Withdrawing from opioid medication can present an extreme challenge — most people experience flu-like symptoms for up to a week after discontinuing their opioid use. These symptoms include restlessness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and insomnia. To increase your chances of successfully making it through the withdrawal period safely, here are four things you can do for opioid withdrawal relief.
1. Stay Hydrated
It's common for people going through opioid withdrawal to suffer from severe diarrhea, vomiting and sweating. All of these symptoms combined can result in extreme dehydration. Not only will being dehydrated make you feel worse during your withdrawal, but severe dehydration can be life-threatening. Drink plenty of water throughout your withdrawal period in order to prevent dehydration. You should also avoid caffeine while you are suffering from withdrawal — caffeine can act as a diuretic, making you more likely to suffer from dehydration. It can also make the restlessness and anxiety experienced during withdrawal worse.
2. Eat Nutritious Food
Another symptom of opioid withdrawal is a loss of appetite. Stock up on food that's nutritious and easy to eat, such as fruit and whole-grain bread. Bananas are a good choice since they're high in potassium — this helps you replace the potassium your body loses due to sweating. When your potassium or sodium levels are low due to sweating out your electrolytes, you feel worse. The fiber in fruits and whole-grain bread can also help to reduce the diarrhea you experience during withdrawal.
3. Take Hot Showers
Hot showers can provide opioid withdrawal relief by easing your physical symptoms. People who are withdrawing from opioids often feel extremely cold due to the constant sweating and a decreased ability to regulate body temperature. In addition to warming you up, a hot shower can also reduce the muscle aches you experience during withdrawal by relaxing your muscles.
4. Occupy Your Mind
While the physical symptoms of opioid withdrawal are very uncomfortable, the psychological symptoms are often even worse. It's important to keep your mind occupied while you are going through early opioid withdrawals. Books, movies, and TV shows are all good ways to stay mentally occupied and take your mind's focus off of your withdrawal symptoms. It's very likely that you will find it difficult to sleep while you are undergoing withdrawal, so make sure you find something you can do when you have trouble sleeping at night, such as downloading books to a tablet for nighttime reading.
If you have tried to stop using opioids in the past and have been unsuccessful or do not want to go through the withdrawal process, you should consider undergoing a medically-supervised withdrawal. Medical supervision is also important if you have heart problems or high blood pressure — withdrawal can elevate your heart rate and your blood pressure, and it may cause them to increase to dangerous levels.
During a medically-supervised withdrawal, opioid withdrawal relief medication or drug replacement therapy may be used in order to alleviate your withdrawal symptoms. This can make it easier to successfully withdraw from opioids. If you're interested in undergoing a medically-supervised withdrawal, contact a treatment center or ask your health-care provider for recommendations