How to Get Off Opiates

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Opiate addiction transforms your life. It negatively a person’s health, well-being, relationships, and self-worth. It changes the makeup of your brain to make you think you’re feeling good when really it depresses feelings of pain for only a short period of time. When the stress and effects of opiate addiction becomes too much, you may decide it’s time to change course. But is the best way to get off opiates? Is there a “best” solution when drug addiction is so personalized?

Everyone decides to quit for different reasons. You may have realized just how much addiction has affected your personal life. It may have cost you your job or may have been court ordered as part of a legal sentencing to seek treatment. Whatever the case may be, if you decide it’s time to leave opiate use behind, there are ways to go through recovery that will help set you up for success.

Opiate addiction may have started by way of taking prescription painkillers or using heroin. What many don’t know is that it’s not a drug that you can choose to quit cold turkey. There are side effects to consider that make the experience painful. Getting off opiates takes more than the initial decision to quit. It takes detox, rehabilitation, aftercare, and maintenance.

Detox is not a process you will want to go through on your own. By seeking treatment at a detox facility, the staff can help administer drugs that can help ease the cravings and side effects. They can create a treatment plan so you are detoxing in the safest and most comfortable way possible. Otherwise, your body could have an unpredictable reaction to sudden opiate withdrawal that could be harmful. Professional medical monitoring can ensure your vitals are in check and you have what you need to withdraw from opiates in a secure environment.

How Long Is the Detox Period?

Detox is the first step of getting off opiates. Typically speaking, it takes about a week to eliminate opiates from your system and fully go through the withdrawal period. It may be longer for some depending on how long you’ve been addicted and how much you last ingested. There are other factors that can affect how long it actually lasts. Your gender, weight, age, and health can all play significant parts in this timeline. Also, do you currently suffer from any other substance abuse disorders? How often do you take opiates and when is the last time you took them? All of these considerations will play a part in how your detox experience plays out.

Additionally, many people are diagnosed with a dual disorder during treatment for addiction. You could also be suffering from a co-occurring eating disorder or mental disorder. This is a lot for the body to handle at once and will all factor into not only your detox timeline but your over treatment plan. Part of the treatment process is getting to the root of addiction and where it begins. When you are able to identify this, you’re then to identify ways to cope with it or resolve it without the use of drugs.

One of the more comfortable ways to help with the detox process is slowly weaning off the use of opiates. This means that while you’d still technically be using opiates for a period of time, you’d be doing so in a way that your body can adjust. Under the care of qualified staff, they will know how to slowly lower your dosage amounts in a safe way. In many cases, suboxone is used to help the body adjust to the withdrawal process. This is administered on a case-by-case basis because it could be the right solution for some but could be a crutch for others. Suboxone will help eliminate your withdrawal side effects but it is an opiate and you will have to eventually withdraw from it as well.

The way you get off opiates will not necessarily be the same as how another person goes through the process. And, that’s ok. The important thing is to proceed in the way that works for you on a timeline that makes sense. Efficiency is important but not as important as thoroughness when it comes to your health and subsequent care.

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Side Effects of Opiate Withdrawal

You may be wondering what the actual experience of detox is like. It is a challenging transition, especially in the first few days. This is when side effects will be most severe. These may include insomnia, nausea, tremors, profuse sweating, and anxiety. Although detox is a positive step forward to addiction recovery, your body is still going through a major transition. Midday through the withdrawal period, you may experience nervousness, anxiety, and possibly depression.

When the body becomes dependent on opiates, it change your body’s physiology. Your brain thinks it needs opiates to function. When it doesn’t receive what it “needs,” it will react accordingly. The pain that comes with withdrawal side effects are uncomfortable to say the least. This typically will begin within the first 6-12 hours of the last use and could possibly last the full week’s time.

You may feel like you have a bad case of the flu but over time, the intensity of the side effects will begin to taper off. Although it is challenging, detox is also doable. People successfully complete detoxification every day. If you have the support of those who can provide you what you need to be as safe and healthy as possible during this time, the better it will be for you. Following detox, your body will be exhausted. It may take time to gain back your strength, energy, and appetite.

However, this is all temporary pain and discomfort. You will begin to feel stronger with each passing day as you go through the process of rehabilitation and recovery. It may not seem like it at the time but know you are creating a better path for your future.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment is a popular option for anyone seeking addiction treatment. It allows you to seek help in an environment away from current stressors and temptations. Inpatient care takes place in a temporary inpatient situation. These are often located in the peacefulness of nature so you can focus on your recovery as free from distraction as possible. Rather than dealing with the chaos of a noisy city, why not retreat to a cabin in the mountains or near a lake? Nature has a profound effect on how our bodies heal and the better the environment, the more positive the response.

