Detoxing from any drug addiction can be an overwhelming process, and symptoms for opiate withdrawal are some of the hardest to fight. While the throes of removal may be difficult to overcome, it is still a worthwhile endeavor to complete.
Not all opiate addictions are through illegal substances. The effects of opiate-based painkillers, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone, can create the same damaging state of dependence as controlled substances. No matter what type of opiate started your addiction, the process of withdrawal will be hard to overcome.
Some days, you may feel like the only solution is to go back to whatever substance started your addiction, but that isn't necessary. To help you with the process, here are some home remedies for opiate withdrawal.
Withdrawal from any substance occurs when your body has adjusted to the side effects of a drug, and you stop taking it. Because your body has accommodated to the impact of the drug, the absence of the drug means your body isn't in a state to operate normally. For those detoxing from opiates, the symptoms of withdrawal are often very uncomfortable and can be difficult to handle.
Opiate withdrawal tends to manifest in two stages. The first phase includes a wide array of physical and emotional symptoms and can last for a few weeks. These symptoms can include:
- Muscle aches
- A runny nose
- Low energy
- Excessive yawning
- Excessive sweating
The second stage of withdrawal can also escalate physical symptoms and include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Abdominal cramps
- Dilated pupils
After these symptoms have passed, there is still the potential for other long-term symptoms such as emotional or behavioral issues.
Preparing for Home Detoxing
While it's not impossible to go through opiate detoxing at home, it is still a very trying process. More severe symptoms of withdrawal can lead to further health complications. You need to be sure to have everything necessary to handle your symptoms ready.
Besides having physical amenities, emotional support is critical to necessary detoxing. You should inform those close to you about your decisions and ask for help with the process. Some symptoms of withdrawal can be very debilitating, and having support in the form of friends or family can help you keep up with the proper hydration and nutrition habits to ensure you make it through detoxing successfully.
As opiate withdrawal symptoms can last a few weeks, it is essential to give yourself ample time to go through the process. You should be prepared to stay at home for at least a week as you recover. Many of the physical symptoms may make it impossible for you to continue your usual activities, and straining yourself can easily worsen your condition.
Detoxing from opiates is hard enough on its own. You should give yourself conditions that make it as comfortable as possible to stick to your decisions.
Home Remedies and Tips
While going through withdrawal at home, you will likely face many symptoms that can make relapsing seem like a tempting option. Keeping up with home remedies for opiate withdrawal can help make the process easier.
While it may seem simple, drinking water is one of the most important things you can do to help handle your withdrawal symptoms. Diarrhea and vomiting combined both put you at substantial risk for dehydration, so keeping liquid in your system is critical. Nausea may make eating or drinking anything seem unappealing, but not doing so could require hospitalization.
You also want to make sure you're drinking the right things for your system. Water is undoubtedly one of your best options, while electrolyte solutions can also help the process. You don't want to drink liquids that will make your condition worse, such as alcohol.
While it may be the last thing on your mind when withdrawal has its way with you, a little exercise can help alleviate your symptoms and provide a mental distraction as well. You don't want to engage in anything too strenuous—such activities can make the withdrawal process harder and possibly increase your risk for dehydration.
Instead, you'll want to engage in simple exercises. Taking a short walk outside can help, plus it keeps you from feeling cooped up inside your house the whole time. Other gentle activities, like yoga, are suitable options for assisting alleviate your symptoms.
As with most other conditions, there are several herbal home remedies for opiate withdrawal. Ginseng, Tai-Kang-Ning, and U'finer are all popular Chinese herbal medications that can help to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Some are also helpful for repairing damages to the brain due to opiate dependency.
If you choose to use herbal remedies, you need to take caution with what you purchase. The FDA does not always regulate such options, so you should read any product descriptions carefully, especially before buying anything offline.
Nutrient Dense Foods
The same as proper hydration, eating while you're going through withdrawal may seem incredible unappealing. Even so, maintaining a proper diet is one of the most critical things you can do to keep healthy while detoxing. If you can handle water, you should start with simple foods to make sure your stomach can manage it.
One natural diet to follow is the BRAT method—bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods are all simple to digest and can give you the calorie intake you need without upsetting your stomach further. As your nausea improves, you can start building up to more nutrient-dense foods.
Fruit smoothies and yogurt can be good starting options, but they may upset your stomach further, so don't force yourself to keep eating them if you don't react well. Other nutrient-dense options include:
- Broth soups
- Red meat, such as beef
- Nuts and seeds
Over the Counter Medications
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So long as you're using the correct level of dosage, over the counter medications can help with alleviating many of the more unpleasant physical symptoms. Some options you can use include:
- Imodium for diarrhea
- Anivert, Bonine, Benadryl or Dramamine for nausea
- Tylenol and Ibuprofen for aches and pains
While these medications can all be helpful, you should not overuse them. You should only take the recommended dosage to help, as consuming more can cause even worse complications. Before you start your detoxing process, gathering up a proper supply of possible medications can help you survive the duration of your symptoms.
In situations where the recommended dosage isn't working, you can discuss your options with your doctor, who can provide advice on other alternatives and potentially write you a prescription for more powerful medication. Medicines like suboxone serve as a weak opiate that can help ease you off more powerful substances.
Systematic inflammation is one of the reasons those going through withdrawal suffer through so many cramps and other pains. Cannabis serves as a potent natural anti-inflammatory, but that's not an option for everyone. Thankfully, there are plenty of other natural alternatives that you can pick up for your stay at home.
Willow bark and fish oil are both strong contenders for anti-inflammatory substances. While you should never use supplements without consulting with your doctor beforehand, working fish into your diet is a great way to provide fish oils and omega-3 fatty acids into your nervous system for support.
Something as simple as a scent may not seem like the most powerful option to help you through withdrawal, but you shouldn't underestimate the power of essential oils. Just something as simple as a few drops can provide a distraction from both your physical and mental anguish.
You don't even have to buy a diffuser to make use of essential oils. Putting a few drops on a rag and inhaling it through slow and deep breaths is plenty to start feeling the relaxing effects. With the growing essential oil market, there's more than enough scents to help you out. Some options you may consider are rosemary, thyme, peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, and chamomile.
Magnesium serves as an essential mineral in aiding several functions throughout the body. It's also an excellent option for providing stress relief and helping with aches and pains. You may consider taking magnesium supplements to help with those issues and help improve your quality of sleep.
The only trick with magnesium is that it can worsen symptoms of diarrhea if you take too much. Make sure your check proper dosages so that you don't alleviate one discomfort, only to exacerbate another.
Distractions go a long way to making your withdrawal symptoms more manageable, and meditative breathing is one of your options. Counting your breaths as you inhale, hold the air, and finally exhale can give you a way to calm your mind when you need a distraction from pain or some help falling asleep.
Besides deep breathing techniques, you should prepare numerous other distractions to help you through the detoxing process. Anything that can help keep you comfortable goes a long way to making symptoms much more bearable and preventing you from relapsing.
While home remedies can help, not everyone can complete a home detox. If you experience trouble or significant health complications, you should seek medical help to prevent further complications.