize withdrawal symptoms and ease a person through the detox process. The likelihood of making it through the detox phase greatly increases when a person seeks out needed treatment help.

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Medication Treatments

More so than most other forms of drug rehab, the use of medication therapies in opiate detox treatment gives recovering addicts the best chance of beating an opiate addiction. Opiate abuse, in particular, pretty much warps the body’s chemical process to the point where added support is needed to help restore the body back to normal functioning.

Medication therapies, such as methadone and buprenorphine produce a type of buffer effect that works to ease the body back to normal functioning ability. Depending on the severity of the addiction, some people may only require short-term opiate detox medication treatments while others may be better off receiving long-term or ongoing medication treatment throughout their recovery process.

Understanding the Opiate Detox Process

Support Networks

As necessary as medication therapies are, establishing support networks during opiate detox and afterwards help recovering addicts work through the problems that drive their addiction. As addiction includes both physical and psychological components, establishing a support network is an equally important part of the recovery process.

Support networks include:

  • Psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • 12-step programs

Psychotherapy work sets the foundation for working through relationship, family and identity issues, according to a University of California Irvine School of Medicine report. Group therapy work enables recovering addicts to develop the types of socialization skills needed to function effectively in everyday life. Twelve-step programs provide a long-term support system where addicts can share experiences among their peers. Twelve step programs also help recovering addicts develop a healthy framework for living a drug-free life.

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