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Insomnia A Side Effect of Opiate Withdrawal

Insomnia A Side Effect of Opiate Withdrawal

Insomnia is one of the dreadful side effects that one experiences when they are going through opiate withdrawal. Opiates include but are not limited to Heroin, Oxycontins, Dilaudid, Codeine, Vicodin, and Morphine. Opiates are extremely difficult to come down off of, more difficult than probably any other drug besides maybe alcohol. Once these drugs are stopped, the body needs a great deal of time to recover. Initially, the person might even require hospitalization because they can be that sick. Clonodine can be prescribed as a temporary measure to assist with the withdrawal, resulting in a temporary relief of the insomnia.

When a person is born, they have natural opiates that are produced regularly throughout their lifetime. They are called opioid receptors which stimulate the brain and are responsible for lifting a person’s mood, helping that person feel motivated for everyday purposes, and natural pain relief. When a person starts using opiates regularly, these opiates is much more stimulating than the ones that a person is born with. This causes the natural receptors to die off and quit producing usually within a year of the addict beginning use of the opiate. So when a person is withdrawing from opiates it is very common for them to experience very lengthy periods of insomnia.

So lengthy that it could be weeks before they get any sleep at all but often years before the insomnia disappears entirely, if ever. There are some drugs that the doctor can prescribe for short term insomnia but they will not risk a concurrent addiction. Most of the withdrawal symptoms have to be worked out on their own, which unfortunately is the main reason that when opiate users do not use replacement therapy to come off of opiates, the success rate is very narrow. It takes a very strong person and one that is much convicted to be able to fight off this demon and cope with the side effects and the icing on the cake is the unwelcome insomnia.

Besides the insomnia, opiate addicts have a very long list of other symptoms that they have to suffer through in addition. However, when the insomnia is compiled with the other horrible side effects, the outlook at that point is quite bleak. Although it is temporary, no one knows for certain how long that might be. Usually doctors will prescribe Valium or Restoril to help the person attempt to get some sleep. No one can underestimate the horrific effects that a person goes through when coming off of opiates and for an extended period after.

Doctors might recommend that the addict begin a treatment recovery program using Suboxone or Methadone. Both of these are long term treatments making the body feel as if it has the opiate in it, of course never getting a high from either, and more importantly, these medications block the opioid receptors so even if the person decided to use, there would be no effect from the opiate at all. This is a very effective treatment and one that will likely reduce any further displays of insomnia.

July 13, 2008 - Posted by | Insomnia |

1 Comment »

  1. My story is that at age 35 three years ago I was as sober as any infant born that day, to this day I have never touched alcohol, smoked a cigarette or done any other drug not prescribed by a doctor. Here’s where the problem comes in. I was diagnosed with cancer after doctors discovered a large and advanced tumor in my mediastinal cavity in my chest and after many surgeries trying to center in on exactly what kind of cancer it was it was thought that the type of Lymphoma I had was Hodgkins which they later changed to a Non-Hodgkins treatment. I was told by the first 3 Oncologists I met with that it was far too advanced and I could not do a succesful recovery treatment, I was dying and dying quick.
    I ended up in the hospital and met a different Oncologist who agreed to attempt a very aggressive recovery treatment chemo provided I understood that the outlook was still grim. Well thanks to God and all the medical attention I recieved I am now in a sort of remission and trying to regain some sort of life back.
    Because of my heavy exposure to all types of opiate painkillers I chose to try and get off of them twice before with the first time being against my doctor’s advice and while undergoing chemo. I found myself so reliant on them and having so much depression for the lazy and foggy life they caused me to be in. My entire life I have been very active, athletic, and an outdoors person so to be in bed asleep most all of the time was the absolute worst part of being sick at least I thought so till I experienced withdrawal for the first time.

    The nuts and bolts of my situation is this, I am now attempting for the third time in a year and a half to go off of the opiates. Percocet has been my standard drug of choice and the demon in my life most often. I have always been a strongwilled person but when I experience some of the things like the insomina, constant aches, and depression that as I read more and more about and realize that it may never go away it strikes great fear in me.

    I’m hoping someone here with more success then myself in getting off of this stuff and having a decent life again can tell me how or if I can actually get some dependable information as to what I most likely have to look forward to? I know a lot of people who have also been hooked on opiates can attest that this is one thing that some and in my experience most doctors do not understand. I firmly believe that you can only trust the words of a recovered addict when it comes to opiate addiction and recovery and I have volumes of examples with coutless doctors as evidence that I could supply to anyone wanting to hear about them.
    This is an epidemic and one that has gotten much worse just in the less then three year period that I have been close to this world. Things are not getting better as far as care and are only getting worse as doctors are aware of the problem but in many cases fearful of the liability of dealing with the problem they along with the pharmaceutical companies created and instead lable anyone honest enough to detail every detail of their addiction and means of satisfying it a ” drug seeker ” and either do not help them at all or put them on highly restricted management programs with no chance of succeeding which will in short time allow them to rid themselves of the ” drug seeking ” patient.

    I have done Suboxen twice and was back on the painkillers within a month of completing it, I never felt for a second that it was going to work for me as I could not sleep and had pains all over my body that affected me severely, so much so that my personality changed immensely and I became an angry person for the first time in my life. When you are constantly aching and tired and can think of nothing else you become every sort of sad and angry and you see no hope but getting back on the pills but this time you’re gonna do it right and not get out of control, you learned your lesson, RIGHT!! It doesn’t work like that and it never will. I have heard and read of people with success on the Suboxen but in my two stints in rehab and recovery noone I personally knew was able to stick with it and the ones I have seen that are claiming success to my knowledge were on Suboxen very long term which had I been able to get through the insomnia and pain issues I was having then maybe I could have stayed on it longer and long enough to feel the results of it but the longest I made it was 7 weeks clean and caved.

    Again for the record I am a 38 year old male with ZERO history of narcotics prior to being diagnosed with my cancer at age 35 and a half and put on painkillers. I have been a competetive athlete for much of my life and spent a lot of time in combat sports where I had my fair share of injuries which caused me to have to undergo a handful of surgeries that I recovered without the aid of painkillers other then Tylenol 3 and Advil. I would never have ever put a narcotic in my body unless prescribed to me by a doctor as a major element to keeping me alive which it was and I agreed. It may seem like I have animosity toward my doctors but I have none towards the ones I dealt with in the early stages of my situation as they were doing what they needed to do for me to keep me as comfortable as they could as my body was being carved up like a turkey, the opiates served their purpose then.

    My problem is that since then as I was forced to move back home and away from my doctors and to new ones when I tell them everything I’m saying here and more I’m labeled a drug seeker and given extremely poor treatment with what I believe is no care for my life and any future I have which highly angers me. I am a person who wants no part of these evil drugs and I take great care to make sure and tell people of the pain I’ve had to go through in dealing with them and how much worse this has been then any and all of the surgeries, very heavy chemo and radiation that I have endured. It is absolutely without a doubt the worst thing I’ve ever gone through and much of the time I believe that this is a battle that I can not win. If anyone out there has a way to help me I’m all ears and very appreciative of any feedback I can get. I just want to know if this pain can ever go away without the “aid” of opiates?

    Thank you and good luck to anyone else battling this devil, don’t give up and let your doctors and your loved ones know about it so hopefully sometime something great can happen that will make it so that people don’t have to live like this.

    Ben Quinton

    Comment by Ben Quinton | August 25, 2008 | Reply


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