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Fighting prescription drug abuse-1: Opioid detox, first step to recovery

Fighting prescription drug abuse-1: Opioid detox, first step to recovery

Detoxification is the process of controlled and medically supervised withdrawal from an  addictive substance under the guidance of a medical expert. Excessive use of alcohol or drugs, over a period of time, can lead to physical dependence on them. Therefore, withdrawing from them after prolonged use can make one experience severe withdrawal symptoms. The detox process is an effective way to remove the toxins from the body, which may have accumulated  due to persistent use of drugs or alcohol.

Detox is the first step in the recovery from addiction to any substance such as alcohol or illicit drugs. One of the commonly abused substances is opiates. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), almost 26.4 million to 36 million people globally abuse opiate drugs, which include prescription pain relievers and even heroin, which is an illicit drug.

What are opiates?

Opiates are a class of drugs that are generally used to treat pain. Opiates are of different kinds such as opioids and narcotics. Opiates are derived from the poppy plant while opioids are synthetic or semi-synthetic, manufactured to work like opiates. A few common opioids are Oxycontin (oxycodone), Vicodin (hydrocodone and acetaminophen), Dilaudid (hydromorphone), while morphine is an opiate. Individuals generally develop addiction to these drugs due to their euphoric effects and the feeling of well-being that they generate.

When an individual uses opiates, these get attached to the opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord and the gastrointestinal tract. These receptors occur naturally in the human brain and are produced by it to create effects like decreased pain, lower respiratory rate, and have antianxiety and antidepressant effects. But, these naturally occurring opioids are not enough to cure severe pain, such as a broken limb. Therefore, taking opiates helps an individual in different ways like affecting the brainstem to slow down breathing and coughing, controlling emotions by working on specific brain areas and reducing the pain by affecting the spinal cord.

What is opiate withdrawal?

When an individual minimizes his/ her opiate intake after prolonged use, it is known as opiate withdrawal. Discontinuing opiates can lead to withdrawal symptoms, especially when the person has been dependent on them for a long time. The withdrawal effects can be either mild, moderate or, severe and moderately severe based on one’s opiate use history and symptoms.

Absence of the drugs leads to several withdrawal symptoms within the first 24 hours after one stops using the drug. Some of them are:

  • Muscle aches
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Runny nose
  • Excessive sweating
  • Inability to sleep

After a day of withdrawal, an individual might experience the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Goose bumps
  • Nausea
  • Possibly blurry vision
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High blood pressure

The symptoms begin to improve within 72 hours, and it takes a week for an individual to get back to normal.

Causes of opiate withdrawal

An individual develops addiction to opiates due to its prolonged use. Generally, when the person begins to abuse the drug, he/ she becomes desensitized to its effects and in turn, needs more of it to experience the same effects. Increasing the dosage can cause accidental overdose. Prolonged use of these drugs alters the functioning of the nerve receptors in the brain, and in turn, creates dependence on the drugs to be able to function properly.

Detox is the best remedy

Detox works differently for each individual, since every case is unique. The duration of detox depends on the person’s addiction level, the severity of addiction and other factors like the individual’s personal health.

If you know someone who is looking for detox centers in Colorado, the Colorado Detox Helpline can assist. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-730-5807 or chat online with our representatives to know the complete details about the best detox treatment centers in Colorado.

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