If you’ve been experiencing bone or joint pain lately, chances are that you have been prescribed opiates to help you deal with the discomfort. While opiates help relieve moderate to severe pain, you have to exercise caution when taking them.
Here are some basic fact about opiates, why you shouldn’t depend on them, and what you can do to make opiate withdrawal easier.
What Are Opiates?
Opiates, also called opioids or narcotics, are a class of drugs commonly prescribed to relieve severe pain. These drugs can be used on their own or combined with other medicines to treat short-term pain that hasn’t responded to ordinary pain medicines.
Opiates such as morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone are also prescribed for people who take other medicines that should not be taken with normal pain medications. In addition to this, people with heart, liver, or kidney problems, who cannot take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat pain, can benefit greatly from opiates.
What Are the Side-Effects of Opiates?
Opiates, like all other medicines, have side-effects, but since these drugs are strong, you should only take them as prescribed by your doctor.
The most common side-effect of using opiates is that the amount of medicine needed to relieve pain can often make daily functioning difficult. This means, you could feel drowsy or nauseated while taking the medication. Furthermore, you may experience constipation, vomiting, respiratory depression, and increased tolerance if you take opiates for an extended period of time or take more than prescribed.
Apart from this, there is a high risk of dependence or addiction to opiates, particularly if you or a family member has a history of substance abuse.
Why Are Opiates Used despite Their Side-Effects?
As mentioned previously, certain health conditions or injuries require opiate medications to provide adequate pain relief. However, a lot of people take opiates even when they don’t need them for pain. Opiates can give a sense of euphoria and well-being that people eventually become dependent on!
Moreover, people tend to self-prescribe opiates because they think the pain isn’t getting better or simply because they aren’t feeling as good as when they are under medication.
What Can Make Opiate Withdrawal Easy?
Opiate withdrawal can be unpleasant and depending on the level of withdrawal, one can experience a range of symptoms. Early symptoms include anxiety, excessive sweating, insomnia, restlessness, and muscle aches. Other opiate withdrawal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, dilated pupils, high blood pressure, and rapid heartbeat.
Natural remedies can make opiate withdrawal easy. Here are some tips that will help:
- Plan your detox in advance so that your withdrawal symptoms don’t peak when you’re in the middle of work. For example, discontinue opiate use around Thursday noon so that the most severe symptoms occur on the weekend.
- Don’t quit eating- you won’t feel like eating but you must. Stock up on healthy foods and indulge in some of your favorites like noodles or soup. Go easy on spices!
- Gulping down huge amounts of water will cause your body to flush it right out. So sip slowly on water at regular intervals to stay hydrated throughout the day. Be armed with packets of electrolyte powders too!
- Wear comfortable clothes as you’ll feel hot one moment and cold the next!
- Use heat pads and cold compresses as needed. You can buy these at your local drugstore, but a cool or hot towel placed around your neck will work just as well.
- Take a hot bath or shower.
- Exercise when you can. Regular exercise will stretch muscles, improve blood circulation and appetite, reduce depression, and help you sleep better.
- Get out of the house for at least a couple of hours each day. Being in a different environment will help distract you and reduce the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms.
Using opiates to relieve short-term pain or when other medicines aren’t effective is okay, as long as you follow your doctor’s prescription. Avoid self-prescribing opiates and be sure to seek the help of a doctor or a professional if you develop physical dependence on the drugs or experience withdrawal symptoms.
George Catlin founded Withdrawal Ease due to his own struggle with opiate dependency following a surgical procedure in 2007. He has written The Opiate Withdrawal Survival Guide and created a nutritional supplement system specifically formulated to reduce the acuity of opiate withdrawal. Check out his about page on his blog for the whole story.