Opiate abuse in the United States ranges from the street drug heroin to medicines such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. Opiates are considered to be highly addictive, and when the drugs are discontinued, withdrawal symptoms, including sweating, body aches, flu-like symptoms, anxiety and diarrhea, are often experienced. There are a number of medical and psychological treatments for rehabilitation, and though vitamins will not eliminate symptoms of withdrawal, they may help manage symptoms and restore functioning to normal levels. If you are experiencing opiate withdrawal, talk to a doctor about a complete regimen to manage your symptoms.
Long-term opiate users are often in a poor nutritional state, having not eaten well during the addiction. In addition, opiate withdrawal may cause nausea and other side effects that eliminate the desire to eat. Starting with a high-quality multivitamin and mineral product may be the best first step in returning to a good nutritional balance. The vitamin should include at least the recommended dietary allowance amounts stated on the label. Vitamins should be taken with some food to reduce the possibility of nausea.
Abusing drugs, including opiates, often depletes the body of vitamin C. Taking extra vitamin C may be beneficial in supporting the immune system and reducing oxidative stress that will be created as the body returns to normal after withdrawal. Vitamin C may also work synergistically with vitamin E to restore cognitive functioning. Vitamin C can be obtained from a number of dietary sources such as citrus fruits and juices along with green vegetables such as peppers. Recommended supplement doses of vitamin C during withdrawal are 2,000 mg taken daily in divided doses or as a sustained release tablet or capsule, as it is quickly cleared from the body.
Vitamin E also acts as an antioxidant in the body to reduce damage from free radicals and oxidative stress. Vitamin E will work to restore proper functioning of the blood cells and may help repair skin damage that may have occurred due to excessive picking of the skin and abscesses that may have formed due to injection of an opiate. Recommended dosages of vitamin E are from 100 to 400 IU daily.
B vitamins are thought to combat stress and help maintain the nerves. While addicted to opiate drugs and during withdrawal, all of the body systems will be under a considerable amount of stress. As opiate withdrawal causes an excitation of the nervous system, a quality B-complex vitamin containing 100 mg or units of each type of B vitamin may be helpful in restoring the nervous system to balance. It may also help with fatigue that accompanies withdrawal.
Calcium and Magnesium
One of the major symptoms of opiate withdrawal is anxiety, which can be severe. Calcium and magnesium can act to calm the central nervous system and relieve anxiety. They also may work to relieve muscle tension, twitches and cramps that may occur during the withdrawal process. Foods rich in calcium and magnesium include dairy products, green leafy vegetables and grains. Recommended doses of supplements include 2,000 mg of calcium and 1,000 mg of magnesium to be taken in divided doses during the day.
- Treatment Solutions Network: Opiate Addiction Treatment
- "The Prescription for Nutritional Healing"; Phyllis A Balch, CNC; 2005
- Narcanon.com.uk: Drug Free Withdrawal