Many addicts became addicted to opiate drugs like prescription painkillers in their attempts to manage legitimate pain.

One of the primary concerns many people have when considering getting help for their addiction is what withdrawal-related discomfort they may experience while in treatment. Among those concerns are pain and discomfort that may be incurred during the detox process. Attending treatment at an official treatment center can help patients control their discomfort during withdrawal and make the transition into recovery more comfortable.

Many people became addicted to opiate drugs like prescription painkillers in their attempts to manage legitimate pain. These individuals may fear the pain that may return when they are weaned from the addictive substances. Thankfully, there are other pain management methods available.


Patients generally undergo a brief interview upon admission to a substance abuse treatment facility before they’re on their way to detoxification. While not every patient requires detox, many do, and for addictions to certain substances, detox can be uncomfortable. Depending on the substance and the severity of the addiction, detox may consist of some uncomfortable and potentially serious side effects. According to PsychCentral some serious side effects include:

  • Fluctuating blood pressure
  • Extreme perspiration
  • Tremors
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Severe queasiness

Often, no further steps toward addiction treatment can be taken until all toxins and substances are removed from the patient’s body. The removal is verified by either blood serum levels or urinalysis. Withdrawal from alcohol and drugs is never easy. Even the majority of occasional drinkers have experienced a hangover at some point in their life. Essentially, a hangover is a small withdrawal from alcohol. However, the symptoms of a hangover are far milder than what patients experience during drug and alcohol addiction detox.

For some individuals, particularly those addicted to heroin or other opiate drugs, withdrawal may involve a slow weaning-off process and the use of maintenance medications. These maintenance drugs, such as buprenorphine and methadone, make the withdrawal process both safer and more comfortable for the person. Many people keep taking maintenance medication for months or years.

Managing Discomfort

Many have concerns over treating a drug addict with drugs, but with proper medical supervision, it can be done well. For example, there is often little issue with treating someone who is dependent on alcohol with pain relievers like Valium or Ativan, per WebMD, especially in a controlled setting. Benzodiazepines have been shown to decrease the effects of alcohol withdrawal and inhibit the occurrence of seizures, which an approximate 1 to 4 percent of all alcohol withdrawal patients experience, according to an Alcohol Health & Research World publication relayed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Detox Drug Dangers

It should be noted that there is currently no medication available to manage the withdrawal symptoms of cocaine addiction or dependency on methamphetamines. A common question is how pain can be managed for those treated for an addiction to opioid pain relievers or other narcotic prescription pain medications. It’s important to manage recovery pain, as severe pain can be a significant contributor to relapse. Physicians may carefully monitor pain management medications, in addition to employing other alternative pain management means, such as physical therapy, acupuncture and meditation.

Some patients often choose to forego any prescribed medications in fear of developing cravings for the treatment drugs while others willingly accept help and progress through treatment just fine.

Some patients become addicted to treatment drugs, but it is more commonly seen in those who are in long-term treatment plans on an outpatient basis, such as those utilizing methadone maintenance programs. The New York Times reported that methadone-related deaths rose almost fivefold between 1999 and 2005, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that while this may be true, the median rate of deaths among people addicted to opiates in methadone maintenance treatment is actually only 30 percent of the rate of those not in programs. In essence, your chances of survival are far better in treatment.

Mental Wellness

For many people, treating their substance abuse troubles are only half the challenge. Around 50 percent of people who misuse substances also have one or more serious mental health disorders, according to PsychCentral. For these individuals, a tandem treatment process must be applied to give the patient the best shot at a successful recovery from addiction. Unfortunately, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) accounts for 53.7 percent of patients with co-occurring issues going without treatment for either issue, according to data from 2012. In addition, NIH points out current trends of substance abuse among the mentally ill, noting participants in one study with severe mental illness were at nearly a fourfold risk of being heavy alcohol drinkers and over 4.6 times as likely to engage in drug use a minimum of 10 times during their lifespan.

Treatment Totality

While detox is a highly effective way to rid your body of the substance you’re addicted to, it isn’t a complete treatment regimen. Patients who attempt to beat their addiction through detox alone, or without following up with aftercare treatment within a month, may relapse sooner than individuals who are more thorough in their treatment.

The painful effects of withdrawal are often the strongest precursor to relapse or failed detox. In 2012, Science Daily reported on a Baylor College of Medicine study on nicotine in rats, in which the dopamine deficits caused by withdrawal promoted relapse as an avenue for avoiding withdrawal symptoms. Your chances of successful recovery are much stronger when detoxing in a medically supervised facility and following up with a specialized treatment plan.

At The Recovery Village, you’ll receive nothing less than comprehensive care at its best with plenty of encouragement and moral support to back it up. Recovery is within reach, and securing your health is worth it. Call us today and learn how we can help you manage pain and discomfort while treating your addiction to drugs or alcohol.

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Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Sendra Yang, PharmD
Sendra is a pharmacist with a specialty in drug information. Her experience includes hospital pharmacy, drug/medical information, medical writing, formulary management practice, pharmaceutical industry, and teaching. Read more
Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.