Prescription Drug Withdrawal & Detox

A prescription drug is a pharmaceutical drug that the law states should only be used under the advice or prescription of a doctor. Unlike over the counter pharmaceutical drugs which can be legally dispensed with or without a prescription, prescription drugs can only be legally dispensed under a prescription. Most people use prescription drug only under the prescription of a doctor, but according to National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 48 million Americans aged 12 years and above have taken prescription drug without a prescription or for non-medical. That about 20% of Americans. In 2013, CDC reported that about 2 million US residents aged 12 and above, were addicted to opioids painkillers.
Prescription drug withdrawal, especially sudden withdrawal, leads to severe withdrawal symptoms. The intensity of the withdrawal symptoms will vary, depending on some factors such as:

  • The length of your addiction: Daily abuse of a prescription drug for an extended period results in higher levels of tolerance, and as such, more severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • The half-life of the drug: If the prescription drug is short-acting, one experiences the associated withdrawal symptoms immediately after missing the first dose. If it’s long-acting, the withdrawals symptoms may be delayed by a few days.
  • The dose of the drug when you enter detox: The higher the doses you use, the more likely you’ll experience more severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • Your pre-existing mental or physical disorders: If one suffers from emotional disorders such as anxiety or depression, or a physical condition such as severe pain, prescription drug withdrawal symptoms will be more severe.

In the following section, we will walk you through the most common prescription drug withdrawal symptoms:

suboxone tablets
When you suddenly stop using prescription stimulants, you will experience lots of withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Depression
  • Intense dreaming
  • Suicidal behaviours and thoughts
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Physical symptoms such as tremors, stomach pains, sweating as well as fever
The withdrawal symptoms from opioid include:

  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Joint and bone pain.
  • Muscle aches
  • Gastro-intestinal distress
Depressants are also called downers and they are available in multi-coloured tablets, liquid form, and capsules. Some depressants such as Haldol, Seroquel, and Zyprexa are often used as tranquilizers, mainly because of their tendency to reduce the symptoms of mental disorder. The common depressants withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Sluggishness
  • Poor concentration
  • Anxiety
The most common withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting prescription drug cold turkey include:

  • Heache
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Stomach upset
  • Excessive mucous production
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Anger
  • Depression
This is one of the most common questions asked by people who want to find the easiest, least disruptive, and quickest way to get off prescription drug addiction: But is it possible to go through prescription drugs detox at home?

Short and simple, “Yes,” BUT there are several reasons a home detox is not always a wise choice:

  • It doesn’t always work
  • It’s risky
  • Professional detox offered in medical settings are more comfortable, safer and more effective.

When one abuses drugs for some time, the body develops physical dependence, i.e., it expects one to maintain a certain level of the substance in the blood and it adjusts its natural mechanisms such that it only releases certain hormones and other essential chemicals only after a certain level of the substance is available in the blood stream. As such, if the patient stops abusing the prescription drug abruptly, severe withdrawal symptoms sets in.

Based on the amount of the drug the person has been taking, the frequency of abuse, and the length over which he or she has been abusing the prescription drug, a home detox can be medically dangerous, not to mention it will nearly always result in a relapse.

At-home natural detox is a huge challenge mainly because most drug users are not prepared for the level of discomfort caused by prescription drugs withdrawal and often they end up getting back on the drug. However, if you have a caring family, relatives, and friends who can offer you the much-needed support, at-home detox programs can be an attractive option.

Although there are instances of successful home detox attempts, at the end of the day, addiction treatment experts agree that rehab is best done under the supervision of professional addiction treatment services provider. It’s imperative that you do not try at-home natural detox on your own, mainly because once the withdrawal symptoms start to spike, chances are you’ll return to the drug. A safer and more effective alternative in outpatient detox program.

suboxone strips
The central nervous system, which encompasses the brain, respiratory and cardiovascular system, has natural opioid receptors. Opioids alter the way your brain responds to pain stimuli and disrupts both the reward and pleasure centres of your brain. Just like any addictive drug, after the invigorating high of opioids comes the inevitable depression, but unlike other drugs, opiate withdrawal symptoms may last for exceptionally long, making quitting opiates unthinkable to individuals in serious addiction.

The Early Phase

This is the most difficult stage to get through and the point at which most relapses happen. Typically, opiates withdrawal symptoms begin after about 12 hours of the last dose, and they increase in adversity as the calming effects of the drug wears off and your nervous system is de-stimulated. During this period, you’ll experience some symptoms such as:

  • A runny nose.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Dilated pupils.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Motor and cognitive functioning problems.
  • Teary eyes.
  • Intense yawning.

