Hello everyone and welcome to what is now my 11th post on my blog about opiate addiction. I would like to use this post to discuss something we so often take for granted; sleep. For someone who hasn't had a problem with opiate addiction and has no sleeping problems/conditions, sleep is often a natural occurrence that comes with relative ease. Sleep is what allows our mind and body to rest, heal, and rejuvenate itself and is something we all need in order to survive. Well for someone who suffers from opiate addiction, getting and staying asleep can be quite difficult. It is not uncommon for opiate addicts to have restless nights of sleeping, trouble going to sleep, or to have to wake up early as withdrawals begin to creep their way in. It gets even worse for opiate addicts when they decide to quit opiates cold turkey or to discontinue their use of opiates after tapering or treatment (Suboxone or Methadone). I've been there before and can vouch that it is one of the worst parts of opiate withdrawals. Therefore, I would like to dedicate this particular post to talk about sleep when the time comes for us to quit opiates.
If you are interested in reading other posts in my blog about opiate addiction, click on any of the following links (in order from 1st post to most latest post).
Welcome Post (1st Post)
My Experience With Suboxone
The Dreaded Withdrawals
Why We Got Addicted To Opiates
Suboxone Vs Methadone
The Vivitrol Shot
Addiction And Our Bodies
A Soldier's Addiction
Cold Turkey Or Opiate Replacement Therapy
Some Good Quotes About Opiate Addiction
When one stops using opiates, a variety of withdrawals will begin to come into play and can leave the person involved feeling like they are in a state of absolute hell. For this post, I will be referring to those who have either quit opiates cold turkey or who have stopped using all opiates after their tapering or treatment is completed. Basically, this post is for people who are no longer taking any forms of opiates (be it Oxycodone, Methadone, Suboxone, Morphine, ect...). When one quits opiates, they often have difficulty in getting and staying asleep due to a variety of factors. Restless legs (the withdrawal I hate the most), a racing mind, the chills, cold sweats, anxiety, and aches/pains are some of the more common withdrawals that affect our sleep patterns the most when going through withdrawals. I can remember a few times in which I attempted to quit opiates cold turkey and couldn't get more than a couple hours (if I was lucky) of sleep in a night. During the day, we are faced with withdrawals such as lack of energy, chills, cold sweats, diarrhea, and aches/pain. One basically feels like they have a really, really bad case of the flu. Come nighttime, our bodies are often tired and hurting after a long day (minutes seem like hours) of experiencing withdrawals, only to face even more agony at night. When the sun finally rises the next day, we have to experience this cycle all over again until withdrawals begin to calm after a period of time.
|How many of us feel during Opiate Withdrawal at night.|
I want this post to talk about a few things in regards to sleep and opiate withdrawal and I think the best way to do this is to break down this post into a few sections. I would like to touch upon the importance/role of sleep, the process of sleep for an opiate addict, and finally some methods that may help one get a good night's sleep (or at least a few hours) when experiencing opiate withdrawal. On that note, lets begin.
- Sit down in a chair with your back straight and hands together meeting at your stomach.
- Your fingers should interlock at your stomach with the backside (opposite of your palm side) of your hands facing out.
- Inhale and take a 4 second continuous breath of fresh air and hold it in for 7 seconds.
- After holding your breath for 7 seconds, release your breath for 4 seconds continuously
- Continue this 3-5 times
Another thing that may help is simply reading a book, surfing the web, or watching a little television before bed. It will help keep your mind busy while giving you some entertainment to pass the time and relax. However, don't just sit there for a few hours watching television, surfing the web, or playing video games as this can have the opposite effect. Try doing something that you really enjoy that doesn't take up a lot of your energy. Having a good environment around you before you go to sleep can make quite the difference so make sure you're in a relaxed, quiet, and comfortable environment each night.
Herbal Methods - There are also some natural herbs out there that are said to help with sleep. While I have never tried any of these herbs, the ones I most commonly hear about are Valerian Root and St. John’s Wort, which can usually be found at stores like GNC or Vitamin World. There are other herbal remedy's out there as well. I have also heard Lavender can help. Don't look at these herbs as something you shouldn't talk to your doctor about as some of them carry side effects or can have adverse effects with other medications. As always, be smart and talk with your doctor!
