The key to living a happy life after discontinuing opiates is to GET HEALTHY!!! I’m talking about supreme health in the spheres of body, mind, and spirit.
Opiate addiction is a disorder that affects your brain, and so the main component of an effective treatment plan is correcting the brain chemistry imbalances with supplements, nutrition, exercise, adequate water intake, healthy breathing exercises, and proper sleep cycles.
The following example treatment plan focuses on correcting biochemical deficiencies caused or exacerbated by opiate addiction. Once you come off opioid drugs, it’s going to take a lot of work to feel your best fast.
Luckily, with the following information, you’ll learn how to repair your brain and body and thus feel great quickly after detoxing from opioid drugs.
With the biological aspect of recovery as the foundation of treatment, the psychological, social, and spiritual elements can then do their part to promote the facilitation of a holistic recovery.
Here is how to feel good again after you quit opioid drugs…
Table of Contents
- 1 Step 1. Take an Opiate Withdrawal Supplement
- 2 Step 2. Take DLPA
- 3 Step 3. Take a Multivitamin/Mineral Supplement
- 4 Step 4. Supercharge Your Body With Adaptogens
- 5 Step 5. Take Additional Supplements
- 6 Step 6. Focus on Nutrition
- 7 Step 7. Become Addicted to Exercise
- 8 Step 8. Establish Healthy Sleep Habits
- 9 Step 9. Slow Down your Breath and Mind
Step 1. Take an Opiate Withdrawal Supplement
Opiate Withdrawal Supplement is a very powerful formula that is specifically designed to help people feel better after stopping the use of opioids. It contains a synergistic blend of herbs, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that have been shown to be effective at reducing both acute opiate withdrawal symptoms and post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
This product has two different formulas that are intended to be used together: Daytime Formula and Nighttime Formula.
The Daytime Formula provides the following benefits:
- Calms anxiety
- Relaxes the nervous system
- Combats fatigue
- Boosts endorphins (our natural morphine)
- Increases levels of dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine (excitatory neurotransmitters that enhance mood, increase natural energy, and help the body respond to physical and mental stress)
- Boosts GABA (inhibitory neurotransmitter I like to call the brain’s natural Valium)
- Promotes mental and physical well-being
- Powerful mood-enhancer
- Eases gastrointestinal distress
The Nighttime Formula provides the following benefits:
- Boosts serotonin (a neurotransmitter that makes you feel emotionally relaxed)
- Boosts GABA
- Relaxes the nervous system
- Promotes mental tranquility
- Helps you fall and stay asleep
PAWS dosing guidelines:
- In morning mix 1 scoop Daytime with 10-12 ounces of water.
- Consume and wait approximately 30 minutes to assess your tolerance.
- Take another scoop if deemed necessary.
- Do not exceed 4 scoops of Daytime in 24 hours.
- At night, follow the same protocol with the Nighttime formula.
- Use for up to 90 days during PAWS.
Step 2. Take DLPA
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome leads to many biochemical imbalances. Primarily, long-term opioid abuse creates severe endorphin and dopamine deficiencies in the user. Fortunately, I’ve found an incredible supplement that treats both of these deficiencies.
DL-Phenylalanine (DLPA) is a combination supplement consisting of both the D- and L- forms of the amino acid phenylalanine. The L- form is found in protein-rich foods such as turkey, chicken, beef, and fish. L-phenylalanine increases the amount of dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine in the brain.
These are neurotransmitters that promote:
- Increased mental stimulation
- Natural energy production
- Physical and mental stress reduction
D-Phenylalanine is made synthetically in laboratories. It slows the action of the enzymes (particularly carboxypeptidase A and enkephalinase) that destroy endorphins.
DPA does this by acting like a “downfield body blocker” in football.
When the endorphins are trying to reach the traumatized area, the endorphin-degrading enzymes are on their way to eat them “Pac-Man” style. DPA comes right up and blocks them from reaching the endorphins, thus enabling the endorphins to successfully reach the traumatized area.
In one study, a man that took a single dose of DLPA experienced a 300% increase in endorphin levels, and they stayed that high for six days.
Taking DLPA during PAWS can result in a rapid increase in dopamine and endorphin levels in the brain, thus boosting mood and energy levels (and decreasing opioid cravings).
PAWS dosing guidelines:
- Take 500-2,000 mg three times a day on an empty stomach 45 minutes before meals.
- Continue this dosing protocol (or decrease dosage if needed) for up to 3-6 months after coming off opioids.
