Making The Switch From Opioids To Cannabis
Perhaps you have come across this article because you are considering getting off opioids or even maybe are thinking about it.. The hard truth of it, there is no easy way to come off of opiates. Its painful, messy, and most of the people around you will not understand what you are going through. They will view it as a flu or cold all the while you are dealing with what feels like death knocking at your door. But, there is hope and it is possible to get off of the deadly pain killers and even make some of the symptoms a little easier to deal with. In this article, we will explore ways to ease withdrawal symptoms with cannabis & other remedies if you are detoxing at home. Remember, if you have diabetes or a pre-existing condition to always talk with your Doctor before coming off medications.
The cold truth is in today’s world, it’s must cheaper and easier to stay on opiates due to insurance paying the cost while paying for the medication. Currently, at least in this state Arkansas, there is no sort of insurance that covers cannabis. Many patient’s are left wanting to get off the pills that ruin their quality of life but can’t afford the medical marijuana.
So you want to detox at home?
Detoxing at home is a very hard route to go. For many though, its the only option because Detox facilities and Rehabilitation is too expensive. The first option you need to consider is if you are going to go “Cold Turkey” or wean off slowly. Cold turkey is a much quicker, but much more painful route to go.
Weaning Off Slowly
If you plan on weaning off slowly. Make a schedule with your Doctor. Take that schedule to a friend and ask them or someone you live with to hand out your medicine. Being in control of your own medicine that you are trying to detox off of is not a good idea. How fast or how slow you do this is up to you and what you decide with your doctor. Just know the faster you get off the medication, the more likely you are to experience increased withdrawal symptoms.
Detoxing “Cold Turkey”
If you plan on detoxing “Cold Turkey”, meaning you just quite your medication, first see if you can find someone to stay with you. Talk with them and let them know what to expect in the first 24, 48, and 72 hours. Once the medication begins to get out of your system, you will begin experiencing nausea, diarrhea, headaches, vomiting, insomnia, flu-like symptoms, and the over-all feeling that you are dying. The good news is that opiate withdrawals are not deadly! – They just feel like you are dying.
(Again, if you have a pre-existing condition speak with your doctor about detoxing.)
List of Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms: Click Here
What Helps With The Withdrawal Symptoms?
Although I am not generally a fan of over-the-counter medication, during withdrawals you are definitely going to want to stock up on plenty of Tylenol and ibuprofen for headaches and body aches. Get Imodium as well for the diaharea and some Benadryl as well for sleep. Of course if you are using cannabis, it will also help tremendously with sleep, pain, aches and everything withdrawals entails.
Vitamins & Supplements To Aid
Start taking potassium and magnesium either right before you begin withdrawals or as they begin to happen. Potassium deficiencies have been found to be common in opiate users which is what causes a lot of the cramps and restless aches. Taking magnesium also helps the potassium absorb better. Another supplement to take is called “Calm” which you mix in water and drink before bed or a few times throughout the day… it’s loaded with magnesium.
Vitamin C and B-Complex – It’s always a good idea to take additional vitamin C, but I have noticed during withdrawals my immune system is much weaker. I’ve ended up having the flu or strep throat a few times right after completely detoxing, so to avoid this and keep your immune system healthy, start taking a healthy dose of vitamin C. You will also notice during detox you will have a complete lack of energy. Find sublingual B-complex vitamins that you can take during the day to help improve your energy levels. Push yourself to do as much walking or moving as possible!
Melatonin and Valerian Root to help with insomnia. You can easily find these in capsules at your local pharmacy or you can find them usually in the tea sections as well. Melatonin and Valerian are very commonly used to treat sleep issues. They can be very beneficial when detoxing off opiates as well.
GABA is another supplement you can find at GNC or your local health store. GABA is a supplement that can aid in fighting anxiety… and during withdrawals you WILL have high anxiety. Another natural remedy for fighting anxiety is Kava. I personally use Kava tea in times of high stress or nights of sleeplessness.
More Herbs To The Rescue!
Other herbs to use in capsules, smoke or make a tea with include Ashwagandha, Chamomile, Lavender, Galphimia glauca, Passionflower, St. Johns Wart, and Skullcap. For more information on these herbs, please click here.
Other Activities To Help Get Through Withdrawal
As much as you won’t or don’t feel like doing anything having a plan setup and a routine in place will really help get through the hardest first week. Know that sleep is going to be off and you won’t feel anything like yourself. Make sure you tell your friend that they MUST make you stick to the schedule you have set for yourself and stay on top of your hygiene. (It is very easy to let hygiene slip during withdrawals). Here are some activities to fill your schedule and routine with…
Daily Bath / Shower Time – Take baths or showers to ease aches and make yourself overall feel better. If you take bathes, use 3 cups of Epsom Salt to help replenish magnesium and help with aches.
Stay Hydrated and Mild Exercise – Make sure you drink plenty of water at all times. Find an app like Nike that has easy workout regimens or look up yoga on YouTube. The more you move around the quicker the detox will subside.
