If you’re getting clean from an opiate addiction, congratulations! You’ve obviously made a choice to better your life. You’ve taken a step towards wellness, sobriety, and transformation.
However, as you might suspect, opiate detoxification isn’t easy. There are going to be challenges you’ll experience – physical, emotional, and psychological. There are going to be pains you experience. Yet, if you know this going in, if you understand from the beginning that you’re going to experience this, then it might be easier when you’re in the middle of it.
Symptoms of Using Opiates
If you’re addicted to opiates then you were either using heroin or addicted to painkillers. Both are a form of opiates. For instance, heroin is an opiod that is synthesized from morphine, a naturally occurring substance extracted from the seedpod of the Asian poppy plant. Heroin can be ingested through injecting, snorting, sniffing, or smoking it. Symptoms of using the drug include red or raw nostrils, needle marks or scars on arms, wearing long sleeves at inappropriate times, and medicinal breath. Long-term symptoms are loss of appetite, constipation, brain damage, and damage to the central nervous system. Heroin is a dangerous drug, not only for being incredibly addictive, but also the drug essentially rewires the brain suppressing all instincts and slowing down the nervous system. In fact, heroin is one of the most difficult drugs to quit. Its dependence rating is high and the quickness with which you become you addicted is dangerous.
In fact, many people who are addicted to painkillers resort to heroin when painkillers become hard to acquire, either because they are expensive or because they no longer have a prescription. Sadly, there has been a large surge of addictions to painkillers in this country and the drug can be hard to break, as many news reports, articles, and television programs are revealing. Between 2007 and 2012, the number of heroin users almost doubled. In 2007, for example, 337 thousand people were addicted to heroin in America and in 2012 that number jumped up to 669 thousand.
Whether you were addicted to painkillers or heroin or both, and you’re beginning the process of withdrawal, you should know what to expect. You should know the symptoms you’re going to have to go through ahead of time. The following is a list of physical withdrawal symptoms you can expect to encounter:
- “Crawling” sensations on the skin. These can keep you awake at night.
- Burning in your stomach or chest.
- Indigestion, nausea.
- No appetite.
- Pain in the bones and muscles.
- Light sensitivity.
- Sense of panic
- Difficult thoughts and feelings.
Remember while you’re going through detox that the experiences that you’re having are related to the withdrawal process. If you can remind yourself of this you can help yourself get through those challenging moments of feeling anxious, panic, dread, despair, worry, or intense fatigue. Keep reminding yourself that you’re in a process of cleansing and soon you’ll be on the other side of it.
If you’re wondering how long the process will take, it’s hard to outline a specific time frame. Each person’s withdrawal process will vary in length depending on the intensity of their addiction, the length of the addiction, and whether there are multiple addictions that you are withdrawing from.
To help yourself through the withdrawal process, consider the following:
- Stay in touch with others who have been through the process already. Let them support you during this time.
- Detoxing on your our own can be life threatening; make sure you go to a detox clinic, a doctor, and/or mental health professional who can safely guide you through the process.
- Get plenty of rest, drink lots of liquids, and take supplements such as a multivitamin to keep your body healthy.
- Find someone who can be a sponsor or a mentor during your detox process as well as throughout your recovery.
Even though the addictive quality of opiates is quite high, it’s still possible to end an addiction to them. With the right support, treatment, and commitment to get sober, millions of people have safely made it through the detox process and stayed sober. You can do it too.