A Complete Overview of Opioid Detox


Opioid is a broad term used to classify pain-relieving drugs that interact with your opioid receptors. These drugs have a similar effect as morphine, offering feelings of relaxation and pain relief. While some opioids are prescribed for legitimate reasons, opioids are also highly addictive, making people more at risk of abusing them.
In 2017, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency over the national opioid epidemic. This epidemic is still continuing, as an estimated 1.6 million people had an opioid use disorder in 2019.

As the body and mind come to rely on opioids, it becomes increasingly difficult to get clean. Notably, a person’s best chance at treating their opioid addiction is with a professional rehabilitation program. These programs will help individuals get through their opioid detox as safely as possible.

When an individual goes through detoxification, they experience withdrawal symptoms. For opioids, these withdrawal symptoms are usually not life-threatening but can be highly uncomfortable. The symptoms include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tremors
  • Hypertension
  • Muscle aches
  • Stomach cramps
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

How long these withdrawal periods, and the overall detox, take will vary for each individual. It will mostly depend on how long the person has been abusing drugs, how frequently, and at what doses. The more heavily an individual has been using drugs, or for a more extended period, the harder it will be for the body to cope with not getting its regular supply.
Withdrawal symptoms can start as early as four hours from the last dose of opioids but typically peak in intensity at the 48-72 hour mark. Symptoms will begin to subside after a week or two.
Additionally, the length of withdrawal symptoms will depend on the type of opioids the patient is abusing. Short-acting opioids (such as heroin, morphine, fentanyl) see a faster withdrawal timeline. These patients will start experiencing withdrawal symptoms within a few hours, and all symptoms can stop within 3-7 days. Conversely, long-acting opioids (such as methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone), can take up to 36 hours before any withdrawal symptoms appear. Additionally, a patient addicted to long-acting opioids may see their detox last between 10-14 days.

Medical Management
Some rehabilitation facilities offer medication management to help their patients ease off of opioids slowly. Most commonly, methadone is given in controlled and monitored amounts to patients, to reduce the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. The dosage of methadone is gradually decreased every day for about a week. Other drugs that may be used in medical management for opioids include buprenorphine and naltrexone.
Medical management has several benefits, including:

  • Making detox more bearable for the patient
  • Avoiding the body going into “shock” by going cold turkey
  • Higher chances of success for complete detox and treatment

Additionally, patients who go through medical management often find the overall detox less traumatizing. In comparison, many individuals who attempt to detox on their own and go “cold turkey” find the whole process incredibly traumatizing. And, if they ever relapse in the future, they’re less likely to see detox and treatment as a viable choice.
Some medical professionals argue that medical management is just “giving the drug addict more drugs,” but this is a limited view. The benefits truly outweigh any cons in this situation and help the individual’s chances of a successful detox.

Get Help Today
Detox is challenging enough, so it’s best to seek help where you can. California Rehab Campus offers withdrawal and detox treatment programs so individuals can go through a safe, monitored medical detox. Contact us today to get more information and take back control of your life.