Cope with Withdrawal from Prescription Pain Medication Addiction

Edited by Mireya, Eng, Maria, Alma

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Did you start taking prescribed pain medication and now having an awful time coping with withdrawal?

There are many reasons to take pain medication, having an accident that led to serious injuries, undergoing a surgery and recovering from it, or even a bad case of tooth pain.

However, pain medications should be prescribed by a doctor for a specific period of time along with a specific dosage. Despite the fact that painkillers are highly addictive, most people stick to their treatment and are able to go back to their lives without creating any drug dependence once their treatment is over. Some people have a hard time when they are supposed to stop taking it. The longer you had to take pain killers, the harder it will be to stop taking them.

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What Is A Pain Killer?

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Prescription painkillers are opioid medications that diminish the sensation of pain and activate the brain's pleasure centers, generating a sensation of happiness and euphoria.

If you or someone you know has a problem abusing painkillers or has tried many times to quit them without being successful, the best idea is to get immediate professional treatment. Managing opioid withdrawal can be an exhausting process, as the symptoms have the potential to be overwhelmingly uncomfortable along with high chances to have a relapse.

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How Can You Know If You Are Drug Dependent?

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  • Are you taking medicine prescribed for someone else?
  • Are you taking more than what's been prescribed to you?
  • Are you using the medicine in ways that are not prescribed?
  • Do you have a strong desire to use opioids?
  • Are you unable to control or reduce its use?
  • Are you having trouble meeting social or work obligations
  • Are you spending large amounts of time to obtain painkillers?
  • Have you developed tolerance to the drug?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you have developed a drug dependence.

An opioid dependent person will not feel at peace or normal unless he takes the medication. Once a physical dependency on opioid painkillers has set in, any attempt of quitting will cause withdrawal syndrome. The severity of the symptoms will depend on the person, as well as the frequency and severity of abuse. Withdrawal from opiates includes severe and deep muscle and bone pain, abdominal cramps, chills and sweating and nausea.

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What Are The Symptoms For Withdrawal?

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Are you uncertain if you are going through withdrawal? Confirm if these are the symptoms you are experiencing:

  • Craving for the drug
  • Rapid breathing
  • Yawning
  • Runny nose
  • Salivation
  • Goosebumps
  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Muscle aches
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Confusion
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Tremors
  • Loss of appetite

What Can You Do?

  1. 1
    Talk to someone you trust
    .
    May it be a member of your family or a good friend. Battles are easier to win when having a good army by your side. When opening up about a personal problem like drug dependence, most people will be supportive, so don't be scared or ashamed. Nonetheless, if you don't feel confident enough to tell someone you know, don't let that stop you, go straight to a doctor or professional clinic.
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  2. 2
    Seek for professional help
    .
    Withdrawal from painkillers can be agonizing. There are many rehabilitation centers that help ease the burden of a withdrawal phase until getting free from drug dependence.
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  3. 3
    Chose a drug free rehabilitation center
    .
    Most rehabilitation centers provide you with different drugs during treatment. Either methadone or buprenorphine are used, both developed to prevent withdrawal symptoms in addicts trying to get rid of opiates, but are also both drugs of abuse. Trying to quit one drug dependence using another one, does not make too much sense, but believe it or not, most rehabilitation centers use this method.
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What Should You Expect If Entering A Detox Program?

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Anyone addicted to opioids can benefit from entering a formal detox program. However, some people have a hard time accepting that they may have developed an addiction in the first place. A Detox program can take place either checking yourself into a rehabilitation facility or getting a program to fulfill at home.

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  1. 1
    You will have an interview with the doctor to evaluate you and determine the severity of your opioid dependence
    .
    He will ask you questions such as:  
    1. How long have you been taking the medication?
    2. Are you taking any other drugs?
    3. Do you drink alcohol?
    4. What are your drugs and drinking habits and patterns?
    5. Have you been in treatment before?
    6. Do you have other health problems?
    7. Are you taking any other medications for any other conditions?
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  2. 2
    The doctor will also proceed to a physical exam to check basic health signs like blood pressure, chronic diseases, general wellbeing and confirm your medical history.
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  3. 3
    Physical and psychological evaluations will determine treatment protocol including the type of medication and dosage.
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  4. 4
    A personal program will be created for you, indicating how many days it will last, your goals, and the protocol for detox.
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  5. 5
    Depending on the program and your needs, your treatment plan may incorporate the use of medications to manage withdrawal and cravings
    .
    This is called MAT.
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  6. 6
    If you do enter a center that uses drugs on its program, the staff will gradually reduce the dosage and frequency of its administration
    .
    This way, the body will eventually get used to not having opioids in the system.
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  7. 7
    If you're thinking of detoxing without help at home, keep in mind that you may go through significant discomfort which could increase the risk of relapse, especially if you still have access to painkillers
    .
    This is the reason why many people choose to enter into formal detox programs. The support and structure provided in a professional detox center can help an individual coping with withdrawal to successfully become clean and healthy.
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How Do You Chose a Rehabilitation Center?

