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What Do Doctors Prescribe for Opiate Withdrawal?

Mark Halsey
Chief Editor of - Cleanbreak Recovery

Mark Halsey is a licensed therapist, founder, and chief editor of Clean Break Recovery. With over a decade of addiction treatment experience, Mark deeply understands...Read more

Opiate addiction is a medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide, and unfortunately, withdrawal from opiates can be an extremely difficult process. Thankfully, there are treatments available to help manage the uncomfortable symptoms of opiate withdrawal and aid in the recovery process. In this article, we’ll discuss the different medications that doctors can prescribe to help those suffering from opiate withdrawal. From short-term to long-term treatments, we’ll answer the question of “What do doctors prescribe for opiate withdrawal?”

What Do Doctors Prescribe for Opiate Withdrawal?

Medications Doctors Prescribe for Opiate Withdrawal

Opiate withdrawal is a difficult process to go through, and those suffering from opiate addiction can benefit from the medications that doctors prescribe. These medications help to reduce cravings and alleviate some of the physical and psychological symptoms of opiate withdrawal. Common medications include buprenorphine, methadone, clonidine, and naltrexone.

Buprenorphine is an opioid medication that is used to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It works by binding to the same receptors in the brain as opiates, but it does not produce the same euphoric effects. It is usually taken orally or sublingually and can be used long-term to help prevent relapse.

Methadone is another opioid medication that is used to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It is typically used in detox programs and is usually prescribed in a clinic setting. It works by binding to the same receptors in the brain as opiates, but it does not produce the same euphoric effects. It is typically taken orally or sublingually and can be used long-term to help prevent relapse.

Benefits of Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine has several advantages over other medications used to treat opiate withdrawal. It is considered to be less addictive than methadone and has fewer side effects. It also has a lower potential for abuse and is considered to be safer for those with a history of substance abuse.

Additionally, buprenorphine is easier to obtain and can be prescribed by primary care physicians. This makes it more accessible to those who need it and can help to reduce the stigma associated with addiction.

Risks of Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine can be habit-forming and has the potential to be abused. It should only be used as prescribed by a doctor and should not be stopped suddenly, as this can cause withdrawal symptoms. It should also be taken with caution by those with certain medical conditions, such as liver or kidney disease.

Medications to Alleviate Withdrawal Symptoms

In addition to medications that reduce cravings and prevent relapse, doctors may also prescribe medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Clonidine is a medication that is used to reduce anxiety, agitation, and muscle aches. It works by decreasing the activity of the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight response.

Naltrexone is another medication that is used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. It works by blocking the effects of opioids on the brain and is usually prescribed in combination with other medications. It can also be used to help prevent relapse in those with a history of substance abuse.

Benefits of Clonidine

Clonidine is an effective medication for reducing the physical symptoms of opiate withdrawal. It can help to reduce muscle aches, agitation, and anxiety. Additionally, it can be used to reduce the risk of relapse by decreasing cravings.

Risks of Clonidine

Clonidine can cause drowsiness and low blood pressure, so it should be used with caution in those with certain medical conditions. Additionally, it can be habit-forming and should be taken as prescribed by a doctor.

Medications to Block Opioid Receptors

In addition to medications that reduce cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms, doctors may also prescribe medications that block the effects of opioids on the brain. These medications, such as naltrexone, work by blocking the opioid receptors in the brain, so that opioids will not produce the same euphoric effects.

Benefits of Naltrexone

Naltrexone can be an effective medication for those with a history of substance abuse. It can help to reduce cravings and prevent relapse by blocking the effects of opioids on the brain. Additionally, it can be used in combination with other medications to reduce the risk of relapse.

Risks of Naltrexone

Naltrexone can cause nausea, headache, and dizziness in some people. Additionally, it can be habit-forming and should be taken as prescribed by a doctor. Additionally, it can interact with other medications and should not be taken without consulting a doctor.

Few Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Opiate Withdrawal?

Opiate withdrawal is a set of symptoms that occur when someone who has been using opioids abruptly stops using them, or significantly reduces their dose. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include anxiety, irritability, insomnia, sweating, muscle aches and pains, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In some cases, people may also experience severe cravings for opiates, leading to relapse.

What Do Doctors Prescribe for Opiate Withdrawal?

Doctors may prescribe medications to help manage the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. These medications include medications to help with nausea, such as ondansetron, and medications to help with anxiety and insomnia, such as benzodiazepines. Other medications that may be used to manage opiate withdrawal symptoms include clonidine and buprenorphine.

How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last?

The duration of opiate withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person and depends on the type of opioid used and the severity of the addiction. Generally, symptoms start within 6-12 hours of the last dose and can last for several days to several weeks.

Are There Any Home Remedies for Opiate Withdrawal?

Yes, there are a few home remedies that may help to manage the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. These include getting enough rest, drinking plenty of fluids, and eating a balanced diet. Exercise, relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation, and social support can also help.

Does Opiate Withdrawal Have Long-Term Effects?

In some cases, opiate withdrawal can have long-term effects. These include changes in mood, such as depression and anxiety, difficulty concentrating, headaches, and insomnia. It is important to note that these symptoms may be due to the withdrawal itself, or they may be the result of underlying issues that were present prior to the addiction.

What Should I Do If I Suspect I Am Experiencing Opiate Withdrawal?

If you suspect you are experiencing opiate withdrawal, it is important to seek help right away. Seek medical advice from your doctor or a specialist in addiction medicine. You may also consider joining a support group or attending a 12-step program to help you manage your opiate withdrawal symptoms.

Opioid Withdrawal: What It’s Like to Detox from Opiates | MedCircle

In conclusion, the proper medical treatment for opiate withdrawal should be tailored to each individual’s needs. With the right combination of medication and therapy, opiate withdrawal can be managed safely and effectively. Medical professionals should be consulted for an individualized treatment plan to ensure the best chance of success. With proper care, individuals can live a healthy life free from the dangerous effects of opiate addiction.

Mark Halsey is a licensed therapist, founder, and chief editor of Clean Break Recovery. With over a decade of addiction treatment experience, Mark deeply understands the complex needs of those struggling with addiction and utilizes a comprehensive and holistic approach to address them. He is well-versed in traditional and innovative therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and mindfulness-based interventions.

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