If you have an opioid addiction and are considering drug rehab, you may be concerned about the detox process. Did you know you can take drugs such as Lofexidine to help ease withdrawal symptoms?
Lofexidine, also known by the brand name Lucemyra, is a prescription medicine that reduces withdrawal symptoms for people coming off opioid drugs. Opioid drugs fall into two categories: prescription painkiller medication such as oxycodone and methadone, and illegal street drugs, mainly heroin and Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.
Mental health also plays a last part in the decision to take Lofexidine. Patients usually take it as part of drug detox in a controlled medical setting such as a drug and alcohol rehab centre. Not all patients take medication during drug detox, particularly those with a short-term addiction. If a patient feels mentally strong and thinks they can cope without medication, they may forgo taking it after discussing it with their addiction specialist.
At Action Rehab, we use a variety of medications, including Lofexidine, to help our patients. Finding the correct medication that works for you will take time, and your addiction therapist will run you through your options.
How Does Lofexidine Work?
People are often nervous about withdrawing from drugs, particularly opioids. Lofexidine acts as a pain reliever and sedative and helps people feel relaxed.
Knowing that medicines exist, such as Lofexidine, makes the thought of detoxing less daunting.
When someone with an addiction stops taking drugs, they experience uncomfortable and sometimes potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Lofexidine helps to relax blood vessels so blood can flow more easily. It also stops the release of norepinephrine, a hormone that works in the same way as adrenaline. Norepinephrine creates the unpleasant feelings associated with withdrawal.
Lofexidine is reported as effective as Clonidine (another medication used to help with drug withdrawal).
What Are The Benefits Of Lofexidine?
When people go through drug detox, they can experience many unpleasant side effects, some potentially dangerous if they aren’t monitored. Many people experience nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate, an aching body, headaches and stomach aches, muscle tension, sore eyes and sleep disturbances. Lofexidine helps to ease these withdrawal symptoms, making opioid detox more manageable.
Some patients are reluctant to take prescribed medication as they worry that one addiction could replace another. Lofexidine is prescribed in the short term, and it’s non-addictive. It’s therefore ideal for recovering addicts.
How To Take Lofexidine
Lofexidine comes in tablet form, and it won’t work if you crush it into a powder and dissolve it in liquid. You must take it four times a day, with or without food. Make sure you leave a gap of five to six hours between doses.
Patients usually take it for around two weeks, throughout detox and after treatment. In some cases, patients take it for longer if they experience further withdrawal symptoms, but this tends to be for patients recovering from a long-term or chronic addiction.
It can be dangerous if you suddenly stop taking Lofexidine, as it’s designed to be taken in reduced doses until you come off it completely. If you experience any of the following symptoms, speak to your doctor straight away:
- Increased blood pressure
- Sleep problems
- Chills or sweating
- Arm or leg pain
What Are The Side Effects Of Lofexidine?
Taking Lofexidine can cause some common side effects. Most reported are dry mouth, ear ringing, and sleep problems. More severe side effects, and ones where you should call a doctor, include a slow heartbeat and feeling dizzy and faint.
Lofexidine can cause severe heart problems if you combine it with medicines to treat pre-existing health conditions:
- Depression and mental illness
- Heart issues
- High blood pressure
What Are The Precautions Of Lofexidine?
Make sure you discuss your medical history and past illnesses with your doctor or addiction specialist before you start taking Lofexidine. If you’ve had any of the following conditions in the past, it may be dangerous for you to take Lofexidine.
-Liver or kidney disease
-Heart attack or stroke
-Heart problems or slow heartbeat
-Low blood pressure
-An electrolyte imbalance
-Long QT Syndrome
No studies exist as to the effect of Lofexidine on unborn babies or if the drug negatively affects pregnancy. If you fall into this category, don’t take it and discuss alternatives with your doctor.
Drinking alcohol alongside taking Lofexidine isn’t advised because it can make you feel sleepy, affect your concentration, and can magnify common side effects.
Is Lofexidine Part of a Wider Treatment Programme?
You’ll likely enter residential rehab for anything from a few weeks to 90 days. Most people stay for at least a month.
There are many stages to drug rehab, and the use of Lofexidine is a valuable but small part of the rehabilitation process. When you enter rehab to treat addictions such as opioid abuse, your first step is drug detox. Getting rid of drugs from your body is essential to progress to the treatment phase.
Habitual drug use in itself negatively impacts mental health. Becoming sober after months or years of drug use can be a shock to the system, both mentally and physically. But for some, heavy drug use disguises pre-existing mental health conditions, numbing emotions and hiding conditions such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.
Once people come off drugs, they can start to feel depressed, angry, anxious and paranoid if the condition was there in the first place.
During drug rehab, patients receive daily therapy to manage their mental health through counselling and group therapy. When they leave rehab, they’ll be offered a service called aftercare. Aftercare is like a safety net, and it’s designed to prevent relapse when patients return to their everyday lives. Patients in recovery are encouraged to attend support groups near where they live and can call a 24-hour helpline if they need support and motivation to stay sober.