opiate paraphenalia

10 Ways to Stop Opiate Use

Opiates have been used for centuries to treat and relieve pain.  Also known as narcotics, they can be either natural—or synthetic.  The natural opiates derived from the poppy plant are morphine, opium and codeine.  The man-made narcotics are called opioids, and like the opiates, are frequently used to treat severe or chronic pain.  Prescription painkillers such as Oxycodone, Vicodin, Fentanyl, Darvon, Dilaudid, Demerol, and Darvon are opioids. Heroin, which is derived from morphine, is included in the opioids.  Both the opiates and the opioids are highly addictive narcotic drugs.

Opiate Use

Opiate use in the United States has reached epidemic levels.  In mid-June of this year, a White House Summit on opioid abuse was hosted by Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and attended by the U.S. Attorney General, the Governor of Vermont, the Director of National Institute on Drug Abuse, and two panels regarded as experts “to address the national epidemic of opioid abuse.”

An estimated 9 percent of the U.S. population it thought to misuse opiates in their lifetime, including prescription painkillers ordinarily considered legal; and illegal drug such as heroin.

Whether legal or illegal, the opiates are capable of causing physical dependence, meaning the person relies on the drug to prevent withdrawal symptoms.  There is no set time in which opiate use can create dependency, and it varies from person to person.

Over the course of using the drug, greater amounts become necessary to produce the desired/needed effect.  And when the individual ceases the chronic use of the drug, or its use is reduced, opiate withdrawal sets-in.

Opiate Withdrawal

Opioid withdrawal is very uncomfortable, but not ordinarily life threatening. Withdrawal symptoms usually begin within 12 hours of last using heroin or within 30 hours of last using methadone.

Early in withdrawal from opiates, the person is likely to experience yawning, agitation, sweating, anxiety, runny nose, muscle aches, insomnia and increased tearing of the eyes.

Late into withdrawal from opiates the person is likely to experience abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dilated pupils.

How to Stop Opiate Use

While it would be best in the best of all possible worlds if an individual were never to become dependent on opiates and would never experience the consequences of opiate abuse, our society has not yet reached that level of rationality.

With that said, the following list includes 10 currently available ways a person could stop using opiates; with the proviso that this writer does not advocate the use of drug treatments or the use of substitute drugs to treat addiction or withdrawal unless the withdrawal is life-threatening.

5 Drug Treatments


Treatment involves using the drug clonidine as a means to reduce muscle aches, sweating, anxiety, agitation, cramping and runny nose. 


Treatment involves using the drug Buprenorphine (Subutex) for opiate withdrawal.  It is also used as a long-term maintenance drug, as methadone is.

Other Drugs

Treatment involves using other drugs to minimize the vomiting and diarrhea of withdrawal.


Individuals withdrawing from methadone are put on a step-down which slowly decreases their dosage of the drug over time.  It is regarded as long-term maintenance and helps in reducing the intensity of withdrawal.

Rapid Opiate Detox

Offered by some drug treatment programs, it is also referred to as “detox under anesthesia”.  The person is put under anesthesia and injected with large doses of opiate-blocking drugs.

There seems to be no evidence demonstrating that this brand of so-called treatment reduces the time spent in withdrawing from the opiates, and there have been deaths reported which were associated with this procedure.

Due to the fact that opiate withdrawal includes vomiting, there is risk of aspiration and death if a person were to vomit while under anesthesia, and breathe it into the lungs.

5 Non-Drug Treatments

SMART Recovery

SMART Recovery is a self-empowering addiction recovery support group. Individuals learn tools they can use for addiction recovery which are based on the latest scientific research. SMART Recovery helps people recover from all types of addiction and addictive behaviors. 

Narcotics Anonymous

NA is a non-profit fellowship of men and women for whom drugs have become a major problem; using a traditional 12-step model.  It has members and meetings in 131 countries.

Faith-based Counseling

Based on a national survey by the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC), it was found that 83% of Americans believe their spiritual faith and religious beliefs are closely tied to the state of their mental and emotional health. 75% of those surveyed responded that it was important for them to see a professional counselor who integrated their values and beliefs into the counseling process.

Sober Living 

Living in a drug-free house/environment with other individuals in recovery can help a person to maintain their sober lifestyle, surrounded by others who support and share the common goal of sobriety.

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