The United States is currently in the midst of an opioid epidemic. Drug overdoses are increasing mainly due to an increase in the use of opioids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses. In 2015, over 52,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses which jumped to 64,000 overdose deaths in 2016. Additionally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) published data that showed between 26.4 million and 36 million people abuse opioids worldwide.
What Are Opioids?
Opioids are drugs and medications commonly prescribed to treat pain. Under opioids are opiates, drugs derived from the opium poppy, and synthetic opioids like methadone. Doctors prescribe opioids to patients to treat pain. They usually prescribe one of the following: Oxycontin (oxycodone), Vicodin hydrocodone and acetaminophen), Dilaudid (hydromorphone), or morphine. Illegal opioids, like heroin and fentanyl, are causing the biggest increases in deaths and withdrawals all across America.
What Causes Opioid Withdrawal?
Withdrawal from opioids occurs once the body has become accustomed to a certain level or dosage of opioids. When someone takes opioids ( legal or illegal) for an extended period of time, their body becomes desensitized to the effects. Opioid withdrawal symptoms are the body’s physical response to the absence of the drug. This is what pushes people to increase their use of an opioid because it helps them avoid withdrawal symptoms. People become dependent on opioids in order to stop pain or withdrawal symptoms.
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
Opioid withdrawal symptoms may occur as early as a few hours after the last dose. These symptoms can last a week or more. Everyone experiences opioid withdrawal symptoms differently and the symptoms depend on the exact opioid and dosage taken. But, there is a general timeline for the progression of symptoms.
Early Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
The earliest withdrawal symptoms start about 6-12 hours after the last dosage for short-acting opioids and 24-30 hours for longer acting opioids. Early symptoms include the following:
- Excessive sweating
- Excessive yawning
- Eyes Tearing Up
- Muscle aches
- Racing heart
- Runny Nose
- Trouble falling and staying asleep
Later Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
Some opioid withdrawal symptoms occur later on and peak usually after 72 hours. Later symptoms usually begin after 24 hours and are more intense than early symptoms. These opioid withdrawal symptoms sometimes last a week or more. Later symptoms include the following:
- Dilated pupils and/or blurry vision
- Drug cravings
- High blood pressure
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat
- Stomach cramps
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms of Babies
Unfortunately, there are mothers that suffer opioid addiction while pregnant or must use opioids while pregnant. So, when a baby is born they experience opioid withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms babies experience include the following:
- Digestive issues
- Poor feeding
The onset of withdrawal depends on the drug, frequency of use, and severity of the addiction. While unassisted withdrawal is usually not life-threatening, it has the ability to lead to relapse. However, some withdrawal symptoms become intense and require hospitalization. In order to keep a person out of danger and make relapse unlikely, finding the right treatment is needed.
Treatment for Opioid Withdrawal and Addiction
Opioid withdrawal is an extremely unpleasant experience which many people try to avoid by taking more opioids. Or people try to manage withdrawal symptoms on their own unsuccessfully. But, professional treatment at a facility within a controlled environment offers a higher chance of success. While understanding opioid withdrawal symptoms is a good way to help people with addictions, it’s even more helpful to direct them to a rehabilitation facility that specializes in drug addiction. A facility provides effective treatments for opioid addiction which have the ability to save lives. Find the right treatment for yourself, your friend, or family member today.