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Medications for Opiate Withdrawal

There are a number of medications used to treat opiate withdrawal symptoms. The EHD blog will list these medications with a short description of each.

  • Buprenorphine: Buprenorphine is a long acting opiate that has a better safety profile than other opiates. There is a ceiling related to euphoria. The medications Suboxone and Subutex contain Buprenorphine.
  • Suboxone: Suboxone is a combination of Buprenorphine and Naloxone. This combination is considered a safe opiate medication for use in an outpatient setting.
  • Subutex: Subutex is Buprenorphine. It does not have Naloxone in the formula.
  • Methadone: Methadone is a long acting opiate. It is often used for maintenance and has been used in inpatient settings as a detox agent. Methadone is not approved or allowed to be used as an outpatient detox agent.
  • Clonidine: Clonidine is a medication originally approved for hypertension or high blood pressure. It attempts to “fool” the brain by filling sliding into certaine opiate receptor sites.

Comfort Medications are medications that focus on symptoms of opiate withdrawal rather than the mechanism of opiate withdrawal. They include:

  • Ibuprofen (including Motrin, Advil, Nuprin, and generic Ibuprofens): This is a short acting NSAID (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug). It is for aches and pains associated with opiate withdrawal.
  • Naprosyn (including Alleve): This is also an NSAID. It is a long acting NSAID. Ibuprofen and Naprosyn should never be used at the same time. Use one or the other. It is for aches and pains associated with opiate withdrawal.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol): This is also used for pain management. Consideration may be given to alternating Acetaminophen with an NSAID. It is important this is approved by a doctor. Acetaminophen can impact your kidney or renal function.
  • Dicyclomine (Bentyl): This is a prescription only medication in the class of anti-cholinergics. It is used to relieve muscle spasms in the GI or gastrointestinal tract. Opiate withdrawal can often cause GI cramping and diarrhea. This medication can provide significant relief.

*Opiates include:  Heroin, Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Percocet, Roxicet, Roxies, Roxy’s, Oxy’s, Dilaudid, Hydromorphone, Opana, Hydrocodone, Vicodan, Lortabs, Fentanyl, Fentora and others.

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