An Overview of Opiate Withdrawal

When you regularly use opiates or opioids, whether prescription pain relievers or heroin, your body becomes used to their presence. Opiates and opioids have a significant impact on the brain and central nervous system. These substances change brain chemistry in artificial ways and alter the functionality of the CNS. One example is the flood of dopamine that’s triggered by the use of opioids. This artificially high amount of dopamine is what causes people to feel euphoric. When the brain is exposed to this and someone stops suddenly taking the drugs, it’s difficult to regain a sense of normalcy.

Suddenly stopping the use of drugs results in opiate withdrawal, which includes feelings of physical sickness and psychological side effects. Physical dependence is often confused with addiction, but they’re two separate concepts that don’t have to occur together. Physical dependence is what causes withdrawal symptoms when someone stops opioids. Addiction is a chronic, psychological disease that causes drug cravings and compulsive use. Drug treatment needs first to address physical dependence through detox, and then the psychological addiction during treatment.

Opiate withdrawal isn’t deadly for most people unless in the case of rare complications arising. That doesn’t mean it’s an easy process. Withdrawal from opiates can be severe and can cause a person to feel physically very sick, and also to struggle psychologically. The psychological symptoms of opiate withdrawal including anxiety, depression, and insomnia that can last for weeks or even months after the drugs have left the system. Different medications can be prescribed to people as they detox from opiates. The objective of these medications varies from helping reduce physical side effects, to alleviating drug cravings and psychological symptoms. One option to help with opiate withdrawal is Zoloft.

An Overview of Zoloft

Zoloft is a prescription medication primarily used for the treatment of depression. Classified as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Zoloft helps balance brain chemicals including serotonin. The result should be improved mood and appetite, better energy levels and an improvement in sleep quality. For many people, Zoloft significantly improves their quality of life. Unlike benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Zoloft and SSRIs are intended as long-term medications. It can take several weeks for Zoloft to start having an impact. As a result, Zoloft isn’t considered as having a potential for addiction or abuse; however, taking Zoloft can lead to withdrawal symptoms when use is discontinued.

Medications for Opiate Withdrawal

There are quite a few medications used for opiate withdrawal, each having different objectives. For example, some medications can be used just to help alleviate certain physical symptoms like nausea and vomiting. Clonidine is a medication given to help reduce cramps, muscle aches, and anxiety. Medications like buprenorphine can help reduce drug cravings. In some cases, benzodiazepines may be prescribed because of their sedative effects, but this is risky because they are addictive and habit-forming.

Then, there are psychiatric medications like Zoloft for opiate withdrawal. Zoloft can be helpful for a number of reasons during opiate withdrawal. The use of Zoloft for opiate withdrawal can alleviate certain symptoms during the acute withdrawal period. Zoloft can also help rebalance brain chemistry, which is often very imbalanced following prolonged opioid use. The use of Zoloft can be continued even after opiate withdrawal as well. It’s something that can be used over the long-term in people with co-occurring mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.

While Zoloft for opiate withdrawal can be helpful, no one should try to medicate their way through detox. Any medications or supplements used during withdrawal and detox should be done under the supervision of a doctor. A medical detox provides the opportunity to safely and comfortably go through opiate withdrawal. Medical detox also increases the chances of a patient’s long-term recovery. Once someone goes through detox successfully, they begin treatment with either inpatient or outpatient rehab.

If you’re struggling with opioid dependence, or you have a loved one with a substance use disorder, there are options. It’s not a hopeless situation and you are not alone. Contact us at The Recovery Village. From medical detox to inpatient drug treatment, you can successfully recover with the right help and support.

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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.