Withdrawal Symptoms of Opiates

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What Are Withdrawal Symptoms of Opiates?

Opiates withdrawal symptoms are the unpleasant mental and physical reactions that follow cessation of use of an opioid after dependence or addiction of an addictive opioid has been established.

Psychological dependence on many drugs may occur when these substances are consumed in large amounts over a steady period of time.

Opiates generally refer to substances that contain naturally occurring or poppy derived narcotic analgesics such as opium, morphine and codeine.

Opiates defer slightly from opioids even though they are used in pain treatment.

Opioids are synthesized, or semi-synthesized narcotic analgesics such as OxyContin, hydrocodone, methadone and fentanyl

Some opiate withdrawal symptoms include

  • Anxiety
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent yawning
  • Body aches
  • Belly cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Shaking
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Hallucinations

Opiate Dependence

According to the CDC, nearly 450,000 people have died from opioid overdoses between the year 1999 and 2019. Short term use of opiates can lead to dependence on these drugs in patients treating pain. Although patient history and period of use of opiates play important roles in dependence and addiction risks, it’s impossible to predict who is prone to dependence on or abuse of opioids.

Opiate use can lead to dependence or addiction because they trigger release of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are the brain’s feel-good transmitters which shroud pain perception and boosts feelings of pleasure.

This mechanism initiated by the endorphins creates a temporary and powerful sense of wellness, such that when these feelings wear off, the patient wants those feelings back; a first step on a path towards potentially becoming addicted to the opiates. Prolonged use of opiates results in reduced production of endorphins in correspondence to initial doses, and at this point the body is said to have built a tolerance to the opiate.

Tolerance to opiates further enhances a perceived need by the patient to increase their dosage of the opiates in order to achieve the initial good feelings. Continued increase in dosage may lead to addiction.

According to the CDC, the estimated economic burden of opioid misuse treatment is around $78.5 billion, including health care costs, criminal justice involvement and litigations and lost productivity with more than 11 million people misusing opioid in 2017 alone.

Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

Opiate withdrawal occurs when a user stops taking opiates after dependence on the drug has been established. Opiate withdrawal symptoms include a host of very uncomfortable and sometimes very severe and possibly life-threatening conditions which will require hospitalization.
Babies born to mothers that were using opiates during the pregnancy, due to their mother’s addiction also show you get withdrawal symptoms at birth such as:

  • Digestive issues
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Poor feeding

Symptoms of withdrawal that I experienced who depend on the level of use of the opiates.

Opiate Withdrawal Treatment

Patients may get opioid withdrawal help at primary health care providers after diagnosis through reported symptoms or urine and blood tests to check for opiates in the system. Patients seeking opiate withdrawal help need to be open with their caregiver with all symptoms the feel in order to determine the severity of the opiate withdrawal symptoms.

Although opioid withdrawal treatment exists, many patients continue taking the opiate to avoid unpleasant symptoms or management of the symptoms of withdrawal altogether even though the initial pain being managed is now gone.

Mild Opioid Withdrawal Treatment

In patients with mild withdrawal, the symptoms may be treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, or Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID) such as diclofenac or ibuprofen. Patients going through mild withdrawals will also need lots of fluids and rest. Medication such as loperamide (Imodium) and hydroxyzine (vistareal, atarax) may help with diarrhea and nausea respectively.

Intense Opiate Withdrawal Treatment

Intense opiate withdrawal treatment may often require hospitalization and other medication. Clonidine is often prescribed in this case, reducing the intensity of withdrawal symptoms by 50 to 75%. Symptoms handled by clonidine may include running nose, watery eyes, muscle aches, restlessness, cramping and anxiety. Methadone can also be used in long-term opioid withdrawal treatment. Methadone could be a very powerful opioid but its use may be reduced safely such it’s less likely to produce intense withdrawal symptoms.

Rapid Detoxification

Patients can also opt for rapid opiate detoxification. This method is not advised by doctors as the treatment is done under anesthesia using opiate blockers and detoxing patients may potentially vomit while under anesthesia, which increases the risk of death during withdrawal. Some opiate blocking drugs used here include naloxone and naltrexone.

Opiate Withdrawal Treatment in Pregnant Women and Methadone Users

The national center for biotechnology information advice is that pregnant women and patients undergoing methadone maintenance treatment not undergo complete opiate withdrawal; rather, opioid dependent pregnant women may undergo methadone maintenance treatment for their opiate withdrawal treatment.

Acute appeared withdrawal can be followed by a withdrawal phase that is characterized by a general feeling of reduced well being and strong desire for operates on opiates that could last up to six months. In this. Patients should also be engaged in psychosocial interventions but caregivers should not engage in counseling during the initial stages of the withdrawal phase as the patient is in very discomforting state that may impair their judgment.

Codeine Withdrawal

Codeine is an opioid used to treat mild to moderately severe pain and cough unlike other opiates is strong and highly addictive. Dependence on codeine can occur even if the user takes codeine for only a few weeks or even in accordance with the doctor’s prescription.

Codeine withdrawal symptoms may last for about a week or a few months after stopping codeine use. Most physical symptoms are gone within two weeks, behavioral symptoms such as drug cravings however me last for months. With a doctor’s guidance, you may gradually taper off codeine use, allowing your body adapt gradually to less codeine until the body no longer needs it for normal body function. Medications depending on the severity of the symptoms may also be suggested such as ibuprofen to reduce mild pain, Ioperimade to stop diarrhea, hydroxyzine to ease nausea and anxiety, Clonidine in moderate withdrawal cases and in intense cases, Naltrexone(an opioid blocker) Methadone (to prevent withdrawal symptoms and craving) and Buprenorphine (which produces weak opiate-like effects such as euphoria) are prescribed over time.

Insurance Coverage for Opiate Withdrawal Treatment

In the Us, Medicare and Medicaid generally covers opioid treatment for individuals living below 133% of the federal poverty level, although levels of coverage depend on the income level of the individual and according to hhs.gov The 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) requires health insurance providers to provide the same level of benefits for mental and/or substance use treatment and services that they do for medical/surgical care. You may also contact your health care insurers on what specifics and treatments your health plan may cover.

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