Dangers of Home Remedies for Opioid Withdrawal
When someone has an opioid addiction, they may be physically dependent on the drug and go through withdrawal when they cease or reduce their use. Rather than enter medical detox, some people may turn to home remedies for opioid withdrawal.
This page will go over the risks of home remedies for opioid detox and how to find a medical detox facility near you.
Opioid Dependence and Withdrawal
Chronic opioid use or opioid addiction can lead to physical drug dependence. This means someone’s body has adapted to functioning with the drug. When someone reduces their opioid use or quits opioids altogether, they will likely experience withdrawal as their body re-adjusts.
Withdrawal symptoms can include flu-like symptoms, such as:
- Loss of appetite.
- Muscle aches.
- Irregular heart rate and blood pressure levels.
Opioid withdrawal can also have psychological symptoms, including:
- Trouble thinking straight and concentrating.
- Drug cravings.
- Trouble feeling pleasure.
- Significant mood swings.
Opioid withdrawal syndrome can start within 12-30 hours of the last dose of an opioid drug, according to the National Library of Medicine (NLM). Withdrawal symptoms generally peak in intensity in 3-5 days, and some of the symptoms can continue for a longer period, potentially a week or more.
There are many so-called “natural” methods and home remedies for withdrawal from opioids; however, none are as safe or effective as being supervised by medical professionals in a specialized medical detox facility. In many instances, attempting an opioid detox at home can be dangerous.
Why Home Remedies for Opioid Withdrawal Are Dangerous
Opioid withdrawal is seldom life-threatening; however, serious complications can occur when detoxing from opioids like:
Many of the “home detox” products contain herbs and amino acids, and they are sold online and over the counter to help a person “naturally” detox from opioids. However, these products are not clinically tested or proven to work. Stopping an opioid suddenly without professional supervision can cause someone to experience greater discomfort than necessary.
Risks of Detoxing From Heroin or Fentanyl at Home
All kinds of opioids can be dangerous, but heroin and fentanyl are known for being especially potent. Despite fentanyl having some legitimate medical uses, heroin and fentanyl are commonly illicitly manufactured, which means they may contain toxic adulterants or be strong enough to cause an overdose.
In some cases, opioid withdrawal without medical intervention can be so severe that it leads someone to relapse. Relapsing on a potent drug like heroin or fentanyl is incredibly dangerous, especially if the patient has a reduced tolerance from a short period of abstinence.
Can At-Home Opioid Detox Be Fatal?
It is very rare for someone to die from opioid withdrawal; however, symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration, which can be fatal in extreme circumstances.
Medically managed detoxification can make the symptoms of withdrawal less severe and ensure medical staff is ready to respond to potential emergencies.
Natural Supplements and Over-the-Counter Medications
There are many supposed “natural” remedies out there for the treatment and management of opioid withdrawal symptoms. Many of these products contain vitamins and minerals, and they are supplements aimed at helping to restore a person’s physical health which can be negatively impacted by chronic drug use.
Opioids can deplete the body of some of its essential nutrients, and supplements may help to balance things out. Electrolyte beverages like Gatorade or Pedialyte may be beneficial as well. Nutritional diet plans and healthy eating can be helpful, as opioid misuse and dependence may interfere with normal eating habits and appetite levels.
Some people may try using over-the-counter medications in an effort to manage specific symptoms of opioid withdrawal, such as:
- Antidiarrheal medications like Imodium (loperamide).
- Non-steroidal and/or anti-inflammatory medications for pain relief and muscle aches, such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Advil (ibuprofen).
- Sleep aids and antihistamines like Benadryl or Nyquil (diphenhydramine).
- Topical muscle relief and analgesic products like Bengay or Icy Hot (methyl salicylate, camphor, and menthol).
- Anti-nausea and antiemetic medications, such as Pepto-Bismol (bismuth subsalicylate) or Dramamine (dimenhydrinate).
Holistic Methods for Opioid Detox
There are also many holistic and alternative methods that may aid in opioid detox and withdrawal. While they are sometimes touted as standalone home remedies, they are best used as adjunct methods and should not be used in the place of a supervised medical detox program.
Some of these holistic methods include:
Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese technique of inserting needles into specific parts of the body, called acupuncture points, to restore the flow of energy, or qi, in the body. Acupuncture is safe for everyone and has virtually no side effects to speak of.
