Opioid Withdrawal: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Opioids are strong pain medicines. Examples include hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, and morphine. Heroin is an example of an illegal opioid.

Your body gets used to this type of drug if you take it all the time. This is called being dependent on the drug. And when you stop taking it, you go through withdrawal.

Withdrawal symptoms can include nausea, sweating, chills, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and muscle aches. Withdrawal can last up to several weeks, depending on which drug you took. You may feel very ill, but you are probably not in medical danger.

Withdrawal isn't easy, but there are things you can do to help you cope with the symptoms. You will feel a little bit better each day as your body adjusts and heals itself.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Your doctor may give you medicine to help you feel better. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • To help get through withdrawal, you can also:
    • Get plenty of rest.
    • Drink plenty of fluids.
    • Stay active, but don't tire yourself.
    • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take illegal drugs.
  • Talk to your doctor about drug treatment programs to help you stay drug-free.
  • Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about having a naloxone rescue kit on hand.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You feel you cannot stop from hurting yourself or someone else.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse withdrawal symptoms that you can't manage at home, such as:
    • Stomach cramps.
    • Vomiting.
    • Diarrhea.
    • Muscle aches.
    • Sweating.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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