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Getting Treatment for a Laudanum Addiction

Individuals who have a problem controlling their use of laudanum may need to enter a laudanum addiction treatment program to regain control over their lives. Laudanum, which is also known as tincture of opium, is made of 10 percent powdered opium in an alcohol base. Historically, laudanum was used as a pain reliever and to heal various other conditions. However, newer narcotic pain relievers are typically more convenient to use and cheaper.

In modern times, laudanum is primarily used to treat diarrhea in adults and to prevent withdrawal symptoms in infants born to opiate-addicted mothers. It is available by prescription. Like all opiates, laudanum is highly addictive. It is strictly regulated as a Schedule II substance.

Effects Associated with Using

Laudanum produces effects similar to other opiates such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, heroin, and methadone. Individuals who take opiates, such as laudanum, usually report feelings of euphoria and well being while high on these types of drugs. Laudanum also reduces anxiety and eases pain. As the user comes down from a laudanum high, he or she may develop feelings of depression. Some users experience side effects of laudanum, including itching, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, constipation, drowsiness, loss of appetite, and dry mouth.

Symptoms of Laudanum Abuse

Laudanum abuse includes any use of the drug beyond its intended and prescribed use. This may include using a larger dose of the drug than your doctor recommends or using it more frequently than recommended. It can also include continued use of laudanum after the initial problem for which it was prescribed has been resolved. Someone who abuses laudanum may try to obtain extra prescriptions for the drug by going to multiple doctors or pharmacies. He or she might steal laudanum from a legitimate user or buy it in excess on the black market. Laudanum abuse is not the same as laudanum addiction, although laudanum addiction treatment may be useful for helping both laudanum abusers and addicts return to a drug-free lifestyle.

Developing an Addiction to Laudanum

“Someone with laudanum addiction cannot control his or her use of laudanum without participating in laudanum addiction treatment.”
Someone with laudanum addiction cannot control his or her use of laudanum without participating in laudanum addiction treatment. Unlike abuse, which is any illicit use of the drug, addiction is an actual physical dependency. The addict feels cravings for laudanum when deprived of it and may experience withdrawal symptoms if he or she is denied the drug for a long period of time. A laudanum addict can also develop tolerance to this drug or other opiates. Tolerance occurs when the brain adapts to the drug, and the user ceases to experience the same effect as he or she once did. The user must then take higher doses to feel the same way as he or she once did from lower doses.

A laudanum user may also develop a psychological addiction in addition to a physical dependence on laudanum. In a psychological addiction, the person finds it difficult to quit because use has become an ingrained habit. Someone who is psychologically addicted may also feel as though he or she needs laudanum to cope with everyday life. If the user had any type of chronic pain before starting laudanum, he or she may fear the return of this pain once laudanum use is halted. This kind of mental addiction can make the user extremely reluctant to seek treatment. While laudanum addiction can seem overwhelming, help is available.

Many famous historical figures were addicted to laudanum, including the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of Abraham Lincoln.

Dangerous Consequences of Abuse

Excessive laudanum use can be dangerous to the user’s health and safety. Taking too much laudanum can cause an overdose, which can be fatal. Even when laudanum does not cause an overdose, it can still cause health problems such as shallow breathing, mental confusion, a slowed heartbeat, muscle weakness, and seizures.

Laudanum users may also put themselves into dangerous situations, such as driving under the influence of laudanum. The effects caused by laudanum can even make everyday activities more dangerous because the person is unable to fully concentrate and focus all of his or her mental energy on the task at hand. The sooner a laudanum addict seeks out laudanum addiction treatment, the more likely he or she is to escape the addiction without serious long-term damage to his or her health.

Recognizing the Need for Help

“Laudanum addiction can affect the addict’s entire life.”
Laudanum addiction can affect the addict’s entire life. He or she may start having difficulty concentrating at school or work. Home life can suffer as the addict distances himself or herself from friends and family members. Thinking about laudanum can consume an addict’s every waking moment, and he or she may become preoccupied with where the next dose will come from or when the next opportunity for a hit will present itself. Formerly pleasurable activities and hobbies are abandoned in favor of spending more time and money on laudanum. In some cases, the addict repeatedly tries to stop using laudanum but is unsuccessful. Some people resort to criminal activity to get more laudanum. Not all laudanum addicts experience all of these signs, but even the presence of just one of these signs indicates that laudanum use has become a problem.

Not all people who are addicted to laudanum are willing to admit that they need laudanum addiction treatment. In some cases, it takes a major event or an intervention by friends and family members to get the person to seek treatment.

What Options for Treatment are Available?

Once you decide to seek help, deciding on the right laudanum addiction treatment option for you can be complicated. The three main options for treatment include:

  • Hospitalization: In a hospitalization program, the addict checks into a hospital for 24-hour monitoring. Hospitalization may be necessary if you experience severe withdrawal symptoms or if you have experienced failure during previous attempts to quit using laudanum.
  • Inpatient treatment: Inpatient laudanum addiction treatment involves a stay in a private or public residential rehab center. These centers include dorm or resort-like living facilities for the recovering addict to live in throughout the course of treatment. The length of time you stay in the center depends on your specific needs and your specific pattern of drug abuse and addiction.
  • Outpatient treatment: Outpatient treatment is intended to allow the patient to continue living at home, working, or going to school during treatment. In an outpatient program, you will report to a doctor on a regular basis for treatment. You may also undergo regular drug testing to ensure that you are adhering to the program.
  • With so many options, deciding which recovery program to choose can be complicated.

