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How Long Does It Take to Detox from Opiates?

detox from opiates

Taking the first step to recovery from opiate use disorder requires undergoing detox at an addiction medical detox center. However, quitting “cold turkey” is never recommended, as withdrawal symptoms can become very painful, excruciating, and life-threatening in certain situations. As such, it is understandable you want to know how long does it take to detox from opiates safely?

What Are Opiates?

Opiates are naturally made substances that are refined and extracted from the poppy plant and include:

  • Codeine
  • Opium
  • Heroin
  • Morphine

How Are Opiates Different from Opioids?

Opioids, on the other hand, are chemically synthesized compounds that mimic the effects of opiates. Some opioids can include a mixture of both opiates and opioids, while others, like fentanyl, are purely synthetic.

However, many people use the terms opiates and opioids interchangeably, while others refer to both opiates and opioids simply as opioids. Regardless of what terminology you use, opiates and opioids are highly addictive substances that can lead to dependence and addiction.

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Opiates?

The entire detox process can and does vary based on several factors, such as:

  • The overall health of the person.
  • The length of time opiates has been taken.
  • The dosage amount of opiates taken.
  • The frequency opiates are taken.
  • The age of the person.
  • The type of opiate being taken.
  • The level of opiates in your system when you start to detox.

Keeping this in mind, the following is a general timeline for opiate withdrawal.

First 24 Hours

Between 8 and 24 hours after opiates are last used, the person will notice mild withdrawal symptoms. These could include insomnia, decreased appetite, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, headaches, aggressive behavior, mild opiate cravings, mild muscle pains, and mild body aches.

24 to 48 Hours

The person can continue to experience withdrawal symptoms from the previous 24 hours. However, their intensity can become more moderate. Other symptoms that can start to appear on day 2 include:

  • Stomach Cramping
  • Runny Nose
  • Sweating Excessively
  • Panic Attacks

48 to 72 Hours

Withdrawal symptoms from the previous two days can gradually increase in intensity. Flu-like symptoms, like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, can appear around day 3.

72 to 96 Hours

Most people will start to reach peak physical withdrawal symptoms on day 4. The withdrawal symptoms will be the most intense during this time and can include any of the symptoms from the previous three days, along with the following:

  • Extreme Gastrointestinal/Stomach Pain and Cramping
  • Muscle Cramping
  • Uncontrolled Shivering and Shaking
  • Enlarged Pupils
  • Intense Opiate Cravings
  • Perceived Pain and Discomfort
  • Dehydration

Days Five through Seven

Withdrawal symptoms will continue to peak depending on the type of opiate used. Usually, around day 7, the symptoms start to lessen and become less intense and severe.

Days Eight through 14

Normally during the second week of opiate detox, the withdrawal symptoms subside. A person’s appetite starts to return, and they no longer have any physical withdrawal symptoms. However, psychological withdrawal symptoms, called PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome), such as depression, insomnia, opiate cravings, irritability, and fatigue, can continue for several weeks, months, or sometimes longer.

Do PAWS Symptoms Ever Go Away?

PAWS symptoms gradually go away, but it does take some time. Again, it depends on how long you used opiates and the other factors previously mentioned. With ongoing care and a commitment to your recovery and sobriety, you can learn to manage PAWS symptoms effectively until they subside.

How Can Medical Detox Help Reduce Withdrawal Symptoms?

When someone attempts opiate withdrawal on their own, they are rarely successful. The withdrawal symptoms and discomfort experienced become too much to manage on their own. Unfortunately, the only way to stop the withdrawal symptoms is to return to using opiates.

With medical detox, the person receives medical supervision to reduce the severity of the withdrawal symptoms. In addition, various medications can be used to help with insomnia, stimulate appetite, and alleviate flu-like symptoms.

Furthermore, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can be beneficial and helps alleviate withdrawal symptoms and shorten the withdrawal period. For example, certain medications mimic the effects of opiates but do not have addictive qualities. They can also help the brain recover faster.

Can Medications Be Used Post-Detox?

When a person is experiencing PAWS, medications can continue to be beneficial in certain situations. For example, when a person continues to feel depressed, antidepressants can be used to help with depressive symptoms.

In addition, MAT can continue post-detox to help manage one’s recovery and avoid lapses and relapses. Post-detox medication treatments and MAT also include therapeutic therapies, like counseling.

Benefits of MAT for Opiate Detox

One of the primary benefits of MAT is the percentage of people who continue their treatment and recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 74% of people who were prescribed methadone and 46 percent of people who were prescribed buprenorphine for their MAT during detox continued their recovery.

Opiate Detox Treatment in Pompano Beach, FL

DCF and Joint Commission-accredited Retreat of Broward in Pompano Beach, FL, provides a safe, supportive, and caring environment where you can undergo medical detox. Our medical detox programs can also include the use of MAT when appropriate. Start your opiate detox treatment by contacting us today.

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