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Addiction Recovery Blog

Withdrawal Management for Painkillers

An uncapped and spilled bottle of painkillers on a white background.

When you were injured or looking to cope with a mental health condition, it was never your intention to abuse painkillers. What started off as a way to cope, slowly evolved into dependence as you became more confused and frightened about how you’re going to overcome this new destructive habit. For many people who abuse painkillers, the fear of withdrawal is one of the driving motivations behind not wanting to enter into sobriety. However, there are strategies that can help you manage painkiller withdrawal, which we’ll be exploring in this post.

How Opioids Affect Your Brain

Before we get into how to manage painkiller withdrawal, it’s important to get a better understanding of how these drugs impact the brain. When you take a painkiller, it attaches itself to the opioid receptors in your brain, which causes two main effects. The first being that with those opioid receptors blocked, the level of pain you experience is reduced. After that, dopamine, the chemical in your brain linked to feelings of pleasure, is released.

Dopamine helps your brain reinforce actions that cause pleasure, like exercising or engaging in your favorite hobby. As you continue to abuse painkillers, your brain gets used to the usually high level of dopamine that’s being released, and expects it to continue. Once the last painkillers you took start to wear off, your brain and body are suddenly thrown into a state of shock, which is the main driver behind withdrawal symptoms.

Even though there are a wide variety of painkillers, the withdrawal symptoms you’re likely to experience are fairly uniform across the board. Some of the most common painkiller withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Restlessness and increased anxiety 
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Insomnia and trouble staying asleep 
  • Moderate to severe abdominal cramping 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • A rapid heart rate 
  • Elevated blood pressure 

Tips for Managing Withdrawal from Painkillers

1. Do Not Try to Detox at Home

Whether it’s linked to embarrassment or confidence, it’s common for people to think that going through painkiller withdrawal at home is the best option. After all, your home is a familiar environment where you feel safe. Even though it is rare for painkiller withdrawal symptoms to become life-threatening, finding professional detox support can reduce the level of discomfort you feel through the process. For example, many professional addiction treatment centers will give you medication to lessen the severity of your withdrawal symptoms.

2. Know to Expect with Painkiller Withdrawal

By having the right expectations about painkiller withdrawal, you’ll have a better opportunity to keep your mood and commitment to sobriety going strong. It’s important to know that the symptoms of painkillers withdrawal usually start within a few hours of the last time you took them. From there, expect any symptoms you’re experiencing to peak at the 72 hour mark. If you’re at an addiction rehab center, this is the point where the detox staff will be most involved with your care. Painkiller withdrawal usually lasts for around seven days and can go for as long as 14 days if you were abusing a stronger painkiller like oxycodone or morphine.

3. Medication Assisted Treatment Can Help

Many addiction rehab centers will incorporate medication assisted treatment into your initial detox from painkillers. Medication assisted treatment uses specific drugs like methadone or Suboxone to help you manage your withdrawal symptoms and control any cravings. Think of medication assisted treatment as a way to more comfortably ween your body off it’s dependence on painkillers.

4. Expert Detox Treatment Takes Your Mental Health into Account

When you enter detox treatment, it’s not just your physical dependence on painkillers that’s taken into account. Addiction treatment centers like Footprints Beachside Recovery will take the time to get to know you on a personal level. That way, the addiction treatment staff will get a better understanding about how your mental health is impacting your relationship with painkillers. Since it’s common for anyone struggling with painkiller abuse to also have a co-occuring mental health condition, treatment that addresses both will increase your odds of reaching lasting recovery.

Find Help for Painkiller Addiction and Withdrawal Today

If you’re struggling with prescription opioid abuse or worried about painkiller withdrawal, there’s hope for lasting sobriety. In the old beach town of Treasure Island Florida, our addiction treatment center can give you a private and welcoming environment to heal from painkiller abuse. At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we can help you restore your life from addiction. Contact our admissions team today to get started.

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