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Opiate Detox Process


We are currently facing a worldwide opiate addiction epidemic that is spreading at terrifying rates. According to the The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), between 26.4 million and 36 million people around the globe abuse opiate drugs, which include prescription pain relievers and the illegal drug heroin. From a physiological standpoint, opiates alter the brain’s chemistry in two ways: first, how it reacts to pain stimuli, second it floods the brain with “high” feelings by disrupting the reward and pleasure centers in the brain.

The central nervous system, which includes the brain, cardiovascular and respiratory systems, contains various opioid receptors that receive opiate, whether naturally or from drugs, and these drugs bring a variety of physical and emotional effects. Heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and body temperature are lowered while pleasant feelings are increased. Repeated use or abuse of an opioid drug can actually change the way an individual’s brain chemistry works and lead to a deadly physical and psychological dependence.

Make no mistake about it, opiate addiction is an ugly thing. While it’s easy to point out the mortality statistics, with some 50,000 and rising Americans killed annually by the drug, their more sinister repercussions are the way they destroy futures and burn bridges between friends and families.

That said, there are countless reasons people start abusing pain pills: some want to escape from the mundanely of their daily routine, others may want to chase a high, or give their life some sense of purpose, however briefly, or to mute the voices in their heads constantly telling them they are not good enough. There are a thousand more reasons, but the root cause is an opiates’ ability to blanket emotional pain or absolve physical pain. While no one wants to be an addict, once the drugs sink their claws in, the indelible marks they make will last a lifetime.

Those in the clutches of opiates are well aware the stronghold they have made in their life and the uphill battle they will face if they are ever to escape their grasp. Detox is a scary word to addicts because of all of the symptoms that go along with withdrawals. Especially since most addicts have a good idea of the ride they are in for, seeing as they have already gone through milder versions of opiate detox while the habit was building steam and momentum.

Detox itself is both hellish and self-imposed. Aside from the flu-like symptoms, which are in themselves horrendous and extremely uncomfortable, there are a whole mess of other things that one wouldn’t consider which make your already fragile mental state become even less stable. Although the detox process can be a challenging thing to undergo, it is possible and you can do it.

Below are some tips and advice on how to overcome this seemingly insurmountable obstacle.


Detox at a Medical Facility

While this might seem obvious, if you have the resources, the ideal place to detox  from opiates is an inpatient medical facility or a qualified treatment/recovery center. Even if it is only for a few days, by entering a medical setting, you are monitored by medical professionals through the initial stage, which is by far the worst.

This helps immensely as they can pump you with fluids and provide you with a sense of safety to combat the feeling that many undergo in which it seems their body is dying on them. Further, by isolating yourself in a facility, it removes the option of you going out and getting a fix to stop the pain.


Reach out to Family and Friends

While, odds are, most of those who remain close are well aware of your drug problem, it is important that you reach out to them for help and support and relay that you genuinely want freedom from the chains of addiction. You may feel extreme guilt for the things you might have done or said to them, but they are in many ways your lifeline and your reason to get better. If you have wronged them, seeking forgiveness or absolution for this too is a large part of the recovery process.

A plant in the darkness cannot grow, similarly, an addict without support will eventually turn to the same patterns and mindsets. Recovered addicts know you cannot go it alone, this is why people in AA always have a sponsor. They know how vital it is to have someone who has gone through the same experience, checks in on you, supports you and keeps you accountable. Your will power is not stronger than the siren’s call of the drug. You need a support system, be it family, friends or other recovering addicts since this fight never ends.



Water is vital to humans, especially when the body and its various systems are hard at work. Most opioids lead to constipation due to a chemical binding within the gut and brain. As a result, if your body has become accustomed to a pattern of opioid use, your gut adapts and becomes used to a certain level of opioid stimulation in order to keep producing normal stools.

So, as embarrassing as this may be to think about or discuss, when you get hit with withdrawals during the opiate detoxification process, you will likely get extreme diarrhea in the first few days. Therefore, dehydration is a major concern in opiate withdrawal due to this and severe sweating resulting from the massive shock to the system. It is important to dramatically increase water and electrolyte intake during the process, this will help your muscles from clenching and aid your body in its fight against the various symptoms.


Find a Sleep Aid

Sleep is hugely important to our body’s recovery process and detox makes it very hard to do. Speak with your doctor about finding a non-narcotic sleep aid that will work for you. The first days are the hardest and often times sleepless, but remember, it gets better. That said, you should be aware that you will likely have difficulty sleeping up to six months, so consider speaking with your doctor about procuring a natural, non-addictive, sleep aid such as melatonin.  


Detox is Only the First Step

This battle does not end once the initial withdrawal symptoms wear off. The battle over addiction is lifelong and it is important to immediately go from detox to getting treatment. Studies resoundingly say Self-help programs and 12 step groups improve the affected person’s chance for sustained abstinence and increased quality of life. 12 step programs, counseling or spiritual guidance are all vital tools that can and must be utilized to help combat addiction.


Relapse Can Happen

As depressing as it may seem, most people detox and then relapse several times. The road towards recovery is often bumpy and filled with backslides. The hold opiates have on the addict’s mind and the way they alter the chemical makeup of the brain leaves a lasting effect that must constantly be combated.

Despite this, keep fighting, keep reaching out to your support system, your family, and your counselors. Know that your life WILL be better off. And that you are a better person when you are free from the clutches of opiate addiction.   


Change your Habits

No matter how many days “clean” you are, you can never go back to that state of drug abuse. Never. Not even once. Not even on vacation, or with a friend who is visiting, or for old times’ sakes. Never. If you ever relapse, it will be twice as hard.

If you need a complete change of scenery in order to fully escape, then do it, move. Remember, this isn’t a sprint, it’s a lifelong marathon and you need to do whatever you have to do for yourself in order to stay clean. Take each battle one day at a time and it will get better.

Luminance Recovery is here to help you succeed. Our unique approach integrates personalized treatment plans for each individual in a comfortable and friendly environment. Our trained professional and compassionate staff are here for you at every step of the way. Call us today for more information on our treatment programs.

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