What is dopesick and how can it can be managed?

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What-is-dopesick-and-how-can-it-be-managedThe term dopesick, also referred to as dopesickness, is commonly used to describe the painful physical and mental symptoms that accompany heroin withdrawal. When an addict decides to quit heroin, or greatly reduce their daily intake, withdrawal symptoms can begin to appear in as little as 6-8 hours.

In order to avoid these painful symptoms, many addicts continue to seek out the drug by any means necessary, regardless of the consequences they may face. Over time, an addict’s body becomes accustomed to the drug and they will often continue to use in a desperate attempt to feel normal, even though the initial high they once felt is no longer obtainable.

What is dopesick and why does it occur?

The human body naturally produces its own painkillers, thanks to opiate receptors that reside in both the brain and within the digestive system. When a person becomes addicted to opiate-based drugs, such as heroin, Percocet or OxyContin, the body naturally adapts by reducing its production of “feel good” chemicals, which include endorphins and dopamine.

When an addict chooses to quit opiates, the production of these natural chemicals remains low for a short period of time, resulting in painful withdrawal symptoms as the body works hard to re-balance itself. In medical terms, this process is commonly referred to as homeostasis.

What are the symptoms of dopesickness?

Many symptoms may occur when an addict tries to quit heroin or other opiate-based drugs. These painful symptoms often cause an addict to continue their drug use even though they may sincerely want to quit. Family members and loved ones often ask “What is dopesick?” as it can be hard to understand opiate withdrawal if they have never experienced opiate withdrawal themselves. When an addict is dopesick, a wide range of symptoms can suddenly occur which include:

    • Irritability
    • Hot and cold sweats
    • Restless Legs
    • Insomnia
    • Heightened awareness of pain
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Diarrhea
    • Stomach Cramps
    • Intense cravings for opiates

Because of these uncomfortable symptoms, it may seem impossible for a heroin addict to quit the drug on their own after multiple failed attempts. Fortunately, a professional treatment center has the knowledge and expertise needed to treat the symptoms of heroin withdrawal properly so that an addict can finally regain control over his or her life.

How can a drug treatment center manage dopesickness?

When a heroin addict enters a drug detox facility, they may feel nervous or afraid, often because of their previous failed attempts to quit the drug. Thankfully, at a drug treatment center, medical professionals will evaluate and treat a heroin addict’s withdrawal symptoms every step of the way to ensure that the process is as comfortable as possible. After the initial drug detox, addicts will then receive the professional counseling they desperately need to help them change their addictive behaviors in order to reduce their chances of relapse.

A wide variety of medications may be used during heroin detox in order to reduce the painful symptoms of opiate withdrawal. Medications such as Suboxone, benzodiazepines, Clonidine and other treatment options, will make the entire withdrawal process much more manageable for the patient. By choosing to enter a professional drug treatment center, an addict can greatly increase their likelihood of successfully quitting heroin or other opiate-based drugs once and for all.

Choosing To Enter a Treatment Center for Heroin Withdrawal

Drug treatment centers can mean the difference between life and death for a person when it comes to heroin addiction. Fortunately, heroin addiction can be treated and with the proper medications, counseling and other helpful treatment options, addicts can finally overcome their addiction.

If you, or someone you care about, needs help for a drug or alcohol addiction,
contact us at 1-888-457-3518 US, 0-808-120-3633 UK or 1-800-990-523 AU.
We’re here to help you take that first important step.

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Anne -

Anne Lazarakis joined the DARA Rehab team from Sydney, Australia. She writes about addiction and mental health on a global, local and community level. She also relays personal accounts of substance abuse and recovery through the stories of our clients, their families and our own team members.

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