Mental Health Monday–Cold Turkey

Lynn Rush asks:

“What are the mental/behavioral side effects of opiate withdrawal? Any meds you’d recommend to help with it?”

Opioid withdrawal is a VERY painful process, BUT it’s not life threatening. (Those suffering from withdrawal often feel like they’re going to die, though!)

If you use some Lortab or Percocet for a few days after a surgery, you’re not likely to have symptoms of withdrawal when you stop. However, if you use any opioid (morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, dilaudid, heroin, etc) for weeks or months and you stop taking it suddenly, you’re likely to experience the following:

Early withdrawal:

Muscle aches
Increased tearing
Runny nose

Later withdrawal:

Abdominal cramping
Dilated pupils
Goose bumps

Opioid withdrawal symptoms usually start within 12 hours of last heroin usage and within 30 hours of last methadone exposure.

Treatment of withdrawal usually includes the use of medications that combat the symptoms.

Clonindine–a blood pressure medicine that decreases anxiety, muscle aches, sweating, agitation, and cramps

Anti-diarrheal–to stop diarrhea

Anti-emetics–to stop nausea/vomiting


Buprenorphine–a “partial agonist” that competes with opioids at the Mu receptor and is used for long term maintenance therapy for opioid dependence; a “high” is prevented if someone uses an opioid while taking this medication

Methadone–a long-acting opioid used for the treatment of opioid dependence; it does not produce a “high”, and reduces cravings to use

Remember, these posts are for writing purposes only and are NOT to be construed as medical treatment or advice.

Check out Lydia’s Medical Monday and Sarah’s The Strangest Situation!

9 comments on “Mental Health Monday–Cold Turkey

  1. Sarah Fine says:

    Very nice summary, Laura. Withdrawal sounds extremely unpleasant.

  2. roguemutt says:

    The easiest way to avoid withdrawal is never to start using in the first place. Though sometimes it isn’t always up to us I suppose.

  3. Karen Lange says:

    I did not know this. Thanks for the info!

  4. Linda Gray says:

    What an awful experience. Worth it if the person can avoid repeating the problem, though!

  5. Good post.

    One of my teens is on methadone to treat dependence. It seems to have side effects too- like constipation.

    Another side note: A friend who works in the hospital says they use methadone to treat babies born from moms who are addicted to drugs.

  6. lenny says:

    hi dr laura! for sure it sounds like its just real hard getting off those drugs. for sure im never gonna get on them.
    …hugs from lenny

  7. Vicki Tremper says:

    Oh the possibilities! Another great post, Laura. Happy Holidays!

  8. Christine Fonseca says:

    I love all of these posts – great job 😉

  9. Donna Hole says:

    I have a character that will soon be going through heroin withdrawal, so this is great info. I’m putting the link in the story.

    Thanks Laura.


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