Getting professional opioid treatment is the key to recovering from this all-consuming and dangerous addiction. A quality detox and rehab program can change everything for someone who is addicted to these types of drugs.
Far too often, people believe that opioids are relatively safe. They may be aware that many of them are similar to drugs like heroin. But because they are prescribed, they assume they will not get addicted. This, of course, is not true at all.
While it is very difficult to recover from an opioid addiction, it can be done with the right support. In most cases, that means going to a drug rehab program that addresses all aspects of the substance abuse problem.
Opioid detox is the process of removing toxins in the body that are connected to the substance abuse. There are a variety of different methods that doctors can use to treat the physical part of the addiction, which is what detoxing does.
If the individual is using a prescription opioid like Vicodin or Oxycodone, the first step is typically to do a medical taper. The treatment team will put together a schedule as a way to wean the person off their medications. This should be done slowly to allow the body time to adjust, and hopefully, to minimize the effects of withdrawal.
Every person is different, as far as what type of detox will work best for them and their situations. But when it comes to opioids – whether they are prescription or not – this is a vital part of the recovery process.
When someone is addicted to one of these drugs, their body becomes used to it. It typically does not take very long for this to take place because the body is always naturally seeking balance. When the person stops taking opioids, the body has a response in the form of withdrawal.
Withdrawal symptoms are usually both physical and psychological in nature. They do go away with time, but there can be potential complications if the individual does not get treatment. Also, without going through detox, withdrawal is likely to be much more severe, and even lead to a relapse, which can lead to an overdose.
Drug detox gives people the best possible chance of recovering successfully. It specifically targets withdrawal symptoms to help people feel better much faster than they would if they quit on their own.
There is no way to determine or predict what types of symptoms a person might have when they go through opioid withdrawal. But there are many symptoms that are common for those who have this type of addiction.
The early symptoms of opioid withdrawal tend to be rather mild, but they usually increase in intensity. This takes place as more and more of the drug is eliminated from the system. Some of the early symptoms include:
The later symptoms of withdrawal are typically much more severe, and they can include:
Also, people should expect to have severe cravings for opioid drugs while they go through withdrawal. They may start around 12 hours after the last dose, but this can vary, depending on the type of drug the person is addicted to.
There are many types of drug detox programs, and some are much safer and more beneficial than the others. Even so, it is very important for each person to choose the type of program that they believe will work best for them.
Also, everyone should do their own research prior to making a commitment to a certain type of detox. Learning from others’ experiences can help them make the right decision as they move forward in recovery.
Medical detox is a form of treatment in which doctors prescribe certain medications to help with withdrawal. These drugs are usually targeted to help treatment specific withdrawal symptoms.
For instance, someone who is addicted to opioids may suffer from severe anxiety, or even become depressed. For them, taking a benzodiazepine or an antidepressant will be very helpful. Other drugs may be prescribed based on the individual’s needs during the detox phase of recovery.
Medical detox can be extremely helpful, and it is a useful tool for anyone going through opioid addiction recovery. But, it should only be used short-term. Many of these drugs should not be taken for long periods of time. If they are, there is a good chance the individual may develop a secondary addiction that will then need to be treated.
Most people who are recovering from this type of addiction will be recommended for medication assisted treatment. This is often called opioid replacement therapy as well. It involves taking different types of opioids that have been FDA approved for this purpose.
When MAT is used for opioid use disorder, it can be very effective. But again, it is important for people to not stay on these drugs for a long period of time. They too can become highly addictive, which means the person would need to recover all over again.
There are several drugs that have been approved to treat opioid addiction, and they include:
Alternatively, the individual may also be placed on a drug called Vivitrol. This medication is given once per month, and only by injection. It has proven to be non-addictive, and it actually is not an opioid at all. Those who have taken it have found it to be very helpful at treating their withdrawal symptoms and helping them to stay clean.
Many detox programs have started adding Vivitrol services as a part of their treatment plans. It works very well, and the outcomes so far are very promising.
While medical detox and MAT have shown to be effective, they are usually not standalone treatments for withdrawal. Holistic detox is also important, which is why these methods are usually included in patients’ treatment plans.
Most people with opioid addictions are not in good health. They may have diets that are missing many of the key vitamins and nutrients that are necessary to keep them healthy. As a result, they may suffer from kidney or liver problems. At the very least, these organs may struggle to detox the body from the drug they are taking.
Nutrition therapy is a very important part of the physical aspect of recovering from an opioid addiction. A nutritionist should take a close look at the person’s diet and help them make the necessary changes. This, when combined with regular exercise will improve the individual’s overall health. The result is a body that is better equipped to detox itself, and the person gets through withdrawal faster.
Outpatient detox programs are very popular because they appeal to those who are looking for flexible recovery options. The problem is that they may not all be safe.
