Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

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Opiate addiction has become a national epidemic affecting millions of people and their families every day. With the rise in addiction to prescription medication, it has infiltrated not only the inner city neighborhoods of the country, but has expanded the suburban counterparts as well. In short, addiction can affect anyone.

What does that mean for those who wish to fight for their health and overcome addiction? The first step toward a sober lifestyle is detox. One of the many challenges on the road to sobriety is the opiate withdrawal symptoms that occur during the detox period. Withdrawal symptoms vary in pain and discomfort levels, but it’s typically in the first few days when they’re at their most intense. However, people enter detox every day and go on to lead the sober lifestyles they want.

Withdrawal symptoms usually start to manifest about 12 hours past the last opiate use. At first, you may experience severe muscle aches, similar to how you feel when you have the flu. But over the first few days, it’s not unlikely to also experience vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating, loss of appetite, anxiety, and insomnia. Although these are the most common symptoms people suffer from, each experience is unique. Take the process slowly and know that with each day, you are taking back control of your body and regaining your health.

The pain of withdrawal symptoms is what makes it hard to go through a full detox. For people who want to beat their addiction, they may abruptly stop using opiates, which can have its own negative effects on the body. It also proves more difficult when cravings set in or temptations are still around. A person can go through drug withdrawal symptoms without being part of a detox program. The symptoms occur whenever the body’s addiction feels in need of the next fix.

Detox, specifically, is a purposeful approach to eliminating the use of opiates for good. Detox lasts approximately seven days. Rather than attempt it alone, it’s recommended to enter detox with the help of those that can provide you the kind of medical attention and support you need to succeed. Through a treatment facility, you will be a safely monitored space to go through withdrawal as comfortably as possible. Despite any difficulty you may face, detox and recovery are achievable. It is possible to overcome addiction.

Opiate Addiction Withdrawal Timeline

When you become addicted to opiates, the physiology of your brain changes. The drugs have control over you, not the other way around. Opiate addiction means your body has learned to function with opiates in the system; it has built up a tolerance to them. This means it will eventually take more and more to achieve the same state of euphoria as when you first started. “Chasing the high” that comes with addiction puts you at a higher risk for an overdose.

When cravings aren’t met due to detox, it can be tough for your body to adjust. You’ll receive the highest intensity of withdrawal symptoms during the first several days and then, they start to lessen and subside as the week goes on. In certain instances, they may last longer, depending on how long you have taken opiates and how much have been ingested.

There are several factors that will determine how fast you are able to go through the detoxification process. Your weight, age, and general health all play a role in how long withdrawal lasts. It also depends on how long you’ve experienced addiction that will ultimately decide how long your body needs to recover. A young adult in decent health who has recently begun to deal with addiction most likely will have a different withdrawal timeline than an older person who has a weaker immune system and has been battling addiction for years. While the recovery steps are the same, each journey is different. With the help of others, you’ll be to set the right pace for you.

A dedicated facility provides you a safe and secure space to be medically monitored, plus the staff can provide the emotional support and encouragement to help as well. When someone attempts opiate withdrawal alone, it’s more common for relapse to occur. The cravings and temptation may be too strong. Plus, it could be additionally harmful to your body, if you don’t gradually withdraw from use.

As part of a recovery program, there are processes in place to give you what you need to prevent relapse from happening. You’ll learn where your addiction stems from, what triggers affect you most, and how to deal with these challenges. Through group counseling and one-on-one therapy sessions, you’ll begin to explore coping mechanisms and healthy habits that will help you reach and maintain your sobriety in the future. Don’t feel discouraged if you’ve gone through the detox process before and relapsed. It is not uncommon and it doesn’t mean you cannot begin again.

Differences Between Acute and Protracted Withdrawal Symptoms

There are different sets of symptoms that occur at the two stages of the withdrawal process. The acute stage is when you’ll feel the muscle cramps, similar to the flu, along with symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. Under the care of professionals, they may administer medication that can prevent these symptoms from being as severe.

The next phase is referred to as protracted withdrawal and symptoms and can last for months, in some instances. During this time, you’ll likely experience an inability to focus, fatigue, anxiety, and depression. These are all significant side effects that, if not treated properly, can cause further problems down the road. Withdrawal symptoms occur based on the body’s ability to heal, which can often feel like a slow moving process. It can feel frustrating, but each new day gets you that much closer to sobriety and the healthy lifestyle you deserve.

In addition to the actual withdrawal symptoms you may experience, the detox process itself can also take a toll on your body overall. You may not receive proper nutrition or hydration during this time due to a lack in appetite and/or vomiting. You may not be getting the exercise or sleep you need because of fatigue and anxiety.

