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Opioid Withdrawal Signs and Symptoms

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Opioids, such as prescription painkillers including methadone, morphine and hydrocodone, are highly addictive substances derived from the opium plant. When used to treat moderate to severe pain, or when used as addiction maintenance medications, as well as when abused, these drugs have a very high potential to cause physical dependence and addiction. Subsequently trying to quit or cut back a dose after prolonged use can lead to opioid withdrawal signs and symptoms.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to opioids, and you’re worried about withdrawal, call our helpline at 888-602-1971(Who Answers?). You don’t have to struggle with the fear or anxiety of what will happen during withdrawal, and the process, though difficult, does not have to be painful. Help is available in detox centers throughout the country.

What Keeps People from Quitting Opioids?

Ask any addict why he or she continues to abuse opioids and they will likely tell you that fear of withdrawal and the way it makes them feel is the primary reason that they still use. What happens is the user becomes so dependent on the drug that when he or she even attempts to scale back or to not use the discomfort both physically and psychologically is too much to handle. This causes a wide range of symptoms including some which can be painful, uncomfortable, but generally not life-threatening.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Symptoms of opioid withdrawal can range from discomforting and annoying to painful and severe. The exact severity of your symptoms are difficult to define until you quit because every case of addiction is different. You may feel sick to your stomach and struggle with cognitive deficits if you quit taking opioids and this may be the only real symptoms of withdrawal that you notice, or you may feel extremely sick, struggle with tremors and vomiting and have cravings so strong that you can’t STOP thinking about the drug.

Here is a look at some of the most common symptoms of opioid withdrawal:

Opioid Withdrawal Signs

Irritability and agitation are common signs of opioid withdrawal.

  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Yawning
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Bone pain
  • Joint pain
  • Stomach cramping and pain
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Goosebumps
  • Appetite loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety

Your risk for withdrawal from opioids as well as how severe the symptoms will be are largely dependent on the following factors:

  • How long you’ve been using opioids.
  • How frequently you use opioids.
  • The types of opioids that you use.
  • The method of opioid use.
  • Whether you have detoxed before.
  • Your age and individual health.
  • Whether you suffer from any co-occurring conditions.

Each time you withdraw from an opioid and then go back to using you are at a heightened risk for opioid overdose. This is because when you quit, your body quickly loses the tolerance that it previously had to the drug that you were using. Going back to the drug, and using the same high dose could quickly lead to potentially deadly withdrawal.

If you or someone you care about is struggling with opioid addiction, call our helpline at 888-602-1971(Who Answers?) to find an opioid detox center that’s right for you. We’ll answer your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and help you get sober.

Dangers of Opioid Withdrawal

Various risks arise when you quit taking opioids after a prolonged period of use. Withdrawal can make you think thoughts you may not have previously had and you may just feel so sick that you resort back to using—relapse is one of the greatest challenges faced by users in withdrawal because they don’t really WANT to go back to drug use, but they can’t seem to find any other way to cope with the symptoms of withdrawal.

Complications that often arise during the withdrawal and detox process include:

  • Lung infection
  • Asphyxiation
  • Inhaling vomit into the lungs
  • Aspiration
  • Severe dehydration
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
  • Relapse
  • Overdose

All of the above symptoms are treatable if you receive around-the-clock care in a medical facility. This is why we recommend that anyone that is considering the idea of cutting back or eliminating opioids from their daily use seek treatment first. We can help you find an opioid withdrawal program that will save your life—just call 888-602-1971(Who Answers?) and a caring representative will help you get the care you deserve.

Opioid Withdrawal Doesn’t Have to Be More Painful Than Anything in the World

How long Does Opioid Withdrawal Last?

The process of overcoming the physical and psychological elements of opioid withdrawal can range from a few days to a few weeks. Some report PAWS or Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome arising seemingly out of nowhere many months after the addiction occurred. For most though, the process of detoxing from an opioid looks something like this:

  • You quit or cut back the dose significantly and begin to experience symptoms of withdrawal within the first 6-12 hours.
  • The immediately symptoms are cravings, anxiety, runny nose and watery eyes. You may feel like you have allergies.
  • In the first 24 hours after the last opioid dose you will begin to feel nauseous and you may begin vomiting or having diarrhea. The risk for dehydration which can cause a wide range of dangerous complications is strong during the first 24-72 hours.
  • After a few days you will begin to notice that symptoms start to dissipate and you are feeling a slight bit better. Usually within the first 3-4 days you start to feel much better than you did at 24-48 hours after your last dose.
  • PAWS symptoms can arise months or years after you have gained your sobriety but there are treatment options for this.

Treatment for Opioid Withdrawal

While the process of withdrawal can be uncomfortable, it is rarely life-threatening. However, this doesn’t keep an addict from relapsing. Treatment for opioid withdrawal includes medical detox, around-the-clock support and psychological counseling to ensure the safety and healing of the patient.

The most common methods of treatment for opioid withdrawal include medications during detox. These medications may include:

  • Buprenorphine to help maintain a level of reduced withdrawal symptoms for long-term opioid users.
  • Methadone to maintain withdrawal symptoms for long-term opioid users.
  • Naltrexone to block the effects of opioids so that users cannot experience the high that they once sought from the drug.
  • Clonidine to help reduce vomiting, diarrhea and other flu-like symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal.
  • Specific medications for anxiety, diarrhea, upset stomach or other side effects of withdrawal.

If you or a loved one needs help, call 888-602-1971(Who Answers?) and we’ll connect you with a treatment advisor. 24 hour care is available to assist you once you make the call.

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: PGH

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.

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