Withdrawal from opiates is a highly unpleasant experience to go through, even under the best of circumstances. While opioid withdrawal is rarely fatal, there are many inherent risks involved in the process, and it can be both painful and dangerous to go through on one’s own. Read on to learn more about the withdrawal process, what you can do to manage it, and when it’s appropriate to call in professional help to get through it.
1. Know and look for the signs of severe withdrawal.
Those who use opiates long enough and often enough to become physically dependent will encounter withdrawal symptoms when they decide to stop using. Unfortunately, these symptoms are often disagreeable enough that the person relapses and resumes their opioid usage. Medical management of these symptoms can ease these effects and make the process bearable, ensuring the individual gets to a point of sobriety and is able to move forward with treatment. Symptoms of opiate withdrawal can include agitation, anxiety, body aches, insomnia, sweating, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, among others. Some state that opiate withdrawal symptoms feel like a more potent version of the common flu, making one incredibly uncomfortable. The duration and severity of these symptoms will vary depending on length and quantity of use.
2. Find your insurance card, if you have one.
When you go to coordinate detox care and residential treatment, you’ll want to have your insurance information handy. If you have insurance, your treatment will often be covered by your policy, in some cases with no money out of pocket. Your treatment facility will check with your carrier to determine what is covered and ensure you’re not paying for anything you don’t have to. If you know that your insurance policy has any restrictions on it, be sure to let admissions staff know when you speak with them – it can affect the amount of coverage you receive, which may influence where you decide to get care.
3. If your withdrawal symptoms are severe, go to the emergency room immediately.
If you are experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms or are a poly-substance user – i.e. you use other drugs like benzodiazepines or alcohol with opiates – it’s best to get to a hospital immediately, as your condition is more complicated and can lead to more severe medical issues like seizures or stroke. Do not try to drive at this time – you are not in a condition to get to the hospital safely on your own. It’s best to call 911, but if you have a friend or family member there with you, they can drive you if they are in a condition to do so safely. When you are at the hospital, they will give you medications to stabilize your condition and minimize the unpleasant effects of the withdrawals. They won’t eliminate the symptoms completely, but they will make you much more comfortable and the staff will ensure you’re taken care of if any complications arise.
4. Before leaving the hospital, be sure to get copies of your prescriptions and bloodwork.
Usually, you will continue taking certain medications after you’ve left the hospital, so be sure you get copies of all your prescriptions and lab work before you leave. Your residential detox will use this information to coordinate further medications for you when you get there. Knowing what you’ve already taken will help them both continue any medications the hospital specifies and add new medications to help you continue to be comfortable as you return to sobriety.
5. Choose a residential detox to continue your care.
After you’ve been stabilized in the hospital, you’ll want to set up residential detox to continue your care. While the worst of your withdrawals are over at this point, you are still not completely sober and you will still feel withdrawal symptoms for a few more days. You will need continued medical support to ensure your comfort. At detox, you’ll also begin to meet with counselors who will start to address the underlying causes of your addiction, whether psychological, trauma-related or otherwise. Your hospital will likely give you recommendations on local detox centers, but be sure to do your own research and choose a facility based on your own needs, not someone else’s. This will give you the best chance at long-term success.
When calling facilities, be sure to talk about your insurance with them and ensure that they can accept your coverage for treatment. If you’re uninsured, most facilities will work with you to build a financial arrangement that suits your needs – just be sure to talk about it at the outset, not when you’re already at the facility.
6. During detox, arrange for your next level of care.
Getting physically sober is a critically important piece of addiction treatment, but it is not the only one – a big piece of addiction is mental, and long-term treatment is designed to address that piece, too. Your detox facility will give you recommendations for inpatient residential treatment or intensive outpatient treatment, but just as with detox, be sure to research your options independently and choose a facility that suits your needs. Both residential care and outpatient care will look to address the underlying causes of addiction at a deeper level than at detox, as well as giving you the psychological tools you need to stay sober and build the life you want, free from drugs and alcohol.
If you need help with opiate addiction or have a loved one who needs support, call Inland Detox today at (888) 739-8296. We’ll help you get the care you need right away. If you are experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms, do not wait – call 911 for emergency care now.