Treatment for Formication During Opioid Withdrawal

Skin crawling is a frequent symptom of opiate withdrawal, but it can also happen while you're detoxing from other narcotics.

12/21/20223 min read

Skin crawling is a frequent symptom of opiate withdrawal, but it can also happen while you're detoxing from other narcotics. Formication is the medical word for "skin crawling." Even when no insects are present, people who suffer from formication often have the sensation of insects crawling on (or under) their skin.

For persons going through opioid withdrawal, formication can be a very frightening experience. It's crucial to keep two things in mind about formication: When a person shifts from using illicit opioids to using a medicine like buprenorphine/naloxone, formication is extremely rare (Suboxone).

One of the most important advantages of buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) and related drugs is that they prevent or considerably reduce withdrawal symptoms such as formication. Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) and related drugs also treat other withdrawal symptoms like as cravings. They are very effective at preventing relapse, and are far safer than alternative methods of opiate withdrawal.

Going off opiates "cold turkey" can lead to formication and other, more hazardous medical complications. For persons who use opioids on a regular basis, going "cold turkey" is strongly discouraged. Relapse and overdose are the most deadly aspects of opiate withdrawal.

Opioid withdrawal symptoms are notoriously difficult to manage without medicine, and those who try frequently relapse. Even though formication is unpleasant, it is only a transient condition that is not life threatening and can typically be treated with medication.

What Is The Definition of Skin Crawling (Formication)?

When someone goes through opiate withdrawal, their central nervous system becomes hyperactive, resulting in 'skin crawling' (also known as "formication"). It can also be caused by the use of stimulant drugs.

The term "formication" is derived from the name of a type of ant known as "Formica ants". It is prevalent in persons who stop taking opioids "cold turkey" or without a long enough "tapering off" phase in which their opioid dose is gradually reduced. Formication is a rare occurrence in patients who use Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT).

Symptoms And Experiences Of Formication That Go Along With It

People who stop using opioids without receiving supportive counseling may have formication as one of their withdrawal symptoms. Insomnia, irritability, cramping, and sweating (to mention a few) are common withdrawal symptoms that occur at the same time.

The experiencing of these other withdrawal symptoms at the same time can generate a feedback loop until withdrawal symptoms have subsided. The sensation of non-existent bugs crawling on one's skin, for example, can worsen anxiety and insomnia, making people experience even more of the non-existent bugs. Formication or other withdrawal symptoms are uncommon in patients using buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone).

Formication Timeline and Length

Many factors influence the severity and length of formication (and other withdrawal symptoms). These factors include the length of time the individual has been using opioids, the sort of opioid they've been using, and any other health issues they may have.

Going "cold turkey" from oxycodone, hydrocodone, or heroin can cause withdrawal symptoms such as formication in as little as 12 hours; the symptoms normally peak in 36-72 hours and then progressively lessen over the next week.

People who stop taking methadone too early may develop withdrawal symptoms; methadone withdrawal symptoms are less severe but last longer - up to two weeks. When you stop taking buprenorphine (the active ingredient in Suboxone), you may have minor withdrawal symptoms that last around the same amount of time as oxycodone withdrawal (which is less time than for methadone).

What Should You Do If You Become Formicated?

Opioid withdrawal can cause formication, which is particularly acute at night or when patients are sleeping. This is due to the fact that formication is produced by hyperactivity in the central nervous system, and people's nervous systems have no alternative outlet for this activity while they are sleeping.

Maintaining an active lifestyle can assist with this withdrawal symptom, according to some people. People who are experiencing withdrawal symptoms may find it difficult to maintain an active lifestyle, thus further measures may be necessary. For example, health care practitioners can provide drugs to reduce the sensation of formication, as well as medications to help people fall asleep.

Because persons with formication tend to pick at scabs and cuts, wearing clothes that covers them and forms a barrier to stop scratching can be beneficial. Making an appointment with a health care practitioner as soon as possible is the most useful thing a person suffering formication can do.

While formication is not harmful in and of itself, those who have it and do not seek treatment are at a significant risk of relapsing. Our health care providers at Suboxone Clinic have received specific training in treating opioid addiction. This includes instruction on how to deal with formication as well as other withdrawal symptoms.

Suboxone Clinic is dedicated to providing prompt service. In most cases, telehealth sessions with our healthcare providers can be scheduled in less than 24 hours. Please contact us if you are suffering withdrawal symptoms (including formication) or would like to speak with a health care physician about your choices for quitting opioid use.