Asana Recovery

Opioid Withdrawal

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What are Opioids?

Opiates and opioids are classified as analgesic drugs and are obtained from the opium poppy. Heroin is also obtained from the poppy and is a dangerous and popular street drug. Opioids are very useful for the management of acute pain. Physicians frequently prescribe this drug for patients recovering from dental procedures, surgery or those suffering from trauma or injury. Several different types of prescription opioids are effective for blocking pain signals from the brain to the body.

What are Opioids

In most cases, opioids are prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Besides controlling pain, opioids make certain people feel happy, relaxed or high. This feeling can lead to an addiction and attempting to quit on one’s own can lead to opioid withdrawal. The drug also has negative and sometimes dangerous side effects including:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea

Opioids are one of the most highly addictive prescription medications currently available. In 2017, the opioid addiction crisis was declared an emergency by the HHS or Department of Health and Human Services. The process for opioid withdrawal can have numerous complications in addition to being extremely painful. The crisis is even worse due to the number of prescriptions written for patients suffering from chronic and legitimate pain to help with pain management in spite of the dangers.

Unfortunately, chronic pain is misunderstood due to a lack of research regarding the available pharmacological methods for treatment. This has resulted in a lot of unanswered questions from patients and doctors alike. If you have been prescribed a short-term prescription for opioids due to a specific condition or pain, you may have already become addicted to the drug. Once you were no longer able to get enough opioids from your doctor to satisfy your addiction, you may have started doctor shopping.

Doctor shopping is when you make appointments with numerous doctors to obtain opioid prescriptions without the knowledge of the physicians. If you mix opioids with alcohol or other drugs or take too large a dosage, you can overdose easily. Opioids lower your blood pressure and suppress your respiratory rate. This can result in coma, seizures and death. In the United States, there are more than 64,000 deaths from drug overdoses.

Among these deaths, over 20,000 were due to opioids. This accounts for more deaths by overdose than any other illegal or legal drug. Once you become addicted to the drug and are unable to get more, your risk of using heroin increases because it is easy to purchase on the street and cheaper. If you use heroin, your risk of both addiction and overdose are extremely high. There are more than 15,000 heroin overdoses in the United States every year.

When used properly, opioids offer relief by masking pain and providing the person with a euphoric feeling. The issue is in the chemical structure of opioids and the interactions with the body and brain. Tolerance with this drug happens quickly. You can become addicted to opioids after your first dosage wears off. Many people begin taking a larger dose than prescribed or taking their doses too close together. Until you stop using the drug, your tolerance will continuously increase.

If you are mixing opioids with alcohol or other drugs to get the effect you want, it is very dangerous. If you have a predisposition for addiction and your pain is unable to be treated in any other way, you may steal opioid prescriptions from your family or friends or start doctor shopping. If you continue with these actions, your supply of prescription opioids will eventually run out. You may then begin to use heroin to satisfy your addiction.

If you have a loved one struggling with opioid addiction, you need to be aware of the signs of untreated addiction. This includes:

  • Pinprick pupils
  • Stealing opioid prescriptions from friends and family
  • Shallow breathing
  • Becoming drowsy or falling asleep at inappropriate times
  • Depression
  • Complaining about dry mouth
  • State of euphoria
  • Agitation
  • Doctor shopping
  • Sleeping patterns change
  • Poor coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Low motivation
  • Constipation

Sometimes, opioids are often called narcotics. Even though they will relieve your pain, this drug is different than the painkillers you purchase locally over-the-counter including Tylenol and aspirin. Yes, opioid abuse has become widespread, but help is available. Rehab and detox centers are available throughout the country to help you stop using opioids and live a sober and healthy life. Understanding the effective and safe methods used during your detox and rehab is important and will be discussed in this article.

Impact of Opioids on the Community

Impact of Opioids on the Community

Adolescents Between the Ages of 12 and 17

  • Approximately 21,000 adolescents used opioids during the past year. Among them, roughly 5,000 were still using the drug. The estimation is 6,000 adolescents have an opioid use disorder.
  • Approximately 276,000 adolescents are currently using pain relievers for nonmedical purposes. Among them, 122,000 have become addicted to pain relievers requiring a prescription.
  • Between 1994 and 2007, the number of opioid prescriptions for young adults and adolescents doubled.
  • Unused prescriptions for opioids are often shared because the person is unaware of the dangers of using the drug. The majority of adolescents abusing opioid prescriptions received them from either relatives or friends.

Men and Women

  • Women are more likely to experience chronic pain than men, be given a prescription for opioids, receive higher dosages and use them for a longer period of time. Women develop a dependency on opioids faster than men.
  • Between 1999 and 2010, 48,000 women died due to an overdose of opioids.

Types of Opioids


The street names for heroin include smack. junk, dope and black tar. The drug is not used for medical purposes but is available on the street. Heroin is snorted, smoked or injected. Sometimes, the substance is contaminated with other potent drugs including carfentanil and fentanyl. This increases the risk of death and accidental overdose.

Hydromorphone and Morphine:

Both of these drugs are strong pain medications available by prescription only. In some cases, these drugs are used in combination pills and medications including Tylenol.


The types of hydrocodone include Norco, Lorcet, Vicoprofen, Vicodin and Lortab.


The street names for Fentanyl include China white, Duragesic, subsys and Sublimaze. This is a very potent and frequently abused prescription pain medication. A fatal overdose can result from a tiny amount of the drug.


