Drug dependence and addiction are some of the persistent problems of society at present. Various drugs and medications are currently being developed and used for different medical purposes. If and when he said drugs are used according to Doctor’s orders, then it can be beneficial and effective in enhancing an individual’s overall health and quality of life. Opioid and Opiate were originally meant to help patients and individuals manage pain as the said medications are considered pain relievers. When they are used incorrectly, however, the human brain can be dependent on their effects and these can cause some physical and psychological problems. In this article, we will look at the possible opioid and opiate withdrawal symptoms and these affect drug-dependent individuals.
What’s the Difference between an Opioid and an Opiate?
Most people use the terms opioid and opiates to cover a wide range of opium-based medications but this is actually incorrect. There are some specific differences between opioids and opiates. Opiates refer to drugs or medications that are naturally produced and acquired such as codeine, morphine, and heroin. Opioids, on the other hand, are opium-based drugs or medications that were synthetically derived from opium such as fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone. In short, while all opiates can be considered an opioid, not all opioids are opiates.
Opioid and Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Opioid and Opiate withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to handle as dependence or addiction to them may change certain structures of the brain and constant and repeated dependence on the aforementioned drugs may result in challenges and problems for the dependent individual. As such it is normal for the body to experience certain symptoms that may range from mild to severe. Opioid and Opiate withdrawal symptoms also have phases based on timelines. The said phases are as follows:
- Phase 1- This first phase may last for up to five (5) days. The patient withdrawing from opioids and opiates may experience agitation, restlessness, fever and flu-like symptoms.
- Phase 2- Patients may experience this for up to two (2) weeks and symptoms will usually be in the form of depression cravings, chills, and cramps.
- Phase 3- This last phase may last for up to two (2) months. Symptoms include mood swings, anxiety, insomnia, and cravings.
A period of 72 hours is also significant for those patients initially withdrawing from opiates as the symptoms during the first 72 hours may physically and emotionally drain patients. Below is a timeline of the first 72 hours of opioid and opiate withdrawal.
- First 12 Hours- Symptoms of Opiate withdrawal usually appear after the first twelve (12) hours upon the last intake of the opiates.
- Thirty (30) Hours- Long acting Opiates usually show symptoms around after the thirty (30) hours from the last intake.
- Next Seventy two (72) hours– The next two (2) days or forty-eight (48 hours) will see the patients with worsened symptoms. These opiate withdrawal symptoms will usually peak at around seventy-two (72) hours or three (3) days.
As presented earlier, there are the early stages of Opioid and Opiate withdrawal and the symptoms for each stage may vary. Early withdrawal symptoms include drug cravings, anxiety, muscle pain, fever and sweats, hypertension and heart rate and disruption of a normal night’s sleep.Later stage withdrawal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shivering, goosebumps, stomach cramps and pain. While experiencing the aforementioned symptoms, patients withdrawing from opioids and opiates may also experience bouts of depression and drug cravings. All these symptoms will reach their climax within seventy- two (72) hours. The physical symptoms of Opioid and opiate withdrawal will usually be completely gone by the third day of detoxification. Some psychological symptoms will still remain and be experienced by patients. These psychological symptoms may persist for weeks or even months.
How Support During Drug Withdrawal Helps
While the patient is undergoing withdrawal and drug detoxification, it is important that he/she receives the proper support through various recovery services. This will help people handle withdrawal symptoms better and promote a drug-free lifestyle in the long run. One main challenge withdrawal support addresses are the fact that some patients that experience drug withdrawal also experience suicidal ideation. Not all patients will have this suicidal feeling but the feelings of depression that come with opioid and opiate depression may take its toll on the patient and make it difficult for him/her to manage the said depression.
Patients with depression caused by withdrawal may have some mood swings and dark thoughts and feelings that life will never become better. As such, a continuous and reliable support system is necessary for patients to better manage these negative emotions and thoughts and to protect them from self-inflicted harm.
Patients who are also undergoing opioid and opiate withdrawal also need to have withdrawal support to avoid relapsing or going back to drug use especially since a relapse can be mean a higher probability for overdose. This is because recovering addicts already have bodies that more sensitive to the drug. This, in turn, may result in an overdose with just a slight use of the said drug.
Predictors of Opioid and Opiate Withdrawal
The success of a patient hurdling the challenges of Opioid and Opiate withdrawal can be predicted by a number of factors. One significant factor is how often withdrawal patients actually used the drug. Those who only used the drug intermittently were more likely to experience fewer withdrawal symptoms.
On the other hand, a higher rate of utilization for a longer period of time has been associated with more severe withdrawal symptoms. Patients who took in short-acting opium products and slow release morphine resulted in a more rapid onset of but shorter duration of withdrawal. Longer-acting opioids, on the other hand, resulted in a slower occurrence but longer duration of the withdrawal symptoms.
All of these phases, physical and psychological symptoms and the predictors of opioid and opiate withdrawal symptoms must be taken into consideration by the patient’s healthcare professional and support system to ensure the success of drug detoxification and addiction treatment. The treatments for addiction and detoxification may use a combination of medication and therapy depending on the recommendation of the patient’s healthcare professional and doctors.