Opioid addiction is a growing medical condition in the US. In 2019, National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that 10.1 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids in the past year.
Despite the rise in the number of people addicted to opioids, many people want to get off them. One of the most common questions these patients ask is: “how long does opioid withdrawal last?”
In a moment, this article will provide the answer to that question. First, let’s get something out of the way.
What are Opioids?
Opioids include heroin, fentanyl, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and methadone. They are used for pain because they block your body from sending pain messages to the brain.
Opioids also trigger the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical associated with pleasure. Overuse increases your tolerance and slows endorphin production, which leads to increased dosage.
Over time, you become dependent on the drug. Your brain gets used to the drug to the extent that it stops functioning well without the drug. Opioid addiction happens when you can no longer control your cravings for the drug. When you can’t get the drug to satisfy your cravings, you go into opioid withdrawal.
What is opioid withdrawal?
Opioid withdrawal happens when an opioid addiction patient suddenly stops using opioids. Although opioid withdrawal is not life-threatening, it can be very uncomfortable for patients. Many patients describe it as feeling like you have bad flu.
When trying to stop opioid addiction, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that may cause you to relapse. Opioid withdrawal symptoms include:
- Body aches
- Belly cramps
- Muscle cramps
- High blood pressure
- Hot and cold flushes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Widened (dilated) pupils
- Fast heartbeat and rapid breathing
- Watery discharge from eyes and nose
The severity of symptoms depends on how long you’ve been using the drug, how healthy you are, and the type of opioid.
How Long Does Opioid Withdrawal Last?
How long opioid withdrawal lasts depends on the type of opioid, how long you use it, and other substances used in conjunction with it. Opioid withdrawal symptoms can start within 8-48 hours after the last use and last up to 20 days.
For short-acting opioids like morphine and heroin, withdrawal symptoms start within the first 8-24 hours after the last use and last up to 10 days.
On the other hand, long-acting opioids like methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl show symptoms after up to 36 hours and can last up to 20 days.
But mild withdrawal symptoms may still occur for months or even years after stopping drug use. During this period, patients may have a hard time thinking about anything else.
How is opioid withdrawal diagnosed?
Your primary care provider will ask questions about your symptoms, past drug use & medical history and then perform a physical examination to diagnose opioid withdrawal. If required, your physician may order urine and blood tests to detect if there are opioids in your system.
It’s advisable to answer the questions openly and honestly to get the best treatment and support.
What are the complications of opioid withdrawal?
Remember that opioid withdrawal is not life-threatening. In some cases, complications from pre-existing medical conditions could become life-threatening. Some symptoms experienced during opioid withdrawal can also be life-threatening.
For nausea and vomiting, unintended breathing of vomited waste into the lungs (aspiration) can be a complication of opioid withdrawal, and it can cause aspiration pneumonia.
Also, loss of fluids and electrolytes due to diarrhea can cause an abnormal heartbeat and lead to circulatory problems or even a heart attack. To prevent this, replace lost fluids during vomiting and diarrhea.
Other symptoms also have their complications, but the good news is that you can manage these symptoms with the right treatments.
Opioid Addiction Treatment in New England
You may want to get off opioid addiction because you want to:
- get back custody of your children
- get your dream job, a home, or a car
- wear clothes that make you look as good as you feel
- live a HAPPY life and reconnect with your loved ones
Recovery Connection can help you achieve your goals. We use a combination of Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) and Behavioral Counseling Therapy to identify and address the core issues while treating you like a normal human.
Our Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT) includes the use of Suboxone, the only drug treatment approved for outpatient use. Suboxone is a combination of two different ingredients known as Buprenorphine and Naloxone.
Buprenorphine is an opioid medication. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that helps restore regular breathing and block the effects of opioids in the system.
The MAT medication operates to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and normalize body functions without the negative and euphoric effects of the substance used.
The medications used in MAT are approved by FDA and our Medication-Assisted Therapy programs are clinically driven and tailored to meet each client’s needs. It’s also recommended by the CDC and the National Institute on Drug Abuse as the best way to recover from opioid addiction.
Counseling is a required part of our treatment because this isn’t ONLY about detoxing off drugs. It is about improving YOUR life for the better! Without an understanding of the underlying problems that created the addiction in the first place, you’re MUCH less likely to “stay compliant.”
At Recovery Connection, our treatment doesn’t require DAILY visits to the clinic, and you don’t have to live through dreadful side effects.
Insurance covers our treatments, so you don’t have to put your life on hold to begin your recovery. The best part is that you can continue your treatment in any of our other locations. So if you move, change jobs, or want to change to a new location that is more convenient for you, give us a call, and we will make that happen.