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What You Can Expect from Opioid Withdrawal

man struggles with opioid withdrawal

The opioid crisis in the US keeps getting worse every year. In 2017, nearly 50,000 people died of opioid-related overdoses. One reason so many people continue using opioids despite the danger is that withdrawal is a high barrier to quitting. Opioid withdrawal is often quite intense and people who try to quit on their own tend to give up after a few rough days. Unfortunately, if you want to quit opioids, there’s no way to avoid detox. If you’re preparing to quit opioids, here’s what you can expect from detox.

The initial onset of withdrawal symptoms depends on what opioids you’ve taken and how you took them. Withdrawal from short-acting opioids like heroin may begin in as little as six to 12 hours after your last use, whereas long-acting opioids like OxyContin stay in your system longer and you may not begin withdrawing for as long as 30 hours. It also matters how you take them. When you smoke, snort, or inject a drug, you feel the effects more quickly and they also wear off more quickly. So if you’ve been injecting heroin, expect withdrawal to start sooner than if you’ve been taking Vicodin orally.

The first symptoms you will probably experience include agitation, irritability, muscle aches, insomnia, teary eyes, runny nose, yawning, anxiety, sweating, racing heart, high blood pressure, and fever. You may start to experience more severe symptoms after a couple of days. These symptoms include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, goosebumps, cravings, and depression. It’s typically during this phase that many people give up and start using again. These symptoms typically peak after two or three days but they may linger for a week or more.

The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on how long you’ve been using, how much you’ve been using, and other physical or mental health issues. It also depends on whether you’ve been through detox before and how bad it was then. Difficulty in the past often indicates difficulty in the future and some people find that detox gets harder the more times you go through it. Age is a factor too, as younger people, especially teenagers, typically have a much easier time. However, everyone is different and it’s impossible to predict how hard detox will be for you.

Whether you detox in a treatment center or at home, it’s best to do it under medical supervision. Talk it over with your doctor before starting. Someone tapering off opioid painkillers may be able to detox effectively at home, assuming adequate support and guidance. Someone with a long-standing addiction should probably detox in a facility where medical staff can keep an eye on any medical conditions and offer support. This also reduces the risk that you’ll give up during the difficult early days.

Arbor Behavioral Healthcare offers an integrative and holistic approach to treat substance abuse and a wide variety of addictions, as well as underlying mental health and psychological issues. All of the addiction recovery programs offered by The Arbor are designed to heal the mind, body, and spirit leading to a lifetime of sobriety, health and wellness. If you’re ready to find healing and restoration in a peaceful, loving environment, please call us today at 844-560-7269.