Opioid Addiction Detox Program
Currently, the United States is experiencing one of the most severe opioid overdose epidemics in history, with 2.1 million people abusing the drug. Opioids can be safe to use when prescribed to you by your doctor for toothache pain, surgeries, or chronic conditions such as cancer. However, when misused, they can become addictive and life threatening. So, what is an opioid addiction and why is it affecting thousands of lives? Opioids are painkillers such as morphine, methadone, Buprenorphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone and they bind to opioid receptors on cells in the brain and body. These cells control the pain in the body, and when attached to opioid receptors, they dull the pain even more, since the human body already has natural euphoric opioid chemicals.
Some of the brand names opioid painkillers are sold under are OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, and Tylox to name a few. Heroin can also be considered an opioid, and what many addicts turn to for cheaper prices since prescribed opioids are costly. If opioid painkillers are swallowed, they have a slower and more gradual effect, which is why they are usually crushed into powder and snorted or injected to experience an immediate euphoric high. Since opioid painkillers affect the central nervous system, your heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and body temperature are lowered and euphoric feelings increased. Once a person begins to take in more than prescribed dosages of opioid painkillers, they become addicted to the substance because of their higher tolerance, in turn leading to overdoses and death.
Opioid addiction withdrawal symptoms are experienced when a person who is heavily addicted to the substance begins reducing their intake. The most evident symptoms are physical and begin 24 hours after the drug is no longer being taken. Some symptoms include:
- Inability to sleep
- Profuse sweating
- Muscle aches
- Slurred speech
- Dilated pupils
- Rapid heartbeat / high blood pressure
- Substance cravings
These symptoms can last from a few days to a month and are very painful, which in turn leads to the opioid users to use more of the drug to relieve the pain if they do not seek treatment. Since continued users of opioid painkillers need to increase their dosage to feel the same effects they did in the beginning, if they do not have enough opioids in their system, they will experience incredibly painful withdrawals.
If you have become addicted to opioids and are having trouble getting off the drugs, an immediate opioid addiction detox program is your next step. The detox program is usually medically supervised and controlled by a physician, and this is where the withdrawal symptoms come in. When someone who is heavily addicted to opioids is taken off the drugs suddenly, the symptoms are inevitable, however it is the only way to begin the detox process. Medical detox programs usually happen in a hospital or residential treatment center with a detoxification unit. These medical detox programs are recommended for individuals suffering with a heavy addiction that needs to be monitored closely to prevent serious withdrawal symptoms that can also be life threatening. Usually what is done during the detox process is the gradual decreasing doses of a related agent to the actual opioid drug to help with the withdrawal symptoms.
For someone addicted to opioids with milder withdrawal symptoms, outpatient medical detox treatment is usually recommended. In this setting, buprenorphine-naloxone (BUP/NX) or clonidine alone, or combined with naltrexone are the medications used for opioid detoxification. Buprenex is another medicine used that takes up to two weeks to detoxify the opioid user.
If you or a loved one are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from opioid usage, or are having trouble getting off the drug, immediate medical intervention is necessary and effective in completely ridding the body of the toxins and beginning the journey to a healthy, clean life.