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Vitamins for Opiate Withdrawal

author image Melissa Lind
Melissa Lind holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas College of Pharmacy. She has over 20 years experience as a health-care professional, including pharmacy practice as a registered pharmacist, and experience in clinical research management and community college instruction in pharmacology and health topics. Lind has been a freelance writer and independent content provider since 2006.

Opiate withdrawal is unpleasant and difficult, but there are some things you can do to make it easier. First, make plans to leave town to quit in a place devoid of environmental cues like needles or pill bottles. Second, maximize your general health before quitting, through regular exercise and good nutrition-- the healthier you are when you quit, the better you will be able to face the struggle of withdrawal. A daily multivitamin can help you cover your nutrition bases. In addition, specific vitamins and supplements might help lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Vitamin C

While no studies have been done in humans, preliminary animal studies have had interesting results, suggesting that pre-treating with vitamin C may be able to decrease withdrawal symptoms. Rats given vitamin C for a few days prior to withdrawal had fewer attempts to press a lever to get morphine, which suggested to investigators that vitamin C may help stave of symptoms and ease cravings. Benefits of vitamin C supplementation in human withdrawal have not been established. On the other hand, vitamin C is considered a safe supplement, so it won't hurt you to include it at recommended doses in your preparation for withdrawal.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid, or ALA, is an anti-oxidant like vitamin C. Whereas vitamin C is water-soluble, ALA is both water- and fat-soluble, so it can work throughout the body. Benefits of ALA for human withdrawal have not been clearly established. The supplement is generally considered safe, but it hasn’t been studied in pregnant or breastfeeding women, and additional precautions include possible drug interactions. Animal studies suggest you should not take ALA if you have a deficiency in thiamine, or vitamin B1, which is associated with with long-term alcohol abuse. ALA can lower blood sugar levels and interact with diabetes medications as well, so consult your doctor before starting any supplement program for opiate withdrawal.

Other Supplements and Medications

Several traditional Chinese medicines have been reported to be of use in opiate detoxification, including Fukang, Lingyi, Yian, Jitai, Fuzhengkang, Anjunning, Kangfuxin, Xuanxia, Shifusheng, and Zhengtongning. You should not take Chinese herbs without supervision, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. These and other traditional Chinese medicines should be used under the supervision of a trained Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner. Western, biomedical doctors can also prescribe a number of medicines to mediate withdrawal symptoms, including the non-opiates clonidine and lofexidine and the opioid buprenorphine, as well as drugs to treat specific symptoms, such as antispasmodics for gut cramps.

From Detox to Recovery

Detox is step one. Step two is total lifestyle change-- a change to the happier and healthier person you will become when you've left addiction behind. To help avoid relapse, keep your body healthy through good nutrition and exercise. In parallel, it's important that you avoid bad influences and develop good ones. Narcotics Anonymous is a tried-and-true group of former addicts helping recovering addicts stay clean.

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