- If you already have issues with high blood pressure, start with a low dose of 500 mg to see how it affects you, then work your way up if needed.
- If you feel “jittery” from DLPA, lower dose as needed.
- DLPA can be found at high-quality health food and vitamin stores, though it is rare and often stores do not carry it.
- Solgar DLPA is a very high-quality brand that I have personally used and had great results from.
- If DLPA gives you anxiety or if you’re very prone to anxiety or high blood pressure, use DPA instead. It increases endorphins and won’t exacerbate anxiety or blood pressure. It’s available on Amazon.
Step 3. Take a Multivitamin/Mineral Supplement
PAWS symptoms originate from a combination of biochemical imbalances caused or exacerbated by opioid abuse and stress. It’s important to take a multivitamin/mineral supplement while you’re suffering from PAWS.
A multivitamin/mineral can provide you with many essential nutrients that are required for psychological and physiological health.
The brand “Rainbow Light” makes an excellent one-a-day that I’ve been taking for the last year. I absolutely love it.
PAWS dosing guidelines:
Step 4. Supercharge Your Body With Adaptogens
In the late 1940’s, a Russian scientist named Dr. Nickolai Lazarev coined the term “adaptogen” while working on a molecular compound found to stimulate nonspecific resistance of organisms. Dr. Lazarev defines an adaptogen as an agent that allows an organism to counteract any adverse chemical, physical or biological stressor by generating nonspecific resistance and thus becoming “adapted” to a diversity of demands imposed upon it.
Adaptogen herbs have a double-direction normalizing effect.
So if a person is stressed, an adaptogen will calm them down and relieve anxiety. If that same person is fatigued, an adaptogen would increase their natural energy.
Adaptogens, simply put, facilitate the promotion of homeostasis in the body. Taking adaptogens daily for a few weeks or more can seriously reduce or eliminate post-acute symptoms.
- Improve the health of your adrenal system.
- Help strengthen the body’s response to stress.
- Enhance the body’s ability to cope with anxiety and fight fatigue.
- Calm you down and boost your energy at the same time without over stimulating.
- Normalize body imbalances.
They’re called adaptogens because of their unique ability to “adapt” their function according to your body’s specific needs. Though the effects may initially be subtle and take time to make themselves felt, they’re real and undeniable.
Adaptogens work a bit like a thermostat.
When the thermostat senses that the room temperature is too high it brings it down; when the temperature is too low it brings it up.
The “Supreme Elixir of Energy”
One of the hardest post-acute symptoms to endure is EXTREME FATIGUE. It’s also one of the most detrimental symptoms to recovery. I’ve seen countless individuals get back on opioids after only a few days or weeks clean time, stating they couldn’t get out of bed and needed the opioids to get their energy back.
The Supreme Elixir of Energy is a concoction you can take to supercharge your adrenal system.
It’s a mix of powerful adaptogen herbs that can radically spike your natural energy levels, giving you that much-needed boost during PAWS.
I take this elixir all the time and it gives me the adrenal support I need to live a life filled with energy and passion.
The Supreme Elixir of Energy consists of the following ingredients:
- Shen Nong’s Ginseng – A root that acts as a stimulant and helps the body adapt to physical and mental stress.
- Raw Reishi – A mushroom that acts as a powerful mood-enhancer.
- MacaForce – A root that boosts the endocrine system, promotes natural energy production and increases libido.
- Good Belly Big Shot 50 – A probiotic drink that boosts digestion and enhances immune function.
PAWS dosing guidelines:
- To be used first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
- Pour Good Belly drink and 4 ounces of water into a tall glass.
- Add 3 droppers of Raw Reishi and 3 droppers of Shen Nong’s Ginseng.
- Add 1 tablespoon MacaForce and stir well.
- Consume on a daily basis and watch your energy and happiness levels start to skyrocket within 1-2 weeks.
- Use for as long as you like, but no less than 30 days.
Adaptogen Herbal Teas
I realize the Supreme Elixir of Energy is very expensive, and not everyone will be able to afford the ingredients. If this is the case for you, there is no need to worry. You can still get great adaptogen benefits by consuming certain herbal teas.
The following teas can be used instead of (or in combination with) the Supreme Elixir of Energy:
PAWS dosing guidelines:
- Consume 2-4 cups of tea per day as needed during PAWS.
- Use for as long as you like, but no less than 30 days.
