This is the second in a 2-part series explaining how patients in my clinic typically go about utilizing herbs and acupuncture for a painless, symptom free withdrawal from opioids. I will detail specific herbs used in future posts, but you can find our Chinese Herbal Clinic formulas for opioid recovery linked here.
For patients on the lighter side of the opioid spectrum, such as a mild dependency, tapering-off of medications with the assistance of herbs and acupuncture is often the preferred method of withdrawal. These patients typically live within an hours drive of the clinic, as those traveling from a distance cannot stay a whole month and opt for rapid detox while staying at a nearby hotel or Airbnb. The advantage of tapering for my patients is that they do not have to come in twice per day for a week as they do with the rapid detox method of withdrawal detailed in Part 1. Additionally, most patients do not suffer with any symptoms, including the fatigue some patient see with the rapid detox method. This way they can maintain their lives, family relations, and jobs without disruption.
Some patients weaning off of opioids are under the care of a traditional medical doctor, but it is more often the case that they are not. The process requires cutting the dose of opioids-opiates by 1/4 each week for 4 weeks; meanwhile receiving acupuncture and taking prescribed herbs. During the first acupuncture treatment appointment they are prescribed specific herb remedies that address the varied symptoms of withdrawal. These patients come for treatment 3 times during the first 2 weeks, and 2 times during the third and fourth week.
Thereafter, patients come for acupuncture 1 time a week for a few months to insure that they do not experience cravings and to bring their health in to full balance. Long-term use of opioids often results in the following health issues that often follow withdrawal from opioid addiction:
- Repairing brain damage due to opioid toxins
- Restoring energy and vitality
- Balancing emotions and restoring a calm mind
- Stopping cravings and rewiring the brain
- Alleviating depression and anxiety
- Repairing digestive system
As you can see, withdrawal is just the first step to a sustained recovery. Herbs and acupuncture are invaluable, evidence-based tools I prescribe for 3-6 months following detox to bring the patients body and mind back in to balance. Patients who choose these methods experience deep healing and move on to experience purposeful, meaningful lives.