Opiate withdrawal refers to the wide range of symptoms that occur after stopping or dramatically reducing opiate drugs after heavy and prolonged use (several weeks or more). Opiate drugs include Heroin, Opium, MS-Contin, Vicodin, Morphine, Codeine, Oxycontin, Dilaudids, Methadone, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Dihydrocodeine, Hydromorphone, Oxymorphone, Nicomorphine, Demerol, Methadone, Fentanyl, Propoxyphene, Pentazocine, Tramadol and many others.

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Causes

About 9% of the population is believed to misuse opiates over the course of their lifetime, including illegal drugs like heroin and prescription pain medications such as Oxycontin. These drugs can cause physical dependence. This means that a person relies on the drug to prevent symptoms of withdrawal. Over time, greater amounts of the drug become necessary to produce the same effect. The time it takes to become physically dependent varies with each individual. When the person stops taking the drugs, the body needs time to recover, and withdrawal symptoms result. Withdrawal from opiates can occur whenever any chronic use is discontinued or reduced. Some people even withdraw from opiates after being given such drugs for pain while in the hospital without realizing what is happening to them. They think they have the flu, and because they don’t know that opiates would fix the problem, they don’t crave the drugs.

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Symptoms

Early symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

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Late symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goose bumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

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Opiate withdrawal reactions are very uncomfortable but are not life threatening. Symptoms usually start within 6-12 hours of opiate pill, last heroin usage, and within 30 hours of last methadone exposure.

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Exams and Tests

Detox Houston can diagnose opiate withdrawal after performing a psychiatric, physical exam, and asking questions about your medical history and drug use. If necessary, urine or blood tests to screen for drugs can confirm opiate use.

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Treatment

Treatment involves supportive care and medications. Some of the prescribed medications are designed to reduce anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose, and cramping.

Other medications can treat vomiting and diarrhea.

Buprenorphine (Subutex) is the primary medication used and has been shown to work better than other medications for treating withdrawal from opiates, and it can shorten the length of detox. It may also be used for long-term maintenance like methadone. Unlike methadone, Subutex does not have damaging effects on the body.

People withdrawing from methadone may be placed on a short acting pain medication for a few days and then prescribed Subutex. This method will allow the methadone to get out of the patients system, before the Subutex is administered. This helps reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.

Some drug treatment programs have widely advertised treatments for opiate withdrawal called detox under anesthesia or rapid opiate detox. Such programs involve placing you under anesthesia and injecting large doses of opiate-blocking drugs, with hopes that this will speed up the return the body to normal opioid system function.

There is no evidence that these programs actually reduce the time spent in withdrawal. In some cases, they may reduce the intensity of symptoms. However, there have been several deaths associated with the procedures, particularly when it is done outside a hospital.

Because opiate withdrawal produces vomiting, and vomiting during anesthesia significantly increases death risk, many specialists think the risks of this procedure significantly outweigh the potential (and unproven) benefits.

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No Support Groups Required With Detox Houston

Support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous are optional but NOT required with Detox Houston. Studies have shown that support groups are not effective for all people and, we at Detox Houston NEVER require any group meetings. However, if you find that you like to go to groups, we will be more than happy to suggest groups in your area that can be enormously helpful to people addicted to opiates. The choice is up to you.
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Outlook (Prognosis)

Withdrawal from opiates is painful and can life threatening. Detox Houston uses all medications and methodologies to make sure that Opiate Detox and Withdrawal is as comfortable as possible with the various medications prescribed by the Psychiatrist.

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Possible Complications

Complications include vomiting and breathing in stomach contents into the lungs. This is called aspiration, and can cause lung infection. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration and body chemical and mineral (electrolyte) disturbances.

The biggest complication is return to drug use. Most opiate overdose deaths occur in people who have just withdrawn or detoxed. Because withdrawal reduces your tolerance to the drug, those who have just gone through withdrawal can overdose on a much smaller dose than they used to take.

Longer-term treatment is not recommended for most people following withdrawal. If you personally feel that you need additional support, some examples include self-help groups, like Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery, outpatient counseling, intensive outpatient treatment (day hospitalization), or inpatient treatment.

Those withdrawing from opiates should be checked for depression and other mental illnesses. Appropriate treatment of such disorders can reduce the risk of relapse. Antidepressant medications should NOT be withheld under the assumption that the depression is only related to withdrawal, and not a pre-existing condition.

Treatment goals should be discussed with the patient and recommendations for care made accordingly. If a person continues to withdraw repeatedly, methadone maintenance is strongly recommended.
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When to Contact Detox Houston

Call Detox Houston if you are using or withdrawing from opiates, alcohol, or any other substances.

 

Detox Houston:
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No Work Disruptions • No Group • No Inpatient:

Discreet, Private, & Individual

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