The Importance of Opiate Detox

If you’re struggling from short or long-term opiate or opioid dependence, the most effective way to treat it is through a medically monitored opiate detox. Read on to learn about opiates/opioids and their effects.

What is an Opiate/Opioid?

“Opiates” and “Opioids” refer to a group or class of drugs that have an effect on the body like morphine and other opium-based drugs, and which are used for pain management. Opiates are made from the products of the opium poppy plant, while opioids or are made synthetically. Different opiates/opioids have different street names, including:

  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®, Lortab®, Norco®, Zohydro®)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilauded®, Exalgo®, Hydromorph Contin®)
  • Morphine (Astramorph®, Avinza®. Roxanol®, Kadian®)
  • Fentanyl (Duragesic®, Subsys®, Actiq®)
  • Methadone (Methadose®, Dolophine®)

What are Opioid/Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms?

The nature of opiates /opioids makes them very addictive. These drugs not only suppress the perception of pain, they suppress the emotional reaction to pain. They also cause feelings of euphoria.

Depending upon a patient’s history of drug abuse, withdrawal symptoms can begin to appear as soon as a few hours after stopping opiates / opioids. Opioid withdrawal syndrome (the name for all of the symptoms of opioid withdrawal taken together) can be very uncomfortable, but is generally not considered to be life-threatening. Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating/chills
  • Yawning
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Opiate Detox Program Coordination – Overcoming Opiate Dependency

Given willingness to try – and the right care and support – any patient can overcome opiate / opioid addiction, make it through the withdrawal and opiate detox process, and find the path to addiction recovery. For some people, however, the withdrawal symptoms and cravings feel so overwhelming that they use them as an excuse to leave treatment, and then to relapse.

For people who feel like they cannot make it through opiate/opioid withdrawal, a medically managed opiate detox program works to soften the withdrawal symptoms that would occur stopping the drugs “cold-turkey.” There are several medically managed opiate detox treatments available, including:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Suboxone
  • Subutex

In addition, there is a long term opiate/opioid replacement option called “methadone maintenance,” which is not a medically managed detox treatment program, but is an option to avoid continued use of illicit drugs.

While we do not offer detox services, we can refer you to a facility that provides medically managed detox treatment, where you or your loved one can be freed from dependency on opiates. Once through detox, higher level treatment programs with counseling and behavioral therapies – like those offered in Advanced Health’s outpatient treatment programs – provide the best chance at achieving long-term recovery.

MEDICAL DETOX - BUPRENORPHINE

WHAT IS BUPRENORPHINE

Buprenorphine is a semi-synthetic opioid medication that was first marketed in the 1980’s for the treatment of acute pain and opiate addiction.

When taken as prescribed, buprenorphine reduces the symptoms of opiate/opioid withdrawal while at the same time blocking the effect of other opiates/opioids.  In that way, buprenorphine can help patients deal with their cravings, get thorough detoxification, complete a rehabilitation program, and break their addictions.

Chemically, buprenorphine is different from other opioids because it is only a “partial opioid agonist.” Buprenorphine is called a “partial” agonist because it has some – but not all – of the same effects as “full agonists,” like heroin. Taking buprenorphine releases compounds that bind to and activate opiate receptors in the brain.  But, buprenorphine causes less euphoria and presents less of a risk of physical dependence or misuse compared to drugs like heroin, which is why it’s sometimes used during opiate detox.

When buprenorphine therapy is chosen, a patient is allowed to enter withdrawal before the first dose is administered. Because buprenorphine can actually “displace” other opiates/opioids from receptors in the brain, it can cause a sudden and severe onset of withdrawal symptoms.  Allowing withdrawal to begin before starting treatment makes the transition as gentle as possible, while also helping the doctor to determine the correct dosage.

Once begun, the treating doctor will determine how long a patient remains on buprenorphine.

WHAT ARE THE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS FOLLOWING BUPRENORPHINE TREATMENT?

There will be withdrawal symptoms when a patient completes buprenorphine treatment. However, the withdrawal symptoms from buprenorphine will be much milder than “cold-turkey” opiate withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms typically begin the first day and include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweats
  • Chills
  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Watery eyes
  • Irritability
  • Stomach cramps / diarrhea

WHAT SHOULD PATIENTS DO BEFORE BEGINNING BUPRENORPHINE TREATMENT?

Before beginning buprenorphine treatment, patients should advise their doctors of their most recent narcotics use, and any of the following:

  • Allergy to buprenorphine
  • Kidney or liver problems
  • Constipation / bowel conditions
  • Respiration problems (asthma, apnea, sleep apnea, COPD)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Seizures
  • Brain tumors
  • Thyroid or adrenal gland problems
  • Epilepsy
  • Pregnancy or breast-feeding
  • Muscle weakness
  • Head injury
  • Enlarged prostate or urination problems
  • History of mental illness or psychosis
  • HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis (B or C)

MEDICAL DETOX - SUBOXONE

WHAT IS SUBOXONE?

