Opioid Addiction - Drug and Alcohol

Opioid Withdrawal: What You Need to Know

There is nothing easy about opioid withdrawal, but drug rehab can make the process less unpleasant and more successful. The Edge can help.

Opioid Withdrawal: What You Need to Know

Table of Contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

June 16, 2022

The Edge Treatment Center

Opioids are a highly addictive class of drugs that come in a wide variety of forms. Overcoming an addiction to opioids is a difficult battle, and the first major hurdle in one’s journey comes when one first ceases regular use of these destructive substances. This is called withdrawal.

Withdrawal symptoms are caused by the rapid shift in the body and mind as one readjusts to life without the use of addictive substances, and it can bring with it many trying symptoms and struggles.

However, preparing oneself and engaging in a professional, medically monitored detox program to manage withdrawal from opioids creates the safest, most effective environment to establish a sober life moving forward.

Types of Opioids

There are many different types of opioids. Some opioids, such as OxyContin and Vicodin, are used as prescription painkillers, especially after intense injury or surgery.

However, just because they are prescribed in a medical setting doesn't mean they aren’t dangerous, as even prescriptions can lead to an addiction if misused. Other opioids are wholly illicit, such as heroin.

An individual may be using opioids without their knowledge since sometimes street-level marijuana is cut with opioids such as fentanyl. Fentanyl is a particularly potent opioid, with extremely addictive properties and a drastic effect on the body and mind, being even more powerful than morphine.

While fentanyl is used in a medical setting, it is also commonly cut into other street-level drugs without users’ knowledge, making it a very widespread and dangerous opioid.

Regardless of how each individual was exposed to opioids—prescription or otherwise—the need to challenge addiction is paramount. All opioids are highly addictive, even for those using prescriptions properly, and overcoming an addiction to opioids is a large undertaking. If an individual has an opioid addiction, the first step in creating a sober future is tackling opioid withdrawal symptoms.

What Is Opioid Withdrawal?

Addiction fundamentally alters brain chemistry, affecting the neurotransmitters in the mind and making it seem as if the use of addictive substances is necessary to feel happy or to function normally. However, as one ceases substance use, the body and mind rapidly shift back to functioning without the use of these substances, and the body and mind react intensely as their brain tries to regain chemical balance and homeostasis. 

This transition time as one ceases their use can be incredibly difficult and is when withdrawal symptoms manifest. Even those who simply decrease, not eliminate, their use of opioids may experience withdrawal. This time is rife with discomfort and unexpected emotions, and dedicated drug rehab is essential for navigating physical and emotional needs during this time.

Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal

Opioid withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person. Some of the more common withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Shaking or trembling

  • Insomnia

  • Nightmares

  • Restlessness

  • Racing thoughts

  • Paranoia

  • Panic

  • Aches and pains

  • Elevated heart rate

  • Sweating

  • Fever

  • Hyperventilation

  • Irritability

  • Mood swings

Some more severe instances of withdrawal can include hallucinations and even seizures. Serious cases of withdrawal symptoms require monitoring by medical professionals. Dedicated drug rehab and detox programs are necessary for navigating unexpected withdrawal symptoms and the physical and emotional needs during opioid withdrawal.

There are many factors involved that can impact the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Depending on the opioid used, frequency of use, method of administration, concurrent use of other drugs or alcohol, and whether or not one is engaging in other healthy practices like dieting and exercise, symptoms and severity can differ.

How Long Does Withdrawal Last?

Opioid withdrawal symptoms can manifest very quickly after one’s last use, depending on the routine and frequency of usage. It is possible that withdrawal may begin within 12 hours from one’s last use of opioids and can last about a week. These symptoms will pass in time, typically beginning to subside after about 14 days, and managing oneself safely during this time is crucial to prevent relapse early in treatment.

A person's experience with withdrawal symptoms will be wholly unique. While some may feel their withdrawal symptoms improving within a couple of days, others may take a few weeks to truly process the changes in their bodies. Taking withdrawal one day at a time is the best approach to managing symptoms and progress, rather than expecting one to be done with withdrawal by an arbitrary date. Medication can be utilized to help quell some of these symptoms, depending on needs and situation.

Completing withdrawal and completely ridding the body of all traces of substances doesn't mean there won’t still be urges and cravings to reengage with opioids. Processing withdrawal from opioids is only the beginning of one’s journey toward a truly transformed future. Withdrawal is the beginning of recovery, but it is not the end, and continued engagement in dedicated drug rehab programs, treatment, and aftercare is essential for maintaining sobriety while embracing new lifestyles, perspectives, and healthy routines to facilitate a sober future. 

The Edge Treatment Center Helps You Manage Opioid Withdrawal

Withdrawal from opioids presents a challenging battle, but it is always possible to overcome. At The Edge Treatment Center, we are prepared to help you take the first step toward a healthy, opioid-free future.

With personalized approaches for each individual and dedicated, caring support staff, we are prepared to help you understand and overcome the challenges of withdrawal, from managing symptoms to caring for emotional needs, then helping you into a treatment program to maintain your sobriety after.

For more information on how we can help you or speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique situation, contact The Edge Treatment Center today.

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