Withdrawal from opiates is an uncomfortable process and sometimes may lead to complications that can cause serious health issues. Many people opt to go through detox at home, but medical detox may be a better option as there are medical professionals present that can provide care and assess the vital signs of individuals who are withdrawing from opiates. In cases that individuals check into inpatient facilities to undergo detox, medication may also be provided during the detox process to alleviate symptoms related to opiate detox.
During the first stages of detox, the body works to eliminate drugs from its system. Detox can last a couple of days to several weeks depending on the type of drug that was being taken. Often, the most difficult phase of detox is dealing with withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms from opiate withdrawal are described as flu-like. Symptoms experienced from opiate withdrawal can vary from person to person. Symptoms can range from mild to very severe. The types of symptoms and symptoms severity depend on several factors including what type of opioids an individual has been taking and the quantity of opioids they have been taking. Keep in mind that the symptoms of opiate withdrawal include both physical and psychological symptoms. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal can include:
- Restless legs
- Runny nose
- Upset stomache
- Increased tear production
- Dialated pupils
- Muscle Aches
Medical Detox for Opiate Withdrawal
The symptoms related to withdrawal can be monitored through a medical detox program and can be alleviated through multiple methods including administration of medication. There are several methods that can are used to relieve the discomfort felt during opiate withdrawal. These methods are take into consideration the way in which opiate withdrawal occurs within the brain itself. Entering a medical detox facility for opiate withdrawal can be the safest way to detox in many cases. Medical detox allows for medical professionals to monitor patients vital signs throughout their stay as well as administer medications and treatments that make the process of withdrawal more comfortable. Further, physicians are able to adjust the dosages of medications that they prescribe during the detox phase to ensure the likelihood that their patients are able to maintain and achieve sobriety after detox.
Some individuals opt to detox by themselves within their own home. Detoxing without medical intervention can be much more difficult and sometimes dangerous. There are risk factors related to opiate withdrawal symptoms that can lead to fatal situations. One example is aspirating (i.e., breathing in) vomit, which can lead to lung infection, choking, and possibly death. Medical detox is the safest method to withdraw from opioids due to multiple factors including around the clock monitoring and care as well as the comfortable and safe environment that is provided. Further, some individuals may have other medical issues or disorders that may complicate the detox process (e.g., heart disease, asthma, disorders related to digestion). A detox from opiates that is medically supervised can ease and alleviate any health issues that a patient might undergo. Doctors are able to monitor a patient’s fluid levels, heart rate, and temperature. Medical professionals also work to make long-term plans for their patients after they are discharged from detox. This allows patients to have a higher success rate in remaining sober from opiate use.
Medications Used for Medical Detox for Opiates
Medications prescribed for opiate withdrawal are used to reduce withdrawal symptoms as well as cravings. Medications for opiate detox are usually given on a daily basis and are in tablet form. Doctors within the detox facility will monitor the administration of these medications and ensure that the patient is not abusing or misusing them.
Some of the medications that are provided during medical detox include:
- Natural sleep aids
- Antidiarrheal medications
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Intravenous Hydration
- Vitamin Supplements for nutritional support
- Hydrotherapy (i.e., whirlpools and baths)
- Anti-emetic or anti-nausea medications
- Topical analgesics
- Medications that replace opioids including Buprenorphine and Methadone
Specific Medications Used for Opiate Detox
One medication that is commonly used with individuals who are medically detoxing from opiates is Methadone. Methadone is synthetic opiate medication that is prescribed to individuals with moderate and severe opioid dependence. This medication binds to opioid receptors within the brain, but does not produce a feeling of being high like other opioids (e.g., heroin, Fentanyl, Oxycontin). Methadone works to help suppress the cravings that many individuals experience during and after detoxing from opiates. Methadone use is often monitored by health professionals and typically prescribed with caution due to some individuals becoming addicted to the medication itself. Some individuals that have detoxed ultimately replace heroin and other opiates with methadone, the medication that is supposed to help them become non-dependent on opiates. After detox, methadone is often administered at a Methadone clinic. Methadone clinics administer the medication to patients on a daily basis in order to prevent misuse of the drug as well as abuse of the drug.
Another medication that is commonly prescribed to individuals who are withdrawing from opiates is Suboxone (i.e., Buprenorphine). Suboxone is similar to Methadone in that it binds to the opioid receptors within the brain to block the euphoric feelings that come along with the use of narcotic opiates. Unlike Methadone, Suboxone is not highly regulated. Individuals who are prescribed Suboxone are able to take their medication home with them and take their dosage without being under the guidance of a medical professional.
Naltrexone is a medication that is sometimes prescribed to suppress opiate withdrawal and cravings. It is a medication that is also prescribed to individuals with alcohol addiction. Naltraxone works to cease the cravings and urgency to use narcotic opioids. This medication is able to work for both opiate and alcohol dependency as opiates and alcohol activate a number of the same receptors within the brain.
If you or a loved one are planning to detox from opiates, please contact us for more information at
(866) 840-6411 . Our counselors are available 24 hours a day and can provide information and help you with your specific needs.