Screw it… I’m just going to hammer away at the keys and see what comes out. After trying to pick a topic and title for the past hour and having no success, it’s time to just let my subconscious mind take over. It knows way more than my conscious mind after all.
The truth is I haven’t published a new blog post on this website in almost a year and a half.
That is a very long story…
Table of Contents
- 1 The Short Version
- 2 A Super Resource for Quitting Opioids Successfully
- 3 Opioid Detox Symptoms & Timeline in a Nutshell
- 4 No Time for a Lengthy Timeout from Life
- 5 Opioid Maintenance Drugs
- 6 Opioid Detoxification
- 7 How to Take Time Off for a Cold Turkey Opioid Detox
- 8 Medicines & Remedies for Alleviating Opioid Detox Symptoms
- 9 Final Thoughts
The Short Version
The short version is that I got so busy podcasting and coaching that between these time and energy investments and being a single dad, blogging on Opiate Addiction Support fell so far to the bottom of my priorities that it didn’t happen.
And that’s okay because there are already more than 350 articles on this blog and I’ve pretty much written about everything under the sun on the topic of recovering from opioids.
Well then… why am I starting to blog on opioid use disorder and its treatment yet again?
The main reason is that I’ve recently finished up with several long-term clients and am not stretched so thin anymore.
It was the longest stretch of intense coaching that I’ve ever had in the past 9 years of recovery coaching.
I’ve finally put my coaching page back up as well but I’m only offering consultations for the time being — and at least for now, the 3, 6, and 12-week coaching programs are not available.
This is to make sure I have quality daddy-daughter time during the rest of my kid’s summer vacation from school and also so I don’t stack my workload too high.
As a former workaholic, for the past 5 years I’ve been careful about not slipping back into that pattern because at least for me, it usually leads to burnout.
When that happens I’m no good to anybody.
I can easily handle podcasting, detox and recovery consultations, blogging, single parenting, and the rest of the personal and professional responsibilities I currently have.
Anyways, here is some info on what I’ve been up to lately in case one or more of these resources interest you:
- Elevation Recovery Podcast – I’m a co-host and we release brand new episodes every Thursday. There are more than 275 episodes on how to detox and recover from opioids, benzos, alcohol, stimulants, and other addictive substances.
- Fit Recovery – A company dedicated to helping people recover from alcohol use disorder. I work as the Coaching Programs Director.
- BioRebalance – A relatively new premium supplement company with a product called Restore. I’m the Vice President.
Needless to say, I’ve been busy.
However, it’s all very rewarding work and I very much appreciate that I get to be a part of it.
I’m also grateful that I’ve officially restarted blogging on this site you’re reading now, Opiate Addiction Support, where we offer an online course that helps people learn exactly what to do for their unique situations to reduce up to 90% of the discomfort from quitting opioids.
And now that I’m warmed up I know exactly what to write about…
A Super Resource for Quitting Opioids Successfully
At the risk of sounding insensitive, one of the top resources for quitting opioids successfully is, in my opinion, time.
Specifically, time off.
More specifically, time off from responsibilities.
And even more specifically, time off from ALL responsibilities (including work, parenting, school, paying bills, marriage, domestic duties, errands, appointments, etc).
What is the optimal time off for quitting opioids successfully?
It depends on the person, but in my estimation, 30 days off from all responsibilities or at least major responsibilities sure help out the situation.
And before you go and rip my head off for sounding insensitive and unrealistic, let me preface this for you.
Yes, I know that taking 30 days off from responsibilities is pretty much impossible for the vast majority of us (myself included).
Heck… for most of us taking 1-2 weeks off from responsibilities like work and childcare etc. is also very difficult.
That being said, this strategy works wonders for increasing opioid recovery rates.
Healing from opioids after detoxing usually takes about 30-45 days.
Obviously, this isn’t set in stone and each person is unique.
Some people heal in 2-3 weeks or less while for others it takes 2-3 months or longer.
Variables that contribute to opioid detox timelines include, but are not limited to:
- Type of opioid
- Opioid dosage
- Length of time on that dosage
- Length of time on opioids in general
- Rate of opioid metabolism
- Amount of stress in life
- Co-occurring disorders
- Genetic vulnerabilities
After working with thousands of students in my online course and more than 500 coaching clients, the general consensus has been that 80-90% of these individuals felt that the opioid detox full-healing process took approximately 30-45 days.
Meaning after 30-45 days they experienced zero post-acute withdrawal symptoms from getting off opioids completely (even for people detoxing from high-dosage and long-term opioid dependence).
This corroborates what Dr. Anna Lembke writes about in her groundbreaking book, Dopamine Nation: Finding Balance in the Age of Indulgence.
