Opioid medications are used for curing moderate to severe pain. However, you can also encounter severe side effects or develop addiction and experience withdrawal symptoms after coming off the drug. Another downside of opioids is that their overdoses are fatal. If the patient doesn’t pass away, they are highly likely to do permanent damage to their health due to an overdose. Therefore, it’s important to take opioids using a pill reminder app as it will not only help you take doses on time but also monitor the amount you take.
Some common opioids include codeine, Vicodin (hydrocodone), methadone, Demerol, morphine, Oxycontin (oxycodone), and Percocet.
Also, any decision about quitting these meds must be made with your doctor’s advice to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal usually happens when you have been utilizing opioids regularly for a couple of weeks.
People take these meds for varying lengths of time. So, it’s common for some patients to consider quitting their medication, especially if their condition is improving or side effects are starting to make life difficult. However, the decision to stop taking opioids is a personal one and should be made by weighing up the risks and benefits.
Choosing to Quit Medication
Before quitting medication, you must know how to do it properly.
The first thing you should do is to talk to your doctor and learn about pros and cons of stopping opioids. It’s always great to know why you want to quit and how to do it safely.
It is also important to know that opioid medications should be stopped slowly. It is a tedious process which can take several months.
The slower you reduce the dose, the lesser the chances of a return of symptoms.
Moreover, the longer you take an opioid, the more your body and brain will become used to it. Slow reduction, on the other hand, allows your brain to gradually go back to its original state.
Why Should You Never Stop Taking Opioids Fast?
Stopping medication too fast is dangerous and can result in some of the following side effects:
- Return of the illness that is being treated
- Potentially life-threatening seizures
- Sleep problems
- Disturbing mental thoughts or images
- Suicidal thoughts
Often, these symptoms occur within days of stopping opioids. And while it’s possible to stop taking all at once without any serious effects, most patients are still likely to become unwell by it.
Telling in advance who’ll be affected is impossible, so the best way is to drop medication slowly.
What to Expect When Withdrawing Opioids?
As mentioned above, cutting out opioids is something that should be done gradually. When used for several weeks, some patient can become dependent on these medications. The gradual decrease in drugs can help avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Also, when moving away from opioids, some patients may require other prescription medications to treat withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor what those medications might be.
You may also get withdrawal treatment at home if you have the right medications and strong support from family.
What Are the Common Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms?
Here are some common opioid withdrawal signs and symptoms:
- Rapid heart rate
- Muscle aches
- Restless legs
- Excessive sweating
- Abdominal cramping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Higher blood pressure
- Trouble falling asleep
- Dilated pupils
When any of these symptoms start to appear, get in touch with your doctor and seek medical attention immediately.
A Few Considerations for Opioid Users
Some people stop taking opioids as soon as their condition gets better, but this is not safe because symptoms can return at any time. In fact, they may even become worse than before, making it more difficult to achieve complete recovery.
Remember that long term and unsupervised use of opioids may result in addiction. Ask your doctor how long you are expected to take the medication and keep him informed of the progress.
If a medication isn’t working, do not try other medications without your doctor’s recommendation.
Understand that opioid medications have many benefits as well as side effects. Taking opioids requires a complete understanding of both these aspects. Sometimes, it’s hard to know the effects of medication until you try it.
Using a medication reminder app to keep track of your dosages can help reduce symptoms.
Are Dependence and Addiction the Same Thing?
No, dependence and addiction are not the same. There is a huge difference between them. In dependence, the body becomes used to the medication. In addiction, however, the active ingredient or medication as a whole interferes with the patient’s life. Drugs like methadone, buprenorphine, and clonidine are used to opioid addiction.
The Importance of Having A Good Doctor
Opioids are the strongest in effect when they’re part of a treatment plan. The plan may include psychotherapy and rehabilitative services to cure conditions that opioids alone can’t treat.
Because health treatment plans can be tedious at times, having a doctor who makes you feel comfortable is very important. Good doctors don’t just provide medical assistance – they listen to your concerns and help with your difficulties. (done)
TIPS FOR PREPARING TO STOP YOUR MEDICATION
Tell Friends and Family
Tell people close to you that you are planning to withdraw opioids and how this may affect your daily life. Also, discuss what your needs may be during this time.
Know Your Trigger Points
Many patients know about the situations that are stressful to them, and either prepare themselves to minimize the stress or try to avoid those situations. If you have any trigger points write them down in a diary and prepare for them carefully.