“Getting Well” – How to Stay Healthy During Opioid Withdrawal and Come Out the Other Side
Good Health vs Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
Opiates and Opioids together have become the leading cause of addiction in the US. There are over ten million US adults addicted to opiates. While many are good people with reasons to leave addiction behind, part of the struggle is the devastating withdrawal experience. Opioid withdrawals notoriously make a person feel like they are going to die of intense, flu-like symptoms. Fever, nausea and vomiting, shakes, constipation and diarrhea, and insomnia are all an expected part of the detox and withdrawal experience.
Why do symptoms resemble the flu? Because many things that the flu causes inside your body also happen when you stop taking an opioid. The reason for this is that the opioid actually replaces certain functions and neurotransmitters in your body, so your body stops taking care of those functions or sending those neurotransmitters on its own. Your body’s internal balance is disrupted.
When you stop taking the opioid, the drug stops replacing those functions but it takes time for your body to start producing the missing compounds again. This is why taking good care of your physical health makes such an impact on how poorly you feel when you go through withdrawal.
Making It To the Other Side
For this reason, it is vital that anyone coming off of an opioid or opiate take good care of themselves during the detox and withdrawal process. If your goal is to make it to the other side of withdrawal feeling energized and ready to tackle your new sober life, then good health is the key. The healthier your body is and the better supplied you are with the right nutrients, the more quickly your body will replace the missing compounds and return to a functional drug-free equilibrium.
Fortunately, you don’t have to guess at the right steps to take. Use the following ten tips to help yourself or a loved one get through the difficult physical recovery process of replacing opioids with natural body functions during the withdrawal stages of opioid recovery.
1) Keep Yourself Hydrated with Electrolytes
First things first, your body needs water and electrolytes to be healthy. Everyone does, but when you’re withdrawing from opiates, you need hydration even more. The withdrawal process is going to cause you to sweat, vomit, and run to the bathroom more than a few times. During detox and withdrawal, patients tend to lose fluids like crazy. So you’ve got to keep topping them up.
Even if you feel sick, keep drinking hydrating liquids with electrolytes. It doesn’t have to be water, and a few sports drinks or Pedialyte can be essential. Stay away from caffeine, which is dehydrating and can make the shakes worse. Instead, focus on water, fruit juices, lemonade, and clear sodas. Try to constantly be drinking something and empty at least three bottles-worth of liquid each day.
2) Stock Up on Canned Soups and Mild Foods
Next, be prepared for nausea and the need to eat anyway. Anyone who’s seen Trainspotting
knows that canned soup is the key to staying both hydrated and calorie-supplied while sick during the withdrawal. Pick your favorite soups or go with the classic combination of tomato soup and cream of mushroom soup. They’ll keep you alive and soups are also handy as hydration.
You should also stock up on mild solid foods like bananas and crackers that can be eaten without upsetting the stomach when you’re feeling ill.
3) Use Sleep Improving Techniques
Sleep is vital to good health and reducing your withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, opiate withdrawal tends to cause insomnia and other sleep disturbances that keep you from getting good rest. Other than a few OTC pharmacy options like melatonin capsules, your best bet is to use all the known sleep-improving techniques. Make your room dark and quiet, use a white-noise generator, and go to sleep at the same time every day. It may also help to change your sheets frequently during this time.
4) Shower or Bathe Often
Your skin is going to feel awful. It’s one of those things that is universally true about coming down off an opioid. You will probably sweat, itch, twitch, and otherwise feel uncomfortable. Your skin will alternate between clammy-cold and itchy-dry. Showers can help you ease the full-body sensation of discomfort.
Take as many showers as you need to. Re-fluff towels directly in the dryer for fast cycle if you don’t have time (or the energy) for a full laundry load.
5) Put Lotion on Dry Skin
Of course, both the withdrawal process and hot showers can make your skin dry. Many patients in opioid recovery suffer from dry and cracking skin that adds to the discomfort. This is why lotion is an essential part of your supplies to endure the withdrawal. Apply lotion at least twice a day to your entire body, paying special attention to any areas that are already dry or damaged. Heavier lotion is good for damaged skin while light, thinner lotion is better for maintaining healthy skin during this time.
6) Treat Your Symptoms with OTC
OTC stands for Over the Counter medications. These are remedies you can buy at the pharmacy without a prescription. During withdrawal, doctors often recommend that patients help themselves by treating the symptoms with available OTC remedies. You can take Immodium for nausea and digestive concerns, milk of magnesia, st john’s wart, and other available solutions based on the symptoms you most want to treat. As long as you don’t exceed the recommended dosage on the packaging, it’s fine to treat your symptoms to help reduce discomfort.
7) Distract Yourself
Keep yourself distracted. Just like when you have the flu, staying distracted with television, books, activities, and good company will take your mind off your discomfort. Withdrawal can be infinitely more difficult when all you are thinking about is how uncomfortable you are or how you’d normally solve these sensations. By keeping your mind busy and your thoughts on something else, you can more easily ride out the withdrawal experience without letting each sensation make you feel worse.
8) Wear Loose, Comfortable Layers
One of the hallmarks of the body trying to regain its equilibrium is an unsteady body temperature. You may feel like you’re burning up one moment and freezing the next. This, combined with the increased skin discomfort, makes loose and comfortable layered clothing a must.
Most patients when going through withdrawals tend to prefer a combination of soft t-shirts, oversized sweaters, bath robes, and pajamas to help the body remain comfortable even as you go through many physical state changes. Be prepared to take off and put on layers as you need to along the way.
9) Soothe Aching or Shaking Muscles
You will likely go through one or more phases of shaking. Your limbs or entire body may shake which is both uncomfortable and distracting. It’s important to remember that these bouts of shaking will pass. You can help reduce the shaking by avoiding caffeine and soothing your muscles when the shaking occurs. Take a hot bath, a cold shower, or use hot pads or hot water bottles to apply heat to the spasming muscles. You can also ask a friend to give you a massage, which might help in some cases and gives you a different sensation to focus on.
10) Keep Your Body Supplied with Vitamins and Minerals
Finally, stay stocked up on all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs to be well. Remember, your body is rebuilding itself to survive without the drug and supply neurotransmitters that the drug had been replacing. Do do that, your body needs the building blocks which are made up of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. The healthier your food and supplements, the better you will come through the withdrawal.
Get Healthy Fast NAD IV Detox Treatment
One of the great innovations of our time in opioid detox therapy is NAD IV treatments. NAD stands for Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide. It’s a naturally occurring co-enzyme that promotes a number of systems in the body. At its most essential level, NAD helps your body efficiently turn food into energy. That energy is what your body needs to rebuild itself and fight off physical impact of addiction.
NAD also helps you generate the healthy neurotransmitters like Seratonin that you need to supply the receptors that the opioid was filling. By combining NAD with healthy self-care during detox and withdrawal, patients have been able to skip many of the most unpleasant aspects of withdrawal. This is because NAD accelerates the body’s self-rebuilding process and, therefore, reduces the physical impact you feel when opioids are removed from your system and the duration of the recovery process.
Opioid withdrawal can be dangerous. Although many sources claim that it can last a week others have suffered much longer. Explore alternative detox options like NAD IV Therapy which doesn’t use addictive medication. Learn about safer ways to detox from opioid abuse by contacting BrainSpark Health today!