How To Get Medical Treatment of Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

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You Don’t Have To Detox From Opioids Cold Turkey

There was one thing I knew for sure when I was ready to quit opioids: I wasn’t going to be able to detox cold turkey. I couldn’t stop taking the pain pills on my own. I knew this through experimentation. I kept attempting to quit, over and over, and each time I failed miserably, the withdrawal making me so sick I broke down and contacted my dealer. 

It was my dealer, not a doctor, who mentioned buprenorphine to me for the first time. Frustrated with my failed attempts to quit snorting the instant release Percocet that had totally taken over my life, I asked her if there wasn’t something else I could take to help me through the withdrawal. Some sort of other drug, specifically to get through this. I’d been to rehab before, this wasn’t (unfortunately) my first rodeo with drugs and alcohol. I’d watched roommates in rehab bolt from the pain of heroin withdrawal during the detox phase. And I was just taking pills

This was my pickle. Pills: I couldn’t live without them, without becoming delirious and irritable, violently ill. But I certainly couldn’t live with them. It was like living with a clock always ticking down inside of me, caving into an empty pit in my stomach.

Opioid addiction isn’t a fun addiction, if any sort of addiction can be considered fun. The physical dependence became all-encompassing fairly early on, and I found myself waking up in withdrawal and needing to grind and snort percocet before I got ready for work. This wasn’t glamorous. It wasn’t even pain relief, by that point. It was quite itchy, a side effect of opioids. I was constipated and had a sweet boyfriend who made me a lot of carrot ginger soup. By the time I was ready for bed I couldn’t sleep and my last pill would be wearing off, so I’d do some more just hoping to be able to go to bed. Not chasing a high. Chasing my pillow.

Back to that pickle of physical addictiveness: my dealer, she knew of a solution. Suboxone, she said. My dealer at that point was a lot of things to me, none of them healthy: best friend, hairstylist, source of information about health, healing, and wellness. For many of us still using, our dealers, rather than our doctors or family members, are our confidants. But it doesn’t matter how you get the information you need. It just matters that you get it, right? So I’m here to pass it along to you, in case you haven’t heard as well. There is medication out there for opioid addiction, that can ease withdrawal symptoms and help stabilize you in recovery. In spite of this, many out there insist that the old school way, sweating it out on a couch, with no medication. To each their own. For me? That just wasn’t possible.

Medication is always a personal decision. Especially if you are sick of taking pills and angry at them for the mess they’ve gotten you into (I get it, I’ve felt exactly that way) it can feel easier to swear off everything entirely. But if you’ve tried this and failed, remember that there are other alternatives. 

As Workit Health’s Head of Marketing, Kali Lux leans in to the culture gap between addiction, recovery, and medicine. She’s interested in finding solutions that work for substance users better than drinking or drugging does, and believes Workit is one of them. She’s written extensively on her own experience through addiction into long-term recovery. You can connect with her on Twitter @kalireadsbooks.

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