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15 Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain. While pain medicine now offers minimally invasive interventional treatments to manage and treat pain effectively, many pain sufferers become dependent on Opioids.

Opioids

Opioids are a class of drugs typically prescribed to manage moderate to extreme pain symptoms.

Examples of opioid drugs are –

  • Vicodin (hydrocodone and acetaminophen)
  • Oxycontin (Oxycodone)
  • Fentanyl
  • Dilaudid (hydromorphone)
  • Morphine
  • Heroin

Opioid Withdrawal

With time, the body becomes tolerant to the pain-killing effects of opioids. This creates the need for larger doses of the drug to achieve the same effect. This can lead to overdose, even death. Gradually, your brain thinks it cannot function without the drug. Those dependent on the drug may not even realize it, mistaking withdrawal symptoms for something like the flu.

Even if you or a loved one is taking opioids as prescribed, it is possible to build tolerance to them.

Opioids flood the brain with dopamine, the happy hormone. This overstimulation produces euphoric effects. People who misuse drugs seek this euphoria repeatedly and become addicted. The absence of the drug creates a dopamine deficiency in the brain, forcing the person to seek the drug again. Alternatively, if the opioid or prescription pain med use is stopped abruptly, the person would experience drug withdrawal.

Common Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms include –

Early Withdrawal Symptoms (start within 6-12 hours)

  • muscle aches
  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • lacrimation (eyes tearing up)
  • runny nose
  • excessive sweating
  • sleeplessness
  • frequent yawning

Later Withdrawal Symptoms (start after the first day)

  • diarrhea, nausea and vomiting
  • abdominal cramping
  • goose bumps on the skin
  • dilated pupils and possibly blurry vision
  • rapid heartbeat
  • high blood pressure

To safely come out of withdrawal, recover from the addiction and any other co-occurring disorders and have your pain treated without using prescription medication, seek help at a drug detox and pain management center, such as Pacific Bay Recovery in San Diego.

Can I Detox from Heroin at Home?

Heroin is highly addictive and it may not be easy for you to detox and recover. If you’re wondering whether you can detox from heroin at home, instead of a rehab, think again. Read on to understand why heroin detox on your own is not a good idea.

Those who are addicted to heroin would experience withdrawal as the drug begins to leave your system. Heroin withdrawals range from very unpleasant to extremely dangerous. The severe symptoms of heroin withdrawal can easily drive you back to using the drug.

Some common heroin withdrawal symptoms are –

  • Flu-like symptoms – fever, muscle pain, chills
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Tremors, fast pulse, and enlarged pupils
  • Increased restlessness and anxiety

Potential Complications of Detoxing from Heroin at Home

Despite claims from other people that it’s possible to detox from heroin at home, here is why heroine detox at home can be potentially dangerous.

Heroin detox can make any pre-existing health conditions worse. If you suffer from hypertension, detoxing without medical supervision can prove life-threatening.

Even if you are healthy, severe symptoms, like vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, which can be fatal. Detoxing at a rehab under medical supervision ensures that your withdrawal symptoms are managed and/or treated before they become intense.

Home heroin detox has a very high failure rate. Your withdrawal symptoms will make you feel miserable, it’s tempting to start using the drug again for instant relief. Detoxing at a medically supervised rehab includes support of skilled and compassionate professionals who know how to help you stay you on track through the hardest part.

Why Oxycodone is Being Used Recreationally

is oxycodone addictiveOxycodone is a synthetic opioid drug that is produced from thebaine which is found in the Persian poppy plant. The drug is used as a pain relieving medication and is found to be up to 1.5 times more potent than morphine.

Oxycodone is indicated for providing pain relief in patients with moderate to severe pain and is used in situations such as:

  • Post-surgical pain relief.
  • Severe spinal pathologies.
  • Pain caused by certain cancers.

Effects

Effects of oxycodone other than pain relief include:

  • Feelings of euphoria.
  • Reduced anxiety.

