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Narcotics Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms

Call 800-662-8079 to speak with an addiction treatment counselor.
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The most widely abused drugs today are likely narcotics. This is because narcotics make up a wide range of medications including prescription drugs and illicit street drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines. If you or someone you love is addicted to a narcotic, call our helpline at 800-662-8079 for immediate support from a caring advisor who can help you find treatment for withdrawal symptoms.

Most people don’t think of street drugs when discussing narcotics, so for the purpose of keeping this most useful to the majority, we’re going to focus on opiates and opioids such as narcotic analgesic pain medications including:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Meperidine
  • Methadone
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl

DEA Schedules

Most narcotics are schedule I, II, or III according to the DEA. Here’s a look at what this all means, the following list is taken from the Drug Enforcement Agency to help you understand narcotics control scheduling:

  • Schedule I Substances – these have no accepted medical use, drugs such as heroin and LSD are included in this DEA schedule.
  • Schedule II Substances – these drugs have a high potential for abuse, may cause addiction, but do have medical use. This includes hydrocodone, fentanyl and other narcotics.
  • Schedule III Substances – these drugs have a lower potential for abuse, can still lead to addiction, and include things like Xanax and Tylenol with Codeine.

Signs of Narcotics Withdrawal

Long term use of any narcotic has the potential to lead to a wide range of withdrawal symptoms if you were to cut back or quit taking your regular dose. This can occur whether you are prescribed the drug or you are taking a drug without a prescription—the potential for withdrawal is there regardless.

Some of the most common symptoms of withdrawal include:

Narcotics Withdrawal Signs

Anxiety and fear are common narcotics withdrawal symptoms.

  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Upset stomach and stomach cramping
  • Diarrhea and the potential for dehydration
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to focus
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Hallucinations
  • Bone or muscle pain
  • Runny nose or flu-like symptoms

In addition to the above symptoms, you may experience low energy, hot and cold sweats, tremors and other complications when you abruptly quit taking a narcotic. For this reason, and because there are potential risks associated with unforeseen consequences or health concerns of withdrawal, you should seek prompt medical attention if you intend to quit taking a narcotic.

Call 800-662-8079 and we’ll connect you with a withdrawal specialist that can treat you. Our helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you.

Treating Narcotics Withdrawal

Fortunately, there are a wide range of treatment options if you or a loved one is struggling with the idea of quitting or if you’re already struggling with symptoms of narcotics withdrawal. The most common first step in treatment is detox.

Narcotics detox can take 7-14 days on average, but if you are addicted to a strong narcotic such as methadone or suboxone, the detox process will likely take longer because it will first be approached with a tapering process.

So what is tapering?

Tapering a drug is the process of gradually lowering a dose over a scheduled time period to allow the body to adjust to the reduction without quitting cold-turkey. This means, if you’re on 50 mg of methadone a day, you may have your dose lowered by 5mg or so at a time over a period of weeks or even months before you actually fully detox.

The tapering generally requires that your dose be lowed, the body adjust to the new dose, and then the dose be lowered again, the body again adjusts, and so on. If you’re on a very high dose of narcotics, this process can take weeks or months. If you’re on a lower dose, the tapering process may just take a few days. Only a professional can tell you what the correct tapering method will be for YOU.

Once you’ve tapered your dose off, you can begin to receive medical care and around-the-clock support in a detox center. You’ll likely receive medications to help you feel comfortable during the withdrawal process.

What Helps with Withdrawal from Opiates?

Medications Used in Narcotics Detox

Many medications can be used. The types of medications, frequency of use and amount of medications are dependent on your needs. No two treatment plans are the same—as such, it’s important that you are open and honest with your treatment provider about your recovery and your needs. This ensures that the care professional is able to define the best possible treatment regimen for YOU.

You’ll likely be faced with at least one of the following medications when you enter detox for your narcotics withdrawal symptoms:

  • Benzodiazepines such as valium to reduce anxiety.
  • Barbiturates such as phenobarbital to stop seizures.
  • Suboxone or Methadone to reduce withdrawal from opiates.
  • Naltrexone to stop the “high” that comes from using an opiate thus reducing the risk of withdrawal.

Additionally, medications can be prescribed for the treatment of upset stomach, diarrhea, or other issues related to narcotics withdrawal.

Am I Addicted?

Are you still wondering if all this is really necessary? Maybe you’re not sure if you need narcotics withdrawal treatment? Here’s a look at some of the questions you should ask yourself to determine whether you are in fact addicted to a narcotic:

  • Do I regularly use narcotics to cope with emotional upset or things that they have not been prescribed for?
  • Do I use narcotics for anything other than prescribed?
  • Do I use narcotics more frequently than prescribed or that have not been prescribed to me?
  • Have I purchased narcotics from people?
  • Do I feel sick or otherwise struggle with withdrawal symptoms when I don’t take narcotics?
  • Has narcotics use interrupted my ability to take care of my responsibilities and obligations such as work, family, or school?
  • Do I avoid fun, or otherwise interesting activities in order to abuse narcotics?
  • Am I suffering from health complications from narcotics use?
  • Have I promised friends, family or even myself that I would quit—and failed to follow through?
  • Have I tried to quit and struggled with withdrawal that has made me turn back to drug use?

If you answer yes to any of the above questions, you may be addicted. Answering yes to more than one question above makes you a very strong candidate for addiction. You should seek immediate help by calling 800-662-8079 to contact a treatment provider if you suspect addiction or are struggling with withdrawal from a narcotic.

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