Opiates are a serious classification of drugs. These substances come in many forms, but all are highly addictive and can easily become lethal. Over 100 Americans die every day from opiates, some of whom have been prescribed the medication by a doctor.1
Though they are highly addictive and can control a person’s life, it’s possible to successfully withdraw from opiate-classified substances. Though the process may be uncomfortable, it’s ultimately safe and possible to rid yourself of these toxic substances. Any discomfort you may experience during the withdrawal process can be mitigated with safe and effective tools administered by professionals.
If you or someone you love is struggling with opiate addiction, including heroin, you may have heard that recovery is nearly impossible. However, that’s simply not true. Many individuals with opiate addictions overcome their struggle and go on to live normal, happy, drug-free lives.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
It’s important to know what opiates are before you can successfully withdraw from them. This classification of drugs deals with pain management, usually for severe acute or chronic pain.2
Common types of legal opiates include:
These opiates can be prescribed by a doctor and are generally only used after less-addictive options fail to work. Fentanyl, specifically, is a highly concentrated opiate only used as a last resort, often for very painful cancers and cancer treatments.3 It’s very easy to overdose on fentanyl.
Heroin is an opiate as well, though it is an illegal one and is not used by the medical community. It does aid in pain relief as well, but because it is unregulated, it’s extremely easy to overdose. In fact, many heroin dealers and suppliers lace their supply with fentanyl, which often causes overdose and death.
Side Effects of Opiates
Taking opiates comes with risks and side effects, just like any other classification of medication.4 Even if you’re prescribed opiates by a medical professional, you may still experience these symptoms. There’s no way to be completely safe or free of risk when taking opiates.
Common opiate side effects include:
Shallow or depressed breathing
Hormonal dysfunction, especially with testosterone
Lower sex drive
Tolerance, or requiring more drugs to achieve the same effect
These risks are heightened when you don’t know the dosage or contents of the drugs, which is often the case with heroin.
Opiate Withdrawal Side Effects
Many people experience withdrawal side effects when they stop using opiates.5 Though these side effects can be uncomfortable and frightening, they are only temporary.
Withdrawal side effects include:
With the proper help, it’s possible to experience withdrawal safely while minimizing symptoms. After the initial withdrawal, many people begin to feel like their old selves again. In a few weeks, it’s common to begin feeling really good and seeing the world through a new lens.
Opiate Withdrawal Success Stories
When you’re going through opiate withdrawal or considering ending your use of opiates, the initial symptoms can seem like a huge roadblock. Lots of people want to give up or don’t even try because they’re afraid. What sufferers should know is that tapering off opiates including the use of specific medications designed to safely ease the process can lessen the difficulty of withdrawals.6 What’s more, there are thousands upon thousands of opiate withdrawal success stories.
Escaping the Cycle
Many opiate withdrawal success examples talk about breaking the cycle of addiction or dependence. This is because individuals who are suffering significant dependencies often engage in cyclical habits. Their mental health is not optimum, or their lifestyle isn’t fulfilling, , or they seek fast relief of unwanted feelings, so they seek out drugs. The more drugs they use, the worse their mental health and lifestyle become.
Family and friends often feel frustrated about their behavior and may make them feel shameful or guilty.7 Individuals may even steal from people they love to support their habit, which takes a further toll on their lifestyle and mental health, and deteriorating relationships and the cycle continues.
There are opioid withdrawal success stories across all arenas. Physicians, scientists, and doctors are working at every level to develop ways to end the opioid epidemic and help individuals to get out of destructive patterns of drug use. This is encouraging and signals that the way we approach drug dependence as a society may be changing.
Traditional Rehabilitation Centers for Opiate Withdrawal
Those who wish to detox from drugs have a lot of options for rehabilitation. Though every program is different, many traditional rehab centers have group-based treatment plans. They treat everyone uniformly and offer healing based on the strength of the group rather than as an individual. Though the community of support can be beneficial, it can make the transition from rehab to normal life more difficult.