Step 5. Take Additional Supplements
To help you further reduce the severity of PAWS, it is also EXTREMELY useful to take a few more supplements in addition to the ones listed previously.
The following supplements are also recommended:
- Truly Natural Vitamin C – 1.5 teaspoons three times a day with or without food.
- Liver Rescue – 2 capsules a day with or without food.
- Nordic Naturals DHA – 2 soft gels a day with food.
- BRI Nutrition Magnesium Citrate – Take 1-2 capsules at night with dinner.
- Solgar B-Complex 100 – Take 1 capsule a day with breakfast.
Take these for at least 90 days after quitting opioids for optimal benefits. Vitamin C is a very powerful antioxidant, and Liver Rescue contains herbs such as milk thistle and dandelion, which naturally detoxify the liver, resulting in better PAWS recovery.
Nordic Naturals DHA is a fish oil supplement and a great source of essential fatty acids (EFA’s).
Research has shown that omega fish oil could possibly play an important role in substance abuse recovery, since a deficiency of these omega-3 fatty acids can lead to low levels of dopamine and serotonin, often resulting in depression and tendencies to abuse addictive mood-altering substances.
Magnesium is known as the “anti-stress mineral,” because it has a calming effect on the nervous system.
Magnesium plays a major role in neurotransmitter release, which affects the discharge of brain chemicals such as serotonin which helps you feel emotionally relaxed. B-Complex is essential for energy production and stress reduction.
Step 6. Focus on Nutrition
Nutrition plays a critical role during PAWS. Without the proper nutrients, you’re much more susceptible to drug cravings, anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, and other symptoms.
I’ve developed a nutritional protocol that is custom fit for the majority of people going through post-acute opioid withdrawal. The foundation of this nutritional protocol involves the regular consumption of high-quality proteins.
Protein foods are made up of amino acids.
The body converts these amino acids into neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters are responsible for many functions, and many of these chemical messengers significantly affect our behavior and moods.
Below is a list of the most important neurotransmitters for health:
- Endorphin/Enkephalin – Our natural painkillers; they promote feelings of physical relaxation, joy, and produce a natural high.
- Serotonin – Responsible for feelings of being emotionally relaxed and happy.
- Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) – Calms anxiety and acts as a mental relaxant.
- Catecholamines – A class of “focus” neurotransmitters; responsible for concentration and euphoria.
A deficiency in these neurotransmitters can lead to you experiencing the opposite effect. For example, if you aren’t producing enough catecholamines you will tend to be tired and have a hard time concentrating.
If you are deficient in GABA this can easily lead to anxiety.
A lack of serotonin can cause depression. Become deficient in endorphins and you risk becoming overly sensitive to both physical and emotional pain.
Drugs Mimic Neurotransmitters
If someone were abusing amphetamine or methamphetamine drugs, they would become deficient in the class of neurotransmitters known as catecholamines. Alcoholics and individuals benzodiazepine drugs find themselves suffering from a GABA deficiency once they stop using these substances.
And as I’ve mentioned, opioid drugs specifically mimic endorphins, our natural painkillers. To see a complete chart on the relationship between drugs and neurotransmitters, click here.
During PAWS, it is very common for people to have severe endorphin and dopamine deficiencies because their brains have not yet returned to homeostasis.
To speed up this process, one should establish and maintain a healthy nutrition plan specific for reestablishing healthy brain chemistry.
Importance of Protein Consumption During PAWS
It can be very beneficial to ingest plenty of high-quality protein foods during PAWS. Protein contains amino acids, so it has a powerful effect on enhancing mood by increasing neurotransmitters in the brain; including endorphins and dopamine.
Thus, I cannot stress enough the importance of a high amino acid diet while recovering from PAWS.
You certainly don’t have to eat like this for the rest of your life, but it can boost your mood and energy levels a great deal during the first few months after quitting opioids.
Here are some examples of foods high in protein:
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
- Protein powder
- Peanut butter
Here are examples of meals to eat during PAWS:
- Breakfast – Three-egg omelet with sauteed veggies, two pieces of turkey bacon, and homemade breakfast potatoes; or a smoothie with apple juice, strawberries, banana, and whey protein powder.
- Lunch – Grilled chicken sandwich on a whole wheat bun with lettuce, tomato, mayo and melted cheese, and a garden salad on the side.
- Snack – Small bowl of cottage cheese with sliced peaches.
- Dinner – Baked salmon with a stuffed potato and cooked carrots.
PAWS protein guidelines:
- To restore brain chemistry after quitting opioids, consume at least 20-30 grams of quality protein 2-3 times a day.
