If you or someone you love misuses opioids or illicit drugs, you may already know the current national health crisis is affecting the drug market, along with everything else. To the loved ones of a drug user, this initially may seem like a relief. However, being forced to go cold turkey can be painful and even deadly to someone with a substance dependency.
Opioid withdrawal in particular can include severe symptoms such as:
- restlessness and anxiety
- muscular and abdominal pain
- nausea, diarrhea and vomiting
- sweating and chills
- insomnia and tremors
Due to issues surrounding COVID-19, the federal government has waived the requirement for in-person visits prior to prescribing Buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex), a drug that can replace illicit opioids and prevent withdrawal. People who need a prescription can now get one via telemedicine from prescribers with a Drug Enforcement Administration “X waiver.”
Another danger of reduced access to opioids is decreased tolerance. If a person is taking no or fewer drugs than usual and then regains access and takes what was once their normal amount, it could easily result in overdose. Opioid overdose reduces or stops oxygen flow to the brain, which can result in brain injury or death.
Opioid users should be aware of this danger and practice harm reduction to protect themselves. Don’t use alone. If you must, please call Never Use Alone at (800) 484-3731 and they will stay on the line with you.
Opioid users and loved ones should carry Naloxone (Narcan), an overdose-reversing drug. Educate yourself on the signs of overdose and how to use Naloxone.