Most experts agree that a person should never go through drug detox on an outpatient basis. The risk for complications is just too high, and it is very easy for the addict to simply decide to go back to using.
Many people who go through outpatient detox will stop there. They will never continue on to get any other type of help for their addictions. This is a problem because the physical side is just one part of substance abuse. We will talk more about this in just a moment.
Just like with outpatient detox, rapid detox is also very popular in various parts of the country. It is designed to speed up the process of the ridding the body of opioid drugs. That sounds like it might be a great way to recover, but it actually carries a lot of risks.
When people go through rapid detox, they are going under anesthesia and receiving drugs to remove opioids from the opioid receptors. Many programs use Naltrexone therapy for their patients.
A lot of people gravitate toward rapid drug detox because it so fast. It can be done in as little as 60 minutes in some cases. Once the treatment is complete, the worst of withdrawal is over. There may still be some lingering symptoms, and patients are often given different medications to help them stay clean.
Not everyone is appropriate for rapid detox, and most experts agree that the risks outweigh the benefits. But it is an option that a lot of people find appealing.
Everyone is different as far as how long it takes to detox from opioid drugs. There are so many different variables, such as:
All of these can play a role in how long it might take for opioids to leave the body. But in general, there is a timeline that most drugs in this classification follow.
Opioid detox can be very painful, both physically and mentally. As we mentioned earlier, with the right treatment, it can be made easier. The following is the withdrawal timeline that most people might expect to follow.
For many people, they cannot fathom the idea of going to a professional detoxification program to begin recovering. Instead, they would rather try various at-home methods to see if they might be effective. They may be worried about the cost of treatment, or may not want to take the time to go through an inpatient program.
Either way, detoxing from opioids at home is never recommended. Again, there are potential complications that could occur, which is why professional treatment is the safest approach.
While it may be surprising to some, a lot of people will opt to quit using opioid cold turkey. In their minds, they started using them quickly, so they should be able to stop at any time. This, of course, is incorrect.
One woman shared her experience with quitting opioids cold turkey in an article on the Vice website. She talks about feeling like she had the worst flu she had ever had. She also suffered from suicidal thoughts, and never thought they would ever go away. She was depressed, and everything about her life seemed pointless.
She goes on to say that, “…quitting cold led to a whole host of other behaviors that were—in many ways—more debilitating than opioid addiction. It’s easier to teach yoga high on Tramadol than hungover. It’s way easier to meditate. It’s also easier to be a kind human. Opioids turned me into an addict, but opioid withdrawal turned me into an asshole. My wife left me because our relationship was “too hard” and I was too self-absorbed. Yeah. That’s what happens to a body in withdrawal.”
Brett Favre actually quit Vicodin cold turkey, and his experience was not a pleasant one. He shares about it here:
A lot of people will opt to use drug detox kits as a way to stop using opioids. These can be purchased at many pharmacies, and they can easily be found online. They contain various vitamins and supplements and possibly other chemicals as well. The promise is that they will cleanse all traces of the drug from the body.
While many people swear by them, again, there are risks associated with using them. People still experience withdrawal symptoms, and they can become debilitating or even lead to possible complications.
There are those who will utilize various natural detox methods as a way to clear the body of opioids. A countless number of websites offer instructions such as:
There are even websites that promote the use of acupuncture, massage and other techniques to help with detoxing. It all sounds really good, but it is a method that comes with risks, and it is not safe at all.
Kratom is a plant that comes from Southeast Asia. It has pain relieving qualities, and it has been used for hundreds of years for that purpose. There has been talk of classifying it as an opioid because research shows that it does attach to opioid receptors in the body. Because of this, people will often gravitate to it for use during opioid withdrawal.
The problem is that Kratom is not FDA approved. In fact, the FDA has considered making it illegal in the United States. This is a process that is currently being fought by those who believe the plant to have healing properties.
There are people who have successfully gotten off opioids because of Kratom, but at what cost? For many of them, they only traded one addiction for another, and eventually had to get treatment to stop Kratom as well.
After detoxing, the next step in the recovery process is to go to a drug rehab that treats opioid addiction. This is a very important part of recovering because any drug addiction has two parts – the physical aspect and the psychological aspect.
Many people do not realize that their addictions have root causes behind them. Something occurred in their lives that led to them abusing their drug of choice. It is vital to determine what that root cause is, and then work on healing it. That is what takes place when a person goes through drug rehabilitation.
When a person enters into a rehabilitation program, the staff should come up with a personalized treatment plan. This ensures that they are getting the specific types of care that they need, and that their needs are being addressed. There are many different forms of treatment that an individual may experience during drug rehab.
Individual therapy is often the cornerstone of addiction treatment. It is so beneficial to sit down with someone and talk with them in a one-on-one environment. A therapist who is trained to treat addictions knows the value of the time they spend with each of their patients.
