Withdrawal from Opiates: What to Expect

What is it Like to Withdrawal from Opiates?

Nearly a third of all opiate prescription medication given to patients is abused today, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. A staggering 80 percent of people who abuse heroin first started on prescription opioids. It’s easy for someone to think that all it takes to break an addiction is stopping, but one of the things that make it difficult is the symptoms of withdrawal from opiates.

In this article, we will explore the opiate withdrawal symptoms that one can expect as well as how long a detox normally takes.

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

So, how long does it take for a person who has become addicted to opiates to get through detox? Of course, the opiate withdrawal timeline can be affected by an individual’s experience with the drug. The amount of opiates taken frequently, the total time that the person has been abusing the drug for, and elements such as their health can change the average detox timeline.

In most cases, the early symptoms appear after about 6 to 12 hours, which are usually not that intense at first. The later symptoms experienced during withdrawal from opiates start after about 72 hours, which includes the peak of the early symptoms. The process carries on for roughly a week; however, post-acute withdrawal symptoms can occur which result in symptoms such as depression lasting for weeks and even months.

Common Symptoms of Withdrawal from Opiates

So, what are the symptoms of withdrawal from opiates that one can expect during detox if you’ve become dependent on the substance?

The early symptoms of opiate withdrawal include the following:

  • Muscle pain
  • Agitation
  • Excessive tearing, which also results in a constantly runny nose
  • Anxiety
  • Yawning
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sweating
  • Hypertension
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Fever

The late symptoms usually include the following:

  • Depression
  • Intense cravings
  • Severe abdominal cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Overall, people going through opiate withdrawal explain the symptoms as the worst flu-like symptoms they’ve ever before.

What is a Medical Detox?

If you have been thinking of stopping opiate abuse, then you’ve probably heard the term “medical detox”. It refers to the programs available at rehab centers that incorporate medications as a part of a treatment plan for withdrawal symptoms. Such a program can make the symptoms far easier to deal with because the medications help to manage the body’s response to losing something it had begun to rely on.

Opiate detoxification is usually treated with buprenorphine, or a drug that contains it, and methadone. Both of these variants work by replacing the drug of abuse with a safer alternative, and then slowly reducing the amount given in order to manage symptoms. The treatment program is especially effective at reducing relapse because the person doesn’t have to deal with the intense cravings usually present during cold-turkey withdrawal.

What Happens After Detox?

Once a person has gotten through detox, it is then time to seek out further treatment programs. Unfortunately, addiction is a sometimes a life-long disease and a part of understanding how to beat it revolves around long-term maintenance. In order to properly understand the causes of addiction in a particular case, the addict must work with a therapist and most likely support groups. Recovering addicts learn about what parts of their behavior and thinking led them to abuse drugs and then work on ways to respond differently.

After intensive therapy, attending regular support group meetings and following a relapse prevention plan can help the person to manage their addiction over the months and years to come.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.




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