Opioid Detox – What, Why and How?

The first step to overcome a drug addiction is sometimes the hardest: you have to admit its existence. And it is wonderful when a person has the courage needed for it! However, it should be followed by the next steps – after recognizing the problem, it has to be solved. And one of the crucial steps on this path is opioid detox. It happens during a withdrawal; however, you shouldn’t confuse these terms.

So, opiate detox is the process of removing those opiate chemicals and their traces from the body. It is a crucial step on your road to a drug-free future. But this path is narrow and perilous, and you should go through it only by the hand of a professional. In other words – with qualified medical assistance.

What Is Opiod Detox?

What Is Opioid Detox And Withdrawal?

Opioid abuse is a great challenge for the entire humanity. Millions of people worldwide suffer from it – and many of them try to get out of this swamp. This procedure is called opioid withdrawal, and thousands of Americans succeed in it –  with the help of an appropriate detox center.

Opioid withdrawal is, basically, the whole process of withdrawing an individual from a specific psychoactive substance. It has to be done safely and effectively – that is the way to minimize harmful withdrawal symptoms. This a complex task that includes medical-assisted treatment and special medications like methadone or buprenorphine, as well as supporting an individual through it. You can’t overestimate the meaning of harm reduction strategies, support groups like NA, and counseling.

Detox from opiates is crucial for patients recovering from this type of addiction. It addresses the physiological dependence on opioids. A well-made structured detoxification process is a must during the recovery. After a successful detox and withdrawal process, patients can return to their families, their jobs, and their dreams!

Detoxification can be achieved through various methods. Below we will cover each of them, their pros and cons. But first, let’s talk about what an individual will face during the withdrawal – the signs and symptoms. They can be quite nasty and cause certain discomfort.

Unpleasant & Unavoidable: Opioid Detox Symptoms

When you stop opioid use, it’s quite a strong blow to your organism. Your body starts to get rid of toxins, but things like this don’t come without a price. This price is muscle aches and pains, irritability, loose stools, sleep disturbances, rhinorrhea, lacrimation, dilated pupils, and goosebumps.

  • Muscle aches and pains: They can be generalized or localized. This kind of pain brings you overall discomfort during withdrawal.
  • Irritability: Withdrawal from opioids often causes is. You face an increased sensitivity to stimuli and mood swings. Sometimes it isn’t easy to manage your emotions.
  • Loose stools: Diarrhea can be a reaction to physiological changes in your body. Opioid cessation can sometimes cause unpleasant changes in gastrointestinal motility.
  • Sleep disturbances: It happens very often. Your normal sleep patterns are being broken, you may struggle to fall asleep, awakening every hour or two.
  • Rhinorrhea: Another symptom that you will surely face is a runny nose. It occurs as a result of increased mucus production and nasal congestion.
  • Lacrimation: A withdrawal can also cause lacrimation or excessive tearing. Detox processes increase the sensitivity of your tear ducts, that’s why it happens.
  • Goosebumps: You certainly know this feeling. However, during an opioid detox, it can happen regularly. It’s how your body and skin respond to stress.
  • Dilated pupils: They may become larger due to the impact of the opiates. Quitting can lead to temporary changes in the muscles that control their size.

Opioid Detox Types

As we’ve said before, there are certain steps to overcome the opioid addiction – and one of them is the opiate detox. There’s no way you can skip it; you have to get the drugs out of your body. You can do it in several ways. So, what are they and what does modern healthcare say about these ways?

Quitting Cold Turkey

Quitting opioids “cold turkey” may seem the easiest way out. You just have to stop using drugs suddenly. It sounds so simple – you just need to show some willpower and change your life, right? Well, the truth is that this method is a good choice for tobacco or alcohol. But opioids and other highly addictive drugs won’t just let you out. They physically change your brain to make you continue substance abuse.

As proven by research, opiate withdrawal can cause serious side effects, like vomiting, diarrhea, intense cravings, and anxiety. These symptoms can be overwhelming. Many individuals stopped the drug withdrawal process and returned to drugs because of them. The risk of relapse is just excessive.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

In 2024, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the golden standard in drug detox. It is proven to be the most effective and harmless method. MAT is a combination of medications, typically methadone or buprenorphine, a safe detox environment, patient support, professional care, and counseling.

Medication-assisted treatment is typically administered in a rehab center. And it’s the best thing to do in this case: give yourself to the hands of medical professionals. Let’s summarize some key points:

  • MAT is recommended by most medical sources
  • It’s the only way of getting opiate withdrawal medicine
  • You detox under the supervision of medics that know how to deal with the symptoms
  • There’s a safe environment with group therapy and personalized assessment
  • You get the best chances of long-term recovery

Rapid Detox

Rapid opiate detox is something different. It’s not something you can do at home – it can be prescribed only by a doctor and only in certain severe cases.

Rapid detox is done in the intensive care unit (ICU), under general anesthesia or heavy sedation. Doctors use certain medications to quickly flush the opioids from your body. These may be midazolam, propofol, ketamine, clonidine, naloxone, their combination, or something else – it depends on your case.

In some cases, this solution can be very effective. On the other hand, it may be dangerous, as a patient may face severe side effects. Increased heart rate and blood pressure, arrhythmias, and even myocardial infarction may happen. That’s why rapid detox is your last resort and in any way isn’t a first-line treatment.

Prevention and Support – You Need It During Detox

As we’ve said multiple times, opioid detox treatment is a complex solution for a complex issue. In 2024, all well-known and respected addiction treatment facilities understand the importance of having prevention and support in place.

  • Personal Assessment: Before any action, medics have to assess the level of an individual’s addiction. Only after that, they choose the best approach for your detox.
  • Support Groups: Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or small in-place groups can provide emotional support and practical advice during detox and recovery. You can’t overestimate the meaning of these things. Encouragement and understanding are the things that patients want.
  • Counseling: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or individual therapy are also really valuable. They can help address the issues that contribute to addiction. You can also learn some strategies for staying sober.

To Sum It Up

Having the courage to face and fight drug addiction is great. But you have to choose the right path to your drug-free future. And modern detox facilities are here to help you with this. All you have to do is search for the best opioid detox near me – and choose the best facility.

Only with medications, a personal approach and support, individuals can overcome opioid addiction and reclaim their lives. Don’t put your life at risk – choose professionals!