Several studies have been done to determine its effectiveness for use during detox. The journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine reports that while it may be helpful, data does not yet empirically prove its total efficacy as a standalone method for opioid detox. It may be best used as an adjunct method as a part of a complete and traditional detox program.
Pain and muscle aches are common during opioid withdrawal, and massage may help to relieve some of the tension and discomfort. Massage therapy only targets a few of the opioid withdrawal symptoms; therefore, it is likely most helpful as a part of a comprehensive detox program.
Exercise or Fitness Programs
Getting outdoors and into the fresh air and sunshine can be soothing emotionally and physically. Workable fitness programs may help to increase some of the body’s natural endorphins and neurotransmitters that are depleted from opioid misuse. Exercise is a healthy outlet and can provide stimulation, stress relief, and engaging activity to occupy the mind.
Studies published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry indicate that exercise may help to prevent relapse and minimize drug cravings as well. Fitness regimes are often part of detox and substance use treatment programs.
Hot Baths or Showers
Hot water can soothe aching muscles and relieve pain, and they may be a good way to reduce some of the physical side effects of opioid withdrawal, at least temporarily. Taking a hot bath can also help a person to relax and may serve to lower stress and anxiety for a short period of time as well.
Sleep and Engagement
Getting enough sleep during opioid withdrawal is vital. When a person is well-rested, they are better able to handle stress and some of the other emotional side effects of withdrawal. Keeping engaged and busy is also beneficial. Finding healthy hobbies and way to occupy time can help to prevent relapse and minimize drug cravings.
Why Is Medical Detox the Safest Option?
The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reports that in 2011, around 250,000 Americans received emergency department (ED) medical care for an adverse reaction to the use of heroin while nearly 500,000 individuals visited an ED for negative consequences related to the misuse of a prescription opioid drug.
Opioid withdrawal syndrome can be unpredictable, uncomfortable, and even dangerous, resulting in the need for professional medical care.
Central nervous system functions can be irregular, and some of the vital life-sustaining functions, like breathing, heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure, can be negatively impacted during opioid withdrawal, requiring medical intervention to regulate them. Medical detox can provide a safe outlet for opioid withdrawal while offering not only professional monitoring and supervision, but also necessary medical care and support.
Medical detox for opioid drugs often uses medications to ease withdrawal symptoms. Methadone and buprenorphine products are both approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat opioid dependence, as published by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
These medications can stall the negative reaction that comes from stopping an opioid suddenly. Both are longer-acting drugs than most opioids, staying in the body for longer and therefore keeping withdrawal at bay with fewer doses.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning that it doesn’t fully activate the opioid receptors in the brain and therefore shouldn’t produce the same “high” as other full agonists do. This makes it useful during detox to manage withdrawal without the highs and lows of opioid misuse.
Other prescription-strength medications can be useful in treating certain symptoms of opioid withdrawal. For example, clonidine is a blood pressure medication that has shown promise in helping to soothe overactive central nervous system and autonomic bodily functions. It is often used off-label to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. The journal Supplement to Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy (JMCP) reports on clonidine as being safe and effective as a nonnarcotic pharmaceutical option during opioid detox.
During opioid withdrawal, emotional and mental health support is also essential as individuals may experience violent and erratic mood swings and potentially be prone to self-harming behaviors. Any underlying medical or co-occurring mental health disorders can be properly addressed and treated during medical detox as well.
Anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders may require specialized care during detox to ensure a person’s emotional well-being and safety. Mental health professionals can work in tandem with medical health providers and substance use treatment professionals to simultaneously treat both mental health concerns and opioid dependence, helping to minimize symptoms and side effects of both issues.
Opioid Detox Facility Near Tampa
Medical detox can help individuals to reach levels of physical stability safely, so they may continue on with a complete substance use treatment program that can address their behavioral, emotional, and individual needs with therapeutic, supportive, and pharmaceutical methods.
While the idea of home remedies for opioid withdrawal may be tempting, at-home attempts are rarely successful and can be risky. Seeking professional help at a detox center in Tampa can offer someone improved chances at long-term recovery.
River Oaks, a drug rehab in Tampa, FL, has compassionate admissions navigators standing by at to help you start the admissions process. Reach out now to get information about the levels of addiction treatment provided at River Oaks, using insurance to pay for rehab, and other ways to pay for rehab.
You can also check your health insurance coverage for treatment at River Oaks by using our confidential .
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