Daily Meditation – Set aside time to meditate peacefully during this time. Guided meditations are very helpful. Here is some guided meditations from Jason Stephenson. (He got me through my tough times)
Journaling & Artwork – Get a journal and pour out how you feel during withdrawals. It won’t only be physical pain you experience during this time. You will also experience many emotions that have been covered up by the opiates that are all going to want to start popping up in your head. Write them down and write notes to yourself. Anytime you experience cravings, read these painful or emotional notes to yourself.
Buy some coloring books. As mindless as they seem, they are a very easy and time wasting activity that you can do. Puzzles are another good outlet and time waster that will take your mind off your current situation. If you had hobbies before you used opiates, explore those hobbies again and see if you still enjoy them. You will discover an entire new world when you get off the opiates, like you took some glasses off your eyes and you are now seeing the world again.
Rent Great Movies, Listen To Good Music & Play Games
Rent great movies that inspire you or bring up great emotions within you. When I went through detox at home, I watched “Into The Wild” many times. If you have a movie that is cathartic when you watch, during withdrawals would be the time to experience this again. Also before you begin the detox journey, go to the store and pick up some old games you liked as a kid and play them with the person who is helping you get through withdrawals.
Put on a pair of headphones and blast your favorite tunes. Don’t worry about who is watching you dance or sob your eyes out. Detoxing isn’t just for getting out the poisonous medication, it’s also about detoxing all the old emotions that have kept you using the opiates. Experience those emotions, don’t hold them in. If you feel like crying all day, DO IT!
And Now For The Star Of The Show: Cannabis!
So you’ve gotten your opiate detox plan in place, a friend to help, and a bunch of over the counter medications and supplements. Now if you are already a cannabis user, you know what to expect. If you are new to cannabis, please make sure to read about what to expect or talk to others who use cannabis.
However you enjoy using cannabis, do it! During withdrawals, expect to use much more cannabis than usual. Prepare by making batches of Gummies, MCT Tincture & RSO to get through the acute withdrawal symptoms. For a little extra dopamine here and there, infuse some dark chocolates… Dark Chocolate can release dopamine relieving some depression. During the first 7 days, you will probably be using much more cannabis than usual. Of course make sure you get strains high in CBD, CBG and CBN so that you get sleep and nausea benefits among the many other benefits of these cannabinoids.
If you can, also order hemp that contains high doses of CBD. Use one of our MCT Tincture recipes and use all through out the day. If you are experiencing alot of nausea, you can also order strains high in CBG, in which is supposed to help tremendously with Nausea and a When making your recipes, use both hemp and cannabis flower to get high doses of CBD and THC for your withdrawal symptoms.
Of course if you enjoy smoking your flower, make sure to have plenty of cannabis stashed for the acute withdrawal period. (First 7 days) Smoke as much as or little as you need to get through this. During the day, stick with a hybrid sativa in order to keep energy up but still treating the symptoms. I would recommend Lilac Diesel, Green Crack or Cookies Dos for during the day. At night time when you are ready to be couch-locked, put on a happy movie or show, and smoke a heavy Indica. The reason I say watch something happy before bed is during detox you are prone to much more vivid and scary dreams.
Also if you have made RSO/FECO, take a capsule or rice grain amount before bed to help with sleep. You can adjust the size of course depending on your tolerance. Keep your pipe or bong by the bed for when you wake up with the acute withdrawals symptoms… you will want immediate relief right by your bed, trust me.
During the day stay as medicated as you can tolerate with any combo of the above mentioned to ease the withdrawals. Just know that the pain will pass with time. Look for online support forums or groups on social media that also provide support. Join our group on Facebook: “CannaCook Group” and find support as well.
Eat Good Foods
During your withdrawals the last thing you are going to do is feel like cooking. Prepare by making a batch of CannaButter or infuse a carrier oil that you can add to meals ahead of time. This way you can make easy items like Microwave Brownies, put a little infused CannaButter, and you have an edible ready in minutes. Another option of course would be to infuse some honey or sugar to allow you to dose better throughout the day. Regardless, make sure you have on-hand infused ingredients that are easy to throw in a microwave brownie or already made batch of muffins.
I’m also not saying just completely eat junk food either when you are going through detox. If you can, try infusing a smoothie daily, to get those greens you are needing. Although I above mention sugar, don’t eat sugar in large quantities during detox, some is ok, but too much may cause withdrawals.
Cut back on Caffeine – During withdrawals, your anxiety will already be very high. Try to avoid drinking more than a cup or two of coffee in the morning. During the day stick to water as much as you can to flush out all the garbage. I remember during my detoxes, I would set a goal of drinking 3-4 liters of water per day. Every time I used the bathroom, I would envision all of the opioid toxins leaving my body forever.
If you are about to detox or are thinking about it, know that you can do it. You are no different than anyone else who has gone through this. Get a good plan together, get a good friend involved, and look forward to beginning a journey to a new life!
This is just a list of suggestions and in no way is medical advice. This is from my personal experience and if you have any tips of your own to help others, please leave them in the comments below.
Written By: Christopher Miles
Recovered Opioid Addict and Alcoholic / CoFounder of CannaCook Inc.
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