Diagnosis and Treatment for Opiate Withdrawal
In order to diagnose opiate withdrawal, a doctor must perform physical examination as well as consider a patient’s medical history and drug use. A blood or urine tests can detect opiate drugs in the body and confirm the diagnosis.
Opiate withdrawal is commonly treated with certain medications and supportive care. The treatment for opiate withdrawal aims to relieve the symptoms and conduct detoxification.
Opiate Withdrawal Medications
Medications used in treatment of opiate withdrawal mainly involve opioid agonist drugs such as methadone, and buprenorphrine.
Clonidine is the most commonly used medication for opiate withdrawal treatment. It is used to relieve opiate withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, sweating, cramping, muscle ache and runny nose. Clonidine is an antihypertensive drug that regulates blood pressure and lowers heart rate since it decreases the level of certain chemicals in the blood. Clonidine can be administered orally or as a transdermal patch.
Buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone, is a semi-synthetic opioid or partial opiate agonist used in treatment of opiate withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine can shorten the length of detox period and is also used for long term maintenance.
Methadone is a full opiate agonist used for detoxification from opiate drugs. It is used for long term maintenance but unlike buprenorphine it is highly addictive and may cause severe withdrawal symptoms.
Other Opiate Withdrawal Medications
Opiate withdrawal symptoms like nausea and vomiting are commonly treated with hydroxyzine and trimethobezamide. Dicyclomine is used for abdominal cramps, headaches and body aches can be relieved with ibuprofen, while diarrhea is treated with loperamide. Herbal remedies like ginger and Valeria root are used to speed up detoxification.
Drug treatment programs like detox under anesthesia and rapid opiate detox are advertised treatments for opiate withdrawal. In such programs, the patient is placed under anesthesia to receive high doses of opiate-blocking drugs to speed up the return to normal opioid system function. However, there is no evidence that these programs reduce the intensity of symptoms and they may even lead to fatal outcome.