Opioids are a class of drugs, which are commonly used in treating pain. Some of the prescription opioids include Oxycontin, Vicodin, and morphine. Although they are used in pain management, they can lead to physical dependency and addiction. Statistics have shown that about 2.1 million Americans and 36 million people worldwide abuse opioids. Some of them are illegal.
Methadone is also an opioid but is commonly used to treat withdrawal symptoms in people experiencing addiction to opioids. Reducing or stopping the amount of opioids you take may result in physical symptoms of withdrawal. This usually affects people who have been using high doses for several weeks. Taking large amounts of opioids alters the functioning of many systems in the body for an extended period. Users experience withdrawal effects because the body needs time to adjust to the lack of opioids in the system.
The Causes of Opioid Withdrawal
Opioid withdrawal occurs because the brain usually functions like a spring. Like other drugs, opioids are brain suppressants that push down the spring. Opioids suppress the production of neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline. When individuals stop taking them, it’s like taking the weight off the spring. As a result, the brain rebounds by producing adrenaline that causes withdrawal symptoms. The body helps to maintain its normal functioning through the principle of homeostasis. This refers to the property of a system in which factors associated with it are regulated to ensure the conditions remain stable and constant.
This enables the proper functioning of the body. The properties keep changing depending on conditions such as duress, injury, and exertion. The system attempts to maintain a consistent balance. When your body is exposed to some substances for a long period, they throw off the sense of balance. As a result, the internal system attempts to maintain homeostasis through various processes to establish a new state of balance. This may include changes such as the modification of neurotransmitter levels and hormones.
Common Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal
There are many signs during the withdrawal process. Some of the most common symptoms are:
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
Another common symptom is the inadvertent breathing of vomited material into the lungs. This can result in serious medical complications because it can lead to the development of pneumonia. The medical condition results in loss of fluids and electrolytes, which can cause heart rate abnormalities. As a result, affected people can experience circulatory issues and heart attacks. Other flu-like symptoms associated with withdrawal are runny nose and body aches.
The deprival of opioids in the body leads to a chemical imbalance. This affects multiple systems, including the immune system. You can avoid such complications by drinking plenty of water to replace fluids lost due to diarrhea and vomiting. Even if you do not vomit, nausea can cause a lot of discomfort. You may also experience agitation and anxiety due to the chemical imbalance in the brain. According to some researchers, the symptoms vary depending on the level of tolerance the body has developed.
Treatment Options for Opioid Withdrawal?
The withdrawal process can be very uncomfortable for opioid users, and many of them continue taking them to avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Some of them try using several tactics of managing the signs on their own. However, doctors recommend medical treatment in controlled environments to improve comfort and the chances of recovery for patients. Some of the common medications used to treat mild opioid withdrawal include aspirin and ibuprofen. Increased fluids intake and rest can also help to alleviate the symptoms. If you experience nausea and diarrhea, a medical expert can prescribe Imodium.
If the symptoms worsen, individuals may require other medications and hospitalization. Clonidine is one of the most common drugs used in inpatient settings. According to some researchers, it can help to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms by up to 75%. The medication is effective when it comes to anxiety, cramping, muscle ache, and runny nose. An opioid blocker is also commonly used to prevent constipation. A doctor can recommend methadone for long-term maintenance therapy.
Finally, the signs of opioid withdrawal may vary from one drug user to another. Some of the symptoms are rare. Some people report insomnia during the withdrawal process. This is believed to occur due to the pain associated with withdrawal. Insomnia can be devastating for individuals as it can worsen other symptoms that you may be experiencing. Some people also report excessive sweating. The sweating can take during night hours, and this can cause poor sleep.
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