Person sitting on floor and wondering, "What is dope sickness?"

What Is Dope Sick?

If you have heard someone say they are “dope sick,” you may have wondered exactly what that means. Essentially, the person is going through opioid withdrawal and feeling unwell. Opioid withdrawal symptoms can trigger them to take more of the drug to relieve discomfort. If you or someone you love is experiencing dope sickness, you may need the intensive support of an inpatient drug rehab.

Trying to quit opioids on your own can feel next to impossible. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe, but with the help of Promises Brazos Valley, you can get through it safer and more comfortably. We offer a full range of programs, from the most intensive inpatient rehab to the most flexible outpatient programs. Call us today at 979.426.0086 to find out which of our drug addiction treatment programs is suitable for you.

What Is “Dope Sick”?

“Dope sick” is the term used to describe the painful reactions people addicted to opioids have when they try to quit cold turkey or do not have access to the drug. Everyone experiences dope sickness differently, but some common symptoms include the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting

Symptoms typically feel like a bad case of the flu and can vary in severity depending on how severe the addiction is. For some people, dope sickness can be so intense that they cannot abstain from using opioids again. For this reason, these people may need the professional help of a drug addiction treatment program.

What Causes Dope Sickness?

When your body has become dependent on an opioid drug, abruptly discontinuing your use will cause discomfort, known as dope sickness. This is related to levels of dopamine, one of the feel-good hormones that helps you feel positive sensations. This brain chemical also regulates emotional responses such as happiness or irritability. 

When someone uses opioid drugs like heroin or oxycodone, their dopamine levels are increased. The person will feel happy and euphoric, encouraging them to continue using opioids. With continued use, the brain will lose its ability to elevate dopamine levels. It will depend on opioids to increase dopamine and the positive feelings accompanying it. So when someone suddenly stops using opioid drugs, the resulting decrease in dopamine levels can cause extreme withdrawal symptoms or dope sickness.

How to Treat Dope Sickness

You can treat dope sickness at home or with the help of an addiction treatment facility. Some people with mild addictions can quit cold turkey and use over-the-counter medications to manage physical discomfort as they go through withdrawal. Those with mild to moderate addictions may try tapering their opioid dosage, slowly decreasing the dose over time to minimize the severity of dope sickness. 

The safest and most effective option for treating dope sickness is to get professional help. Addiction treatment centers give you access to supportive staff and medications that can significantly increase your chances of recovery. This comprehensive form of treatment is known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT). It is the most thorough treatment option for people addicted to opioids. Specially selected medications will minimize your discomfort, alleviate cravings, and help you start feeling better faster while you begin therapy to address the underlying causes of addiction. 

Find MAT to Help with Dope Sickness at Promises Brazos Valley 

If you or a loved one is struggling to quit opioids because of the discomfort of dope sickness, Promises Brazos Valley is here to support your recovery goals. Our evidence-based drug rehab programs will provide you with a personalized treatment plan to help you get started on the path to a healthy recovery. Contact Promises Brazos Valley today at 979.426.0086 to schedule an assessment and start getting relief from dope sickness.

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