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Opiate Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms

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Opiate withdrawal is an uncomfortable and potentially life-threatening reaction to abruptly cutting back or quitting the use of an opiate drug such as hydrocodone, heron or morphine. The painful process may include an array of opiate withdrawal symptoms such as bone pain, upset stomach and anxiety. Although most symptoms are non-life-threatening, they can be highly uncomfortable.

If you or a loved one is addicted to an opiate, call 888-602-1971(Who Answers?) to find an opiate withdrawal treatment program that’s right for you. Our helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you in the recovery and healing process.

Tolerance to opiates can develop quite quickly if you use frequently. Even prescribed medications can lead to addiction that later requires treatment. Whether you are quitting after illicit use, or after prescribed use, the potential for withdrawal symptoms is much the same.

Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal

Mild to moderate symptoms of opiate withdrawal may arise shortly after you take your last dose. Depending on the type of drug used, the frequency of dose and other factors, you may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms 6-72 hours after your last dose. These symptoms can include:

Opiate Withdrawal Signs

Chills and loss of appetite are common opiate withdrawal symptoms.

  • Runny nose, watery eyes and allergy-like symptoms
  • Yawning paired with insomnia and an inability to sleep
  • Chills or goosebumps
  • Sweating and hot or cold flashes
  • Vomiting, diarrhea and upset stomach
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Tremors and potential for seizures
  • Fever
  • Bone, muscle and joint pain
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Restlessness and inability to focus
  • Loss of appetite

As previously stated, many factors can contribute to the severity of your opiate withdrawal symptoms. The most common factors include:

  • How long you have been using opiates.
  • Whether you have detoxed from opiates before.
  • The type of opiates that you abuse.
  • How frequently you have been taking opiates.

Are Complications from Opiate Withdrawal Possible?

Although opiate withdrawal symptoms are not generally life-threatening, there is always a risk for a potentially serious outcome. This is why we recommend you seek professional treatment regardless of how severe you believe your addiction to heroin, methadone or other opiates may or may not be. You can call our helpline at 888-602-1971(Who Answers?) anytime, day or night for help.

The most common, potentially dangerous complications that may arise as a result of opiate withdrawal include:

  • Lung infection
  • Asphyxiation
  • Aspiration
  • Dehydration
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
  • Relapse

Each time you quit, and then relapse, your risk for severe withdrawal increases. Likewise, relapse is specifically dangerous during withdrawal because you may have already reduced your tolerance to a drug if you haven’t used for a few days. What this means is that if you quit for a few days, and go back to your previous level of substance abuse, your risk of overdose is heightened significantly.

How Long will Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Symptoms of withdrawal can vary by  users. If you’ve been taking a prescription opiate for a long time, or if you are a frequent user and you take a high dose, you will likely experience more difficult to treat symptoms of opiate withdrawal.

Symptoms of opiate withdrawal can last 72 hours on the low end. For a longer term user, you may experience symptoms for ten days or more. Some users report experiencing cravings and other side effects of withdrawal for a period of months following their last dose of their drug of choice.

Here’s a look at the typical opiate withdrawal timeline:

  • Within the first 6-12 hours following your last dose, you will begin to feel anxiety and flu-like or allergy-life symptoms such as runny nose and watery eyes.
  • 24 hours after your last dose you will feel upset stomach, cramping, nausea and vomiting.
  • 3 days after your last dose you will likely hit a peak in which symptoms are as bad as they will get.
  • Symptoms tend to dissipate over the next 3-7 days although some users report experiencing symptoms of withdrawal longer term than others.

What Helps with Withdrawal from Opiates?

Medications for Opiate Withdrawal

If you’re addicted to an opiate, you don’t have to go through a painful withdrawal process. Detox does not have to hurt—there is help. Call our helpline at 888-602-1971(Who Answers?) for help finding an opiate withdrawal treatment program that’s right for you. Our helpline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you.

Medications that are often prescribed during opiate withdrawal are used to fight cravings, reduce the risk of relapse, and maintain side effects of withdrawal such as depression, anxiety or fear. The most common medications include:

  • Buprenorphine – this medication will help the user to maintain long-term abstinence from opiate abuse.
  • Methadone – this has long been an FDA approved medication used to reduce the symptoms of opiate withdrawal by providing a prescribed dose of medication that prevents symptoms from arising.
  • Naltrexone – this medication blocks the effects of opiates so that the user will not feel any symptoms of a high if he or she relapse. It takes away the desire to use.
  • Clonidine – this medication can reduce the nausea, vomiting, chills and other symptoms of anxiety and irritability associated with opiate withdrawal.

In addition to the above medications, your treatment provider may prescribe an array of other medications during your opiate withdrawal and recovery period. Medications are available to reduce stomach upset and vomiting, an IV may be required to reduce the risk of dehydration in severe cases of withdrawal, and other medications are available for anxiety, depression or other symptoms of withdrawal.

Seeking Help for Opiate Withdrawal

Your decision to seek help for opiate withdrawal is the first of many steps you will take towards recovery—but this one, bold step could save our life. If you’re ready to get sober, call 888-602-1971(Who Answers?) and we’ll connect you with a detox program that’s right for you.

Consider the following when you decide on a treatment program:

  • Location
  • Inpatient or outpatient
  • Medical intervention options
  • Cost
  • Whether they accept insurance
  • What your co-pays or requirements for billing will be
  • Amenities that are important to you such as massage or additional holistic services

We can help you find a treatment program that will offer helpful support and a healing environment that meets your needs. Call 888-602-1971(Who Answers?) and we’ll immediately walk you through the process of finding and choosing the best opiate detox program for yourself or a loved one.

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