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Pain Medication Withdrawal Symptoms

Last Updated on September 6, 2022 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Pain medication withdrawal symptoms act as a dominant driver, continuing the entrapment of addiction or dependence on these drugs.

Many have described the severity of discomfort during cessation as excruciating, sometimes past the threshold of what a person can tolerate. This degree of discomfort explains much about the frequency of relapse on pain pills and other opioid drugs.

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Pain Medication Withdrawal Symptoms*

Pain medication withdrawal symptoms include:
  • Muscle cramping, abdominal cramping, leg cramps
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Depression**
  • Chills
  • Goosebumps
  • Restless legs
  • Joint pain
  • Back pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

*The Mayo Clinic issued a warning in a recent report7 about severe withdrawals from opioids if done too abruptly, more so when the drug has been taken for more than a few weeks.
**Without adequate preparation or support, coming off pain pills can be too excruciating to bear, and can even cause suicidality6 if done too abruptly according to Dr. Stefan Kertesz, a specialist in addiction medicine from Birmingham Alabama.

Managing Pain — Healing from Pain

holistic healing from painHealing from pain might entail multiple layers of various therapeutic approaches and well-planned strategies that address a person’s unique type(s) and intensities of pain. Pain can be physical, emotional, spiritual. Where a person’s injury or maybe a surgery has caused pain, medication would be prescribed to ease the temporary discomfort and would have brought welcomed and necessary relief. The pain might have subsided after days or weeks as the injury healed, and the medication could be stopped without great discomfort.

However, perhaps the pain became chronic or worsened with some debilitating condition or deterioration. In opioids, as in all drugs, there is a point where the drugs stop working so well, or at all unless the dosage is increased. There can be health consequences if the dosage is increased too much. There are reasons for these phenomena. Understanding these mechanics more completely, and preparing for their outcome on health, can help to prevent further problems such as over-medication, accidental overdose, relapse, and continued suffering despite being medicated.

Some chronic pain patients may not be able to completely come off pain medication entirely. It would be arguably called cruel to cause another human being to suffer through their pain with no assistance or mitigation whatsoever. But for the vast majority of persons taking pain medication, there may be ways to not only reduce the medication safely and somewhat comfortably but to also reduce the severity of pain and discomfort so that medications are no longer needed in great volume or perhaps become not at all necessary.

Pain Pills and Addiction

pain medication withdrawal

Pain pills procured on the street are addictive, and their mechanics operate in similar ways to what a doctor prescribes. Pain medications eventually become unable to stop the pain. As a result, the person will begin to need a higher or more frequent dose to attain the same effect, which becomes harder and harder to achieve. Where opioids have become habitually used for their euphoric effects, these also eventually become unable to provide a euphoric effect. The person will begin to suffer withdrawals daily, which are painful, and will need to continue taking the drug just to avoid the pains of withdrawal. This is sometimes called “dope sickness.” If the person stops using the drug, the sheer intensity of withdrawals will continue to aggressively drive the addiction. A person who has fallen into the addiction trap very often requires help and assistance to overcome these mechanics.3,4,5

Any of the aforementioned intense reactions to coming off pain pills would be hard to bear, but the multiplicity of symptoms make the condition nearly impossible to withstand. You don’t have to suffer, and you don’t have to resort to relapse or substitute drugs to alleviate these problems. We can help.

About Orthomolecular Treatment at Alternative to Meds Center

orthomolecular medicineImmediately on arriving for treatment, one crucial beginning step is to identify what supplements are needed to benefit the healing process. Using plant-based, non-addictive nutritional elements provides the body with what it needs to begin to normalize healthy neurochemistry after the chaos and disruption of addiction. At the completion of inpatient treatment, clients can purchase a supplement protocol to continue to support the healing process once they return home. During the program, classes are given to explain the essential functions of nutrition, especially in recovery. Clients also learn how to use food and a clean diet to support a healthy microbiome, which is integral but often overlooked when neurotransmitter repair is the goal.

pain medication withdrawalThe intestines are called “the second brain.” Intestinal health is vital for healthy and robust neurotransmitter function since the gut produces most of the hormones used by the brain and CNS. Addiction disrupts and hijacks the regular roles of hormones and can result in dysfunctional brain chemistry, and a polluted body. There are many treatments during the program that assist these undesirable conditions, such as colon hydrotherapy, low-temperature sauna, chelation, cultured foods at every meal, mineral baths, bentonite clay packs, nutrient-dense diet, etc. Toxin removal is essential to ensure the gut is functioning efficiently, enabling the absorption of nutrients fully.

Holistic pain management is another critical element of the program. Where a person has medical oversight and is gradually tapering off their medications, clients benefit from acupuncture, Reiki, therapeutic massage, craniosacral massage, yoga, spa treatments, and more, to assuage physical pain during opiate withdrawal. Counseling provides a vehicle for emotional healing and the release of emotional and spiritual distress. Life coaching enables a resident to begin to restructure and fill their life with meaningful changes and plans for the future.

Contact Alternative to Meds Center for More Information

holistic pain medication withdrawalWe have created what we believe to be the most comprehensive medication withdrawal program available anywhere, offering a vast array of holistic, therapeutic strategies for recovery and relief. Our dedicated staff have also suffered and recovered from similar conditions and circumstances as yours.

We are always available to speak with you, to give you more detailed information on the various phases of our programs, length of stay, costs, and other information. If you wish, we can also inquire about private insurance coverage on your behalf which may cover at least a portion of the fees. Call us today and find out how we can assist you or your loved one with healing and help find relief from pain medication withdrawal symptoms.

1. Joseph A, ” Amid a reckoning on opioids, doctor crusades for caution in cutting back.” published in Stat News [Internet] 2019 May 30 [cited 2020 Sep 24]

2. Mayo Clinic Staff Report, “Tapering off opioids: When and how.” {Internet] 2020 Feb 4 [cited 2020 Sep 23]

3. McMaster University Information for Patients, “Opioid Tapering Patient Information.” {Internet] N.D. [cited 2020 Sep 24]

4. CDC, “Pocket Guide: Tapering Opioids for Chronic Pain.” US Dept. of Health and Human Services, [Internet] N.D. [cited 2020 Sep 24]

5. CDC Report “Overdose Death Maps.” 2017-2018 map [Internet] [cited 2020 Sep 24]

6. Joseph A “The chronic-pain quandary: Amid a reckoning over opioids, a doctor crusades for caution in cutting back” Stat News, 2019 May 30 [cited 2020 Sep 24]

7. Mayo Clinic Staff “Tapering off opioids: When and how” Mayo Clinic [cited 2020 Sep 24]

Originally Published Sep 19, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

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.

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Pain Medication Withdrawal Symptoms
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.

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