The reason why this happens is that the drug works on the opioid receptors in the brain that are involved with the reward system of the organ. Unfortunately, prolonged use of medications such as oxycodone can lead to other problematic behaviors such as:

  • Tolerance – where the user starts to use more of the medication because it doesn’t seem to provide the desired effect, be it pain relief or the mentioned euphoria associated with its use.
  • Recreational use – the pain may no longer be present but the individual may still be using the medication because of the mentioned effects it has on the body.
  • Dependence – this occurs when one stops using the drug and begins to experience withdrawal symptoms thereby causing the individual to continue using oxycodone to prevent these issues from occurring.
  • Addiction – is oxycodone addictive? Yes, it is because continued use of the medication may result in health-related problems, issues with school or work performance, and even getting into trouble with the law. Continued behaviors such as these without taking into consideration the negative consequences associated with it are regarded as addictive behaviors.

In one literature review, multiple studies demonstrated that oxycodone had an elevated abuse liability compared to other similar drugs such as morphine and hydrocodone-based on its high likability scores and relatively reduced amount of subjective effects.1

 

Adverse effects

Oxycodone use in high dosages can lead to problems such as:

  • Suppressed and shallow respiration.
  • Slowed heart rate.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Circulatory collapse.
  • Respiratory arrest.
  • Spinal cord infarction, strokes, and heart attacks due to reduced blood flow and oxygen transport to the involved organs.
  • Liver and/or kidney damage if oxycodone combined with medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are consumed.

Legal status in the United States

Oxycodone is a Schedule II controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act that was enacted in 1971. This includes formulations of the medication where other drugs are included with the oxycodone, such as those mentioned already.

Despite this legislation, oxycodone is still one of the most commonly abused pharmaceutical drugs in the United States and has given rise to the current opioid epidemic which has resulted in the death of over 180,000 people from 2009 to 2015 with nearly 35,000 of those fatalities coming from the latter mentioned the year.

Management

The primary focus of prevention is at the level of the physicians who prescribe these medications. Caution needs to be exercised when patients are prescribed oxycodone. Their needs and unique circumstances should be factors that must be considered when deciding who is prescribed these kinds of medications.

Where addictive behaviors are suspected in individuals using these medications, the services of local substance abuse rehabilitation facilities should be made use of.

Heroin – Dangers Associated with the Drug and its Addictive Factor

Heroin – Dangers Heroin is classified as an opioid drug because it acts on the opioid receptors in the brain. The drug is mostly used recreationally to produce euphoria in the user and also results in relaxation, drowsiness, and reduces any pain experienced by the individual.

In the United States, heroin is not accepted as medically useful whereas in countries such as the United Kingdom it may be prescribed as a strong pain reliever for the following situations:

  • Severe trauma.
  • Post-surgical pain control.
  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • Chronic pain caused by terminal illnesses and end-stage cancer.
  • Maintenance therapy for those who are addicted to heroin, even being considered more useful than methadone. This is somewhat of a controversial use of the drug though.

Does heroin cause have any adverse effects?    

 

The use of heroin as a recreational drug is extremely problematic and there are major adverse effects associated with its use such as:

  • Contracting blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis and HIV due to sharing infected needles and syringes to administer the drug intravenously (into the bloodstream through a vein).
  • Developing fungal or bacterial endocarditis (infection of the inner lining of the heart).
  • Formation of abscesses at the injection sites due to the introduction of harmful bacteria into the soft tissue when injecting the drug.
  • Accidentally becoming poisoned with products used to “cut” the drug.
  • Overdosing on the drug which can suppress the central nervous and respiratory systems enough to result in death.

How addictive is heroin?

Heroin is an extremely addictive drug because of the way it works on the brain. The mentioned opioid receptors are involved in the reward system of the brain and when they are stimulated, the result is a relaxed state, or a “high”, that makes the user feel pleasant.

The steps to full-on addiction to the drug are as follows:

  • Frequent and regular use of heroin leads to tolerance to the drug which means the individual needs to use more of the product to reach its desired effect.
  • Dependence develops when stopping the drug causes withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, agitation, cold flashes, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, muscles aches and pains, insomnia, and severe cravings for heroin. This results in the continued use of the drug to avoid these symptoms from occurring.
  • Continued use of heroin then leads to issues such as health-related problems, failure to meet responsibilities at school or work, and even getting into trouble with the law. This is termed as the user having a substance use disorder and the most severe form of it being referred to as an addiction to the drug.