The Acute Phase

At this stage, most of the pain should be over, but you’ll still find it hard to eat, and to keep solid food in your system. It is highly recommended that you force yourself to eat. If you are having trouble eating solid foods, try full vegetables and fruit smoothies. The most common withdrawal symptoms that you’ll likely experience are:

  • Dehydration.
  • Insomnia and extreme restlessness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Emotional instability-aggression, suicidal thoughts, rapid mood swings, depression, and anxiety.
  • Sweats, goose bumps, and chills.
  • Bone pains, and muscle spasms.

Many addicts never complete the withdrawal process to or beyond this stage because even as the physical signs begin to subside, one will still experience the emotional symptoms for weeks.

The Post-Acute Phase

Once you hit day seven and beyond, you will start to experience little victories. However, these do not mean the battle is already won. To be more precise, it will still be difficult to eat, and nausea and anxiety should be expected.
During this phase, it is advisable that you keep both your mind and body active. Walk out and do something. Otherwise, the temptation to indulge at this stage is still high.

suboxone overdose
Stimulants are a group of drugs that once taken, speed up the bodily functions as well as your brain activity. In short, they have the power to enhance performance and cognition. The sustained use of stimulants will result in psychological and physical dependence, and as such, severe withdrawal symptoms.

The First Stage

The first symptom of withdrawals from stimulants is always fatigue. This is primarily because abuse of stimulants wreaks havoc on your body. Nausea, extreme hunger, depression and agitation tend to appear next, but this mostly depends on certain factors such as your mental and physical condition.

The Second Stage

Within the first few hours of cessation, you will experience withdrawal symptoms such as drug cravings, lack of coordination, irritability, shaking, dehydration, muscle pains, sweating, and rapid heartbeat. Suicidal thoughts, mood swings, panic, and paranoia.

The Third Stage

The acute symptoms of stimulant withdrawal last between two to ten days. However, some individuals take longer to stabilize both psychologically and physically. Depression, insomnia, cravings and other mental problems can potentially last for weeks or even months.

Typically, the timeline for depressants is relatively straightforward and does not appear to be categorized into significant phases:

  • Initial symptoms tend to appear within one to three days following an abrupt discontinuation of the medication. You will likely experience some gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting and nausea. Usually, the symptoms peak during the first week and then start to decrease. They last for up to three weeks. They include, a runny nose, feelings of lethargy, fever and blurry vision are all common.
  • Emotional symptoms including anxiety, depression, hallucinations, vivid dreams, and irritability can appear but cases of extreme symptom are rare.
  • It is critical to know that most of these withdrawal symptoms from depressants are mild and short-lived, and you’ll possibly mistake them for physical illness.
Ending substance dependency is evidently important, but the process can be extremely dangerous especially when done without proper medical supervision. Your body reacts severely because the chemical processes in your brain are being disrupted. Stimulants, opiates, and depressants commonly interfere with the GABA receptors in the brain. If you were not aware, the GABA system is your body’s primary down regulator and withdrawal makes it go crazy. If you want to withdraw from a particular drug successfully, it is best to do so under the strict supervision of a doctor. A physician will be able to monitor your symptoms, and perhaps increase or decrease your dosage of certain medications depending on how you are progressing.
As we mentioned earlier, withdrawal symptoms are always intense and can sometimes be life-threatening; depending on the length of time you abused the drug and the type of the drug itself. As such, medical detox uses a conducive environment, approved medications, and medical supervision and monitoring to facilitate safe withdrawal.
  • Suboxone: It falls under opioids and it is mostly used during opiate replacement therapy.
  • Methadone: Methadone acts on the same receptors as other opiates, but it lasts for extended periods resulting in reduced withdrawal symptoms and fewer cravings.
  • Buprenorphine: This is a synthesized opioid that is used as part of opiate replacement therapy.
Currently, we don’t have any approved medications for detox from stimulants. But, drugs including Librium, Benzodiazepine and Valium can be used to ease the intensity as well as the severity of stimulants withdrawal symptoms. Valium and Benzodiazepines are somehow similar and are often used to curb certain stimulant withdrawal symptoms such as muscle spasms, stress and seizures.

Gabapentin, a nerve pain and antiepileptic drug, is sometimes used to fight stimulants addiction. It can suppress certain drug withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, anxiety, sweating, tremors as well as irritability.

It is imperative to note that Suboxone and Subutex are both brand-name formulations of Buprenorphine and they can be used to treat and possibly prevent opioid dependence.
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Prescription Drug Withdrawal & Detox
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Prescription Drug Withdrawal & Detox was last modified: July 10th, 2017 by The Recovery Village