Josh Chandler | September 27, 2017

5 Ways to Cope With Your Opiate Detox

Going through opiate drug detox is both an emotional and physical journey. Here are 5 strategies to help you get through your opiate detox…

Are you or someone you love struggling with opiate addiction? Are you interested in treatment but afraid of the detox and withdrawal process?

If so, you’re not alone. 2.6 million Americans seek substance abuse treatment every year. There are millions more who could also benefit from treatment.

It’s understandable to worry about detox from opiates and how you’ll get through it. Detox programs and rehab centers are often sensationalized in movies and TV shows.

What is really like to go through opiate detox? Here’s a breakdown of what to expect and ways you can cope during the opiate detox process.

What Happens to Your Body During Opiate Detox?

During the course of your opiate addiction, your body became used to how the drugs affected it.

When you stop taking these opioid drugs, your body will go through a period of readjustment. This “detox” process will probably include physical and/or emotional withdrawal symptoms.

For many people, opiate detox creates flu-like symptoms. Depending on the severity, you could feel mildly uncomfortable to downright awful.

Here are some common symptoms associated with opiate detox:

  • Headache
  • Reduced appetite
  • Shivering
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diahrrea

We know these symptoms sound unpleasant, and they are. They’re also a necessary part of the opiate detox process that brings you one step closer to a cleaner, healthier you.

Opiate Detox Treatment: What to Expect

Your detox treatment depends on the length and severity of your addiction.

The three main options for treatment are:

  • Detox
  • Inpatient rehab
  • Outpatient therapy

Detox is usually completed as an inpatient so you can be closely monitored by a medical team. They’ll help you through the initial detox phase and do everything they can to make the transition manageable.

After detox, you’ll likely continue treatment in a residential rehab facility. This can last between 30 and 90 days and includes individual and group therapy.

During and after rehab, you’ll want to speak with a therapist or counselor. He or she will help you identify your addiction triggers and find effective coping skills.

5 Ways to Cope with Opiate Detox

Now that you have a clearer idea of what to expect during opiate detox, here are five ways to help you cope.

1. Don’t Rush Yourself

It’s only natural to want the detox and withdrawal process to be over as quickly as possible. After all, no one wants to feel like they’re battling the flu for many days or weeks.

But keep in mind that your body needs time to heal. How long did you abuse opiates? Weeks, months, or maybe years?

That’s not something your body can recover from overnight, nor should you expect it to.

You may also experience a strange mix of mental or emotional feelings. At times, these feelings may seem overwhelming.

It’s not uncommon for those going through opiate detox to have panic attacks or emotional “releases.” If this happens, it means your body is letting go of toxins and repairing itself.

The whole point of detox is to let go of negative and harmful things inside you, so go with it. Cry, yell, or do whatever you need to do until the feelings pass. Once they do, you’ll probably feel a lot better.

Whatever you experience physically or emotionally during detox, don’t try to rush it. Give your body the time to do what it needs to do.

2. Focus on Breathing

If you feel agitated or panicky during your opiate detox, one of the best ways to calm down is through breathing exercises.

Practice drawing in a slow, deep breath for a count of 10. Hold it for a count of 10, then slowly exhale to a count of 10.

You might also try alternate nostril breathing. Pinch your right nostril and repeat the process above, then switch to the left.

Breathing exercises like these will help you feel calmer and more in control of your body. It’s also a great way to distract yourself from your opiate withdrawal symptoms.

3. Get Plenty of Exercise and Sleep

Whenever you exercise, you release endorphins. These are the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals that can ease any pain or depression you’re feeling.

Exercise is also a great way to use up the adrenaline released during a panic attack. It’s a natural and healthy way to bring you down from feelings of over-stimulation.

The other thing your body needs is plenty of sleep. Your body is working hard to cleanse itself, so give it the support it needs by sleeping or resting as much as possible.

4. Share Your Feelings

You’ll likely have a million different thoughts exploding inside your head during opiate detox.

Whatever it is that you’re thinking or feeling, share it.

Speak openly with your counselor, therapist, or sponsor. Program friends can be especially helpful since they’ve gone through detox themselves and can relate to your feelings.

Now is also a good time to reconnect with family, friends, and others who can help you through your journey. If some of your feelings are too private to share, you might try writing in a journal.

5. Distract Yourself

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it works.

Whenever you feel any unpleasant symptoms or feelings, try to focus your mind on something else. Rather than dwelling on the negative feeling, replace it with a positive activity.

Here are a few things you could try:

  • Write or sketch in a journal
  • Watch a favorite movie or TV show
  • Draw, paint, or craft something
  • Enjoy a hot shower or bath
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Go for a walk and admire nature
  • Cook or bake a favorite food
  • Sip herbal tea or another favorite beverage
  • Relax through a massage or acupuncture session
  • Practice yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises

Even something as simple as cleaning or folding clothes can distract you from anxiety, depression, or drug cravings.

Final Thoughts

For most of us, the thought of opiate detox is intimidating or even overwhelming.

By focusing on the end goal and using the coping tips mentioned above, your opiate detox experience will have a greater chance at success.

Ready to take the next step? Call us today or use our online request form to speak privately with one of our addiction specialists. We have years of experience getting people off of opiates in the safest and most comfortable way possible.

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Josh Chandler
Josh Chandler
After growing up in Chicago and North Carolina, Josh chose to get help with substance use disorder and mental health in California because of the state's reputation for top-tier treatment. There, he found the treatment he needed to achieve more than five years of recovery. He's been in the drug and alcohol addiction rehab industry for four years and now serves as the Director of Admissions for Resurgence Behavioral Health. Josh remains passionate about the field because he understands that one phone call can alter the course of a person's life.

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