Opioid withdrawal is hard! The symptoms are so brutal that many who truly want to be rid of their opioid dependency don’t even make a second attempt after their first experience stopping opioids. My patients describe their shock when they realized that they were addicted, especially after being told by the prescribing physician that the medication would not result in a dependency (at the levels, or for the period prescribed and such). We now understand that MD’s were duped by the pharmaceutical salespeople who told them that these pain medications were not addictive; this has resulted in the ongoing raging opioid epidemic in the U.S. Many states have begun suing said pharmaceutical pharmacies with growing evidence that they knew the marketing information provided to medical doctors was false: https://trib.com/news/state-and-regional/govt-and-politics/health/state-asks-judge-to-allow-lawsuit-against-major-opioid-manufacturer/article_77f89132-5bee-5827-b083-ba6582403e87.html
My patients are also often shocked to find that the opioid pain medications had masked their pain symptoms and that the pain returned after stopping opioids. This is because opioids do not heal the body. However, acupuncture and herbs do contribute true healing of the body by addressing the root causes of pain. Additionally, they are incredibly effective at alleviating the symptoms of withdrawal. Here are the top 10 things that prevent a full recovery for those who want to stop taking opioids and natural steps they can take to address them:
- Nausea & Vomiting-The type of queasiness experienced with opioid withdrawal does not resemble your mild stomach flu; rather, it is likened to gut-wrenching abhorrent revulsion where no food or liquid can be kept down. Acupuncture and herbs can quell these symptoms during withdrawal from opioids.
- Cravings-We are not talking about your typical night-time snack cravings; these compulsions to take opioids are wired deep in the brain. It has been described to me as if every neuron of your brain is screaming that you will perish if you do not satisfy this craving. My patients utilizing acupuncture and herbs during and after withdrawal report that they have only minor cravings if any at all.
- Pain-The re-occurrence of pain is a major motivation for individuals to begin dosing with opioids after trying to stop using them. Acupuncture and herbs (both topical and internal herbs) have been shown to address pain syndrome so effectively that the CDC, NIH, HHS, AMA, and FDA are all ardently advocating the use of acupuncture before trying pharmaceutical and surgical methods of pain treatment. https://www.policymed.com/2018/09/fda-remains-focused-on-opioid-crisis-new-guidance-developing.html
- Insomnia-Acupuncture and herbs are excellent at calming the mind, or what Chinese medicine refers to as “Calming the Shen”. This not only contributes to restful sleep, but quells anxiety, cravings, and feelings of agitation during and following withdrawal.
- Physical Discomfort– In addition to pain, patients can experience restless leg syndrome, muscle cramp-twitches, and itching skin; these are all symptoms of Internal Wind according to Chinese medicine that is quelled with acupuncture and herbal therapy.