- Continue this protocol at a minimum for the first 60 days after quitting opioids.
- If you’re vegetarian, choose foods such as legumes, quinoa, eggs, etc.
Consume Fruits, Veggies, and Healthy Fats
In addition to focusing on quality protein foods, make sure to consume plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, and healthy fats. This nutritional protocol is all about boosting mood, increasing energy, and overall health and well-being.
Therefore, don’t leave out these important foods!
Fruits and veggies are packed with nutrients, fiber, and water, they provide the body with alkalinity…and they taste delicious.
Healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, hemp seed oil, avocado, nuts, and seeds can help boost brain chemistry functioning, along with many other health benefits.
PAWS Nutritional Guidelines
I understand that everyone has varying levels of biochemical uniqueness, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” nutritional plan that is best suited for the people of the world. However, there are certain nutritional guidelines that can lead to increased health and wellness regardless of what type of diet a person follows.
And when it comes to recovering from opioid addiction, the following PAWS protocol can have very real benefits:
- As I stated earlier, consume at least 20-30 grams of quality protein 2-3 times a day.
- Focus primarily on organic whole foods.
- Eat 80% or higher dark chocolate a few times per week to increase endorphins and other mood-enhancing chemicals. Click here to read my article on dark chocolate for opioid recovery.
- Reduce or eliminate processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.
- Drink at least 8-12 glasses of high-quality water per day (alkaline water, spring water, etc).
- Choose wild-caught seafood and free-range/organic meats as much as possible.
- Eat your food at a slow or moderate pace (not fast!) and chew it well to absorb as many nutrients as possible.
- Don’t drink with meals because it slows digestion. You can drink beverages 15 minutes before or 30 minutes after meals.
- Avoid ice-cold beverages because it puts out your digestive fire; you can drink cool beverages if you like.
- Don’t overeat at meals! Eat to the point where you have a little room left in your stomach; this helps digestion and increases energy levels.
- Practice mindfulness when eating. Focus on the taste of the food and imagine yourself absorbing copious amounts of nutrition from it.
Getting Healthy is a Process
Learning how to eat healthily is a process. Start taking small steps right away, and continue to work on improving your diet. Don’t worry about overnight perfection…in fact, don’t worry about perfection at all!
Don’t stress out about it; strive to eat healthy 80-90% of the time, and the rest of the time eat whatever you desire.
Also, you might go through withdrawal while you’re cleaning up your diet…FOOD withdrawal!
Reducing or eliminating sugar, white flour, cheese, chemicals in processed foods, caffeine, and other dietary ingredients can make you feel horrible.
Hang in there.
Once you’re no longer addicted to these foods you will feel much healthier and more emotionally balanced.
Step 7. Become Addicted to Exercise
One of the most important components of this treatment plan is exercise. In addition to increasing levels of dopamine and serotonin, regular exercise during PAWS will stimulate your endogenous opioid system.
These natural painkillers can significantly decrease drug cravings while increasing positive mood and feelings of euphoria and tranquility.
Below is a simple overview of the difference between a human’s natural painkilling system and opiate/opioid drugs:
- Opiate – A drug with morphine-like effects, derived from opium.
- Synthetic Opioid – Any synthetic narcotic that has opiate-like activities, but is not derived from opium.
- Endogenous Opioid – An opiate-like substance, such as endorphin, produced by the body.
One of the main reasons I was finally able to quit opioids for good was because I made exercise a huge part of my life.
I started surfing, swimming, and circuit training about 3-4 days per week. As a result of this dramatic increase in natural opioids flowing through my brain, I had next to ZERO cravings for opioid drugs.
More About Endorphins…
Endorphins are chemicals (peptides) made by the body. They are released by a number of things, including exercise, or even eating certain foods like chocolate or spicy peppers. Endorphins also reduce the appetite for drug and alcohol-seeking behavior.
If you don’t exercise, eat enough protein, or take DLPA after quitting opioids, you’re at risk of developing Endorphin Deficiency Disorder (EDS).
Some of the possible symptoms of EDS include:
- Depression (chronic or intermittent)
- Difficulty finding happiness in life
- Low tolerance to physical and emotional pain
- General body aches
Developing an Exercise Routine
There are many different types of exercise to choose from. The trick is to find something you enjoy, that way you’re more likely to stick with it. If at first, you have trouble getting motivated, listen to some upbeat music while you’re working out, as this has been shown to boost performance and enjoyment.
