Dangers of Cold Turkey Opiate Withdrawal

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Opiate Addiction treatment – Dangers of Cold Turkey Opiate Withdrawal

Abusing opiates is risky because of how addictive the substance is. An addiction can form rapidly and lead to several problems in an individual’s social, work and personal life. In 2015, over 2 million people were abusing prescription opiates designed for pain management and a further 591,000 were addicted to heroin. Opiate addiction affects millions of people, including the families and friends of addicted individuals.  Dealing with cold turkey opiate withdrawal symptoms can be too much to handle alone. Thankfully, there are methods on how to quit opiates without withdrawal symptoms by making use of the specialized rehab facilities, such as those found on Better Addiction Care.

What are The Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal?

When opiates such as prescription pain killers and heroin are abused, they interfere with the reward centers of the brain. This interference causes the brains natural process of releasing chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine to be hindered. This results in extreme cravings and withdrawal symptoms when use of the substance stops and the body tries to adjust to normality again.

Factors such as the length of the abuse, the quantity of opiates that were abused and ho frequently it was abused can affect the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms. A person going through cold turkey opiate withdrawal alone will experience the most severe symptoms because there is no medication usually available for them to cope. This makes relapsing a real risk and there are other possible complications that may be caused by the withdrawal symptoms.

Opiate withdrawal symptoms that an individual going through cold turkey opiate withdrawal will experience are as follows:

  • Early symptoms – Initially, a person will start to feel symptoms such as agitation, insomnia, muscle aches, excessive yawning and tearing, anxiety, a runny nose, cold sweats, hypertension, fever and rapid heart rate. These symptoms are similar to severe flu symptoms.
  • Later symptoms – The symptoms that set in later during detox include more severe symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, depression, stomach cramps and severe drug cravings.

Quitting Opiates Timeline

Once you have decided it’s time to seek help, the quitting opiates timeline before most of the withdrawal symptoms are over can vary depending on the individual. The withdrawal symptom timeline for the early symptoms begins at around 6 to 12 hours after last using an opiate. Some longer-acting opiate medication can take up to 30 hours before showing the early symptoms.

A person going through cold turkey opiate withdrawal will begin to experience the later symptoms within the first 24 hours. They usually peak at around the 72 hour mark. After roughly a week of going through the symptoms, they will begin to fade to the point where the person is ready for further treatment.

How to Quit Opiates without Withdrawal

Opiate detox is one of the substance addictions where the person is advised to use a medical detox.  Due to how intense the cravings are and the severe flu-like symptoms that a person goes through in detox, a medical detox is the best solution. These programs allow the patient to have access to medications such as suboxone, methadone and naltrexone. They are designed to reduce symptoms of withdrawal and stop cravings.

Through these commonly prescribed medications used in opiate withdrawal along with over-the-counter medication to assist with symptoms such as nausea, the entire withdrawal process become much more manageable. In some cases, replacement therapy is the best solution allowing the user to still receive lower levels of opiates, such as methadone, and then slowly wean off it over a few months or sometimes years.

Once detox is over, therapy and alternative treatments can start. It is very important to use the initial momentum of going through detox to enter straight into addiction treatment programs once the detox is complete.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.

Sources:

https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids