Both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic strategies can stop cold sweats from opiate withdrawal.
Cold sweats are common in people who abruptly stop taking opioids. Some people are so uncomfortable during withdrawal that they return to drug use as a result of the symptoms. For this reason, it is important to address the symptoms of withdrawal, including cold sweats, to help prevent people from returning to opioid use.
Each time you take an opioid, your brain releases dopamine. In time, your body becomes accustomed to this rush of dopamine. When you abruptly stop taking opioids, your body can experience a number of unpleasant symptoms including cold sweats.
While the withdrawal process is complex, researchers think sudden drug cessation leads to a condition called "adenylyl cyclase superactivation-based central excitation." As part of this process, enzymes that control the widening and contraction of your blood vessels are altered. As your tissues are flooded and then deprived of blood, you experience hot and cold flashes. The heat makes you sweat, and when it stops, the air hitting your wet skin makes you cold.
If you've experienced withdrawal before, you may be willing to do almost anything to avoid a repeat performance. Some people keep misusing drugs indefinitely as they can’t stand withdrawal discomfort. Know that you can get help to feel better.
Medications like clonidine can ease your withdrawal symptoms. Clonidine is a alpha-blocker medication that decreases vasomotor symptoms like sweating and shaking. Clonidine is a good adjunctive medication for the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. However, the best medications to prevent cold sweats and withdrawal symptoms more generally are still the FDA approved medications for OUD: Methadone and Suboxone.
There are other non-medication/non-pharmacologic treatments for cold sweats, including:
Know that your cold sweats are part of the withdrawal process. They can be extremely unpleasant, but are not dangerous or life threatening. Reminding yourself of this fact could help you feel less stressed and worried during withdrawal.
If you are going through withdrawal and experience cold sweats or other symptoms, Suboxone and/or other MAT options are the best and most evidence based treatments. Reach out to your doctor to learn more about these treatment options.