6 Tips Proven to Ease Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
If you want to stop using opiates, but continue to avoid actually quitting, it’s probably because you don’t want to face the terrible opiate withdrawal symptoms that you feel whenever the level of opioid drugs in your system start to decline. Maybe you’ve tried to quit before, or maybe you just know how bad it feels to wait too long between doses. You may have even heard horror stories about what it’s like to quit opiates cold turkey.
Opiate withdrawal symptoms hit you like a bad case of the flu, with sweating, aches and pains, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In addition, there are a range of psychological symptoms that accompany opiate detox, such as depression and anxiety. The good news is that professional help is available, and these professionals have a range of treatments that can provide opiate withdrawal relief. There are also a number of self-help methods to soothe opiate withdrawal symptoms during detox—most of them are surprisingly simple techniques that boil down to taking good care of yourself.
6 Tips Proven to Ease Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Some people choose to detox from opiates on their own at home. This can be fine if you are only dealing with a physical dependency, but anyone with a full-blown addiction to prescription or illicit opioid drugs needs to seek out professional help before attempting an opiate detox. Still, no matter how you choose to undergo detox, there are steps and techniques that have been proven to ease opiate withdrawal symptoms.
If you are addicted to opiate drugs—especially if you have been addicted for a long time—your body and brain have a lot of healing to do, and the work of healing begins during opiate detox. A large portion of physical healing takes place while you are asleep, so it is important to try and get plenty of rest every night. Low dose melatonin and herbal remedies such as chamomile tea can be helpful if you are dealing with insomnia, but check with your doctor about safety before taking any chemical sleep remedies you may find at the drugstore. Good sleep hygiene (turning down the lights in the evening, avoiding screen time before bed, stopping caffeine early in the day, developing soothing bedtime routines, etc.) is also crucial to getting you the shut eye you need, and developing these habits will support your new, healthy lifestyle for the long haul.
Fatigue and depression are common opiate withdrawal symptoms, so taking it easy even when you aren’t actually sleeping is important as well. Be patient with yourself and the range of physical and mental experiences you encounter during opiate detox. You don’t want to take on too much during this time. Your priority is getting and staying sober, so any tasks that you don’t absolutely have to complete should wait for another week or two, when you’ll be feeling a lot better and you’ll do a better job anyway.
Not only is exercise good for strengthening the body (and therefore encouraging healing), intense exercise also releases the same feel-good brain chemicals that produce the high you feel when using drugs. Now, a “runner’s high” is not going to be as powerful as the high produced by an addictive substance, but producing more dopamine at a time when your brain is depleted of dopamine will go a long way towards opiate withdrawal relief, and the reduction of drug cravings.
Continued exercise has also been proven to have antidepressant effects, which will help elevate your mood during addiction treatment and keep you feeling better about your recovery for the long term. Exercising can make you temporarily tired, but getting stronger and healthier will give you more energy overall, and physical activity is an excellent stress reliever that can actually counteract anxiety by ridding your body of excess adrenaline and calming an overactive central nervous system.
Although most people believe that opiate withdrawal isn’t dangerous, it can be life-threatening if the health complications of opiate detox go untreated. One of these complications is dehydration and elevated levels of blood sodium that can be caused by persistent diarrhea and vomiting, which are commonly experienced opiate withdrawal symptoms. If you don’t keep yourself hydrated during detox, you become vulnerable to heart failure and cardiac arrest. Dehydration also damages your kidneys, exacerbates fatigue, causes headaches and seizures, and contributes to low mood and brain fog.
To prevent these health risks and avoid the unpleasant side effects of dehydration, make sure to take in plenty of fluids during opiate detox. It can be difficult to keep liquids down when you are in withdrawal, but slowly sipping on water throughout the day can help. You can also try sipping broths, herbal teas, and diluted fruit juices to improve hydration and take in some much-needed nutrients. Full-strength juices, coffee, and soda can be too harsh on an empty or upset stomach, so try to avoid them for the time being. If your vomiting and diarrhea are severe, consult a doctor before your condition worsens. There are prescription medications that can help.
4. Eat Nutritious Food
For your brain and body to start healing during opiate detox, you need to take in the appropriate building blocks, i.e. quality nutrition. You may have trouble eating early on in the withdrawal process, so start with broth-based soups and foods like bananas, applesauce, rice, and yogurt, which are healthy and easy on the stomach.
As you are able to eat more solid foods, focus on meals made from fresh, unprocessed foods, and plenty of fruits and vegetables—the more colors of the rainbow you eat, the better. At this point you can also supplement with vitamins, but you don’t want to take these on an empty stomach, as they will only make your nausea worse, and can even induce vomiting.
