Opiate withdrawal is a difficult process that can be incredibly uncomfortable and even dangerous for those who attempt it without medical help. This article will provide an overview of the opiate withdrawal timeline, describing what to expect in terms of symptoms and duration. By providing this information, we hope to empower those who are struggling with opiate addiction by helping them understand what they may experience during their own journey toward recovery.
Are Opiates the Same as Opioids?
The term opiates refer to naturally occurring alkaloids derived from the opium poppy plant, such as codeine, morphine, or heroin. Opioids, on the other hand, refer to both naturally occurring and synthetic forms of various compounds that act on the opioid receptors in the brain, such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl.
However, both terms are often used interchangeably when discussing substance abuse, drug addiction, and withdrawal.
What Is Opiate Withdrawal?
Opiate withdrawal is the experience of physical and psychological symptoms that occur when a person dependent on opioids suddenly stops using them. This process can take anywhere from several days to several weeks, depending on various factors such as the type of opioid used, the duration of use, and whether other substances are also being abused. Opiate withdrawal is often accompanied by intense cravings for more drugs, making it challenging to stay abstinent without treatment.
Opiate Withdrawal Timeline
The opiate withdrawal timeline will vary depending on the individual and the type of opioid used. Generally, it can be broken down into three distinct phases: early withdrawal, peak withdrawal, and late withdrawal.
During early withdrawal, which usually begins within 6-12 hours after the last dose, the user may experience psychological symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, restlessness, and depression. Peak withdrawal occurs 24-48 hours after cessation of use and is characterized by stronger physical symptoms such as sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, muscle aches and pains, and insomnia.
Late withdrawal typically lasts for 1-2 weeks following peak symptoms. During this time, users may still experience cravings for opioids, but most of their physical symptoms will have dissipated. Some people may also experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) that can last several weeks, months, or longer and are related to psychological withdrawal symptoms. However, with continued treatment, PAWS symptoms will eventually subside.
Dangers of Going Cold Turkey from Opiates
It is important to note that attempting to quit opiates “cold turkey” without medical help can be dangerous and should only be done in a controlled setting. This is because sudden discontinuation of opiates can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, hallucinations, and even death. For this reason, it is recommended that anyone wanting to stop using opiates seek professional medical help by enrolling in an opiate medical detox program.
Effects of Opiate Withdrawal
The effects of opiate withdrawal can be long-lasting and significantly impact the user’s physical and mental health. In addition to the uncomfortable symptoms that accompany withdrawal, there are also psychological consequences such as depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and cravings for more opioids.
These long-term effects can make it difficult for users to stay abstinent without ongoing treatment and support. Therefore, it is essential for those in recovery to continue working their program and seek professional help or peer support when they feel they may lapse or relapse.
How Medical Detox Can Help with Opiate Withdrawal
Medical detox is a comprehensive treatment program that provides medical and psychological support to those struggling with opiate addiction. Detox programs typically involve medication-assisted therapy (MAT), individual and group counseling, nutrition guidance, and other supportive services. These interventions can help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and provide users with the tools they need to stay sober in the long run.
Medications Used with Opiate Medical Detox
There are a variety of medications that can be used during opiate medical detox to help manage withdrawal symptoms. The most commonly prescribed medications are buprenorphine and methadone, both of which are opioids but have different effects on the body than other more potent drugs like oxycodone or heroin.
Other medications, such as clonidine, naltrexone, and lofexidine, may also be prescribed to reduce cravings for opiates and alleviate anxiety related to withdrawal. Additionally, non-opioid medications such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication may be used in conjunction with MAT therapies to further support recovery efforts.
Benefits of Medical Detox from Opiates
Medical detox from opiates provides a safe and supervised way to manage withdrawal symptoms. It can provide medical guidance and support throughout the process and medication-assisted therapy (MAT) to reduce cravings and discomfort. Medical detox can also help individuals transition into more intensive forms of treatment, such as inpatient rehab or outpatient counseling programs. Finally, it can provide psychological support during this difficult time, helping patients build confidence and resilience to stay sober in the long run.
Caring and Compassionate Opiate Rehab Treatment in Orange County, CA
When you are ready to start your recovery journey, the caring and compassionate people at Pacific Sands Recovery Center in Orange County, CA, are here to help. We offer personalized opiate treatment programs at our IMS and JCAHO-accredited addiction treatment center. Start your recovery by contacting us today.