A search online for at home solutions to opiate withdrawal is sure to uncover references to the Thomas Recipe. You will find it mentioned in forums and on addiction blogs throughout the internet. But does it really work? Can it really help to ease opiate withdrawal? I guess if by “ease opiate withdrawal” you mean will it be slightly less worse without the Thomas Recipe than with it, the answer would be yes. If you mean will it give you significant relief throughout your withdrawal, that is unlikely.
Read on to learn what The Thomas Recipe is
and if it is right for you.
What is the Thomas Recipe?
The Thomas Recipe was designed by a long-time prescription opiate addict. It is an at-home self-detox regimen that includes a blend of supplements and vitamins, along with a prescription based sleep medication that is to be taken following a specific schedule. You will find some slight variations online to the recipe, but generally it includes these ingredients:
- Valium or another type of benzodiazepine such as Ativan, Klonopin or Xanax. The recipe recommends Valium or Klonopin because they are manufactured in tablet form and can be easily broken or cut apart. This will make tapering easier. These are available by prescription only.
- Imodium AD or Loperamide.
- L-Tyrosine 500 mg capsules.
- A mineral supplement containing 100% of the RDA of zinc, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and potassium.
- Vitamin B6.
- Access to hot baths or showers.
The Thomas Recipe Schedule:
- Start taking the vitamins and mineral supplements right away. It is best to take them with food. The potassium is really important early on in the detox to help with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS). Bananas are a popular alternative source of potassium.
- Take regular doses of the benzodiazepine in the beginning of your detox. You need to take a dose high enough to induce sleep. Be sure that you are aware of the safe dosage limits for the particular benzodiazepine you were prescribed. Each of them are a little different and can be extremely dangerous if taken in incorrect dosages. Taper the dosage down each day. You want to get through the first 4-5 days, and then be off of the benzo. Benzodiazepines are highly addictive. It is vital that you taper off of them. If you do not, you might just be adding another addiction.
- Muscle aches will hit often. Use hot baths or showers as frequently as needed to help ease them. The baths or showers can also help to promote better sleep.
- Take Imodium AD as often as needed. Diarrhea and irritable bowel are common symptoms of opiate withdrawal. By the end of the 4th or 5th day, you should not need the Imodium anymore.
- Starting on the 5th day, take the L-Tyrosine and vitamin B6 on an empty stomach. Start with 2,000 mg of L-Tyrosine and scale it up or down as needed based on how you feel. You can take up to 4,000 mg of it. The vitamin B6 assists your body in absorbing it. The L-Tyrosine should give you a burst of energy to counteract the lethargic feeling that often sets in at about this point in the withdrawal. Continue to take it each morning for as long as it helps. If you find that it makes you feel too jittery, lower the dosage or discontinue it completely. You can expect to get the runs when taking L-Tyrosine, but it is usually a fairly mild case.
- Continue the vitamin and mineral supplements each day with breakfast throughout your detox.
- As soon as you can, start some mild exercise. Walking or swimming are perfect examples. It may feel difficult to do this at first, but exercise causes our bodies to produce endorphins. Endorphins are natural painkillers in our body and will help to make you feel considerably better.
The Thomas Recipe is more myth and legend than a true method to relieve opiate withdrawal. Like many legends, this one continues to grow even without substantial proof that it works.
Where the Thomas Recipe Goes Wrong:
There are several problems with the Thomas Recipe. First and foremost, good luck obtaining all of the ingredients easily. Valium or another benzo is going to require a prescription from your physician because they are highly addictive. Their use should not be taken lightly, and your physician is unlikely to do so. The last thing someone wants as a result of their detox is to end up addicted to another substance.
A mineral supplement containing 100% of the RDA of zinc, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and potassium is impossible to find. It does not exist. Shop all you want. You won’t find it. You will have to buy the supplements individually or mix and match different supplements that contain combinations of each. You will find nothing that contains 100% of the RDA of potassium, which is 4,700mg. Anything containing more than 350 mg of potassium also requires a prescription. Too much potassium in your blood can cause a condition called Hyperkalemia.
Bananas contain between 400 and 500 mg of potassium each, so stock up.
Their is a misconception out there that the Thomas Recipe is an inexpensive way to address the symptoms of opiate withdrawal. It is not. Without even factoring in any costs that might be associated with visiting your doctor to obtain a prescription for Valium, you are probably looking at around $75-85 for all of the ingredients. Add in doctor visits fees, and the total can jump much higher.
When you are talking about detoxing from opiates, price should not really be an overriding factor. It will cost far more money to stay on them than it will to get off of them.
Ignoring price and the difficulty in obtaining the proper ingredients to follow the instructions, the real issue is whether or not it helps to really relieve the symptoms of opiate withdrawal and give you the best opportunity for a successful detox. This is where the Thomas Recipe fails the most.
The Thomas Recipe does not provide relief for the insomnia, anxiety, and irritability that are sure to last beyond the first few days in your detox. The Valium (or substitute) will help, but what happens after day 4 or 5? It also provides no relief for:
- Abdominal cramping
- Hot and cold sweats
- Runny nose
These are all common symptoms in opiate withdrawal, and the Thomas Recipe does not address them.
When you consider the ingredients and difficulty in finding them, the pricing, the danger for someone already suffering through addiction to use a medication like Valium, and the fact that it will only provide mild relief for a few of the symptoms one will experience in withdrawal, it is pretty easy to see that there are better solutions out there.