The Rehabilitation Process

Many recovering laudanum addicts choose to check into an inpatient laudanum rehab center. This type of center has living facilities for patients and a staff of caring medical professionals who can help the person overcome his or her addiction. A typical program at an inpatient facility may last up to 12 weeks. Private rehab centers offer more personalized attention and privacy than public clinics, but they also tend to be more expensive. Rehab centers are also available for specific groups of people, such as men, women, executives, and celebrities.

During the Victorian era, laudanum was prescribed for a wide variety of ailments, including colds, menstrual cramps, yellow fever, cardiac disease, and meningitis.

What to Expect When You Arrive

When entering a laudanum addiction treatment program at a rehab facility, you will first check in and meet with a doctor or counselor who will manage your recovery. The first phase of recovery is detoxification. This phase typically lasts about one week as the body rids itself of laudanum. Withdrawal symptoms are common during laudanum detox.

Finding the Right Detox Center

Doctors hands showing support for patientFinding the right detox center can be a tricky task if you are looking to help someone, whether it is yourself or a loved one, to get clean from drugs or alcohol. Different centers have different strengths and weaknesses, so you may need a little help to find the right one for you.Read More

After detoxification, you will then move into the long-term treatment phase. In this phase, you will learn how to live without laudanum and adapt to a drug-free life. In some cases, the long-term laudanum addiction treatment begins while detoxification is still in progress.

If you have any underlying conditions that could complicate recovery, these will also be addressed during your stay at a laudanum addiction treatment facility. These conditions can include physical or mental problems that contributed to the addiction in the first place. It can also include conditions such as chronic pain, which can return after halting laudanum use because laudanum’s pain-relieving properties are no longer in effect.

How Detoxification and Withdrawal Affects You

Many people contemplating whether or not to enter a laudanum addiction treatment program worry about detoxification and withdrawal. Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable, although they are rarely dangerous. Withdrawal from laudanum is the same as withdrawal from any opiate, and the recovering user may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Agitation
  • Body tremors
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

At a residential detox center, medical professionals on staff are available to help you find ways to ease withdrawal symptoms and get through the process of detoxification as comfortably as possible. The symptoms rarely last longer than about a week, so once you get through this phase of treatment, you won’t experience them again.

In some cases, medically managed detoxification in a laudanum addiction treatment program can help the laudanum addict manage withdrawal symptoms. In medically managed detox, the addict is gradually weaned off the drug instead of stopping suddenly all at once. The doctor in charge of medically managed detoxification controls the dosing of the drug by giving out successively smaller doses that are taken in the doctor’s office, not at home or in your room at the rehab center.

How to Prevent a Relapse and Ensure Sobriety

Once detoxification is complete, long-term treatment is necessary to prevent a relapse. This treatment can be completed in the same inpatient facility where detoxification took place, or the patient can switch to a different facility or receive treatment on an outpatient basis.

“Long-term treatment for laudanum addiction and abuse often involves individual counseling, group counseling, and cognitive-behavioral therapy.”
Long-term treatment for laudanum addiction and abuse often involves individual counseling, group counseling, and cognitive-behavioral therapy. The therapist and patient work together to discover the root causes behind the laudanum addiction and develop specific plans for how the addict will deal with future temptation or exposure to the drug.

Some people join a 12-step program, such as Narcotics Anonymous, as part of their long-term treatment. This type of program offers peer support that can help the recovering laudanum addict stay clean and sober.

In some cases, the use of the maintenance drug buprenorphine may be warranted as part of laudanum addiction treatment. Buprenorphine acts on the same brain receptors as all opiates, so it can be used to help keep the recovering addict from going back to using laudanum.

Laudanum is considered a Schedule II drug, so it is highly regulated. However, because it was grandfathered into the current drug laws, laudanum has never been subject to the strict testing requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Finding the Best Program to Fit Your Needs

Some recovering laudanum users prefer to attend a laudanum addiction treatment program based on holistic principles. A holistic rehab center operates with a philosophy of taking care of the whole individual, not just treating the addiction. This typically means addressing the emotional, spiritual, physical, and social health of the patient. A holistic treatment program often uses alternative treatments, such as acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, meditation, nutritional therapy, art therapy, music therapy, and animal therapy. The goal is to reduce stress and encourage the person to become healthy in body and mind so that relapse is less likely once treatment has concluded.

When you are ready to enter a laudanum addiction treatment program and get free of laudanum addiction, call us at or click this link to contact us by email.

In the Arms of Morpheus: The Tragic History of Laudanum, Morphine, and Patent Medicines; Barbara Hodgson; 1st Edition.

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