She states that it often takes around 30 days after detoxing from a drug for the brain to feel normal or close to normal. This is a dopamine reset and it gives the brain the time it needs to detox from the drug and kickstart its natural production of dopamine.
Again, this is not set in stone and each person and situation is unique.
For example, a 50-year-old person that used IV methamphetamine for the last 20 years straight is not going to reset their brain’s dopamine in 30 days. While a 22-year-old individual that has been drinking a 6-pack of beer every night might feel way better just 10-14 days after quitting.
Substance detoxification, brain healing, and dopamine reset are very nuanced topics and timelines, but even so, we can observe certain commonalities and generalizations.
Opioid Detox Symptoms & Timeline in a Nutshell
If you want to learn about the biochemistry of acute and post-acute opioid withdrawal, I have an in-depth video on that which you can watch here if you’re interested.
For this article, I’ll provide a nutshell description of it as that is all that is needed to preface why time off from responsibilities is such a miraculous resource for quitting successfully.
Nutshell bullet points on typical opioid withdrawal timelines and symptoms:
- Acute withdrawal
- ( Short-acting opioids ) – 4-7 days
- ( Long-acting opioids ) – 2-3 weeks
- Post-acute withdrawal
- ( Short-acting opioids ) – 30-60 days
- ( Long-acting opioids ) – 45-90 days
- Acute withdrawal symptoms
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Lack of appetite
- Cannot hold food down
- Goose flesh
- Hot and cold flashes
- A runny nose
- Sensitivity to emotional pain
- Sensitivity to physical pain
- Sensitivity to cold temperatures
- Dilated pupils
- and more
- Post-acute withdrawal symptoms:
- Most of the same acute withdrawal symptoms, only not as severe and lasting longer in duration
If you’ve ever endured opioid withdrawal you know firsthand how awful it is.
That being said, with a strategic plan that incorporates customized and high-efficacy withdrawal remedies, many of these symptoms can be treated and made more bearable.
Without effective withdrawal remedies to treat the symptoms, for most of us, opioid detox is so unbearable, terrifying, and debilitating that we won’t even attempt to quit as it’s just too excruciating.
Thus, if I was addicted to heroin or pills again and you gave me an option to choose between 30 days off from responsibilities or a combination of highly-effective withdrawal remedies like medicines and natural therapeutics, I’d choose the latter.
The magic formula for successfully quitting opioids with the least amount of suffering possible is to have both.
It’s no wonder why so many people enroll in medical detox followed by 30 days or longer of inpatient treatment to quit opioids and other drugs.
It provides them with prescription medications to treat their opioid withdrawal symptoms and then in residential rehab they don’t have to work or take care of their kids, etc.
The Main Issue with Mainstream Rehab
Unfortunately, mainstream medical detox and rehabiliation centers are not providing their patients with a key pillar of recovery, called Biochemical Restoration Therapy.
The biggest problem with mainstream rehab is they fail to address and treat the lingering biochemical imbalances that addiction created or exacerbated.
For example, people detoxing from opioids nearly always have severe dopamine and endorphin deficiencies, and many of these folks also have deficits in serotonin and GABA. These are all feel-good neurotransmitters that are needed for mental, emotional, and physical well-being.
12-step meetings, individual counseling, group counseling, and psychiatry are often used in mainstream rehabs. To be sure, these modalities can and do help countless individuals. However, a person that has severe or even moderate neurotransmitter deficiencies and other biochemical imbalances typically relapses after treatment.
The rehab program didn’t address their chronic brain physiology dysfunction caused or exacerbated by the prolonged administration of addictive substances.
According to Charles Gant, MD, addiction, drug cravings, and relapse are the result of these four main risk factors or causes:
- 1) Poor nutrition (soil depleted in minerals and other nutrients, poor food choices, malabsorption, and maldigestion)
- 2) Toxins (heavy metals, pesticides, alcohol, drugs that cover up symptoms, etc.)
- 3) Stress (acute and chronic)
- 4) Genetic vulnerabilities (mild, moderate, or severe)
Simply put, mainstream rehabs fail miserably when it comes to treating the biochemical (aka biological, physical) aspect of addiction and recovering.
They either don’t know, don’t care, or don’t think it’s worth the hassle.
Luckily, some of the best features of these inpatient rehab facilities are time off from responsibilities and self-binding.
For a person recently treated for acute opioid withdrawal at a medical detox, when they check in to a 30-day residential program, they go to an environment where they don’t have to work or take care of kids. It’s also an environment without access to drugs.
Many people do best with this type of treatment because their home environment is too hard to get sober and stay sober in.
Other people do best recovering from home.
Each person and situation is quite unique.
No Time for a Lengthy Timeout from Life
Regardless of the treatment modality being utilized, time off from responsibilities is a super resource for quitting opioids cold turkey or for transitioning off a short or moderate-length taper regimen.
