Many opiate abusers have asked me the question “does alcohol help with opiate withdrawal?” My answer is always the same…using alcohol for opiate withdrawal symptoms is not a great idea. Though alcohol can have quick anti-anxiety effects, it really does much more harm than good during withdrawal. I made the mistake of getting drunk on two separate occasions; once coming off Suboxone, and once coming off heroin.
I ended up regretting it both times…so learn from my mistakes!
In this article, I’m going to explain why using alcohol for opiate withdrawal is a bad strategy. I’m also going to teach you about some herbs and prescription medications that have the same anti-anxiety and anti-insomnia properties of alcohol but without the horrible side-effects.
Using Alcohol for Opiate Withdrawal
At first, using alcohol for opiate withdrawal might seem like a good idea. I mean after all…it does alleviate some of the most unpleasant symptoms…right?
Let’s take a look at the symptoms alcohol can treat:
- Sore and aching muscles/limbs
Note: Alcohol is a Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant. When alcohol is consumed, it gets absorbed into the bloodstream extremely fast, thus reducing anxiety and insomnia quite well. Alcohol is also a strong painkiller. Alcohol consumption can, therefore, ease pain and relax muscles during opiate withdrawal.
OK, so far alcohol looks like a great remedy for alleviating anxiety, insomnia, and pain…right? WRONG!
While it may be tempting to use alcohol for opiate withdrawal symptoms, I assure you it does much more harm than good.
The following reasons will explain why:
- Alcohol is extremely dehydrating. This is counterproductive during withdrawal. Alcohol, coffee, and energy drinks are the worst beverages to choose from. Instead, you want to drink plenty of water and Gatorade to stay hydrated.
- Alcohol is very hard to the digestive system. It makes the opiate withdrawal nausea and gastrointestinal (GI) distress much worse.
- Alcohol destroys B vitamins, which are needed for natural stress reduction and energy production.
- Alcohol disrupts the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. This can lead to many negative physical and psychological consequences.
- Drinking alcohol can lead to a hangover. So while you have a few hours of relief from alcohol, the next day your opiate withdrawal will feel much, much worse.
Note: Acute opiate withdrawal typically lasts around 4-7 days. This is why using alcohol for opiate withdrawal is not a good idea. What are you going to do, stay drunk the whole time? It’s just not a good strategy…not when there are much better alternatives.
Alcohol for Opiate Withdrawal Alternatives
There are many alternatives (both natural and medication-based) to using alcohol for opiate withdrawal. They work in similar ways to alcohol, only they don’t cause such intense destruction to the body.
Let’s first take a look at how alcohol works…
Alcohol mimics an important neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). It does this by binding to GABA receptor sites in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it acts as a mental relaxant. Therefore, drinking alcohol can result in a deep relaxation of the nervous system…but at a major cost to the body. Luckily, there are medication-based and natural alternatives that work better than alcohol for opiate withdrawal…without the damaging effects.
Some popular medications that bind to GABA receptors and promote relaxation are:
Note: These all belong to a class of anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) drugs known as benzodiazepines, commonly referred to as benzos. Benzos are often prescribed by doctors to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms. They provide much better anxiety and insomnia relief than alcohol, without the dehydration and other toxic effects of alcohol.
Some popular herbs that bind to GABA receptors and promote relaxation are:
Note: Passion flower was shown in a study to help ease opiate withdrawal symptoms. Valerian root was shown in a study to work just as good as oxazepam (a benzo) for insomnia, but with fewer side effects.
*There is a very strong Opiate Withdrawal Supplement that I often recommend to people who are going through opiate withdrawal. It contains concentrated amounts of passion flower, valerian root, and many other nutrients which have all been shown to relax the nervous system and make it easier to fall and stay asleep.
If you can afford it, I also highly recommend taking this awesome supplement, because the benefits are just too good to pass up.
Alcohol for Opiate Withdrawal Conclusion
Now you know the risks of using alcohol for opiate withdrawal, as well as some good medication-based and natural alternatives. I wish you the best of luck in your quest for a mild opiate withdrawal. Click here now to view my best home detox program.
If you have any questions on using alcohol for opiate withdrawal alternatives, please post them in the comment box below.