Opiates are incredibly addictive, and their use can complicate many aspects of one’s life. Overcoming an addiction to opiates is no easy task, and the recovery process, including adjusting one’s lifestyle to thrive without their use, can take a long time. Recovery always starts with a single step and detoxing the body is paramount for pursuing a healthy, sober lifestyle. Detox is a difficult but necessary process that can be filled with discomfort, especially when attempting an opiate detox at home. Being prepared with home remedies for withdrawals, opiate withdrawal relief, or natural remedies for opiate withdrawal symptoms can help ease the process. However, it is also important to be able to gauge one’s withdrawal symptoms to know when it may be time to seek professional help with one’s detox if withdrawal symptoms become too intense. Detoxing on one’s own at home can be extraordinarily difficult, and so while opiate withdrawal home remedies may help in addressing symptoms, it is still important to seek professional help for the prolonged battle ahead with recovery to best prevent relapse and maintain a fulfilling sobriety.
How Does Withdrawal Work?
Withdrawal is a difficult process, and understanding more about why and how this discomfort occurs can help an individual better prepare for the symptoms that may present themselves. Coping with these symptoms can be difficult without professional help, which is why an opiates detox at home may not be as effective as when conducted in a dedicated recovery facility.
Opiates are a highly addictive class of drugs that can fundamentally alter the brain chemistry of an individual, with each use building up a tolerance that demands either higher doses of the opiate or more frequent doses in order to achieve the same desired effects. The more an individual uses these addictive substances, the more they continue to reprogram the body and brain into expecting these substances throughout the day. Those suffering from addiction may also believe these substances as essential for normal functions, or as essential needs akin to water or food.
If the body has become addicted and expects to be engaging with opiates regularly, but is suddenly denied their use through the detox process, the body must then undergo a difficult process to readapt into sober homeostasis. This involves removing the traces of the addictive substance from one’s body as well as a “relearning” process in the body as it has to readapt to the absence of an addictive substance. The body and brain can view this experience as being denied something essential, and the chemical imbalance created by the use of opiates needs to be readjusted within the body, carrying a number of physical, mental, and emotional hardships during this transitory phase. While this process can be very uncomfortable, it is a necessary process that can then allow for the implementation of sober practices in the future.
Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawals
Each individual will experience withdrawal in their own unique way. However, there are common experiences shared by those who have suffered through withdrawal. While the symptoms or combination of symptoms experienced can vary, some common signs of opiate withdrawal include:
Elevated Heart Rate
Each individual may experience varying intensity when it comes to these withdrawal symptoms, as well. While some of these symptoms could be mitigated with opiate withdrawals home remedies, intense or severe expression of these symptoms may require professional care to learn how to effectively cope.
Natural Remedies for Opiate Withdrawal
There are a few natural remedies and herbs for opiate withdrawal that one can employ to relieve some symptoms during the withdrawal process. However, while some of these remedies can help with some symptoms, it is unlikely that any one of these approaches can be successful in maintaining one’s sobriety from opiates. As a result, it is better to view these remedies as solutions to individualized symptoms during the detox process rather than solutions to addiction or the needed therapy and education required to maintain one’s sobriety. Some of the natural remedies that can help with these symptoms are:
Ginseng: This herb has been known to help improve cognitive function. The improved mental function and resilience can further help address feelings of depression or anxiety.
Ginger: Consuming ginger may be able to help relieve some of the pains or aches associated with one’s withdrawal symptoms, as well as help alleviate diarrhea.
Passion Flower: Can be found in capsule form and helps to lower anxiety levels, producing a calming feeling. While this can help alleviate one’s anxiety, side effects may include drowsiness. However, for those suffering from insomnia, this can also prove to be beneficial.
Tai-Kang-Ning: A Chinese herbal blend that is designed specifically for use in acute heroin withdrawal and directly addresses common withdrawal symptoms. This natural approach is also backed by the National Library of Medicine, stating in their studies that the use of Tai-Kang-Ning “[…] is effective in the treatment of moderate-to-severe acute heroin withdrawal syndrome with mild adverse effects.”