Long-term effects

Individuals who use heroin over the long term may develop problems such as:

  • The collapse of veins that are used to inject the drug into.
  • Sleep disturbances that are difficult to manage.
  • Damage to the mucous membranes in the noses of those who snort the drug.
  • Damage to the valves of the heart due to endocarditis.
  • Liver and kidney disease usually caused by the additives in the drug.
  • Development or worsening of mental health disorders such as depression.
  • Irregular menstrual cycles in women.
  • Sexual dysfunction in men.

Why Getting a Dual Diagnosis in Important?

Dual diagnosis refers to a treatment facility for individuals who suffer from both mental illness and substance abuse. There are currently more than 50% of Americans suffering from psychological disorders, following substance abuse reports the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Many such individuals suffering from a mental condition rely on drugs and alcohol to relieve the symptoms. However, according to research, the unauthorized use of drugs worsens their mental illness.

Specialists provide that mental illness and substance recovery are two different cultures, and developing an integration between both can be challenging.

Dual Diagnosis treatment

More than 7.9 million individuals in America experience a breakdown of substance and mental disorder simultaneously. Out of this population, 4.1 million are men according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Symptoms

The symptoms of dual diagnosis vary extensively given the combination of several factors. Mental health clinics have started to study both substance and psychological screening tools to identify individuals who suffer from both conditions together. Some symptoms that share common ground are:

  • Introvert behavior
  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Suicidal attempts or engagement in risky behavior
  • Lack of resistance to the use of substance
  • Developing withdrawal symptoms
  • The need to rely on drugs to survive.

Treatment options

Different dual diagnosis treatment centers have different treatments options available, depending on the extent of the individual’s condition. Even though treatments are designed after screening each patient separately, some of the common treatments used in dual diagnosis include the following:

  • Detoxification

It is mostly the first treatment used in dual diagnosis. The detoxification process requires an individual to undergo cleansing for seven days. In this, the body is cleansed of the toxins stored in the body.

  • Inpatient rehabilitation

Individuals suffering from drug dependency and mental illnesses may need an inpatient rehabilitation. In such situations, they can receive both psychological and health care under the guidance of psychiatrists and health specialists. The administration tapers the substance amount with other effective medicines to reduce the withdrawal effects.

  • Psychotherapy

This part of the treatment plays a significant role in dual diagnosis. A cognitive behavioral therapy, it helps individuals cope with the stressful thoughts. The specialists help patients modify their thinking patterns

  • Medication

Medications are used to treat psychological disorders. Some of these medications also help individuals cope with the withdrawal symptoms during detoxification. These are mostly muscle relaxants that help ease the nerves.

  • Support housing

In dual diagnosis, motivation plays a significant role. It can be challenging to feel as if you are suffering alone. Support groups help individuals share their negative thoughts, their happy thought and find their motivation for survival.

Conclusion

In dual diagnosis, an integrated approach to mental illness and substance abuse is used to treat both problems simultaneously. The treatment features helping patients cope with stress by enhancing their motivation, reducing triggers that may force them to take drugs, increasing their social skills and detoxifying their body.

Dual diagnosis is a smart move that provides support to patients who suffer from mental illness followed by drug abuse.

We have a surprise!

Dr. Michael S. Duffy, Sr., DO, Medical Director of one of San Diego’s leading addiction treatment facilities is proud to announce a strategic change in its Senior Leadership. 

Opioid and illicit drug use in San Diego is at an all time high.  According to the CDC, one of every three patients who were prescribed a 30-day supply of Opioids for the first time were found to be addicted one year later.  Dr. Duffy calls this …“a crisis impacting our mothers, our fathers, our brothers, our sisters and our children.  It is an Urgent call to San Diegan’s to understand and recognize addiction and seek help”.

Pacific Bay Recovery strives to meet and exceed community’s needs for those affected by or afflicted by addiction.  In its response to this crisis and the immediate need to improve opportunities for access and admission to treatment programs, Pacific Bay Recovery has enriched its executive team.  Dr. Duffy is honored to announce the appointment of Bryan C. Sharp, to the position of Vice President of Admissions.

