Shoreline Sober Living, San Diego, CA
Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal

Opioids are an extremely powerful drug that is used to treat mild-to-severe forms of physical pain. Opioid medication is a mixture of chemicals that are partly derived from:

  • Opium poppy
  • Heroin
  • Opium
  • Morphine
  • Codeine

As well as a synthetic opioid chemic such as:

  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Methadone

All of which have a similar effect.

Patients are usually prescribed opioids when returning from surgery or recovering from a traumatic incident. The medication can also play a massive role in treating cancer-related pain when other forms of treatments haven’t worked. When used appropriately as directed by a professional, the opioid prescription is entirely safe for every individual. Whilst there are many positives to opioid use there are, unfortunately, are several negative impacts the drug can cause if abused, this can result in high rates of addiction, accidental overdose and abuse.

According to HHS.gov, over 130+ Americans will die every day from an opioid-related drug overdose, whether accidental or on purpose. A further 10.3 million Americans misused prescription opioid in the year 2018. Medical doctors are fully aware of the negative repercussions opioids can have on specific individuals, usually those with an addictive personality. This is why no one will ever be prescribed a dosage of opioid for longer than a week without a full body and mental health assessment.

What is it that can make opioid medication so dangerous?

Opioids can be such a dangerous medication when misused due to the way that behaves with the brain receptors and spinal cord. When the drug attaches itself to the brain receptors will create a positive effect; however, the brain itself produces its own form of opioids which are responsible for a variety of effects such as:

  • Lowering or decreasing physical pain within the body.
  • Prevent or attempt to prevent mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
  • Lower the rate of the respiratory system

The body does not create large quantities of its own opioid chemical to treat the body when in pain. Therefore when you overdose on opioids your body can’t process its own natural pain chemicals and the drugs mimicking chemicals from the opioids this results in the body reacting in a variety of ways the brain receptors take as a positive response. These include:

  • Opioids are affecting the brainstem, which controls vital functions such as your heart beating at a regular pace and not skipping, reducing coughing fits and slowing down breathing if you are panicked.
  • The medication will reduce the pain by overwhelming the spinal cord, which sends a large number of positive chemicals to the brain to calm the rest of the body down.
  • Overwhelm the brain known as the limbic system, this is a section of the brain that controls an individual’s emotions, ultimately creating a feeling of relaxation and pleasure.

When your brain has overdosed on opioids you are in a complete state of relaxation, you are calm, happy and not in pain. When the opioid begins to wear off, you can become irritable, uncomfortable, unhappy, and in pain, this will lead to you overdosing again to reach a state of euphoria once again.

The Opioid Epidemic by the numbers

Image credit: HHS.gov/opioids

What are the withdrawal symptoms of opioids

The symptoms you will experience when your body is withdrawing from opioid ultimately depends on the severity of the misuse. There is a range of factors that can dictate how long an addict is going to experience withdrawal symptoms; no two people are alike. Individuals will go through their own experience; however, there are a variety of signs to look out for that will typically show within the first 24 hours of you  after you stop using the medication, this can include:

  • Insomnia on a variety of levels
  • Muscle aches, pains and cramping throughout the entire body
  • Anxiety, the severity of this symptom can vary depending on the individual.
  • Excessive sweating
  • Extreme cravings
  • Teary, irritated, red or swollen eyes
  • Constant runny nose

These symptoms can make an individual vastly uncomfortable; the good news is they are not life-threatening or cause for any concern. The following symptoms can arise after the first 24 hours can occasionally be a cause for concern depending on how severe they become. The following symptoms can include:

  • Constant high blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat even when sitting still
  • Diarrhoea and various forms of abdominal cramping
  • Dilated pupils with possible blurred vision
  • Goosebumps on the skin throughout the body
  • On and off vomiting and different levels of nausea

These symptoms, as stated, can be reasonably uncomfortable depending on the severity. Once these symptoms begin, they will usually significantly improve within the first 72 hours. If for some reason you are still experiencing any of these symptoms after five days, and they do not seem to be slowing down or coming to an end, then you will need to seek medical help as soon as possible.

Remember to concentrate on yourself

It is important to remember that a variety of drugs remain within your system for a variety of lengths; this can ultimately affect your withdrawal experience compared to another addict. The overall health of your mind and body comes into play. If you are generally a healthy, active person, your withdrawal experience should not last as long as someone who is overweight and overall unhealthy.

Do not try to withdrawal alone, seek medical help

If you or a loved one have been abusing opioid medication and are looking for a way to stop, always seek professional help. Do not ever go completely cold turkey with this specific drug. Opioid withdrawal can be extremely dangerous with symptoms becoming severe and very often life-threatening. Ensure you always consult with your doctors so they can set out a plan to gradually ween you off of the medication in a safe manner.

When you want to become opioid-free, the process can be complicated at the time, but you can get through it. You are much more likely to succeed with your transition if you work positively with your medical professional, here at Shoreline Sober Living we can offer round the clock care to ensure you don’t relapse. Be as open as possible with how you are feeling, what you are thinking, how severe your withdrawal symptoms have become and any concerns you may be having.

We will get you on the path to achieve long term sobriety and live a healthy and happy life.

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