CALL 911 FOR OVERDOSES
Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for SAMHSA’s National Helpline, a free, confidential, 24/7/365 treatment referral and information service for individuals and families facing substance use disorders.
The psychological and medical care of those experiencing symptoms of opioid withdrawal is known as withdrawal management. Unfortunately, trying to quit without outside help is extremely difficult. Those who try to kick the habit on their own are much more likely to relapse and fall back into substance misuse disorder. Getting detox support can reduce discomfort and be much safer.
Detox Support & Withdrawal Management
How It Works
Opioid withdrawal syndrome is a life-threatening condition that results from addiction. There is no diagnostic test to establish withdrawal syndrome, but urine is taken so that a toxicology expert can rule out other drugs, either alone or in combinations.
A countdown clock starts with each dose of an opioid in a body that is dependent. In short-acting opiates, that clock takes from six to 12 hours to produce withdrawal symptoms after the last dose. In long-acting opiates, 30 hours tick past until the symptoms begin. After 72 hours, the symptoms peak.
The psychological and medical care of those patients experiencing symptoms of opioid withdrawal is known as withdrawal management. Unfortunately, trying to quit without outside help is extremely difficult. Those who try to kick the habit on their own are much more likely to relapse and fall back into substance use disorder. On the other hand, getting management can reduce discomfort and be much safer. Plus the user will be establishing a relationship with a professional who could help during the next phase of maintaining sobriety.
Those people experiencing symptoms should have separate spaces. Workers on hand can help with complications and monitor the patient as they go through symptoms. Blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing are all important facets of overall health while enduring withdrawal.
Those going through withdrawal should consider utilizing calming practices such as meditation. They should by no means be forced to participate in physical exercise. Such activity can prolong the withdrawal and cause the symptoms to get worse. While in withdrawal, many people experience fear or anxiety. Factual, accurate, realistic information about drugs and withdrawal should be presented to help allay feelings of being scared or anxious.
Treatments & Symptoms
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Symptoms of withdrawal can be split into two main categories: early and late. Early symptoms include:
- Muscle aches
- Tearing up
- Excessive yawning
- Difficulty falling asleep and continued difficulty staying asleep
- Runny nose
- Racing heart
Late symptoms are often more intense. They include:
- Abdominal cramping
- Skin breaking out in goosebumps
- Dilated pupils with potentially blurred vision
- High blood pressure
SAMHSA’s National HelplineCall 1-800-662-4357
SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.
How It Works
Interestingly, not all of the work in addiction treatment focuses on helping people get off and stay off drugs. There is considerable effort to target health as a whole. It does involve interventions to help those struggling with addiction who are ambivalent or even opposed to quitting. This brings us to the topic of harm reduction.
Harm reduction involves using programs or strategies to help decrease the health consequences of drug use even if drug use continues. Some of this involves efforts to help preserve as much overall health as possible with the assumption that the individual will at some point reach a stage of change to quit drugs, but isn’t quite ready yet. It is in the person’s (and the public’s) best interest to decrease mortality from drugs, decrease rates of severe infections such as Hepatitis C or HIV, and decrease legal harm connected to the drug trade.
Harm Reduction Practices
A needle exchange involves a safe zone, typically in larger urban centers, where intravenous drug users dispose of used drug needles. They then receive packages of clean ones. These programs often have compacts built with the local police department to minimize police traffic around the center. This is to promote the health benefits of clean needle usage without threatening addicted individuals for potential drug possession charges. Most needle exchanges offer guidance to help bridge people into treatment when they are ready.
A core philosophy of needle exchanges is that the IV user will eventually reach motivation to change. We should keep a close dialogue with that person to “strike while the iron is hot.” This is rather than badger the person about their need to stop using heroin. These centers are often well-connected and have multiple referral channels to bridge a client into treatment if desired.
Understanding methadone programs as harm reduction efforts can be confusing and also subject to debate. Many clinicians in dedicated methadone programs will refer to people as actively in recovery. Their primary drug of choice removed from the equation, life functioning, and stability have markedly improved. The nature of methadone as a full opioid raises some controversy with certain clinicians. It implies that the brain is still receiving a close variant of its drug of choice, albeit in a less volatile way.
Naloxone Training and Distribution
Naloxone programs are now nation-wide and represent a public health approach to address the most tragic outcome of the opioid epidemic – overdose deaths. Numerous media articles reviewing naloxone programs and harm reduction centers seem to be promoting these on a scale in parallel to needle exchange efforts. By helping to stifle the most toxic of outcomes from opioid use, the user is able to have as much preserved time as possible to make decisions about change and quitting opioids.
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