It is the therapist’s job to determine what it was that led to the addiction. Once the cause is known, it can then be treated appropriately.
Group therapy has also been shown to be effective for those who need addiction treatment. This is when a group of patients sits down together to discuss the issues they are facing. Groups can be focused on particular areas of the participants’ lives, or they can be very generalized.
This form of therapy is effective for a number of reasons. It helps people to know that others are going through similar challenges, and the patients can learn from each other too.
Family therapy involves bringing in family members and loved ones to provide support to them and to the addict. The reality is that there are so many families across the United States that have been devastated because of a loved one’s addiction. These are critical relationships that have been damaged.
Family therapy helps to bring healing to those relationships and it helps to restore the patient’s support system. It is often an integral part of recovery for many people.
A significant number of people with opioid addictions actually suffer from co-occurring disorders. This term refers to a number of mental health issues that often lead to substance abuse problems.
People will frequently experience symptoms that they believe can be handled by using substances. Some of the co-occurring disorders that a person with an opioid addiction might suffer from include:
When a co-occurring disorder is discovered, it can then be treated. This is called dual-diagnosis treatment and it is an invaluable part of recovery. Many people do not realize they are suffering from one of the conditions mentioned above. When they get the treatment they need, they are less likely to return to using because those symptoms are no longer an issue.
Going to drug rehab is not the same for everyone because people all have very different needs. Every individual should feel encouraged to seek out the type of treatment that will work the best for them.
There are many different ways that a person can “go to rehab.” A lot of programs exist to meet specific needs.
Inpatient drug rehab is the most popular way a person can get treated for an addiction. It typically involves a 28-day stay in a facility, during which time, the patient receives treatment. Many of these programs include detoxification services prior to starting rehab.
An inpatient program is often one of the best ways that someone can recover from an addiction. They get all the support they need, and there is no opportunity for them to relapse.
Outpatient rehab is another method that someone can utilize to get treated for an opioid addiction. But this type of program might not be right for a person who is new to recovery. Typically, this involves meeting with a therapist on a regular basis, and it may be weekly, at first.
The problem with outpatient rehab is that it does not provide the level of support that is needed right after quitting the use of opioids. But it can be an excellent form of follow-up care.
For someone who needs an outpatient treatment option, but who needs a higher level of care, an IOP may work well. IOPs, or intensive outpatient treatment programs have been shown to be very effective for people with addictions. They get the flexibility they need because they can live at home, go to work and care for their daily responsibilities. They attend the program during the evening hours.
For someone who has a history of addiction and/or relapse, long-term treatment may be necessary. This is especially true for the person who has not done well in inpatient programs.
Residential treatment is sometimes referred to as sober living. They effectively remove people from potentially dangerous home lives and place them in a facility where they can get the help they need. Some offer their own in-house treatment, and others require people to attend IOPs.
One of the issues a lot of people have about going to treatment is the cost. They simply cannot figure out how they will ever afford to pay for rehab. There are actually many programs to help people get the assistance they need. There are also laws in place to protect their rights to get help.
To many people, the Affordable Care Act is a healthcare law that required them to get health insurance. But what they may not realize is that it also required their health insurance companies to cover the cost of both detox and rehab.
The ACA has changed the lives of so many people for this simple fact. More people than ever before can now get the help they need to recover as a result.
There are also other ways to get help for addiction that do not include going to treatment. For some, drug detox and rehab are not the answer. They may want to consider either of the following.
Narcotics Anonymous is an organization that is dedicated to helping people stay clean. It has been around since the 1950s, and it involves weekly support group meetings.
NA meetings can provide a lot of support. The other participants are people who are also battling drug addictions. So many people make lifelong friends at these meetings, and their encouragement keeps them motivated to stay in recovery.
SMART Recovery is a different approach to recovering from an addiction. It does not involve a 12-Step program like Narcotics Anonymous. Instead, they utilize techniques of self-reliance and self-empowerment to help people meet their goals.
This program offers meetings all over the country. There are also plenty of online resources available as well.
After a person finishes drug rehab, they often think that their addiction is cured. Unfortunately that is not the case. Recovering from a substance abuse problem can be quite a long process. It is not something that should be rushed, and there is no cure for it.
The best way to remain in recovery is to continue with some form of rehab. This can involve a step-down approach in which a person transitions from an inpatient program to an IOP. After that, it may mean going to outpatient rehab and NA meetings.
Following up with the appropriate appointments is a crucial part of the recovery process. Those who do not are often the ones who suffer through relapses.
While an opioid addiction can be hard to beat, it is not impossible. At Northpoint Washington, we have worked with many people who battled this type of substance abuse problem. We know how difficult it is to be successful and have developed the right tools to make it possible for those who really want to recover.