Though the community aspect is important to overcoming drug dependence, you must get tools to cope on your own. Mental health support, behavioral skills, and holistic treatments are all crucial to fully healing and moving on. Our center aims to provide uniquely tailored holistic treatments, to improve the likelihood of success for your opiate withdrawal efforts.
Opioid Withdrawal Without Support
Some individuals wish to approach opioid withdrawal on their own, believing that this will save them time and money. The reality is much different. Trying to navigate the withdrawal process alone is almost always more difficult than anticipated.8 Individuals are shocked by the intensity of the symptoms, and more often than not, they turn back to their drug use to keep from experiencing the symptoms.
Even the most strong-willed people succumb to relapse when trying to quit opioids without support. These drugs have an intense effect on your mental health and can make you do things you could not have envisioned you would ever do.. Addiction and dependence do not simply go away because a person wants them to. Just like any other disease or condition, they need to be properly treated in order to heal.
Most importantly, opioid withdrawal is dangerous if you aren’t supervised.9 Your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature can all fluctuate, which can lead to disastrous results if you don’t have a medical professional by your side. Many people can’t quit immediately for this reason. Administration of Suboxone can help to mitigate the symptoms safely and help the body transition out of opioid use.
Consider caffeine, for example. When individuals try to quit caffeine outright, they often experience headaches, irritability, heart palpitations, and insomnia.10 However, slowly lowering one’s caffeine intake can make the process much easier on the mind and body, and the individual is more likely to permanently replace caffeine with something different. This is a very minimized version of what it might be like to withdraw from opiates.
A Better Quality of Life
Lots of people avoid opioid withdrawal because they believe that their lives are better with the drugs. Many have lost hope for a better future and don’t clearly see the purpose in quitting, especially if it requires painful withdrawal. The brain’s chemical makeup is altered by drug use, so it can seem as though there’s no way to feel happy or well without it.
If you’re suffering from an opioid dependence, don’t settle for a lifetime of pain. You have options, no matter what your situation may be. Our staff can help you successfully detox from opiates and give you the tools to feel good about your life once again.
*Editor’s Note: This article was originally published July, 2021 and has been updated March, 2022.
1. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2020. Available at http://wonder.cdc.gov.
2. Rosenblum, A., Marsch, L. A., Joseph, H., & Portenoy, R. K. (2008). Opioids and the treatment of chronic pain: controversies, current status, and future directions. Experimental and clinical psychopharmacology, 16(5), 405–416. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0013628
3. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Health Sciences Policy; Committee on Pain Management and Regulatory Strategies to Address Prescription Opioid Abuse; Phillips JK, Ford MA, Bonnie RJ, editors. Pain Management and the Opioid Epidemic: Balancing Societal and Individual Benefits and Risks of Prescription Opioid Use. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2017 Jul 13. 4, Trends in Opioid Use, Harms, and Treatment. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK458661/
5. Kosten, T. R., & George, T. P. (2002). The neurobiology of opioid dependence: implications for treatment. Science & practice perspectives, 1(1), 13–20. https://doi.org/10.1151/spp021113
6. Groot, P. C., & van Os, J. (2021). Successful use of tapering strips for hyperbolic reduction of antidepressant dose: a cohort study. Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology, 11, 20451253211039327. https://doi.org/10.1177/20451253211039327
8. Gold, M. S., Pottash, A. C., Sweeney, D. R., & Kleber, H. D. (1980, January 25). Opiate withdrawal using clonidine: A safe, effective, and rapid non-opiate treatment. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 243(4), 343-346 jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=368458
10. Meredith, S. E., Juliano, L. M., Hughes, J. R., & Griffiths, R. R. (2013). Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda. Journal of caffeine research, 3(3), 114–130. https://doi.org/10.1089/jcr.2013.0016
This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.
Dr. Samuel Lee
Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente. He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.