Inpatient care provides a safe and secure environment as you go through your recovery. There is a general routine the day that includes individual counseling, group therapy, and time devoted to learning more about addiction and making healthy choices. You also have the opportunity for self-reflection through exercise, journaling, or other positive activities.

For anyone who chooses inpatient care, it is typically held in the same place as your detox treatment. They run back-to-back so that you can build upon the progress you’ve already made. The different stages are work together to make up one, comprehensive treatment plan. Any missed stages could mean setbacks in your path to sobriety.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient care is another way to help you get off opiates. It has a similar structure to inpatient care but there are no overnight stays. This option works well for those who already have a built-in support system and would benefit by having them around. This choice also requires personal accountability. Because you are scheduled for treatments or appointments, it is up to you to go every day. Every day, you must make the proactive choice to ask for and receive help.

Outpatient treatment also works well for those who may have been in rehab before and may need some extra care or support to prevent relapse or work through a relapse situation. There will still be a treatment plan laid out for and you can stay in the comfort of your own home.

One of the drawbacks is being surrounded by the possibility of negative influences or temptations that can make the process more challenging. You have to decide the best option for you. What will help you succeed in the long-term? Is it time away where you can focus primarily on your sobriety and nothing else? Or is it at home surrounded by family and other loved ones who will help encourage you to stick with your treatment plan?

These are all things to consider when looking for ways to stop using opiates. There is no quick solution or readymade answer. Each path to recovery is unique.

Encouraging Another to Get Off Opiates

If you are a family member or friend of someone who is addicted to opiates, you may have been working toward finding solutions for your loved one. It can be difficult to realize when opiate use has become a problem and what the options are to help the one in need. But start by making a list of researched options. Keep a pros and cons list. Work out the details so all your loved one has to do is agree to go.

Ask questions. When you’re researching treatment facilities or learning more about addiction, always ask questions about the programs available, the process, and the part you can play. By first putting some solutions into place, it can help you when the time comes to confront the person who is suffering from addiction.

It’s a conversation that is rarely ever easy and there’s no guarantee that it will work. However, you can create a positive path for your loved one to take. You can also call on the help of a professional interventionist who knows how to handle these discussions and work toward meaningful solutions. It may take several conversations before the idea sticks. Your loved will have to be the one who agrees to treatment and decides he or she is ready to seek care. Your position is to be a support to them in any way you can.

Seeking Treatment for Yourself

If you’ve tried to quit using opiates before without success, it may be time to seek the help of a treatment facility. You will feel secure and protected in an environment that is designed to help you heal. Going through the process of detox and rehabilitation isn’t something you should face alone. Lean on the people who want to help you. It is a challenging time with many ups and downs but there is support available.

Choosing to take back control of your health is the first step to a more promising future. One where your addiction doesn’t make decisions for you and make you behave in ways you wouldn’t otherwise choose. You have the power and option to get the help you need and pave the way for your sobriety.

There are several ways to go through treatment whether it’s with inpatient care, outpatient care, or a combination of the two. They call it a “process” for a reason because not everything happens at once. It goes in stages which take a lot of work and mindfulness. However, you can have help at every step of your sobriety path. You deserve to lead a healthier lifestyle and look forward to what the future has in store for you.

Reach out to learn more about the options available to you and talk through any concerns you may have. Even if you don’t decide to seek treatment today, you’ll have the information available to you once you make that choice. You’ll find far greater success becoming sober for the long-term with the help of professional help rather than trying to handle it alone. Just as your addiction didn’t happen overnight, neither will your sobriety. But once you achieve it, it’s yours to be proud of for the rest of your life. Start the path to a brighter future today.

Find hope. Find recovery. Begin a commitment to lifelong recovery today – for yourself, your friend, or for your loved one.
(888) 325-1995


WebMD. Signs of Drug Addiction. Accessed March 15, 2016.

WebMD. What Is Drug Addiction? Accessed March 16, 2016.

Medline Plus. Opiate and Opioid Withdrawal. Revised Aug. 2018, Accessed March 16, 2016.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Study Finds Withdrawal No Easier With Ultrarapid Opiate Detox. October 2016, Accessed March 15, 2016. Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale. June 2003, Accessed March 16, 2016.

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