There are also some over-the-counter medications that can help alleviate certain opiate withdrawal symptoms. However, like with natural remedies, it is best to consider these approaches as targeting symptoms rather than as solutions to addiction as a whole. It is also important not to mix these medications with other drugs or substances without first consulting a professional who can advise how these substances may affect the body when working in tandem. Some over-the-counter medications are:
Loperamide: Also known as Imodium A-D or Diamode, these can help alleviate diarrhea.
Dimenhydrinate: Also Draminate or Dramamine, these can help address nausea.
Acetaminophen: This includes medications such as Tylenol, and can help alleviate aches and pains that an individual may feel as a result of their withdrawal.
Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Ibuprophen or Asprin are common brand names for NSAIDs that can help alleviate symptoms of aches, pains, swelling, or fever.
Acupuncture is another option for those who have access to such services. This approach is known to help alleviate stress and promote feelings of relaxation or ease. Due to the intense feelings of withdrawal, this sense of relief can be invaluable through the process and can promote a healthy outlook on one’s detox process that can further extend into prolonged recovery. This feeling of relaxation can also help an individual get effective amounts of rest, as well as provide mental and emotional relief from the anxieties or stress that may be present. While this approach may not work for everyone, it can be incredibly effective for those who are open and receptive to the idea.
Relaxing and Sleeping
A crucial part of addressing withdrawal symptoms is ensuring that each individual gets enough rest. Withdrawal and detox are very taxing on the body, and being able to relax and rest can help empower the body to make the necessary changes through this difficult process. Setting concrete schedules for resting and bedtimes can help program the body to be ready for sleep, though it may take a bit of time before the body becomes accustomed to the implementation of a set bedtime. Starting nightly rituals and routines can also help signal to the body that it is time to prepare for rest, such as brushing teeth, or even walking the house and ensuring that doors are locked. During rest times, avoiding electronics can help eliminate unnecessary stimuli that may otherwise keep an individual from getting to sleep or effectively staying asleep.
Foods and Exercise
Eating well and exercising are paramount to help alleviate withdrawal symptoms, as well. Not only can this help create healthy practices as a person begins to reinstill a healthy homeostasis, but nutritious foods and high-fiber diets can help provide the body with needed resources to make the transition. The body will be undergoing several chemical changes, all of which will require energy that can only be effectively generated from a healthy diet. Without a proper diet, additional hurdles can be introduced into the recovery process, and some symptoms may last longer than if one was otherwise maintaining a healthy diet. Avoiding caffeine can also help create a healthy diet as well as eliminate additional sources of discomfort or anxiety. Water is the best fluid alternative during this period, especially if nausea or vomiting is present through one’s withdrawal, which can leave a person feeling dehydrated.
While getting outside and exercising can also help, it is important to keep this exercise to a light walk or jog in order to preserve one’s energy for internal bodily processes. Hiking, bike riding, and yoga are all great options during this time to both help the body get moving and healthy without overexerting oneself.
How Long Do Withdrawals Last?
Each person will experience withdrawal in their own way. On average, withdrawal symptoms can last for around two weeks, with some individuals taking a bit more or less time than others. The use of effective dieting, coping strategies, and prepared home remedies can all help make this difficult process a bit easier. However, even after physical withdrawal symptoms have subsided, emotional withdrawal symptoms, urges, and stresses may continue to persist for a long time, accentuating the need for prolonged, engaged recovery programs.
When to Seek Help
A person’s withdrawal symptoms and detox process can sometimes become quite severe. Persistent pains, vomiting, and dehydration can all become serious enough to warrant medical attention. Those suffering from other physical or mental health concerns can have an increased level of complexity with their withdrawal that may also require professional aid. If an individual finds they are in a persistent level of distress through the process or that their coping strategies are not working during this crucial time, it may be beneficial to seek a professional detox facility for help with one’s unique withdrawal experience.