Mr. Sharp joined Pacific Bay Recovery in 2012 serving in various capacities throughout the organization, most recently as Director of Admissions. With respect to his new role, Mr. Sharp said, ‘This work is my passion, the people we help are people in dire need of a second chance at at living addiction free”.  Mr. Sharp thanks all the team members at Pacific Bay Recovery, and most importantly offers thanks and praise to his beautiful wife and son, without whom he could not achieve his passions and calling in life.

Please join us in congratulating Mr. Sharp on his new role within Pacific Bay Recovery.  You may reach Bryan at bryan@pacificmedicalcare.net, or call (858) 263-9700.

New Research on Treating Substance Abuse

Although widely opted for, detoxification may not be as effective to treat substance abuse as medication.

Treating Substance AbuseA new research suggests that substance-dependent individuals seeking assistance through an expensive medical detoxification can perhaps benefit better with a combination of opioid medications like buprenorphine and methadone. Such medication allows substance dependent patients to slowly modify their body pattern.

This research does not claim these medications to be a permanent alternative. But compared to the method of medical detoxification, this comes with a saving of approximately $78-257. Moreover, it is psychologically easier than facing the withdrawal symptoms during detoxification.

Today, more than 2.6 million residents of the USA suffer from opioid dependency. Claiming 91 lives each day, The US faces a tremendous challenge dealing with opiate addiction. And more than 80 percent of the drug addiction victims have been deprived of medication-based treatment.

California is currently the largest state found with opiate addiction crisis. The health regulations still favor detoxification by not prescribing opioid agonist medication till the patient is proven to have gone through detoxification. This implies that a patient would have to pay for the detox prior to being insured for buprenorphine or methadone.

New law:

The latest improvisation in the law has added a provision which organizes an emergency alcohol and drug detoxification program under the administration of the Health Department.

The purpose of this program is to encourage health services to develop new ways for detoxification of drug within a medical facility center after an overdose. Highlights of the bill include:

  • This bill is sponsored by State Rep. Aaron Kaufer.
  • It enables the Department of health to provide more proficient medical detox facilities, sharing the burden of Department of Drug & Alcohol that was previously responsible for dealing with a substance based emergency. Additionally, Department of Health has more resources, comparatively, says Kaufer.
  • It is important to note that this law does not impose upon hospitals to spare beds for drug addiction emergencies, but only to become more efficient in easing the risks involved with overdose.
  • This program will facilitate basic facilities required by an individual for detox.

Kaufer says:

“ There obviously is economies of scale at a place like a hospital. Whether it is space or access that is important, is the important question. People are treated and sent back, while this initiative proposes a stay in the hospital till a facility center is found for them where they can effectively get treated for addition”

It is still unclear how the law will come into practice. It is new and will require a complete design of how things would work before it is implemented as a must. “Much of the responsibility will fall on the Department of Health to determine how this program will work” provides Nate Wardle, a spokesman fforthe health department.

It is hoped that the research would help the health centers perceive a better and more effective combination of detox and medication to cater the needs of an opiate addict. In the current crisis, it is best if the state implies any law that promises better results.

 

Detox is Only the Beginning

Many people think of addiction treatment as detox and are afraid of it too.

Yes, detox is an important first step in recovery, yet detox is only the first of a series of steps and changes you need to make to complete recover from addiction.

When you wean yourself off the drug or alcohol, the body (which is dependent on the substance by now) undergoes withdrawal. These withdrawal symptoms may be physical, such as nausea and diarrhea or psychological, such as mood changes and depression. Most abusers dread these withdrawal symptoms. While detox can be a trying experience, it has a reasonably predictable – and relatively short – duration. Leading drug detox facilities, such as pacific Bay Recovery in San Diego, offer medical detox that is carried out under the supervision of doctors and addiction specialists.

It is important to remember that detox is just the beginning of a long process of sobriety and recovery.

Detox can bring change but that would only last a short duration. You need to follow it up with inpatient or intensive outpatient treatments that help you recover and cultivate a drug-free lifestyle.

Detox signals the beginning of your treatment but it isn’t the entire treatment. There is lot of work to be done. Check with your rehab center about addiction treatment programs available. You can choose from inpatient and intensive outpatient programs.

Heroin – The Ultimate High

Heroin gives a high like no other drug. But the sense of empowerment doesn’t last long. In fact, it leaves you worse than before. And most importantly, the drug slowly destroys every cell in the body.

