- How does pain affect my body?
- Why do opiates (narcotics) make Chronic Pain worse?
- How will stopping opiate use improve my pain?
- What is the best way to detox from opiates?
- Why use Naltrexone therapy?
- What should I do if my pain worsens?
- What happens if I must take opiate painkillers during Naltrexone therapy?
- Will I experience any risks or side effects?
Pain comes in two very different types: acute and chronic.
Acute pain is the body’s way of responding to a wide range of physical dangers. For example, say you touch a hot stove. When you do this, your pain receptors (nociceptors) will detect a dangerous situation and relay that information to your brain — which then makes you act appropriately. So, you remove your hand before it badly burns. While the pain may hurt, your reaction is an important protective device.
Chronic pain does not function in the same way as acute pain. When you experience pain for an extended period of time, your nociceptors overload and are more sensitive to pain signals. They fire off at lower levels, making you feel more pain than what actually exists. So, while your body may not be in danger, your pain receptors continue overreacting.
When you first begin taking opiates, they provide pain relief, energy, a sense of well being and even euphoria. They achieve these results by attaching to your brain’s endorphin receptors. Unfortunately, after you take narcotics for an extended time, your brain reduces the amount of endorphins it produces, thus decreasing your body’s natural painkillers. Without natural endorphins, you have to take the opiate painkillers just to avoid withdrawal and feel normal.
To make matters worse, the opiates confuse your brain’s pathways. So, you have a reduced ability to decipher which pain needs attention to protect you and which you can ignore. Ultimately, the same medicine you take to avoid withdrawal symptoms steadily makes your pain worse — creating a cyclical relationship.
When you stop taking opiates, your brain and body can return to a normal state. Your body will begin producing its own endorphins again, and you can expect:
- Less intense pain
- Less frequent pain
- No more opiate side effects
- No more withdrawal symptoms
This process can take months to complete, but our patients almost always report that they have less pain within a few weeks of completing their detox.
We believe an outpatient Accelerated Opiate Detoxification (AOD) method is the safest, most convenient way to detox from opiates. Rather than spending several months tapering your dosages — and experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms the whole time — AOD helps you comfortably detox in as little as three days. With this approach, we have a 98% detox completion rate.
Naltrexone is a non-addictive medication that binds to your brain’s opiate receptors, reducing any cravings you may experience after detox. From our experience, patients who use Naltrexone therapy for at least six months after detoxing recover more easily and permanently from their opiate dependency and chronic pain. We use specially formulated Naltrexone injections or implants that last for weeks, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to take a pill each day.
After dealing with chronic pain, worrying about your pain returning if you don’t take opiates is completely understandable. Thankfully, many effective non-narcotic medicines exist for pain. In addition, other treatments can dramatically reduce your pain without medication, such as massage therapy, physical therapy and spinal cord stimulators. In our experience, many of these options prove very helpful to patients once they detox completely and their body no longer craves narcotics.
If a patient experiences a traumatic event or emergency, such as a car accident or escalating pain, and needs opiate painkillers while taking Naltrexone, we can remove their implant. They would be able take an opiate painkiller within 6 to 12 hours of the Naltrexone implant’s removal.
Our outpatient Accelerated Opiate Detox is very safe, but as with any medical procedure, some risks and potential complications exist. These include:
- Discomfort: Some patients experience minor discomfort during the detox. If this occurs, we provide additional medication for comfort.
- Implant Reaction: The Naltrexone implant occasionally causes some bruising or inflammation, and there is a very small risk of an infection that can be treated with antibiotics.
- Overdose Risk: The risk of overdose is high if patients abuse opiates after an extended period of abstinence.