With an estimated 2.1 million people in the US living with a substance abuse issue related to prescription pain medications and another 467,000 addicted to heroin, the issue of opiate addiction is a serious one. Since these drugs can cause a physical dependence when used over time, opiate detoxification is required before a person can enter a drug rehab program to start treatment for their substance abuse issue.
How Opiates Cause Physical Dependence
As a person continues to use opiates, they must continue taking the drug or they start to experience withdrawal symptoms. The time it takes to start experiencing a physical dependence varies with each person.
A patient who has been given prescription medications in the hospital or by their doctor may experience physical dependence without becoming addicted to the medication. When they stop using it, they experience some flu-like symptoms and think they have come down with a virus. Since that person doesn’t connect taking more of the pain medication with relieving the symptoms they are experiencing, they don’t experience drug cravings.
What is Opiate Detox?
Opiate detoxification is the process where a person who has become addicted to prescription pain medication or street drugs like heroin or morphine goes through the process of no longer taking the drugs.
During this process, supportive care is offered by detox centers. Medications may also be given during this time to treat symptoms caused by opiate withdrawal, typically as part of a monitored weaning process.
Medications Used in Opiate Detox
A person undergoing opiate detox may need help from medications to alleviate the following types of symptoms:
• Muscle aches
• Runny nose
Subutex, Suboxone and other forms of buprenorphine have been used for a number of years to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms. It can shorten the amount of time it takes someone to detox from this class of drugs and may be used for long-term maintenance, though most treatment professionals recommend getting off all opiates when possible.
If you are looking for an opiate detox facility for yourself or a loved one, be sure to inquire whether it is medically supervised and whether medications are provided to clients. Getting through this stage can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary to move on to drug rehab treatment and the possibility of long-term sobriety.