Some specialists point out that recovery requires a period of at least six months of total abstinence, during which the person may still experience symptoms of withdrawal. This is sometimes referred to as “protracted abstinence.” It’s important to discuss ongoing symptoms with your healthcare provider.
Even if you don’t experience vomiting, nausea can be very uncomfortable. Muscle cramps and joint pain can also be present during opioid withdrawal. The good news is that your primary care provider can work with you by providing select medications that can help with these uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
However, the body does not produce opioids in large quantities — that is, enough to treat the pain associated with a broken leg. Also, the body never produces opioids in large enough quantities to cause an overdose. Opioid medications and illegal drugs mimic these naturally occurring opioids.
Methadone can be used for long-term maintenance therapy. It’s still a powerful opioid, but it can be reduced in a controlled manner that is less likely to produce intense withdrawal symptoms.
Seeking help for an opioid addiction will improve your overall health and reduce your risk of relapse, accidental overdose, and complications related to opioid addiction. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about treatment programs or support groups in your area. The overall improvement in physical and mental health is worth the pain and discomfort of withdrawal.
The symptoms you experience will depend on the level of withdrawal you are experiencing. Also, multiple factors dictate how long a person will experience the symptoms of withdrawal. Because of this, everyone experiences opioid withdrawal differently. However, there’s typically a timeline for the progression of symptoms.
If you’ve stopped taking opioid medication and are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can help manage symptoms and adjust your medication regimen. You should not stop taking prescribed opioid medication without consulting your doctor.
Mild withdrawal can be treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen. Plenty of fluids and rest are important. Medications such as loperamide (Imodium) can help with diarrhea and hydroxyzine (Vistaril, Atarax) may ease nausea.