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Does Drinking Help with Opiate Withdrawal?

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Opiate withdrawal is incredibly difficult, but it is also manageable and something that you can get through. But, knowing that doesn’t make the discomfort of the symptoms any easier to deal with. In a professional treatment environment, the clinicians and staff work with you to alleviate any discomfort that you feel, which is a strong reason to enter rehab.

However, there are still people who (for a variety of reasons) attempt to detox in their own home. When you make this choice, you have to know that you are in for a much rougher time than you would have in formal addiction treatment. Further, you don’t have access to prescription medications and years of training and experience.

But, that doesn’t stop people from Googling and asking friends and cobbling together their own inventive treatment protocols. For some, this includes using alcohol to conquer the symptoms of opiate withdrawal.

Ideally, the following will explain why using alcohol during withdrawal is a terrible plan. If you need more information or you have some questions about drug addiction treatment, call 800-662-8079. An addiction expert will be happy to speak with you and explain how rehab works, link you to appropriate facilities, and talk with you about funding. It will help you to feel in control of your recovery and that’s an excellent first step.

What Symptoms Can I Expect from Opiate Withdrawal?

To explain why some people turn to alcohol for relief from withdrawal signs and symptoms, you have to know what those symptoms are. According to the US National Library of Medicine, you can expect to experience:

Opiate Withdrawal

Insomnia and nausea are common opiate withdrawal symptoms.

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Increased tearing
  • Muscle and bone aches
  • Runny nose
  • Insomnia
  • Yawning
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Gooseflesh
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Increased pulse rate
  • High body temperature
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormally heightened reflexes
  • Increased rate of respiration
  • Muscle spasms

The time of onset, the severity, and the duration of symptoms will vary depending upon:

  • The daily dose
  • The opiate used
  • The duration of use
  • The length of the break between doses

Why Would Someone Think Alcohol Would Help?

Let’s focus on a few of the symptoms, like:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Muscle and bone aches
  • Insomnia

Alcohol seems like a natural solution for these problems. As a central nervous system depressant, it slows brain activity, which is why prescription central nervous system depressants are used to treat people with sleep disorders and anxiety. Further, alcohol is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, meaning you don’t have to wait long for it to kick in. It’s also a painkiller, as anyone who has fallen down drunk can tell you, it doesn’t really hurt until the next day.

When you consider all of the ways that alcohol is a natural fit for treating these symptoms, it is no wonder people try to use it for this purpose. However, as tempting as it may be, using alcohol to help with opiate withdrawal is a terrible plan.

Chronic Pain During Opiate Withdrawal: What You Can Do

Why Shouldn’t I Use Alcohol to Help with Opiate Withdrawal?

There are many, many reasons why this is a bad idea, but we will only cover the major ones.

Firstly, alcohol will dehydrate you. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s guide for practitioners in detox centers, people going through opiate withdrawal are already at risk of dehydration. Symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea already put them at risk and can result in electrolyte imbalance without alcohol involved. When you add it in, you create some sincere health risks.

Alcohol is difficult for the digestive system to process. Therefore, the nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping will be intensified.

Your body will need to be functioning the best it can when you go through withdrawal. That means, it needs all the B vitamins it has access to for stress reduction and production of energy. Alcohol destroys those vitamins and increases the severity of fatigue and anxiety.

To truly consume enough alcohol to blunt the pain of withdrawal, you end up having to binge drink. For one thing, that has a host of health risks all its own. For another, you are guaranteed to have a hangover. If you think opiate withdrawal symptoms are nasty, you don’t want to compound them with a hangover.

To learn about the ways that formal addiction treatment centers successfully address withdrawal from opiates, call 800-662-8079. When you go into a rehab center, you give yourself the best chance of making it through withdrawal and beginning your recovery.

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