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Insomnia From Opiate Withdrawal

Medicelike.bizHow to sleep while detoxing off opiates
6.11.2017 | Brooke Lawman
How to sleep while detoxing off opiates
Insomnia From Opiate Withdrawal

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These methods are not widely used for withdrawal or addiction’s treatment, however, research has shown that they may hold great possibility in treating both.

Opiate withdrawal manifests itself in many ways. It ravages the body’s physical components, but it also wreaks havoc on a person’s mental state, going as far as to actually alter the chemistry of their brain and change the chemicals and processes that are elemental to our health and well-being, both in sleep and waking hours.

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Some of these options include: Melatonin, Benadryl, and various pain management medications that are paired with diphenhydramine HCl or citrate, among others. The latter two contain antihistamines, which may also treat some of the other symptoms, including: runny nose, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. However, for some people, these may cause an adverse effect, create symptoms of anxiety; some people may develop a physical dependence on some antihistamines.

Withdrawal can be very difficult, as can making a decision about treatment options. If you or someone you love is contending with an opiate addiction and you are worried about the possibility of withdrawal and the accompanying symptoms, please reach out to us today at so we can help you find the answers you need so you can make the best choice to seek treatment.

People suffering from addictions come from many backgrounds and drug types, and one person’s drug of choice might be compley different from another’s. Much like drug addictions, they’re all different, and there is no textbook way to treat addiction.


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There are a variety of methods that utilize behavioral health concepts, health and wellness practices, or interactive support. Australia’s National Drug Strategy (NDS) acknowledges this, “the non-pharmacological methods may not have an instant effect on sleep, but if continued for days to weeks such strategies will help establish normal sleep patterns.

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Cranial Electrostimulation (CES) : Though there are varying opinions on the treatment, it has been widely studied within addictions research and numerous studies exhibit its promise as treatment for drug withdrawal. A study, published in the Practical Pain Management Journal (PPM) said “the role of CES in the treatment of chemical dependency is of great interest since anxiety and insomnia are frequently present in the early stages of recovery and these symptoms are a common precursor to relapse.”

Mayo Clinic defines insomnia as “a persistent disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep. With insomnia, you usually awaken feeling unrefreshed, which takes a toll on your ability to function during the day. Insomnia can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.”

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Consistent and good quality sleep is crucial to your health and recovery. Sleep provides your body a venue by which to heal and revitalize itself; it helps to combat the physical, mental, and even emotional damage that an addiction imposes upon your body. The benefits of sleep during withdrawal are:

Foremost, a person seeking to decrease or quit a drug may consider either intensive residential or outpatient treatment; this choice is best made under the guidance of someone trained within the addiction’s field. For those who don’t anticipate this choice, it is most beneficial to your health to promptly seek medical assistance as you begin to undergo withdrawal.

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Opiate withdrawal or “dopesickness” results from prolonged use and physical dependence. This physical dependence can happen with both illicit and prescribed opiates. The withdrawals can occur not only after discontinuation, but also after a significant reduction of use. These can be very unsettling and uncomfortable; the time it takes for the withdrawal symptoms to start are dependent on the drug. According to the NIH, “withdrawal from opiates is painful, but usually not life-threatening.”

This is in comparison to those who received the sham CES, they “were anxious and depressed, and complained of both difficulty sleeping and other somatic problems.” Additionally, their use of methadone did not see nearly the reduction within the same amount of time as those that received CES. The studies authors concluded that “CES is a safe, efficacious, cost-effective intervention for addictions. As such, CES should be added to all addiction treatment programs.”

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The National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) MedlinePlus estimates that “about 9 percent of the population is believed to misuse opiates over the course of their lifetime.” This use includes illegal drugs and prescription pain medications. Opiate drugs include heroin, morphine, codeine, Vicodin, Oxycontin, Dilaudid, and others; addictions to these are some of the most severe. Due to that, withdrawals from these drugs can also be extreme.

