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The Truth About Opiate Withdrawal


Oxycontin. Vicodin. Morphine. Fentanyl. Heroin.

These are just some of the names of opiates you may be familiar with; some of the opiates you or a loved one has struggled with before; some of the opiates you’ve heard about on the local news station, causing overdoses in nearby towns. These are also some of the most dangerous drugs you can put into your body today.

Every day, 91 Americans fatally overdose on opiates, a class of drugs ranging from illicit substances to powerful, prescription painkillers. Every day, even more users are admitted into hospitals for opiate abuse and addiction.

If you are struggling with an opiate addiction, you know firsthand how powerful these drugs can be. What started as prescription pain reliever use may have spiraled out of your hands. You are now popping two or three times the number of pills you were originally prescribed. You are snorting, smoking, injecting the drug for any means to get high. You are filling prescriptions fast, buying illegally from street dealers, and have even tried heroin as a cheaper alternative. You no longer have control over your use; rather, the drugs have control over you.

Opiate addiction is no joke. If you have been using regularly for a few weeks or more, the drug has more than likely begun to take a toll on your body, brain, and ability to quit on your own. Opiates alter the chemical composition of the brain, re-wiring the parts dedicated to emotion, memory, decision-making, and self-control. Even if you have the desire to stop using, your brain will continue to demand the drug. Not only this, but many other parts of your body, such as your central nervous system, are also dependent on the drug. They will need time to adjust. This period of adjustment can be classified as the opiate withdrawal stage.

You may be here now because you want to quit the habit and get sober, but are fearful of what might follow. You’ve heard about the severity of opiate withdrawal. You are scared of how your body might react once the pill flow comes to a stop.

Uncontrollable cravings. Nausea. Body pains. Cold sweats. Shaking. Anxiety.

These are just some of the many symptoms of opiate withdrawal, though the symptoms you experience will be unique to how long you’ve been using, what drug you’ve been using, and the dosage you regularly take. These factors will also dictate how long you may experience opiate withdrawal. For example, heroin withdrawal typically starts within 12 hours of halting drug use. Methadone withdrawal can occur up to two days after stopping the drug. Generally speaking, however, there is a typical timeline for which withdrawal symptoms progress.

Early Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal:

Within the first six to 12 hours of stopping drug use, you may experience:

  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Restlessness and trouble falling asleep
  • Anxiety
  • Repeated hot/cold sweats
  • Excessive yawning
  • Eyes tearing up
  • Runny nose
  • Rapid heartbeat

Later Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal:

After the first 24 hours, you may start to develop more unmanageable symptoms, such as:

  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Goose bumps
  • Dilated pupils and blurred vision
  • High blood pressure
  • Chills, shaking, and quivering
  • Physical and psychological drug cravings
  • Chronic muscle tension
  • Agitation
  • Depression

Opiate withdrawal can last anywhere from 72 hours to several weeks, depending on the extent of your addiction. However, it is possible that you may not feel one-hundred percent even months after drug use has subsided. If your opiate withdrawal has gotten this persistent, it may have turned into a case of post-acute withdrawal syndrome. The symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome – anxiety, irritability, hostility, suicidal thoughts, depression, fatigue, insomnia – usually peak between four to eight weeks after substance abuse has stopped. Without proper addiction and withdrawal treatment, these symptoms can in fact drive an ex-user to relapse.

Opiate Withdrawal and Addiction Treatment

At Turnbridge young adult addiction treatment, we understand how great a toll opiate addiction can take on the body as well as how long it can take to overcome. We also understand why opiate withdrawal can be such a huge barrier in trying to get sober. If you at all fear withdrawal from drugs, know that you are not alone. All the time we hear from users who desire to stop, but are struggling with feelings they won’t make it through. If you are fighting a similar inner fight, we ask you to weigh the risks of opiate withdrawal with the risks of opiate addiction. While opiate withdrawal can feel excruciating, opiate abuse and addiction can be fatal. Opiate abuse puts your life, as well as the ones you love, at risk and that is enough reason to sober up.

Seeking professional treatment for opiate addiction and withdrawal will not only improve your health, it will also greatly reduce your chances of relapse, overdose, and detrimental complications related to opiate abuse. These factors, in addition to the overall improvement you will feel physically and mentally after treatment, are in fact worth the discomfort of opiate withdrawal.

Because opiate withdrawal symptoms are so intense, and the consequences of their abuse can be severe, opiate addiction often calls for professional, long-term, drug treatment and a combined approach to drug therapy. A comprehensive substance abuse treatment program like Turnbridge can help reduce the effects of withdrawal as well as the risk of relapse by teaching you how to properly recognize, cope with, and manage withdrawal symptoms. Here, we will offer you the extra attention and support you will need during the recovery process.

Call us today at 877-581-1793 to learn more about our opiate rehab programs for young men and women.