Time off from work, childcare, and other major responsibilities are by no means required to quit opioids successfully.
In fact, around 99% of the people I’ve worked with and corresponded with were not able to take more than 3-10 days off from responsibilities while detoxing.
As I said before, effective remedies for treating withdrawal symptoms can offer significant relief and help, even if a person cannot take time off from responsibilities.
And even if a person has 30 days off from all responsibilities and gets to relax at home, if they don’t have something helpful to treat the opioid detox symptoms it would probably be worse than having responsibilities combined with effective withdrawal medicines.
However, each person and situation is highly unique. I keep mentioning this because it’s important to know and to account for.
Opioid Maintenance Drugs
Since most individuals that are addicted to opioids don’t have the luxury of taking a lengthy timeout from their life, maintenance drugs like Suboxone and other buprenorphine formulations, along with methadone and Kratom, are often utilized.
Buprenorphine formulations, methadone, and Kratom all bind to the same opioid receptors that RX opioids, heroin, and fentanyl bind to.
If a person continues to fill their opioid receptors with the opioid agonist drugs above along with an effective dosing protocol for their situation, it will prevent the user from going into acute opioid withdrawal.
For example, imagine a man that has been snorting 100 mg of oxycodone daily for two years. He owns a business and can’t take more than 1-2 days off in a week. He’s also married with three kids under the age of 10.
He has tried tapering a few times but is not able to adhere to the taper.
And going through a cold turkey withdrawal is not an option.
Suboxone to the rescue! He can simply make an appointment to visit a Suboxone prescriber in his area and get a prescription for his opioid use disorder. He gets on Suboxone and it totally prevents opioid withdrawal and even psychological cravings for oxycodone.
Thus, he’s able to keep running his business, stay present in his marriage, and take care of his children and other responsibilities.
Suboxone has been a miracle for millions but there is a flip side to the Suboxone coin. Most individuals don’t want to be on Suboxone for life. But when they feel ready to quit, oftentimes it’s at least as hard to quit if not harder to quit than the opioid they were addicted to prior to switching over to Suboxone.
Again, for good measure say it with me one last time: “Each person and situation is highly unique.”
What is a miracle for one person is a nightmare for another when it comes to opioid replacement therapies such as:
- and Kratom
If you’re doing a slow and disciplined opioid taper along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you probably don’t need to take time off to become opioid-free.
However, if you’ve tried tapering and aren’t able to stick to it, the only option left is quitting cold turkey.
Opioid detoxification refers to emptying your receptor sites of opioid molecules.
There are two ways to do this:
- Cold turkey
Doing it gradually aka tapering is the best way to prevent withdrawal symptoms but a lot of individuals can’t stick to their taper plan.
Thus, the cold turkey method is the only option for them.
With the cold turkey method, there are several options to choose from, such as:
- Medical Detox
- Outpatient Detox
- Rapid Opioid Detox
- Ultra-Rapid Opioid Detox
- Waismann Method
- Home Detox
How to Take Time Off for a Cold Turkey Opioid Detox
If you’re like I was and not built for the slow taper method where you need immense discipline, you’ll obviously need to detox cold turkey.
And if that’s the case, the more time off from responsibilities you can carve out the better.
Some of my highest coaching client success rates are of people that are retired. They don’t have careers to work and the kids have moved out on their own long ago.
They can put 100% of their time and energy into the process of:
- Opioid detoxification
Some of my lowest coaching client success rates are of people that can’t take more than 2-3 days off from work and parenting.
This makes sense, as the opioid withdrawal symptoms including the post-acute symptoms often last for a month or longer.
Having to continue working and/or taking care of your kids while suffering from lingering post-acute withdrawal symptoms is usually quite a big challenge.
People rise to the challenge every day likely all over the world, but it’s usually a harder process than quitting with a couple of weeks or longer of time off from responsibilities.
Here are some tips for scheduling time off to detox opioids cold turkey, either in a professional setting or at home:
- If your opioid dependence is a secret from your intimate partner, you might consider telling them. Doing it alone is typically much harder than if you have practical and emotional support along with accountability.
- If you have a job that you hate, maybe it would be easier to just quit and detox from opioids, then once you feel better find another job.
- If you own a business, is there anyone that could help out while you take time off? If not, maybe you could find someone?
- If you have kids, would your significant other be able to help pick up your slack while you detox? Maybe your parents could help with childcare?
- Looking ahead to the future, get out your calendar and think about when you could take 1-2 weeks or even longer off. You might have to wait several months to arrange significant time off, but it could be worth waiting for.
Ultimately, most people feel guilt and shame about their opioid use disorder and thus either keep it a secret from their loved ones or don’t take bold measures to get the time off.
