According to a 2010 survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, 26 million Americans have used prescription medication for a non-medical or unintended use. This makes it one of the most frequently abused categories of drugs.
Many people may assume that because it can be acquired legally from a doctor, opioid painkillers, stimulants, and sedatives offer a safer alternative to illegal street drugs, but the truth is that taking these drugs outside of medical supervision can be extremely dangerous and addictive. Once dependence has developed, the process of getting sober often means going through excruciating physical and psychological pain.
However, on the other side of that pain is freedom from a lifestyle of habitual use and addiction. If you are ready to enter into the journey of recovery from prescription drug addiction, here are some ways to protect yourself to make things as safe as possible.
One of the more important things you can do to help you through the withdraw experience is be prepared for what might happen. Educating yourself about what to expect can help you monitor your own reactions, recognize that you are not alone, and help you feel more prepared and aware.
Common symptoms of opioid withdrawal include diarrhea, vomiting and nausea, abdominal pain, headaches, a feeling of fatigue but also a trouble sleeping, chills and goosebumps, and negative moods. Some more severe symptoms may include seizures and hallucinations. The amount of time the withdraw symptoms will last depends on the extent of your use, between a few days or a few weeks.
When you decide to get sober, your recovery should be the sole focus of your life. You may need to take several days of simply resting and waiting for things to subside. That means putting aside all responsibilities as much as possible, so you can focus on your own healing. Sometimes these symptoms are merely unpleasant, but sometimes they can be life-threatening.
For that reason, it is very important that you have access to medical care. There are a wide variety of rehab centers or medical facilities you can check yourself into to help you address the most urgent needs of detox, and an inpatient or residential detox program will give you a chance at the best success to both avoid a relapse and get necessary medical care.
Over the counter medications and pain relievers can help to control some of the symptoms, helping you feel more comfortable, but you should let you doctor know about everything you are taking to see if there are any risks or side effects. There are also several prescription medications that are sometimes used to relieve symptoms and reduce cravings. These include Methadone, Buprenorphine and Naloxone. However, these drugs also have some potential for misuse and addiction, so be sure to carefully follow the instructions of your health care provider if he or she prescribes them for you. The doctor will work out a program for gradually reducing their use.
Physical activity can be very helpful in restoring your health, and taking your mind off of your cravings. Even going for gentle walks a few times a week can set a pattern that can help you live much healthier for the rest of your life. Yoga can be especially useful in helping you feel centered, balanced, and in touch with your body through your recovery. The support of family and friends, and of peer support meetings of fellow addicts can give you the boost of encouragement and hopefulness you need to make it through successfully.
The detoxification process is only the first step towards recovery. Once the withdraw effects have subsided, and the toxic substances have left your body, you now have to do the work of rebuilding your life and healing yourself. Therapy, support group meetings, and establishing routines helpful for physical and mental health are all important tools in helping you learn how to live a truly recovered life.