Other - A final thing that may help some of you guys may come across as somewhat controversial so please note that it is not my purpose or intent to offend anyone or to seem contradicting. When some people look to quit their addiction to opiates, they also look to end their use of all drugs and alcohol, which I think is probably the best route to go. This includes drugs such as tobacco and marijuana. In my opinion, I believe that marijuana is without a doubt a drug and can also serve as a gateway drug meaning that it's use can eventually lead to the user moving on to other harder drugs. However, I think for the most part, marijuana is quite harmless and agree that it is not addicting. It might become a habit but you won't see anyone having chills, cold sweats, extreme anxiety, diarrhea, and the other classic symptoms of opiate withdrawal when they stop using marijuana. As someone who enjoyed smoking marijuana and did so often in the past, I would often use the drug as a way to help control the anxiety that would so often accompany opiate withdrawal. It would sometimes also help me get to sleep which can seem close to impossible during opiate withdrawal. I no longer smoke marijuana due to the rules of the Suboxone program I am now in as well as just trying to make drugs a past part of my life but I still personally have no ill feelings towards the drug. I'll leave this one up to you guys. If you think it may help, give it a shot. However, if you think it might do more harm than good, then by all means stay away from it (and other drugs).
After debating with myself whether or not I should have included the use of marijuana to help with sleep during opiate withdrawal, I came to the conclusion that I want to be able to provide you guys with whatever I think can help you guys without causing any harm or bad consequences. That's why I often write about medications but never recommend dosages or regimes besides telling you guys to talk with your doctor and to never take more than told/recommended. The biggest reason I had debated on whether or not to include marijuana as an option in this post is that for some people, when they use marijuana, the high they get from it brings on too much of a temptation to get back to using the opiates again. Sometimes the high from marijuana is just to much for a person and it can begin to bring out our inner demons with addiction. While I personally believe marijuana can have its benefits, I would have to say that the best route to take is to probably just avoid it along with any other drugs or alcohol.
I also want to state that I defiantly wouldn't advise anyone to use alcohol as a means of getting to sleep. Not only is that an unhealthy and potentially dangerous thing to do, but that alcohol itself can become an addiction. This is especially true for any addict as we tend to develop addictions quicker and easier than most people. In addition, while the use of alcohol may make one feel good and able to get to sleep, it will most likely leave the person feeling even worse the next day. It is already shitty enough having to deal with opiate withdrawals so why add a nasty hangover to the mix. Both alcohol and marijuana can impair the way we think and act, which could result in one making some poor decisions such as deciding to use opiates adding yet another reason to avoid any drugs or alcohol during opiate withdrawal.
I know I might sound somewhat contradicting to some about what I have just said but I just want to add what I found has worked for me in the past. If you asked me what to do in regards to the marijuana, I would say to defiantly stay away from any drugs/alcohol and to only use the marijuana if you feel confident enough it won't have any negative impacts and as a last resort if possible. Remember, the whole point of getting off the opiates is to live a sober life. Like I've said more times than I can count, everyone is different with some people being able to handle things differently or better than others. You shouldn't even consider looking to drugs such as cocaine, heroin, meth, hallucinates, and the like to help ease withdrawals. Believe me, drugs like those will do much more harm than good and can lead you into a whole another world of problems.
- If you can't get to sleep within a half hour or so, don't just stay in bed tossing and turning! Get up and go to a lightly lit room and do something that requires little energy and is relatively boring/dull. Some examples include reading the newspaper or a book, writing in a journal, going for a short walk, ect. You must train your body and mind that your bed is a place for sleep so that when you enter your bed in the future, your mind and body will know it's time for sleep. Or the other thing...
- Try to limit television, video games, or exercise right before bed as both can tend to get your mind and body up, focused, and ready to go.
- Limit any caffeine, high Carb, or sugary foods at night. Eat right during the day and limit (or even quit if you can) any tobacco products. Too much of these things can keep you up at night.
- If you're religious, calm yourself by spending a few minutes saying your prays before bed. If religion isn't your cup of tea, give mediation a shot and try relaxing and meditating for about 15 minutes before bed.
- Try to keep your mind occupied on something calming and something you enjoy. Don't worry about your addiction, bills you have to pay, work, or any other things that can get you worked up and worrying while you are in bed at night.
- As I mentioned before, make sure to set up a sleep schedule where you wake up and go to bed around the same time each day. Try to limit long naps during the day by either not napping at all or limiting your naps to less than 45 minutes (cat naps). It can be tough for some people (myself included) but try not to sleep in late on weekends or days off from work/school as this can further disrupt your sleeping patterns.
- Make your sleeping environment comfortable by having a nice, comfortable bed, a room temperature that's comfortable for you, and keeping noise to a minimal.
- If you continue having trouble in getting and staying asleep, don't continue to just put it off! Make a visit to your doctor and discuss with him or her what the two of you think is the best route of action to take in getting some sleep.