Yogurt and other fermented foods such as pickles and kefir are important to any healthy diet, and will help replenish the good gut bacteria that can get depleted from too much vomiting and diarrhea and not enough quality nutrition. Good gut health is not only important for digestion, research shows that it improves mood and prevents depression and anxiety.
5. Take a Hot Bath
A nice, hot, bath—with or without bubbles—is a great treatment to provide opiate withdrawal relief. Taking a bath is a great way to counteract stress and induce relaxation, and the hot water will ease muscle and joint pain. To amplify these effects, add Epsom salts to the water. They are cheap, easy to find at the store, and very therapeutic. Soaking in an Epsom salts bath will assist your body’s opiate detox process, and the magnesium you’ll absorb as you soak works as a natural muscle relaxant. Furthermore, a hot bath with Epsom salts will heal skin irritations, relieve pain caused by frequent diarrhea, and is a natural remedy for insomnia. Add one to two cups of Epsom salts to a very warm but not too hot bath at the same time as you are running the water to help the salts dissolve.
6. Utilize Your Support System
While you are experiencing an opiate detox, any help, encouragement, and even just plain distraction that you can get from your support system will make a big difference to your mood, outlook, and progress. Having someone bring you food when you’re too tired to go to the store can give you a healthy boost and keep you focused on your recovery goals, and having a loved one visit while you are detoxing at an inpatient facility will lift your mood and remind you that you are not alone. Connecting with loved ones during opiate withdrawal can be very motivating, helping you stay on track with addiction treatment, both for your support system and for yourself.
How Can I Avoid Relapse During Opiate Withdrawal?
Know & Avoid Your Triggers
Addiction is a disease that compels you to prioritize drugs over everything else in your life, even as drug use is causing that life to fall apart all around you. Addiction does this by taking control of your brain’s reward system and training you to instinctively view using opiates as an important, survival-level activity. Chronic opiate use builds learned associations between using and the reward you feel from ingesting the drugs, so that intense cravings will be triggered whenever you run across stimuli that reminds you of substance use.
This triggering effect doesn’t even have to be conscious, and your brain and body’s response to these triggers can be instant, so that you find yourself overwhelmed by the urge to use before you can even identify what happened or changed to prompt the craving. For this reason, it is crucial to figure out what your biggest addictive triggers are, and then do your best to avoid encountering them during opiate detox.
Addictive triggers can be internal experiences, such as physical or emotional states. For example, becoming sleep deprived, or getting hit with a mood swing can be an internal trigger. External addictive triggers come from your environment. Any places, people, or events that are connected to substance use in your mind can trigger cravings. Although you can’t avoid the physical discomfort or mood swings that accompany opiate detox, you can completely avoid environmental triggers like bars, concerts, or friends you used to buy and use drugs with.
Attend Opiate Detox
Whether you go through opiate detox while inpatient at an addiction treatment facility, or detox with the help of an outpatient detox program, you need to detox under the guidance of medical professionals, while also receiving therapy and counseling from experts in the field of addiction recovery. You need medical care to keep you comfortable and to protect you from dangerous health complications, and you need psychological treatment to uncover and work through the range of mental, emotional, and behavioral issues that are tangled up in your substance use. Addiction is a complicated disease, and you need to tackle all sides of your unique form of addiction in order to get and stay sober.
Find opiate detox centers near you by calling Detox.com today!
Addiction treatment should continue on after opiate detox. Ninety days of inpatient medication assisted treatment is the proven gold standard to get a good opiate addiction recovery outcome, but shorter stays and outpatient programs can also be effective if you have a good support system and a safe place to live during treatment. Medication-assisted treatment is a comprehensive treatment approach that combines prescription medications that provide opiate withdrawal relief with behavioral therapy and counseling to work on the root causes of your addiction.
Recovery doesn’t end when official addiction treatment ends, either. Recovery is a new way of existence that you have to nurture like a living thing, long after you’re discharged from a treatment program. Pay attention to how you feel physically and mentally from day to day, so you can notice warning signs and attend to problems before they develop into crises. Taking on too much too soon or neglecting your mental health by skipping 12-step meetings or scheduled counseling sessions can easily lead to relapse.
Good self-care is very important to recovery success as well. Being kind to yourself isn’t a luxury, it’s a requirement for staying healthy.
Ready to begin your recovery journey? Call 866-351-3840(Who Answers?) to learn about available treatment programs for drug and alcohol addiction.