Though you are likely familiar with some symptoms of narcotic withdrawal, this is probably a good place to supply a reminder.

Withdrawal is a serious condition that happens when use of a substance is lessened significantly or stopped suddenly. The severity of withdrawal will vary depending on many factors including (but not limited to) the substance abused, duration and frequency of the use and the overall health of the patient.

If a dependent person is already in poor health, he is more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms on a more uncomfortable and painful level than someone who is in fair health and not abusing prescription drugs as long. Signature withdrawal symptoms associated with prescription medication withdrawal include (you may experience some, all or none of these):

  • Shakes/tremors
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Extreme anxiety and panic
  • Headache
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Severe depression,
  • Fever
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Depersonalization
  • Depending on the drug abused, hallucinations or delusions

Withdrawal is the body and brain’s reaction to the chemical dependence that has formulated to a narcotic addiction – it is complicated, serious, and dangerous. There are both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms that can be severe enough to interrupt a normal life. In some cases, namely those of acute benzodiazepine withdrawal, these symptoms may be life-threatening.

If you or someone you know has been taking prescription narcotic medications regularly, and is experiencing any of these symptoms, professional medical attention should be sought immediately. Let me say that again to really drive home the statement:

If you or someone you know presents withdrawal symptoms from prescription medication, seek qualified medical assistance as soon as possible.

It is never a good idea to stop a prescription narcotic medication “cold turkey” and most definitely not without a doctor’s advice. If symptoms are serious, a physician may refer an addict to a detoxification facility for withdrawal under qualified medical supervision. Of course, anytime narcotics are involved in the past, present, or in the future of an individual’s health, the guidance of medical professionals should never be taken for granted. But it shouldn’t be taken divorced from the input of others either. This means that, when beginning the process of removing dangerous prescription drugs, seek the advice of not a doctor, but also men and women who work in the addiction recovery field. Their input and experience often helps to compliment a doctor’s direction.   

You should also realize that most medical professionals see more than one patient a day. Some see more than twenty or thirty. Doctors aren’t infallible – they forget, get confused or neglect to read a chart or medical history. Physicians are humans capable of making human errors, and unfortunately, those errors sometimes negatively affect patients. Only patients maintain a full awareness of their medical history. Therefore, it is critical to remind a medical provider of their past, and that burden falls solely on the patient. No one else is responsible. No one else can be blamed.

The doctor-patient relationship is primarily based on mutual trust. A physician must be able to trust their patient will be honest no matter what. In turn, the patient must be able to trust that their doctor won’t prescribe a medication that may jeopardize recovery. But almost all medical professionals develop a strong sense of ethics, thus it’s unusual for a doctor to prescribe opiates to an individual he/she knows has a history of heroin abuse.

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