Recover from Your Opiate Addiction with Opiate Detox
Published: 01/17/2018 | Author: John Trimble
More than two million Americans suffer from opiate addiction, which is currently a raging epidemic in the U.S. Opiate addiction was linked to over 53,000 overdose deaths in 2016, and analysts are expecting that number to continue climbing throughout 2018 and the following decade. Opiates may be highly effective in treating pain, but these substances are also highly addictive and can lead to dependency within just a short time frame.
Opiates affect the brain in ways that make it difficult for people to quit using these drugs without professional help. People who try overcoming opiate addiction on their own at home will suffer cravings, muscle pains, and other severe withdrawal symptoms that commonly lead to relapse. Fortunately, today’s opiate detox treatments are comfortable and pain-free and can eliminate withdrawal symptoms so users can overcome opiate dependence with a lowered risk for relapse, overdose, and death.
Do you or a loved one need help fighting opiate addiction? Continue reading to learn more about available opiate detox treatments, and about the many benefits of overcoming opiate addiction at an opiate detox center.
Opiate Addiction Rates Will Continue Rising in 2018
If opiate addiction is such a serious nationwide epidemic, why are addiction rates expected to continue rising? In an effort to help curb the epidemic, doctors have started to write fewer opiate prescriptions, and are recommending pain treatments that are far less risky, such as over-the-counter pain relievers for treatment of short-term pain that lasts one or two weeks. From 2012 to 2016, the number of opiate prescriptions written by doctors decreased from 282 million to 236 million. So why are addiction rates rising?
Those who suffer from painkiller addiction and who can no longer receive prescriptions from their doctors are turning to heroin on the streets. Heroin is significantly lower in cost than painkillers like oxycodone and hydrocodone, and can often be obtained more easily. Reducing the number of opiate prescriptions nationwide may limit access to painkillers, but does nothing to help those who are already struggling with opiate addiction, and who are now using heroin to fuel their addiction.
Fentanyl is another leading factor expected to contribute to higher opiate addiction rates in the future. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid up to 100 times stronger than morphine and up to 50 times stronger than heroin.
In most cases, fentanyl is even easier to obtain than heroin, and also significantly cheaper. Heroin dealers are even starting to mix fentanyl with heroin to stretch their supplies and increase their profit margins.
The majority of illicit fentanyl is manufactured in China and comes in the form of a fine powder that can easily be mixed with other substances including heroin, cocaine, crystal meth, and counterfeit painkillers. Many drug users are actually unaware they’re using fentanyl, and are accidentally overdosing on this potent opiate. Reports show that the number of fentanyl seizures in the U.S. have skyrocketed in recent years along with overdose deaths — the latter of which have risen 540% in the last three years.
Fentanyl by itself was linked to more than 20,000 drug overdoses in 2016. If fentanyl continues to enter the country and circulate U.S. streets, the opiate overdose death toll could spike from 100 deaths per day to 250 deaths per day for a total death count of 500,000 by the year 2027. Realistically, the number of opiate overdose deaths isn’t expected to drop until after 2020, which is when analysts predict the federal government’s plans to end the opioid crisis will finally be implemented and well underway to curb addiction and death rates.
How to Detox from Opiates
There are several different ways to detox from opiates, though the most recent evidence shows that medication-assisted treatment could be the best solution for those suffering from opiate dependence, or opiate use disorder. Medication-assisted treatment or MAT is a long-term detox program that uses medications to eliminate opiate withdrawal symptoms so patients can experience a safer, more comfortable recovery and a lower risk for relapse. Evidence shows that patients who detox from opiates without these medications are 60% more likely to relapse and resume opiate use.
Here’s a list of common opiate withdrawal symptoms, along with overviews of different opiate detox programs that can help you get clean from heroin, painkillers, and all other opiates.
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Opiate withdrawal symptoms usually begin anywhere from between six and 24 hours after the last dose. Symptoms often peak at the 72-hour mark, and gradually taper off over the course of one week. The full length of withdrawal varies from patient to patient and is based on factors such as the amount being used, the type of opiate being used, and the duration of the addiction. A person’s health history and the presence of co-occurring disorders like depression and anxiety also tend to play a role in the length of withdrawal and detox.
Common opiate withdrawal symptoms:
- Tearing eyes
- A runny nose
- Excessive yawning
- Muscle aches and pains
- Rapid heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Abdominal cramps
- Drug cravings
Opiate withdrawal symptoms will happen to anyone who becomes physically dependent on opiates. Opiate dependence causes imbalances in brain chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine that regulate mood and other bodily functions. Withdrawal symptoms are the body’s way of rebalancing these chemicals and healing itself after having been dependent on opiates.
Some opiate patients may experience psychological symptoms that last long after physical withdrawal symptoms have ended — a condition known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS.
Common PAWS symptoms:
- Poor decision making
Those who suffer from PAWS often require ongoing therapy and aftercare following detox to manage these symptoms. Traditional therapy may be combined with pharmacotherapy for some of these conditions.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
People who choose MAT to detox from opiates have the benefit of recovering from opiate dependency without suffering any of the above withdrawal symptoms. Medications used in MAT work by mimicking the effects of opiates on the body, but without producing euphoria and sedation. Patients receiving MAT can detox from opiates without being debilitated, and can even perform normal daily tasks like going to work or driving a car.
Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are the most common medications used in MAT for opiate addiction. These medications can be dispensed to patients daily at inpatient or outpatient clinics, or prescribed for at-home use, though methadone can usually only be taken under direct medical supervision at a clinic since this medication does carry a risk for abuse. MAT is also far lower in cost than most other opiate detox treatments, with the average cost of one year of MAT using methadone equating to roughly $4,700 per patient.
MAT is often a long-term detox option and can last up to several weeks, months, or years, for some patients. MAT is usually combined with other therapies that help patients overcome psychological causes of opiate addiction, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, group counseling, and support group therapy. Patients who are ready to discontinue MAT can work closely with their doctors to develop a tapering schedule and reduce their doses gradually until they’re no longer using any of these medications.
A medical detox takes place at an inpatient detox center and allows patients to withdraw from opiates at their bodies’ own natural pace while attended to by doctors and nurses who monitor their vitals around the clock. In most cases, a medical detox from opiates involves the use of the same medications used in MAT, but at lower doses capable of relieving withdrawal symptoms. A medical detox normally takes between four and 10 days but may take longer for some individuals based on their personal health status and history with opiate addiction.
The benefits to choosing a medical detox is being able to overcome opioid dependence more quickly than with MAT, and having 24/7 access to medical staff who can help relieve withdrawal symptoms and make your recovery more comfortable. A medical detox lowers the risk for complications that may occur with opiate withdrawal such as dehydration, malnourishment, aspiration, suicidal thoughts, and relapse.
Medically Supervised Detox
A medically supervised detox works highly similar to a medical detox, but often refers to a natural detox without the use of medications. Patients who choose a medically supervised detox can safely withdraw from opiates surrounded by licensed medical staff who monitor vitals, reduce the risk for complications, and prevent dehydration that can occur from withdrawal symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. While a medically supervised detox is a safe, effective opiate detox option, these programs often carry a greater risk for relapse since patients withdraw from opiates naturally without medications, and must battle ongoing drug cravings and other painful symptoms.
What are the Benefits of an Inpatient Opiate Detox Program?
An opiate detox is only the first stage of opiate addiction treatment, and must often be combined with other therapies to change behaviors and habits associated with long-term drug abuse. Drug addiction affects brain function and behavior, which means additional therapy is required to help you overcome opiate addiction as a whole both physically and psychologically. An inpatient opiate detox program is often the best option for those who wish to maintain lifelong sobriety after being treated for opiate dependence.
Research shows that 90-day treatment programs offer the most positive recovery outcomes for those overcoming drug use disorders. A 90-day program gives patients more than enough time to fully detox from opiates and to participate in therapies that teach them how to live more fulfilling, successful, and healthier lives after overcoming addiction. For instance, cognitive-behavioral therapy teaches patients how to identify and manage triggers that lead to opiate use, while motivational enhancement therapy provides patients with incentives that motivate and influence them to stay clean.
Inpatient opiate detox programs also help patients build new daily routines without room for drug abuse, and keep them away from outside negative influences such as enablers or friends and family who also use drugs. Most importantly, inpatient detox programs offer patients the support and guidance they need to forge ahead with sobriety while facing a lowered risk for relapse.
Can You Do an Opiate Detox at Home?
Some who are motivated to quit using opiates may feel confident they can detox from opiates on their own at home to save money or avoid the hassle of going to drug rehab. But detoxing from opiates at home is highly dangerous and comes with a high relapse risk. Many who detox from opiates at home eventually relapse to avoid drug cravings and other painful withdrawal symptoms, and run the risk of suffering a fatal overdose.
After you quit using opioids, the risk for an overdose death is even higher since your body is no longer tolerant of the doses you were using prior to attempting an opiate detox. If you resume using heroin or fentanyl, the risk of an overdose is even higher given the potency of these substances. Many times, first responders are unable to reverse heroin and fentanyl overdoses using overdose reversal drugs like naloxone since these substances are far too strong and deadly.
An at-home opiate detox increases the risk for suicidal ideation since depression is a common opiate withdrawal symptom. Those who endure long bouts of diarrhea and vomiting are at high risk for dehydration since these symptoms deplete the body of fluids. Those who choose to detox at home will not have access to doctors and nurses who can prevent complications or medications that can relieve the worst of withdrawal symptoms — including drug cravings.
If you need to detox from opiates, but can’t commit to inpatient opiate detox treatment on behalf of other important responsibilities such as children, work, and school, consider going the outpatient route using MAT. An outpatient opiate detox will still give you access to medications that can relieve your symptoms, and help you get back to living an enjoyable and fulfilling addiction-free lifestyle. Many outpatient detox centers will also provide you with support group therapy, relapse prevention training, and other therapies that help you overcome opiate addiction as you gradually detox from opiates using medication.
Find Local Opiate Detox Centers
Use our detox center directory to find local opiate detox centers in your area by city and state. You can also select our live chat option to chat online with an experienced drug abuse counselor or call our 24/7 confidential helpline at 800-483-2193(Who Answers?) to speak with a counselor one on one. We’ll answer all your questions about various opiate detox treatments, and help you find the nearest detox center that offers all the treatments you need to become healthier and drug-free.