As with any addictive substance, over time opioids cause your body to become desensitized to their effects. This desensitization causes you to need to consume more and more opioids to achieve the same feeling. This cycle of abuse can lead to stronger, more damaging drug use and potential overdose, among other effects. Stopping your opioid use is imperative for getting yourself back on track and not letting these addictive drugs control your life. So, let’s look over a few ways to prepare for opioid withdrawal symptoms.
However, quitting is not as simple as just taking the drugs to a disposal facility and moving on with your life. These opioids have caused a chemical shift in the brain, replacing most other desires with the desire to consume more opioids. They’ve also caused a physical shift in the way that your body works, as your body has grown accustomed to the effects of opioids. For these reasons quitting isn’t as simple as just stopping your consumption of opioids, it involves careful planning, and for many people is incredibly difficult.
Here are some ways that you can prepare for the inevitable withdrawal symptoms.
The Symptoms From Opioids You May Experience
A good place to start is by knowing exactly what you might experience so that you can prepare for the symptoms of withdrawal when they come. Symptoms of withdrawal come in two phases, the first, milder symptoms occurring within six to thirty hours after last taking opioids, and the second, more severe symptoms starting roughly seventy-two hours after the last dose of the drug.
The first phase of symptoms are mostly anxiety-based and include:
- Muscle Aches
- Runny Nose
- Trouble Sleeping
The second set of symptoms are more intense and are the ones you need to prepare for. They include:
- Stomach Pain
- Rapid Heartbeat
These two phases aren’t exactly cut and dry and you may experience a combination of any of these symptoms at any time.
The Downside Of Quitting Opioids Cold Turkey
The simple fact is that you shouldn’t quit your opioids cold turkey. By doing so, you will face the full brunt of these opioid withdrawal symptoms and likely do anything to get rid of them. The possibility of a relapse is much higher if you simply quit the cold turkey. Additionally, detoxifying your body makes you much more likely to overdose if you relapse, as your body is not used to the same amount of drugs you were taking before. Stopping your opioid use all at once is simply setting yourself up for failure. Healing from opioid addiction is not a battle of willpower. It’s something that must be done smartly and responsibly to ensure success.
Tapering Off Opioids Safely
To safely taper off your opioid usage, you need to consult with your doctor. They will be able to help you form a plan that you can follow to make sure that the tapering period is manageable. You may still experience some of the withdrawal symptoms, but likely to a lesser degree than quitting cold turkey. Your doctor will also want to schedule regular check-ins, to monitor your heart rate and other factors. This ensures that you are safely and effectively tapering down your opioid use to beat your addiction.
Setting Yourself Up For Success
During this tapering period it’s important to set yourself up for the smoothest, and easiest transition possible. You’re likely going to experience some agitation so finding healthy ways to cope with irritation and anxiety is essential. Meditation, exercise, and relaxing hobbies are a few ways to relieve stress. Additionally, make sure that you have the medications you need to combat some of the nasty side effects of withdrawal. Keep some antidiarrheals and nausea medication handy and make sure to drink plenty of water to combat dehydration.
If you’re unable to follow your doctor’s tapering schedule, consider that this method might just not be right for you. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to overcoming opioid addiction. You may be much better suited to a facility-based detoxification program. Or, you might find an affordable medical treatment that utilizes Suboxone or other drugs to help heal you.
Above all else remember that you are doing your best to defeat a disease that has taken the lives of so many. Surround yourself with love and support. Distractions from the outside world can make a huge difference in your ability to taper off your opioid use safely. Know what to expect and how to treat it so that you can handle any problems that may arise, after all, preparedness is the key to success.
If you feel you need help dealing with opioid withdrawal symptoms, contact Fritz Clinic at (205) 877-8585. Or you can contact us by filling out our online contact form. We’ll do everything we can to give you the resources and help you need to help you overcome your addiction to opioids.