Opiates are narcotic opiate alkaloids produced from poppy plants. Commonly found and abused opiate drugs include morphine, codeine, and opium. Opiates are commonly abused in prescription drugs such as oxytocin and used illegally in recreational drugs. Abuse of opiates can lead to addiction; detoxification of opiates can have severe withdrawal symptoms. When an opiate is abused for an extended period of time withdrawal symptoms become more severe and longer lasting.
Opiate withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
- Nausea & vomiting
- Strokes and seizures
These withdrawal symptoms are both physiological and psychological. The user may frequently engage in drug-seeking behaviors such as lying to doctors in order to obtain another prescription which may not be needed for medical purposes.
Due severe withdrawal symptoms, treatment for opiates is recommended to take place in either an inpatient treatment center or detoxification facility. In rehab the patient can be monitored effectively and, if deemed necessary by a doctor, given medication in order to prevent any permanent neurological side-effects caused by abstinence. In rehab the addict will also have the chance to utilize therapy where they can learn to deal with the underlying issues such as depression or anxiety. By tackling both the physical addiction and the mental disorder which triggered the use, the addict will be in a better place to lead a life of recovery when leaving the rehabilitation facility. There are three main methods of opiate detoxification treatment to choose from in rehab.
1. Natural opiate detox: This is when someone goes through the detoxification process without any prescription medications, especially ones which have an addictive potential such as methadone which is commonly used in treatment for heroin. Instead of the prescription medications others are used to help with withdrawal symptoms such as amino acids, supplements and nutritional therapies. The natural opiate detox process is often more painful than other methods and can take longer for the withdrawal symptoms to fully alleviate. Some feel this is useful as one is usually less likely to relapse after going through the painful experience of withdrawal. On the other side, addicts will often relapse if not given any prescription medications to handle the cravings felt during withdrawal.
2. Medical opiate detox: This is when the addict goes through the detoxification process with the help of prescription medications to ease the withdrawal symptoms. Opiates are one of the most severe drugs when it comes to withdrawal symptoms. The medications will help alleviate these symptoms. It is not uncommon for those who do not take these medications to leave the program and relapse due to the unbearable withdrawals. Medical detox is probably the most common method offered and used at facilities. The main argument against this method is that some deem it as simply trading one addiction for another such as a heroin addiction for a methadone addiction.
3. The Waismann Method: The Waismann Method of Accelerated Neuro-Regulation was launched in 1997. The Waismann method consists of the patient, sedated and sleeping under light anesthesia, being cleansed with special medications. These medications will cleanse the opiates from the opioid receptors in the brain, this allows withdrawal symptoms to occur and alleviate within hours instead of days. Once the patient wakes up they will no longer feel any physical dependency upon opiates and will be unaware of the severe withdrawal symptoms normally felt by other traditional methods of detoxification. The patients are then prescribed a non-addictive drug Naltrexone for after-care. Naltrexone is an opiate inhibitor and will decrease any cravings to help the addict to recovery. This method is by far the fastest method of treatment and allows the addict to return to normal life within days.