Instead of telling their spouse that they need to detox from opioids at home and need extra help taking care of the kids, they continue using opioids or try to quit time and time again, but without time off, support, and accountability it’s too difficult.
Or instead of telling their boss that they need to go away to medical detox and inpatient rehab, they keep using pills all day every day to have the energy and mental capacity to continue working a job they dislike or even hate.
These are just a couple of the dozens and dozens of examples I’ve heard from coaching clients and course students.
I was severely addicted to opioids and had so much shame and guilt about it that I didn’t even consider telling my boss or girlfriend.
I kept hiding my addiction… and my secret kept me sick.
Thus, I had no more than the weekend or, if I planned ahead a three-day weekend, to attempt detoxing. I also had no practical support, no emotional support, and no accountability.
A lot of individuals are able to successfully quit opioids without time off, support, and accountability. This typically makes quitting a lot more difficult. However, some people are built for going through detox completely alone while continuing with their responsibilities.
One of the top reasons most people that are addicted to opioids can’t quit despite wanting to is not being able to put their life on pause.
A life pause button would be nice, wouldn’t it?
To be able to take a month off or even 1-2 weeks off to focus on getting off opioids is unfortunately not possible for most people.
In the U.S., although the stigma of addiction is getting a lot less severe there is still a stigma and most people don’t understand addiction.
This makes it very hard for a large percentage of people to ask for help and to ask for time off to detox.
If you’re in that boat and want to get out, you might brainstorm on paper and try to come up with some ideas about how you could arrange for time off from responsibilities to detox.
And if there is no way you’re able to carve out time off to do this, fortunately, there are some highly-strategic detox medicines and remedies that can greatly lessen the symptoms of cold turkey opioid withdrawal.
Medicines & Remedies for Alleviating Opioid Detox Symptoms
When it comes to medicines and remedies for the effective treatment of opioid withdrawal symptoms, there are many to consider.
For a cold turkey opioid withdrawal, typically it takes powerful prescription medicines and/or natural remedies to mitigate the symptoms.
Here is my concept of The 7 Categories of Opioid Detox Remedies:
- FDA-approved drugs for opioid withdrawal
- Prescription medications used off-label to treat the withdrawal
- Over-the-counter medicine
- Legal natural drugs
- Dietary supplements
- Natural remedies
- Home remedies
Within each of the categories or genres of remedies above, there are so many potentially helpful resources that it can make your head spin.
During my addiction, I was pretty clueless about what could help, although I did know a little.
While I was opioid-dependent, I would only suck it up and try to face the cold turkey withdrawal if I had powerful drugs like diazepam (brand name Valium) or alprazolam (brand name Xanax).
The upside to using these and certain other prescription drugs for opioid withdrawal is that they can often make you feel much more comfortable.
The downside is that many of these prescription drugs can be highly addictive while also causing unpleasant or even debilitating side effects.
Dietary supplements, natural remedies, and home remedies are usually safe, although depending on a person’s biochemical individuality, medicines they’re taking, and health conditions they have, certain remedies in these categories might be contraindicated and thus not viable options.
Due to the complexity of figuring out which opioid withdrawal remedies would likely help you and not harm you, many people invest hours and hours of their time reading my blog.
I’ve written review articles on more than 50 remedies including prescription medicines, over-the-counter drugs, natural drugs that are legal, dietary supplements, natural remedies, and home remedies.
Additionally, my online course streamlines the learning process as it’s a step-by-step 6-module video program designed to help you come up with a customized and effective opioid detox and recovery plan for your unique situation, needs, preferences, and resources.
Having time off from all responsibilities is indeed a super resource for quitting opioids successfully.
How much time off?
The more the better!
Yet… I realize this is a luxury.
I also realize this is not realistic for most people.
Sometimes it’s possible when you plan far enough ahead for it, while in some cases no matter how far into the future you look there just won’t be a good window to take significant time off.
If you’re in the boat that most people are in and can’t arrange for an extended period of time off to detox, you’re not alone.
And fortunately, there are other resources and solutions to help you achieve your goal of successfully quitting opioids.
There are also many other helpful blogs, YouTube channels, books, and other resources to learn from.
Two of the post-acute withdrawal symptoms that typically suck the most are:
- Exhaustion (mind-body-spirit burnout)
- Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure; ‘pleasure deafness’).
Continuing with life responsibilities like work and childcare while you’re exhausted, depressed, and feeling hopeless is often a big challenge…
But with an effective detox plan, you can mitigate opioid detox symptoms quite a lot and get through the process.
I wish you the best and hope that this article provided you with some helpful information to make your recovery process smoother.
If you have any comments or questions, please post them in the comment box below.