Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms - What To Expect In Opioid Detox

By Midwest Detox Staff

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Opioids are so powerful because they activate the brain’s reward center. By releasing endorphins, neurotransmitters that dull the brain’s perception of pain and magnify feelings of pleasure, the opioids create a powerful haven for the individual to escape to. Having experienced these pleasurable effects, it becomes all too easy to go back for more, wanting to recreate the same feelings over and over again.

Over time, an addiction is born. Those addicted to opioids know the hold it has over their lives. The mere thought of opioid detox can be overwhelming. The idea of escaping the addiction may seem impossibly daunting. Understanding what to expect in opioid detox can make the process a little less formidable. When undertaking any new challenge, a thorough comprehension of all of the steps involved can make it easier.

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    Opioid Withdrawal Timeline

    When detoxing from opioids, there is a general withdrawal timeline one can expect to follow. This timeline is broken up into three stages. Stage one is the first stage in the opioid withdrawal timeline and is the most excruciating one, lasting about two to three days. This is when the withdrawal symptoms peak.

    Users of heroin and other immediate-release opioids, including morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, will start experiencing their first withdrawal symptoms within 8-12 hours of their last opiate use. Meanwhile, addicts using long-acting opioids, such as methadone and extended-release versions of morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl, will only begin suffering within 36 hours of their last intake.

    During stage two, opioid users will still experience the same withdrawal symptoms as stage one, but they will slowly begin to decrease in severity. Once the addict has reached stage three, symptoms will be minimal. It is important to remain vigilant during this stage. While it may seem easier compared to stages one and two, the body is still detoxing and can easily relapse. The entire withdrawal timeline usually lasts for approximately 7-10 days. However, it can extend up to 14 days for users of extended release opioids.

    Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

    There are both physical and psychological opioid withdrawal symptoms. Physical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal upset, elevated temperature with shivering or sweating, muscle pain, body aches, increased heart rate, high blood pressure, and runny nose. Psychological symptoms include anxiety, depression, and intense cravings for the addict’s drug of choice.

    Clinicians like to use the opioid withdrawal scale to gauge the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Utilizing a scale that measures 11 symptoms, it is able to provide each addict with their own opiate withdrawal score. A score of 5-12 means that withdrawal symptoms are minimal to mild. Scores of 13-24 point to moderate withdrawal symptoms. Individuals scoring between 25-36 suffer from moderately severe withdrawal symptoms and scores over 36 indicate severe withdrawal.

    The opioid withdrawal scale has proven to be very helpful in diagnosing the severity of withdrawal symptoms in both in-patient and out-patient settings. The opiate withdrawal score allows the clinician to provide the required level of monitoring and care. Depending on the magnitude of the opioid withdrawal symptoms, they can also administer medication accordingly.

    Opioid Withdrawal Medications

    Thankfully, in today’s day and age, there are many medications which can be used to assist in the opioid withdrawal process. Medically supervised opioid withdrawal, more commonly known as medical detox, allows for the administration of certain medicines to ease the addict’s withdrawal symptoms.

    The most commonly prescribed drug in the treatment of opioid withdrawal symptoms is Methadone. Originally created as a painkiller, research later discovered that it could not only block but replace the effects of other opioids and reduce withdrawal symptoms. With options for oral or intravenous treatment, methadone is a powerful drug not suited for everyone.

    For those who cannot handle it, Naltrexone has become a popular alternative. Referred to as an opioid antagonist, it blocks the pleasurable effects that opioids produce and will not cause opioid withdrawal if an addict decides to abruptly stop their opioid intake. Research has shown that patients who have taken Naltrexone during their first year of addiction recovery are much more likely to succeed in staying clean.

    Another popular medication is Buprenorphine. Not only does it reduce withdrawal symptoms, but it also acts to reduce the craving for the opioids themselves. It is important to note that while all of these medications can tremendously aid the addict in their recovery journey, they do not cure addiction. These medications are simply vital tools that can lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms and allow the addict to be more successful in their detoxification process.

    Can You Die From Opioid Withdrawal?

    While withdrawal symptoms can become so severe that the addict literally feels like death is upon them, it is not common to die from opioid withdrawal. However, there are cases where pre-existing conditions or the effects of long-term intravenous drug use can cause life-threatening complications.

    If someone chooses to detox from home, without the help of clinical professionals, they run the risk of dehydration and potential heart failure as a result of untreated vomiting and diarrhea. Perhaps most at risk for potential death are addicts who relapse and return to opioid use following a period of abstinence. These individuals run a high risk of overdosing, because they forget that their bodies no longer have the same tolerance for the opioids.

    Detox Safely From Opioids With Midwest Detox

    The only way to safely detox from opioids is at a medical detox center. At Midwest Detox, our professionally trained team of physicians, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, nurses, therapists and addiction counselors provide the level of care necessary to detox successfully. Offering a private and comfortable environment, our comprehensive opioid detox program is designed to help those deep in the throes of the current opioid epidemic.

    Our expertly trained staff members understand that oftentimes opioid use unknowingly begins with just one bottle of pills prescribed by a doctor. We reject the stigma so often associated with drug use and treat each and every patient with the dignity and respect they deserve. It is our mission to guide you through the opioid withdrawal process in as comfortable a manner as possible.

    Capping our patient limit to nine individuals at a time, we offer the capability to be at your side along each step of the detox process. We understand that no two recovery journeys are the same, and offer specialized treatment regimens personalized for each individual patient. Allow Midwest Detox to be your partner in the journey of opioid detox.

    Don’t wait until it’s too late. Reach out to Midwest Detox at 414-409-5200 or send us a message today.