Codeine is frequently used for combination medications including Robitussin AC and Tylenol #3.


The types of Oxycodone include OxyContin, Percocet, Roxicet, Oxy, Percodan and Endocet.


Methadone is a long-acting opioid available by prescription. This drug is sometimes used to treat opioid addiction.

All of the above drugs are dangerous and can be deadly. If you have become addicted to any of these drugs, treatment is available.

Timeline for Opioid Withdrawal

The symptoms of withdrawal manifest within a few hours after your last dose. The length of time you will be in withdrawal is determined by your weight, metabolic rate, when you became addicted to opioids and any medical issues. Your withdrawal symptoms will most likely peak within 72 hours, and subside in approximately seven days. If you have underlying mental health issues or have been abusing opioids for a long period of time, there is a potential for an anxiety disorder or depressive episode once you quit.

Once you initially stop using opioids, you will experience intense cravings for the drug. Replacement drugs including methadone are often necessary when you are in recovery to ensure you remain sober. Once you have completed both detox and rehab, receiving ongoing support and help is critical.

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Physical Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal

While you are in withdrawal, you will experience unpleasant physical symptoms. The physical symptoms occurring during the first 24 hours include:

  • Sweating
  • Uncontrollable yawning
  • Runny nose and tearfulness
  • Muscle spasms, pains and aches
  • Problems sleeping

Physical Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal

When you are in the peak withdrawal phase, experiencing the following physical symptoms is common.

  • High blood pressure
  • Stomach pain
  • Dilated pupils
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea, nausea and vomiting

Your symptoms can persist for as long as a week before they subside. If you do not receive professional medical help, your symptoms can last even longer.

Emotional and Psychological Aspects of Opioid Withdrawal

Emotional and Psychological Aspects of Withdrawal

For the first 24 hours after your final dose, you will experience opioid withdrawal and emotional issues including:

  • Concentration issues
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings

During your peak phase, you will become aggressive and paranoid. Your depression may become worse before becoming hyperactive. Trained rehab professionals are necessary to handle this state.

Can You Stop an Addition Cold-Turkey?

You can, but this method is not effective, more painful and your withdrawal symptoms will last longer. You may have the determination necessary to beat your addiction, but once you experience the withdrawal symptoms, quitting without assistance is nearly impossible. The withdrawal symptoms are both distressing and extremely painful. When you stop using opioids, there is a risk of anxiety and depression. Stopping cold-turkey means you are not supervised and the risk of relapse dramatically increases.

When you are in withdrawal, you will do nearly anything to decrease the discomfort and pain. The majority of people facing addiction have underlying issues that resulted in drug use and addiction. Even if you somehow manage to successfully quit without help, the moment you are placed in a stressful situation or the circumstances of your life change, the risk of using opioids again is high.

To make certain you have the coping mechanisms to handle whatever happens in your life you need help from counselors. Nearly half of all individuals in rehab are suffering from a mental health issue that has never been treated. A lot of them self-medicate. If an underlying issue is not recognized by a professional, the chance of relapsing is high.

What Methods are Safe for Withdrawal from Opioids?

You can safely use short-term aids for sleeping, SSRIs, SNRIs and anti-anxiety medications while in detox. Replacement drugs for opioids including methadone are often used for treatment in medical detox facilities. This type of drug is very useful for the treatment of heroin and opioid addiction. Replacement drugs will decrease the severity of your withdrawal symptoms and successfully block any high if you do relapse.

What Opioid Withdrawal Methods are Not Safe?

Quitting opioids cold-turkey is not safe and can be extremely dangerous. Attempting to self-medicate by using either alcohol or other drugs to mask your symptoms of withdrawal is not safe. Trying to detox from opioids at home is incredibly risky when you are trying to quit. This is because part of the process of your withdrawal will include anxiety, paranoia, mood swings and depression.

There is a potential to harm yourself or hurt someone else during your time in recovery. A detox facility provides you with trained medical staff. The supervision you receive decreases the dangers of causing any harm.

Process of Opioid Withdrawal

While you are in medical detox, an assessment is performed by trained staff for any underlying medical conditions. The physicians can then determine which drugs you can safely take while you are in detox. Once you have taken your last opioid dose, you will be monitored for both emotional and physical symptoms. Since you will experience withdrawal symptoms for about a week after you quit, you will receive medications from doctors to alleviate your symptoms.

The detox staff includes therapists to ensure you receive help with mood swings and emotional issues. When required, doctors will prescribe mood stabilizers. Medical detox is about being surrounded by trained and supportive medical professionals, social workers and counselors to ensure you have everything you need. Once you have completed detox, you move on to recovery and inpatient rehab. You will be working with physicians and doctors to create an ongoing maintenance plan.

You will set achievable and realistic goals for a sober life. Once you have a support plan firmly in place, the chance of a relapse is significantly lower. Depending on your insurance plan, your time in detox and rehab may be covered. As a new patient, you have access to licensed professionals to help you with coverage and insurance issues. If you qualify, the majority of rehab facilities offer to finance.

If you are low-income, government resources are available. Contact Asana Recovery today to learn more about your options. Getting help is critical because opioids kill.

Get Help Now (949) 763-3440

Opioid withdrawal can be dangerous and extremely painful. Contact Asana Recovery today to create a new life.

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