Suboxone is a prescription medication used to treat people who are addicted to opiate / opioid drugs. Suboxone reduces the harsh symptoms of opiate / opioid withdrawal, which may help patients get through opiate detox, stay in treatment, avoid relapse, and find the path to recovery.

WHAT IS SUBOXONE TREATMENT?

Once a patient is diagnosed with an opioid / opiate addiction, a doctor may prescribe Suboxone. Suboxone is administered as a pill or as a film that dissolves under the tongue (called “sublingual”). Once begun, the treating doctor will determine how long a patient remains on Suboxone treatment.

HOW IS SUBOXONE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER OPIOIDS?

Suboxone contains buprenorphine and naloxone.

Naloxone is an opioid “antagonist.” Naloxone actually counters the effects of an opiate overdose. Naloxone is added to Suboxone to discourage patients from trying to dissolve and inject the medication in order to get high.

Buprenorphine blocks pain like other opiates/opioids but – when taken as prescribed – does not cause the same euphoric effect. There is less risk of physical dependence and misuse compared to other opiates/opioids. Buprenorphine blocks the effects of other opiates/opioids and decreases cravings.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF WITHDRAWAL AFTER SUBOXONE TREATMENT?

Patients should know that there are some mild withdrawal symptoms when stopping Suboxone at the end of the course of treatment.  Withdrawal symptoms are typically the same as those for buprenorphine.

WHAT SHOULD PATIENTS DO BEFORE STARTING SUBOXONE TREATMENT?

Because Suboxone contains buprenorphine, patients should advise their doctors of any recent narcotics use, or if they have any of the problems listed for buprenorphine.

MEDICAL DETOX - SUBUTEX

WHAT IS SUBUTEX?

Like Suboxone, Subutex is a medication that contains buprenorphine, and is used for the treatment of opiate/opioid addiction.

WHAT  IS SUBUTEX TREATMENT?

Generally, once a patient is diagnosed with an opiate/opioid addiction, a doctor may prescribe Subutex. Subutex is administered as a tablet that dissolves under the tongue (“sublingual”). Subutex softens the harsh withdrawal symptoms that the patient would feel stopping opiates/opioids “cold turkey.”

Once begun, the treating doctor will determine how long a patient remains on Subutex.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF WITHDRAWAL AFTER SUBUTEX TREATMENT?

Patients should know that there are some mild withdrawal symptoms when stopping Suboxone at the end of the course of treatment.  Withdrawal symptoms are typically the same as those for buprenorphine.

WHAT SHOULD PATIENTS DO BEFORE STARTING SUBUTEX TREATMENT?

Because Subutex contains buprenorphine, patients should advise their doctors of any recent narcotics use, or if they have any of the problems listed buprenorphine.

METHADONE MAINTENANCE

WHAT IS METHADONE

Methadone hydrochloride has been available by prescription for about fifty (50) years. Methadone is a synthetic opioid and is chemically similar to opiate / opioid painkillers and heroin. The two main uses for methadone are:

  • Management of chronic pain
  • Maintenance treatment for opiate/opioid dependence (so-called “methadone maintenance programs”)

HOW IS METHADONE DIFFERENT FROM OTHER OPIOIDS?

Methadone works on the same parts of the brain as heroin and opiate / opioid painkillers, which makes it effective for pain management during opiate detox. Methadone is addictive like other opioids, but does not cause the same feelings of euphoria as other opiates/opioids when taken as prescribed.

Methadone has a long “half-life” and stays in the user’s system for an extended period (from 8-60 hours). Heroin has a short “half-life.” Heroin lasts about 6-8 minutes in the body and then breaks down into morphine, which lasts 3-4 hours. Because of that difference, managed methadone users do not experience the same short cycle of drug taking and craving that afflicts users of drugs like heroin or opiate / opioid painkillers.

While a person is taking methadone, the effects of other opiates / opioids are blocked and withdrawal symptoms are reduced. This makes methadone maintenance a useful tool in diverting people away from illegal street drugs and painkillers and into treatment.

But, methadone is addictive. Anyone using methadone for pain management or as a replacement program should seek guidance from a physician or medical provider before beginning the detox process.

WHAT ARE THE WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS FOLLOWING METHADONE TREATMENT?

Methadone withdrawal can be emotionally and physically challenging, but is not usually considered to be life threatening. At Advanced Health, we place clients in a safe and secure treatment environment that will assist in getting through methadone withdrawal.

Methadone withdrawal syndrome (the name for all of the symptoms of methadone withdrawal, taken together) includes:

  • Yawning and sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Tearing eyes
  • Auditory and visual hallucinations
  • Profuse sweating
  • Fever/chills
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea/abdominal cramps
  • Body aches
  • Tremors
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Depression
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Insomnia / sleep disturbance
  • Anxiety or paranoia
  • Panic attacks

Call Us for Opiate Detox Referrals and Addiction Help

Please call our rehab center in NJ today to for a free consultation and referral to the opiate detox program that can help you or your loved one. Call our NJ rehab center 24 hours a day at 888-687-6977 or contact us here.