Sleep deprivation can be very harmful to your health. According to Harvard’s Division of Sleep Medicine there is a “correlation between poor sleep and cardiovascular disease and stroke” and risk of “increased blood pressure, impaired control of blood glucose, and increased inflammation.” Why does this matter for someone that was addicted to opiates? Certain opioids if used excessively, including Heroin, can in the worst instances cause strokes and myocardial infarction. Some studies exhibit a correlation between opiate use and a negative impact on insulin and glucose levels.

For a person entering into withdrawal, they are leaving behind a state of addiction while still contending with problems from the drug abuse, coupled with the symptoms of withdrawal. Sleep can be a solution to many of these issues, but as it eludes many during withdrawal, these systems of the body and mind continue to struggle during the rigors of withdrawal.

There are various over-the-counter (OTC), prescription, and non-medicated approaches that may be applicable in your circumstances.

Amitriptyline : A tricyclic antidepressant used most commonly to treat depression. If stopped suddenly, withdrawal symptoms may occur. Though it is not FDA approved for insomnia, it has been used to do so in certain applications. As is important with any medication, do not take it unless advised to do so by a doctor following a thorough medical evaluation.

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The PPM spoke of CES as a treatment for opiate withdrawal specifically. In this study, all participants were allowed to use methadone as at they requested, under a supervised and observational setting. One group was paired with CES, whereas one had sham or inactive CES, and another had neither. The study took place over a period of ten days; one CES or sham CES treatment was administered per day for 30 minutes.

Insomnia is one of the most prevalent symptoms of opiate withdrawal and also one of the most challenging and frustrating to an individual striving towards recovery, as it effects nearly every other aspect or symptom of their withdrawal. This can make it seem all the more daunting, especially when the process can be mentally exhausting as well, as the person strives to cope with the cumulative effects of the withdrawal symptoms.

Keep in mind, with any treatment, it is always best to seek the trained guidance of medical professionals before embarking on treatment. These methods are such that require specific and trained knowledge about their use within addiction’s treatment. It is always important to ask questions, do research, and be honest with your medical team as you approach any aspect of your recovery, whether it be withdrawal or the time after.

The treatment needed for successful recovery can vary based on individual needs. Contact us at if you have questions about which program is right for you.

Recovery is within reach, no matter where you live. If you’re concerned about locating the right treatment facility, here is a simple-to-use directory of rehab centers by state--simply click on your state to start the journey.

Due to the drug addiction, a person’s energy may be rapidly decreased. Despite this, sleep may continue to elude them, further exhausting them and magnifying the other aspects of their withdrawal. Unfortunay, a numerous amount of these affect a person’s sleep patterns and contribute to their inability to sleep, these include:

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Not only did the majority of individual’s using methadone paired with CES cease using the medication compley after 6-8 treatments, and another after ten; but the majority experienced reduction in their anxiety and all those who received active CES reported “feeling restful and having a general feeling of well-being during the study, and their sleep was good and undisturbed after three treatments.”

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One study, published in journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica reported on a randomized double-blind trial that sought to compare the effects of amitriptyline verses lorazepam in treating opiate-withdrawal insomnia. In this study, 27 individuals contending with opiate withdrawal were given one or the other treatments. NIH reported on the findings, citing the results: “the scores of two sleep measures showed that all aspects of sleep, except for ease of awakening from sleep, in the two treatment groups were not significantly different.” Researchers concluded that “apart from the hangover effect, amitriptyline is as effective as lorazepam in the treatment of opiate-withdrawal insomnia.”

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Even though these medications or supplements are available without a prescription, it is still advisable that you speak to your doctor prior to beginning use, as certain brands or ingredients may be harmful to your condition.

Utilizing medications may really assist you, these approaches may supplement and aid in their efficacy.

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Today, there are many ways by which to treat this. As each individual person and the nature of their physiology and addiction are different, so can be the treatment. Again, it is for this reason—and the severity of withdrawal by itself—that a person seek medical help when attempting to regulate their sleep patterns.

How to sleep while detoxing off opiates