Rehabilitation centers offer 30, 60, and 90 day programs that include detoxification, medication, and counseling. Some of the centers might have additional amenities and alternative therapies like yoga, meditation, or equine therapy. Ask as many questions as you feel to make sure you will feel safe and comfortable when going through your program. You might want to choose a center close to your home. This is a good plan if you have full support from friends and family. However, if you have friends or family members that contribute to your substance use in any way, you might consider a treatment center further away. There are a lot of options offering traditional programs and some other centers offering alternative treatments. These few questions should help you to choose your best option:

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  1. 1
    Does the treatment center I'm considering offers Medication Aided Treatment (MAT)
    ?
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  2. 2
    Is the staff there highly trained?
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  3. 3
    Do I want to register inside or take treatment from home?
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  4. 4
    Do I prefer a 30, 60, or 90 day program?
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  5. 5
    Is a long term residential program appropriate for me?
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  6. 6
    What methods of therapy (group, family or individual) do I need?
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  7. 7
    What activities are available at the center?
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  8. 8
    Should I find somewhere close or further away from home
    ?
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Should I Try Ultra-Rapid Detox?

Some rehabilitation centers promote a program called ultra rapid detox that claims to ease the process of withdrawal. Ultra rapid detox involves putting the individual under general anesthesia and administering opioid antagonist medication to accelerate the manifestation of withdrawal symptoms. What this program claims is that an anaesthetised patient won't experience the most intense symptoms of withdrawal. Nevertheless, it doesn't mean this is a good idea. This method claims to speed up the withdrawal process; however, recent research has proven this statement inconclusive and shows that it may be dangerous when the patient has certain pre existing medical conditions.

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Holistic Alternative To Detox

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There are also natural ways to help you cope with withdrawal symptoms and to get any drug remnants out of your system.

  1. 1
    Look for natural supplements to aid with your symptoms
    .
    It has been found that nutritional supplements such as B vitamin combinations and calcium with magnesium help the body get through withdrawal with much less discomfort.
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  2. 2
    A cup of natural root ginger tea every morning is a great way to cleanse your liver and your whole system
    .
    Add some honey to sweeten it, and this will also help your blood stay on healthy sugar levels.
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  3. 3
    Exercise like yoga or swimming will help you focus on your present activities instead of feeling the urge to take painkillers, while sweating will help get the drugs out of your body.
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  4. 4
    Guided meditation will help you keep a healthy mind and boosts your willpower any time you feel in despair
    .
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After Detox Addiction Treatment

After drug withdrawal is complete, psychological dependence can continue. Some people with drug addiction may relapse in response to stress or other powerful triggers. If you went through withdrawal successfully, it is possible to go back to your previous healthy life if your abuse was caused by an extended period of having to use prescribed medication. But if your abuse was driven by other reasons, then you should continue with the second part of the treatment to make sure you don't have a setback. They will let you know what type of treatment you need at the center you checked yourself in. Many times, detox is only the first step in recovering from addiction. Once detox is complete, a treatment for addiction can begin. This will typically involve therapy to uncover and address the underlying causes of your substance use in the first place.

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Therapy will vary depending on:

  • The treatment center type (registered or from home).
  • Philosophical approach of the center.
  • Patient preferences.
  • Any potential psychiatric disorders

Behavioral therapies are the most common therapies, addressing the users incentive to start and continue using substances. As its name suggests, behavioral therapy is focused on human behavior and looks to eradicate unwanted behaviors. This therapy may be administered in the form of:

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  • Group therapy, in the presence of other addicts.
  • Family therapy, involving family members.
  • Individual therapy.

Stop suffering

Stop suffering from withdrawal on your own, seek professional help to understand where you're standing. It might be as simple as entering a detox program from home, or it might require checking into a clinic for a longer period of time for you to heal. Whichever the case, start now. Treatment can help you clear your body and go back to a healthy life. Keep in mind that although it is possible to detox alone, the withdrawal syndrome can be sufficiently intense to trigger a relapse even in the most committed person, don't underestimate what you're going through. Supervised Detoxification not only ensures physical comfort and safety during the withdrawal process, but it also keeps the user safe from relapse and potential overdose. If you are suffering from drug dependence, this is a crucial time to take action, seek for help. Be brave, think of your health and wellbeing.

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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.

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Article Info

Categories : Health & Wellness

Recent edits by: Maria, Eng, Mireya

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