Opiate Detox Programme & Withdrawal Symptoms
If you are struggling from an opiate addiction, you are not alone. Nearly 12 million adults per year are prescribed an opioid drug to which they can become addicted. Over five million people are taking opioids that were prescribed by medical professionals. (1)
Withdrawal from opiates is the first stage of rehab. It’s very important that your body becomes cleansed of these substances through detox, after which therapeutic rehab can begin.
You will be closely monitored during the opiate detox programme, as this is a very important period for your overall recovery. Your personalised detox plan will take into account your needs for feeling comfortable, calm and safe during withdrawal.
Managing Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
The withdrawal symptoms that may occur during opiate detox can be treated using certain detox medications, if needed.
Medical detox is also known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Not everyone undergoing opiate withdrawal will require detox medication. The psychiatrist who is treating you will determine whether medication-assisted detox is appropriate for your situation.
The psychiatrist will either use an opiate substitute or taper off the substance to which you’ve become dependent. The detox medication will help relieve your withdrawal symptoms, including the cravings for opiates that can cause chemical imbalances in your body. (2)
Opiate withdrawal symptoms can last just three days or for up to two weeks, depending upon how long you’ve been using substances and their dosages. Most people undergoing detox, however, feel that their uncomfortable symptoms improve within about five days’ time, on average. (3)
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If you’re taking other drugs
Experienced psychiatrists who specialise in substance addiction will design a treatment programme for you. This programme will be based on the type of opioid you’ve been abusing. Often, a person addicted to one substance may begin taking an additional drug for various reasons.
If you’ve been abusing other substances in addition to opiates, an appropriate plan for your detox process will be determined. This is known as dual detox. It’s generally considered safest to first withdraw from a sedative, hypnotic or alcoholic substance and then move on to opioid detox.
If you’re taking other prescription medications
Having a professional addiction team overseeing your detoxification is vitally important. They’ll manage your withdrawal symptoms to cause you less discomfort as they also oversee your general health.
You may be taking prescription medications for certain conditions or illnesses in addition to the opiates from which you’re withdrawing.
It’s very important that your psychiatrist know every prescription drug you are taking in order to treat you appropriately during detox. Some detox medications may interact with the prescribed drugs you are taking.
Knowing this information will keep you healthy and assist in ensuring a good outcome after withdrawal.
Common Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
The most common opiate withdrawal symptoms include:
- Feeling agitated, anxious
- Muscular aches
- Teary eyes
- Runny nose
- Excessive sweating
- Stomach cramps
- Dilated pupils
- Nausea, vomiting (4)
Physical withdrawal symptoms
You may experience aches and pains in your muscles. You might also:
- Feel very hungry
- Lose your appetite
- Be fatigued
- Feel lethargic
- Have night sweats
- Experience trembling or tremors
- Have clammy or cold skin
- Feel cold
- Have a runny nose
- Have water eyes or dilated pupils
- Have cravings for opiates
- Feel nauseated
- Have seizures
- Have stomach cramps
- Have Diarrhoea
Detox medications used to lessen these physical symptoms of withdrawal are typically two types of drugs: methadone or buprenorphine.
Psychological withdrawal symptoms
Nearly every person undergoing withdrawal from an addictive substance will experience some type of psychological symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms may include feelings of agitation, fear, paranoia, anxiety, panic, irritability and insomnia.
When you first stop taking opiates during detox, you may feel very anxious. This heightened anxiety can result in your feeling restless and irritable and cause you sleepless nights.
Feeling agitated is an unpleasant symptom of opiate withdrawal that can be addressed with medication. You may feel tense, stirred up and confused. Agitation is usually felt during the early phase of withdrawal, along with having difficulty sleeping.
Another psychological symptom is having an intense craving for the opioid from which you are withdrawing. Your brain is no longer releasing dopamine in the same way it did before, so this may bring on low moods too.
How Long Does an Opiate Detox Last?
On average, opiate detox takes between 7-14 days.
Your physical, psychological and emotional health can affect the detox period. If you have other medical conditions or are taking medications aside from the opiate, this can lengthen your detox period.
How long you’ve been using an opioid and how much of it you’ve been taking will influence the length of the detox period.
The least stressful environment in which you detox can also affect how long withdrawal will last. When you undergo detox under the supervision of a medical professional, they will keep you calm and know exactly how to taper you off the drug safely and effectively.
Is an Opiate Detox Enough for Long-Term Recovery?
Going through opiate detox is a vital step in the recovery process, but it alone is not enough to foster long-term recovery. To achieve long-term recovery from opiate addiction, individualised psychological counselling and other therapies are necessary.
The core reasons that led to your dependence on opiates must be addressed in order to avoid a return to substance abuse. Any other mental health issues you may be dealing with also must be tended to and treated.
Psychotherapy sessions are an important tool for long-term recovery after opiate detox. There are other therapies that are also very important to your lasting sobriety, including therapies that will continue after you complete a recovery programme.
What Happens After an Opiate Detox?
When you have completed detoxification from opiates, you will be ready to begin rehab – working on your recovery from addiction using various types of therapy.
Individual counselling sessions help you understand yourself, set goals, discuss problems, recognise progress and work out family issues.
Group counselling sessions with others suffering from opiate addiction will help you realise you are not alone and let you share in your successes and setbacks.
Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) teaches you ways to cope with stress, cravings and negative thinking patterns.
A 12-step recovery model involves meetings with others who have addiction issues similar to yours. These meetings provide you with goals and the motivation to remain sober. (5)
Motivational interviewing helps you figure out your behaviour patterns and your desire to make changes.
Holistic therapies, such as meditation, acupuncture and art therapy all help with relaxing, healing and stimulating the mind.
Aftercare programmes provide you with behavioural therapies to help with the urge to begin using substances again. They also teach you ways to recognise the triggers that may lead to relapse.
Family workshops engage your loved ones in ways to help you enforce the therapies and behaviours learned during rehab. This is especially helpful for teens and young adults who are returning home after rehab and need structure in order to cope with triggers and meeting goals.
Your care doesn’t end as you walk out of the door. Recovery is an ongoing process. This is why we provide free aftercare.
Frequently Asked Questions
You need detox that is medically supervised if you are suffering from addiction to any of the following opiates:
- Prescription opiates, such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Dilaudid, Fentanyl, Percocet and morphine
- Codeine (codeine can be in prescription pill form for pain or included in a syrup to prevent coughing)
If you’re seeking the best treatment centre for opiate addiction in the UK, call the Sanctuary Lodge team today.