However, once you’ve gone through the detox phase, you’ll slowly start building up your health. This will involve slowly introducing foods back into your regular diet. Getting enough hydration and rest are also important during this time. Keep in mind that you’re transforming your body to a brand new condition and that takes time.

Speak with a treatment specialist today.
(888) 325-1995

Treatment for Opiate Addiction

Many people wonder if it’s necessary to receive treatment through a facility. While it’s not required, it’s more successful when you have the support and accountability to stick with your path. Recovery programs provide what you need at each changing stage. There is a lot that’s involved in the recovery process, in addition to detox. Each stage builds upon each other, so you can reach and maintain a sober lifestyle. There are two main choices for receiving care: inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Inpatient Care

Inpatient care means you stay at the facility through the duration of the recovery process. This is often beneficial because it takes you out of your current situation to focus solely on your health. Most treatment centers are set among serene backgrounds to provide a calming atmosphere where you can spend time outdoors and in peace. Inpatient care includes a combination of medical attention, counseling, learning, as well as time for quiet and self-reflection.

Through inpatient care, you will have one-to-one counseling sessions and become part of group therapy. The counseling part of opiate addiction treatment is what will help you identify the source of your addiction. How did your addiction begin? Are there certain areas that trigger anxiety or the urge to use? How has addiction affected your life? These are all the kinds of questions that will help you begin to explore with those who have had similar situations. With that being said, your situation is unique, which means your addiction and recovery story will be all your own. Once you can uncover the root of the problem, you can begin to find your way into the solution.

Additionally, with inpatient care, you’ll receive the life skills and coping techniques necessary to make it through recovery and reenter the world sober. The change is impactful and you’ll receive guidance as to what to expect next along your journey. During treatment, you’ll be able to identify areas of your life that are harmful and/or the areas which no longer benefit you.

This learning process often continues beyond the intensive inpatient program. You can receive additional guidance when needed from an outpatient program, through Narcotics Anonymous meetings, and by connecting with programs and people in your community who provide benefits for those wanting to maintain their sobriety.

Outpatient Care

Outpatient care has all the similar steps as inpatient treatment. The main difference is outpatient care doesn’t require overnight stays. It’s an option for people who decide to stay at home where they may already have a strong support system. Additionally, it may be more convenient to receive treatment this way due to other life obligations you must currently uphold. In some cases, a person may seek inpatient care first and then, return for outpatient care when needed.

Receiving treatment at an outpatient facility still gives you the tools and communication skills you need to battle your addiction. It requires medical check-ins to monitor your progress. Both types of care require the detox stage before the next phases of recovery can begin. Speak with an admissions counselor to decide your level of care. The goal of any treatment is to find what works best for you. Consider all of your options and know there is help available when you are ready to seek treatment.

Helping a Friend or Family Member Suffering from Addiction

In addition to the millions of people who personally battle addiction every day, there are also the friends and family members who are affected as well and want to help. While someone who is addicted to opiates will have to choose to receive help themselves, as a loved one, you have the opportunity to make sure options are available when they’re ready.

You may find it helpful to speak with an intervention specialist who can work with you when approaching your friend or family member. Be ready with information and solutions to provide to your friend or family member a calm and helpful way. The goal is to make your loved one feel supported with options of how to get better and achieve sobriety.

By taking the time to research treatment facilities or being a comfort while they go through detox and recovery, you are helping the fight against addiction. Opiate withdrawal and subsequent recovery can be an unpredictable time. Your support and encouragement are positive influences for the ones that need it most. Understand the part you can play when helping your loved one and how to best approach talking through treatment options.

The Right Time to Receive Treatment

If you are suffering from opiate addiction, you can start your pathway to sobriety today. Decide to take the first step and get the information you need to begin. We will answer any questions you may have about treatment programs, the process, and anything in between. The first action toward starting treatment puts you on a new path and opens the door for recovery. You deserve a healthy future; one that does not involve addiction. Even if you’ve gone through the withdrawal process before and are starting over, you’re taking control of your life and where you want to be.

Even if you’re not feeling your strongest, you can change that one step at a time. Go through the recovery process and lean on the help that’s ready to aid you. There may be setbacks and times when you don’t feel as strong, but keep moving forward. We’re here to help. There’s no “right” time, but treatment is always available when you’re ready to begin.

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


Health Line. Withdrawing From Opiates and Opioids. Accessed Feb. 17, 2016.

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

Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). National Helpline. Revised April 2018, Accessed Feb. 17, 2016.

Addictions and Recovery. Opioids: Addiction, Withdrawal and Recovery. Revised Aug. 2018, Accessed Feb. 16, 2016.

Clinical Trials. Tramadol to Reduce Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms. Sep. 2005, Accessed Feb. 15, 2018.

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