Heroin and the Brain
Heroin is an opiate. It gradually alters brain structure and function. The drug itself goes through many chemical reactions in the brain and changes into morphine. It quickly binds to the opioid receptors, mimics endorphins (natural “feel-good” chemicals) and relieves pain and anxiety, producing a euphoric state. This is what makes heroin so addictive.

Heroin and the Body

  • Intake
    The person takes heroin.
  • Heart
    Heroin enters the bloodstream quickly.
    The heart pumps the blood with the drug in it.
  • Brain
    The drug passes through the blood-brain barrier and reaches the brain to undergo chemical reactions and binds to opioid receptors.
    Causes euphoria, pain and anxiety relief
  • Liver
    The drug undergoes extensive first-pass metabolism in the liver.
    The liver produces specific enzymes for this purpose.
    The drug enters the body’s circulation.
  • Kidneys
    Heroin has an extremely rapid half-life of 2-6 minutes.
    About 7% is excreted as unchanged morphine and 50-60% as glucuronides.
    Within 72 hours up to 90% is eliminated in urine.

How Heroin Destroys the Body
Heroin use can cause –

  • suppressed breathing
  • irregular heartbeat
  • hormonal imbalance
  • impaired decision-making
  • kidney failure

Timely treatment for heroin addiction can help prevent further damage.

How to Detox Your Liver From Alcohol Without 30 Day Rehab Programs

Detox Your Liver From AlcoholIn the past few years, more and more scrutiny has been placed on America’s addiction to short rehab programmes. Countless articles have why the current 30-day trend is outdated, expensive and has poor rates of return. Some estimate that only 10% of addicts going into a 30-day rehab programme will stay sober.  In an interview with Slate magazine, one Outpatient clinic owner noted: “You don’t treat a chronic illness with 30 days of intensive rehab – that’s absurd”. He’s got a point. The real question is what’s the solution? Luckily there are other options on how to detox your liver from alcohol.

 

Symptoms of Detox

Detox can be a painful process. Not only are symptoms of withdrawal severe and often very unpleasant, chronic alcohol abuse and addiction is a long built habit that takes time, effort and a certain amount of skill to break. The most obvious negative to alcohol detox is the withdrawal symptoms. Patients get a number of symptoms including:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Nightmares
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusions
  • Seizures
  • Death

That final one is the biggest takeaway. Detox can be dangerous. In some ways, the 30-day alcohol detox rehab programme made sense when it was first invented. Get the addict safely off alcohol without some of the more severe side effects and back to their family sober. But the more we learn about addiction the more we learn this just doesn’t work. Here’s why:

  • Addiction isn’t just withdrawal. Whilst addicts don’t want to stop because they fear the withdrawal – this isn’t the only reason they are addicted.
  • Old habits die hard. How long does it take to make or break a habit? If you took up a new hobby would 30 days of doing that hobby count as a new habit? No. People take much longer, up to 90 days to make habits.
  • Addiction takes time to open up to. Often 30 days isn’t long enough to build trusting therapeutic relationships with the staff at these clinics
  • The addicts don’t want to be there. It’s no surprise that family members and loved ones want alcoholics to seek help. But often convincing them to go to a 30-day programme won’t be enough. They have to make a long-term commitment to change and signing up to 30 days isn’t a big enough commitment. Longer treatments take dedication and real willpower – the exact characteristics an alcoholic needs to overcome their addiction.

 

Unrealistic Expectations – Outpatient or Longer Stays are the Only Way

As we’ve seen – 30-day alcohol detox programs aren’t working. The success rates are low, sometimes lower than 10% completing and continuing the programme. There are, however, a number of solutions. One alternative is longer residential programmes. Those deeply ingrained habits, that have years and years of history are far more likely to be broken by much longer stays, perhaps 3 or more months. Many recovery practices do offer this service and it typically has a much higher rate of success (up to 2 or 3X higher than the best 30-day programmes). Another option is outpatient recovery, with skilled doctors prescribing the best medications to guide a person through the process and stop dangerous withdrawal. In fact, studies have shown for all substance abuse, including alcohol, that longer stays in rehab simply work better.