Understanding Opiate Withdrawals

Drug use comes with a bevy of negative consequences. Unfortunately, trying to end a drug addiction can also be dangerous. This is especially true when the drug you are trying to quit is an opiate.

Opiates are extremely addictive and can cause physical, emotional, and mental discomfort when an individual attempts to break their addiction to opiate drugs. Understanding how opiates work will allow you to gain a better understanding of the serious withdrawal symptoms you may face when kicking opiate drugs to the curb.

Opiates and Your Brain

Opiates are complex drugs that are designed to alter the chemistry within your brain. Once you use opiates, the drugs enter your bloodstream. They are then transported to the brain where they attach to opioid receptors. This attachment can reduce feelings of pain. It also triggers the brain to release a neurotransmitter known as dopamine.

Dopamine plays an active role in reinforcing and rewarding actions that cause physical pleasure. Over time, dopamine levels within an opiate addict's brain climb. The brain begins to think that high dopamine levels are normal and craves higher doses of opiate drugs to maintain these high dopamine levels.

Dependence, or addiction, occurs when the physical need for opiates becomes so strong that higher doses of the drug are required to produced the desired physical results.

Opiate Withdrawals

Even a single use of opiate drugs can result in dependence. Overcoming this type of addiction isn't always easy. Opiate  withdrawal symptoms can create severe discomfort, which often results in a relapse.

The severity of your withdrawal symptoms will depend on several factors, including the length of time you have been using opiates, the dosage you usually take, and the tolerance level you have built up to the drug.

Immediately following your decision to detox from opiates, you may experience muscle aches, a racing heart, or difficulty sleeping. Once these early symptoms subside, there is the potential to experience late withdrawal symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps.

Help for Withdrawal Symptoms

While it is difficult to cope with the symptoms of withdrawal, you can turn to medications for help. A physician can prescribe several different medications during a medical detox to help you overcome withdrawal symptoms and avoid relapsing into drug use.

Some of the medications that might be used include methodone, clonidine, and probuphine. These medications can ease the physical symptoms of withdrawal and help you feel motivated to continue with a drug treatment program.