Dealing with opiate withdrawal is huge and often the basis for the calls I receive from those struggling and the family members who love them. George Catlin, founder of Withdrawal Ease – an outcome of his own struggle with opiate dependency following a surgical procedure in 2007 – shares his top 8 tips. George has written The Opiate Withdrawal Survival Guide (available as a free download PDF by clicking on the title link) and created a nutritional supplement system specifically formulated to reduce the acuity of opiate withdrawal. Check out his about page on his blog for the whole story. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.
Top Tips on Dealing With Opiate Withdrawal by George Catlin
Opiates are powerful drugs prescribed to treat severe pain. These drugs include Vicodin, Oxycontin, Dilaudid, heroin, morphine, codeine, and methadone among others.
While these drugs are extremely helpful in treating acute and chronic pain, their continuous and indiscriminate use can cause patients to become physically dependent and even addicted. According to NIH (National Institute on Drug Abuse), “between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide.”
Opiate withdrawal refers to an array of symptoms that manifest themselves after a person dependent on opiates either stops or radically reduces its consumption after substantial and persistent use. These symptoms can be highly distressing and difficult to endure.
George Catlin shares his top tips for dealing with opiate withdrawal.
I speak from personal experience when I say that the experience of enduring opiate withdrawal symptoms is a nightmarish one. What started off as a part of a medical treatment plan for severe cervical spinal stenosis, went on to become something that made me wonder if I’ll ever get back to living a normal life. The good news is that I did, eventually.
If you’re addicted to opiates and looking to break out of its clutches, then read on as mentioned ahead are a few tips that can help you deal with the withdrawal symptoms.
1. Get Off the Drug Gradually
If you’ve made up your mind to deal with the withdrawal symptoms on your own, then you need to take it easy and try to reduce your dose of opiates gradually. In other words, taper off the drug(s) slowly and steadily. As per the Department of Veterans Affairs, the tapering for methadone, morphine and oxycodone should start with a decrease of 20-50 percent of the dose per week, and then consistently lower it thereafter.
2. Get Ample Rest
It is extremely important that you get sufficient rest during the recovery period, irrespective of how strong or mild your symptoms are. Make it a point to get at least eight hours of sleep every day. Be prepared to endure pains, cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other issues, and get ample sleep whenever you can.
When you’re not sleeping, you should be resting as your body will be dealing with a lot and it is best not to test its stamina further. If you wish to exercise, you can do so provided your workout isn’t strenuous in nature.
3. Manage Pain and Discomfort with Over-the-Counter Painkillers
The road to recovery from opiate withdrawal is a tough one and involves withstanding frequent muscle pains due to the absence of drugs in the body.
Opiates bring about relief from pains, and when they’re no longer present in a person’s system, he/she may experience discomfort in the muscles, bones and joints. Taking OTC (over-the-counter) pain-killers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen can help mitigate the pain.
Diarrhea, constipation, nausea and vomiting are other prominent symptoms linked to opiate withdrawal. However, OTC medicines can help deal with them as well.
4. Cut Down Your Workload
When on the road to recovery, focus on your physical and mental well-being. Workload (and any other source of stress) will need to be cut down. That’s because the recovery, itself, will be extremely taxing on you, and putting yourself through further stress will only make the symptoms more difficult to deal with.
5. Detoxify Your Body
Detoxification can prove to be extremely beneficial in managing severe withdrawal symptoms. In fact, it may a necessity. You should definitely give undergoing a formal detoxification treatment a serious consideration, particularly if you have been addicted to opiates in the past.
6. Drink Plenty of Fluids
Make sure to consume plenty of water and other liquids to keep yourself hydrated and replenished, especially after experiencing vomiting and diarrhea.
Apart from that, sweating profusely during the withdrawal process can leave you dehydrated. In such a scenario, you will do well to constantly sip on juices, health drinks, and water.
7. Do What Pleases You
It is important that you do things that bring you joy. Whether this means watching your favorite TV show, playing a game, reading a book, or spending time with your loved ones, do the things that make you happy. If you choose to participate in physical activities, be careful and take it easy. Do not consume alcohol as it can make you feel upset and even cause you to relapse. Instead, aim to achieve a state of serenity and comfort.
8. Ask for Help
Whatever you’re going through, know that you need not endure it all by yourself. Ask for help and you will receive care from friends, family members, your doctor, or a self-help support group.
One of the earliest symptoms of withdrawal is anxiety, which can make you want to start using opiates again. But, talking about your painful journey with a close confidant will help you get through it better and avoid a relapse.
Irrespective of what leads you to become dependent on opiates, there is always a way out. With a little determination, discipline and self-confidence, you can fight this battle and come out victorious. Be diligent in your efforts and keep yourself surrounded with loved ones at all times. These are critical to your success. The above-mentioned tips should help you get through the withdrawal phase in an informed and safe manner.