A 2019 report revealed that 10.1 million people above 12 were involved in opioid abuse. As alarming as this statistic is, the revelation has done nothing to curb the drug in the following years. Opioid overdose-related deaths increased by nearly 20,000 in 2020 and have grown since.
Less access to treatment facilities is one reason fewer people seek treatment, but opioid withdrawal symptoms are not far behind. Addicts often don’t anticipate the severity of withdrawal, and facing it pushes them to quit due to excessive and torturous discomfort.
I know that knowing about the symptoms won’t reduce their severity; however, it may allow you to be better prepared for the experience. Hence, this blog post will explain withdrawal symptoms you may experience to aid your recovery process.
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
Excessive opioid usage damages the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal lobe, a part responsible for social interactions and memory creation. It also activates the mesolimbic reward system, accountable for dopamine release, meaning the secretion becomes impaired.
Hence, stopping opioid usage would lead to changes until the body becomes accustomed to the drug’s absence. Following are some of the common withdrawal symptoms you or your loved ones may experience:
1. Muscle Aches
Muscle aches are one of the first symptoms when you stop using opioids. Most experts recommend cutting it entirely from day one because evidence suggests that no dosage is safe during treatment. Hence, there is no escaping this symptom.
Most detox treatments involve giving patients harmless pain relief medicines to help with the aches. The treatments have also improved extensively in the past few years, allowing patients to have more support than before.
2. Excessive Sweating
Going off opioids leads to excessive sweating and the discomfort that follows. You will likely wake up drenched in sweat or experience the issue during the day. Aside from the obvious problem, excessive sweating can also lead to dehydration, which is why it is best to maintain hydration and electrolyte levels during this time.
The better you take care of your nutritional needs; the less your body will suffer in the long run.
3. Insomnia and Tiredness
Several patients undergoing opioid treatment mention their struggles with falling asleep or having restful sleep cycles. Sleep is necessary for physical and mental health recovery, so insomnia worsens the recovery experience, leaving patients tired during the day.
These symptoms are one of the reasons why it isn’t feasible to try self-recovery. Finding a suitable substance abuse treatment facility and seeking professional help is better.
4. Anxiety and Restlessness
Disrupted dopamine release and other factors can make recovering opioid addicts anxious and restless during the earlier stages of recovery. This anxiety can be crippling and cause excessive mental distress, making it difficult for them to function.
The restlessness is also distressing and can lead to disruptions, breakdowns, and cravings. This symptom is challenging to overcome without support, and patients require consistent supervision.
Lacrimation refers to the frequent watering of the eyes and is a common issue for recovering addicts. There is no avoiding it, so it is better to minimize screen time and keep a soft cloth or tissues to dry your eyes when the sensation becomes too uncomfortable.
In some cases, doctors may prescribe drops to minimize the watering, but they’ll likely recommend that you wait it out.
6. Diarrhea and Abdominal Pain
Diarrhea and abdominal pain are more severe symptoms that emerge later in the detoxification. They are typically intense, painful, and challenging to manage. Several patients struggle with how recovery affects their digestive system, especially since abdominal pain is difficult to tolerate.
The maximum support your doctor can offer is pain relief medicines to reduce the severity, but it will mostly take willpower to overcome the difficult period.
7. Nausea and Vomiting
Nausea and vomiting are common issues for opioid addicts, becoming more severe as withdrawal symptoms. These two also occur later in the detoxification process and are difficult to tolerate. They make it challenging to hold food down, depriving your body of essential nutrients.
The best solution is to request appropriate medications to minimize their effect and take multivitamins to maintain nutritional balance.
I hope you found this blog informative and will find it helpful when dealing with your or your loved one’s recovery. The process is challenging but worth the effort and can give you a fresh start.