THE GITTENS GA Z E T T E
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WEATHERING THE STORM TO COME
Better Understanding Opiate Withdrawal
If more people understood the true nature of drugs and alcohol, they wouldn’t carry the stigmas they do. Nobody grows up wanting to become dependent on substances, but through any number of life’s hardships, the best and brightest of our world can fall victim. Some users suffering frompsychiatric illness erroneously self-medicate with heroin or opiates, while others’addictions are factors of their environment and acquaintances. To treat an issue, we must first begin to understand it. Perhaps there is no better way to understand what drives an addict than to look at the severe pain of withdrawal —particularly the withdrawal symptoms of those addicted to opiates. Opiate addiction is a global epidemic stealing whole generations from their loved ones. This cycle starts and ends with the staving off of withdrawal symptoms. If these symptoms weren’t so painful, users could likely quit whenever they wanted. Instead, they are forced into a continuous loop of getting their fix, so they canmake it through another day without getting sick. Without medications like Suboxone or Sublocade to taper off an opiate, the physical ramifications can be severe, and that’s just the beginning. Here at The Gittens Clinic, our aim is tomake the withdrawal process as comfortable and painless as possible. After the last dose wears off, the withdrawal time frame depends on a number of outside factors, like length of use and amount of use. Chemical makeup of the opiate can also play a part in how quickly and severely symptoms kick in. When they do kick in, they will continue to get worse until the drug runs its course, and the body can begin to feel normal again. The problem is it can take a while for withdrawal symptoms to take hold. Withdrawal makes the user feel increasingly despondent, in addition to other symptoms, which can include but are not limited to: nausea, muscle cramping, agitation, changes in body temperature, increased blood pressure, insomnia, cravings, depression, overwhelming anxiety, diarrhea, shakes, and even hallucinations. While the time frame is different for everybody, the symptoms will begin to take hold around 3–12 hours after the last dose if the user is addicted to short-acting opiates. If they have been using long-acting opiates like Oxycontin, the symptoms can begin as late as 30 hours in. After about three days, the symptoms will peak, but the user is not out of the woods yet. More serious users can experience withdrawal symptoms for up to 24 months. If you’ve never experienced it yourself, you have no idea how terrifying this period can be for the user. Imagine being the sickest you’ve ever been
with no foreseeable end in sight. Avoiding this pain is why addicts keep using. Considering the risk of possible relapse, it’s no wonder why some users wish to avoid the trauma of withdrawal.
The symptoms of opiate withdrawal come in stages. During the onset of these
increasingly terrifying symptoms, all the user’s body registers is the inherent need for a cure. Except that cure means more
drugs. The good news is it doesn’t have to be like this. You don’t have to be one of the 100 Americans who die every day from an opiate overdose. You don’t have to be another statistic. By reaching out for help at The Gittens Clinic, you’ll be giving yourself peace of mind knowing your addiction can stop here. Luckily, you can’t die fromopiate withdrawal, but I’ve seen enough patients who have toldme they’d rather be dead than experience the horror it entails.
We can work together to get you through these stages without all the discomfort that typically accompanies these severe reactions, but only if you’re ready to help yourself. To find out more about howwe can help here at The Gittens Clinic, give us a call anytime at 833-448-8367 or visit our website at TheGittensClinic.com. For everything else, contact Narcotics Anonymous at 818-773-9999 to find a local meeting or visit their website at na.org. –Dr. Carl Gittens
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