Tips for Managing Opioid and Opiate Withdrawal for Chronic Pain Patients
Dealing with chronic pain is something that becomes a lifetime challenge. Anything that allows you to relax seems like a blessing. But with addictive painkillers on the market, it’s important to choose your long-term pain relief methods with care. Many people find themselves addicted after only a brief prescription, and chronic pain drastically increases the chance of both habituation and physical addiction to the known dangers of opioids and opiates.
When this happens, the only self-preserving choice to make is detox and addiction treatment. Whether your loved ones have come together to help you stop or you made the decision to change on your own, one thing holds true: Withdrawal is no walk in the park. Chronic pain changes your experience from the typical opioid withdrawal because you are also contending with your medical condition and the way opioids interact with your already active pain receptors.
Here at Fairwinds Treatment Center, we know that detoxing and withdrawal can be the most painful, difficult part of recovery even if you are fully dedicated to getting well. These tips are designed to help patients with chronic pain about to embark on (or already experiencing) opioid detox on your journey to better health.
Tip #1: Your Medical Pain is Not Getting Worse: It’s an Illusion of Withdrawal
If you only stay for one tip, remember this: Opioid withdrawal makes your pain feel worse, but it’s not really worse. The biggest challenge for pain patients detoxing is the feeling like your pain gets much worse when the opiates stop. In reality, your body just needs time to recover and renew your natural pain management systems without the drugs filling your receptors.
The sensation of increased pain is an illusion and it will pass. The thoughts you think about opioids being the only way to make the pain stop are a typical addiction reaction. You can get through this and those thoughts are not the truth.
Expect to Feel Miserable for a While
The stages of opioid withdrawal are well-known and documented. You will feel sick and then you will sweat, shake, and vomit for several days. Everything else is on the other side of this. Consider your detox experience like signing up for a bout of the flu that you’ll feel better on the other side of. If you’re braced to feel miserable, it will be easier to muster your resolve to get through it.
Aches and Pains
You will feel muscle aches and increased pain sensations during the detox process. Expect to feel fatigued, shaking, and for every sensation to feel painful for several days. Each person experiences the aches differently.
Sweats and Shakes
Opiate withdrawal almost always trigger excessive sweating and often triggers shaking. Your skin will feel clammy and alternate between cold and hot sweats. You may find yourself shaking one body part or shaking all over. The shaking will subside over time.
Nausea and Vomiting
All opioid withdrawal results in nausea and you can expect to vomit for at least one entire day. You may also have other digestive problems. One of the biggest challenges is staying hydrated and supplied with nutrients during this time.
Stock Up on Canned Soups
While you are feeling poorly in all the ways just described, few people are up to cooking for themselves. At the same time, you need plenty of liquids and nutrients to make up for what you’re losing and to give you the building blocks to heal.
Canned soups are a fantastic go-to survival tactic. Hot or cold (whatever you can bring yourself to eat), any flavor or consistancy that works for you, keep soup around. Have a stack of microwavable bowls and spoons ready to go. A huge stockpile of favorite beverages like apple juice, lemonade, and tomato juice are also a good idea.
Take Time Off from Work
If you’ve been using opioids to work through chronic pain, it’s time to take a few days off. Detox is not something you can tackle and maintain professional decorum. Remember the shakes, sweats, and nausea. There’s no need to tell your boss anything about the situation. Simply let your boss know that you’ll be out sick for about a week. If a reason is needed, mention a medical procedure which is true. Detoxing from a prescription medication is a medical process.
Then make plans to stay home. Plan for groceries, comfort and a friend to help you through this difficult challenge.
Keep Your Doctor in the Loop
Whether you decided to quit on your own or on a doctor’s reccomendation, the situation is unique for pain patients who have been prescribed (or addiction grew from prescribed) pain medications. Your doctor should always be involved when you change your medication, and not just to monitor dosage and effects.
Your doctor’s goal is to keep you alive, healthy, and in as little pain as possible. If you’re detoxing from one pain medication, your doctor will have more than a few useful things to add. They may have alternate pain management options during your detox. They can help you stay safe and avoid a system shock during withdrawal. Your doctor may also help you balance other medications to better endure the coming detox.
Seek Supportive Detox Treatment Like NAD IV
There’s also no need to take this withdrawal on by yourself. You can also seek out independent supportive detox assistance. There are many emotional and recovery groups that provide moral support to those who are leaving addition behind. More profoundly, there are medical centers and some treatments that can significantly help your detox process.
A detox center can provide medical oversight, support, and guidance through the experience. Treatments like NAD IV therapy can help you maintain your body’s nutrients and even reduce the negative effects of removing opioids. It does this by providing a high dose of nutrients through IV therapy during your physical withdrawal from the pills.
Prepare Backup Pain Relief Methods
When you remove opioids from your body, their pain relief effect will fade and the lack of opioids will actually make your pain feel worse. This means you’ll need more than a few ways to manage your pain during this unpleasant detox experience. The more alternative pain relief methods you have available, the more you’ll be able to safely manage yourself as you detox.
You may have alternate non-addictive pain medications that are safe for temporary use during this transition time period. Talk to your doctor about pain management medicines that function properly during opioid withdrawal.
If your pain is related to an injury or joint malformation, you may need to spend time in your brace during this time. A back brace, knee brace, or similar can help to hold your pain-producing areas in the least painful positions. Because of the sweating, we advise layers of soft cotton cloth between your brace and skin.
Hot Baths and Ice Packs
Temperature treatment can really help, especially during this time. Prepare your home for safe and steamy hot baths, hot towel wraps, and ice packs anywhere you feel pain.
Finally, be prepared to distract yourself. Opioid withdrawl is, primarily, really uncomfortable. You will feel clammy, twitchy, achy, and your regular pain will be amplified. You’ll want to take your mind off the situation and it will help even to distract your body as well.
Distract Your Mind
Stock up on movies you want to see, seasons of television you’ve been putting off, books on tape, and playlists of music videos. Anything that can distract you. Do not count on books, you probably won’t have the focus. But now is a good time to catch up on children’s movies while you’re half-braindead. Then have something to talk about with your youngest relatives.
Soothe Your Skin
Give yourself baths. If your loved ones are fretting, ask them to rub you down with cool damp towels. The way your skin feels is often described as the worst part of detox. The more you can keep your skin cleansed of flop-sweat and distracted from feeling clammy and crawly, the better. Massage, baths, showers, lotioning, cold and hot towels can all help to keep your skin distracted and keep you healthy.
Seeking Addiction Help for Yourself or a Loved One
Patients with chronic pain are at a much higher chance of opioid addiction than any other population. If your condition has led you to addiction and it’s time to kick the habit for better solutions, we can help. Fairwinds Treatment Center is dedicated to providing comprehensive, compassionate recovery services for substance addiction, addictive behaviors, and eating disorders. We know that these conditions often go hand-in-hand, one triggering the other. Opioid addiction is particularly insidious as opioids and opiates were designed to be powerful medicines before the medical community knew they would be so dangerous.
If you or someone you love is struggling with opiate or opioid addiction or facing withdrawal, please contact us today. Our team of licensed and compassionate staff will help you find the resources, support, and guidance you need to recover from your addiction. We look forward to hearing from you and will do our best to begin your treatment journey immediately.