Also, exercising outdoors produces more endorphins than doing so indoors.
Starting an exercise program is sometimes hard in the beginning.
But once your body and mind get used to it, it keeps getting easier.
Furthermore, after you’ve been working out for about six weeks or more, your body will need it (CRAVE IT), and you will look forward to your workout days.
Some popular forms of exercise are:
- Speed walking
- Weight training
- Cardio machines
- Circuit training
- Calisthenics (push-ups, jumping jacks, sit-ups, etc)
PAWS exercise guidelines:
- Exercise at least 3-4 times per week; more if needed.
- Focus on types of exercise you enjoy.
- Get a workout buddy or hire a personal trainer if you can afford it.
- Don’t overdo it. Working out too much causes stress on the body and mind.
- Support muscle recovery by consuming a meal or beverage with protein, carbs, and fat within 60 minutes of exercising.
- Make regular exercise and fitness a part of your identity, as this is a long-term habit that can significantly increase the quality of your life.
Step 8. Establish Healthy Sleep Habits
Insomnia is one of the most common symptoms, so I know how difficult it can be to sleep well during PAWS. If you take the recommended supplements, eat healthily and exercise, it will be much easier for you to fall and stay asleep.
At this point, you should focus on getting to bed between 10-11 pm, and be waking between 6-7 am.
Great quality sleep gives the body a chance to recover, repair, and heal.
The physiological recovery period is between 10 pm and 2 am. The psychological and nervous system recovery occurs between 2 am and 6 am.
One of the main reasons people wake up sore, tired, and not mentally alert is because they’re going to bed late.
If an individual is habitually going to bed at 12 am, they are missing out on two hours of physiological repair and restoration every night.
This compounds over time and can lead to many health problems as a result.
To create more energy, positive emotions and overall health during PAWS, follow these guidelines:
- At least 5-6 nights per week go to sleep between 10-11 pm and wake up between 6-7 am.
- If you need to stay up later every once in awhile this is fine, just don’t let it get out of control.
- No later than 9 pm, turn off all the lights in the house. Light some candles and listen to relaxing music.
- You want to avoid bright lights, the TV, computer, and any other electrical devices after 9 pm. This is when your brain starts producing melatonin to help you fall asleep.
- Staring at the computer or other lights tricks your brain into thinking it’s still daytime, and this interferes with the production of sleep-inducing melatonin.
- Soak in an Epsom salt bath or hot tub in the evening to help relax your nervous system, thus promoting restful sleep.
Step 9. Slow Down your Breath and Mind
Life can become extremely stressful in this age of technology. Furthermore, our brains are designed to keep us safe and alive. They are not programmed to make us happy all the time (that is for us to work on). After quitting opioids, an individual typically experiences greater activation of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).
The primary function of the SNS is to stimulate the fight-or-flight response (accelerate the heart rate, constrict blood vessels, raise blood pressure, etc). This increased SNS activity during PAWS can lead to anxiety, insomnia, and other unpleasant symptoms.
To slow down the SNS, one must activate the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS).
The PSNS is responsible for stimulation of “rest-and-digest” or “feed and breed” activities that occur when the body is at rest (serves to slow the heart rate, increase intestinal and glandular activity, and relax the sphincter muscles).
Choose from the following activities to activate your PSNS during PAWS:
Meditation calls for an individual to slow their breathing while emptying their mind of thoughts. Qigong and tai chi can be thought of as “moving meditations.”
The person practicing these ancient Chinese forms of exercise maintains slow breathing, a still mind, and slow, graceful movements.
All three of these activate the PSNS and promote mental tranquility, among other psychological and physical health benefits.
- You can activate your PSNS by taking slow and deep breaths every day.
- A few days every week, meditate, do qigong, or practice tai chi.
- If you don’t enjoy these activities, simply find something you like and do that instead.
- Do what feels right for you. Some people spend an hour per day doing relaxation exercises, while others find that 10 minutes twice a day works well for them.
The following DVDs can be used in the treatment of PAWS:
As you can see, there are a great number of things you can do when “Biohacking Your Opioid Recovery.” Of course, psycho/social/spiritual elements of recovery are extremely beneficial, but you should focus a lot of attention on using these biohacking techniques to repair your brain and body.
Use things like supplements, nutrition, exercise, sleep, hydration, and more to feel your best FAST after quitting opioid drugs.
And if you have any comments or questions on biohacking your post-acute symptoms, please post them in the comment box below.