Treating opiate addiction is difficult. Detox alone is insufficient for most opiate addicts. After getting opiates out of the body, you’re left with the 90% of the problem. After detox, there’s what’s called Post-Acute Withdrawals. This is an excerpt from Addictions and Recovery.org:
There are two stages of withdrawal. The first stage is the acute stage, which usually lasts at most a few weeks. During this stage, you may experience physical withdrawal symptoms. But every drug is different, and every person is different.
The second stage of withdrawal is called the Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). During this stage you’ll have fewer physical symptoms, but more emotional and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Post-acute withdrawal occurs because your brain chemistry is gradually returning to normal. As your brain improves the levels of your brain chemicals fluctuate as they approach the new equilibrium causing post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
Most people experience some post-acute withdrawal symptoms. Whereas in the acute stage of withdrawal every person is different, in post-acute withdrawal most people have the same symptoms.
The Symptoms of Post-Acute Withdrawal
The most common post-acute withdrawal symptoms are:
- Mood swings
- Variable energy
- Low enthusiasm
- Variable concentration
- Disturbed sleep
Post-acute withdrawal feels like a rollercoaster of symptoms. In the beginning, your symptoms will change minute to minute and hour to hour. Later as you recover further they will disappear for a few weeks or months only to return again. As you continue to recover the good stretches will get longer and longer. But the bad periods of post-acute withdrawal can be just as intense and last just as long.
Each post-acute withdrawal episode usually last for a few days. Once you’ve been in recovery for a while, you will find that each post-acute withdrawal episode usually lasts for a few days. There is no obvious trigger for most episodes. You will wake up one day feeling irritable and have low energy. If you hang on for just a few days, it will lift just as quickly as it started. After a while you’ll develop confidence that you can get through post-acute withdrawal, because you’ll know that each episode is time limited.
Post-acute withdrawal usually lasts for 2 years. This is one of the most important things you need to remember. If you’re up for the challenge you can get though this. But if you think that post-acute withdrawal will only last for a few months, then you’ll get caught off guard, and when you’re disappointed you’re more likely to relapse. (Reference: www.AddictionsAndRecovery.org)
The reason most people think treatment doesn’t work is because they consider detox and short-term counseling to be treating opiate addiction — it’s not. For treatment to work it should be comprehensive and long term. In reality, a recovering addict is always “treating” the condition, because a recovering addict can go back to the drug at any time after any length of time. Just like the diabetic never becomes un-diabetic, the recovering addict never becomes un-addict.