Everything You Need to Know About Opiate Detox

According to media reports, America has the highest rate of opioid use than anywhere else in the world. In shocking confirmation of this fact is the statistic that 80% of the world’s supply of opioid is consumed in the US by around 2 million people over the age of 12. In total, people with opioid abuse disorder contribute more than $72 billion in medical costs to the US economy every single year.


An increasing number of people are becoming dependent on opioids as a result of being prescribed painkillers such as morphine, oxycodone, or hydrocodone, which is compounding the problem across the nation. Prescription drugs containing opioids present an ‘acceptable’ entry into what can often spiral to a compulsive need to seek street alternatives, as dependency on pain relief deepens.

However, in the midst of much controversy over the opioid-abuse crisis in America, it’s important to establish the facts which we outline below:

Fact: The opioid detox process varies in duration from person to person.

There are several factors to take into consideration when it comes to determining how long detox is likely to take for a patient addicted to opioids including frequency, volume, and duration of use. Withdrawal is generally also affected by what is known as the ‘half-life’ of the drug. This is the medical term for how long it takes half of the drug’s dose to be eliminated from the bloodstream.

Shorter-acting drugs containing opioids have a reduced half-life which means that withdrawal can begin from around 6 to 12 hours after using. Symptoms generally peak up to three days after use, tapering off over the course of a week or so. There are some more severe withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia and anxiety that may take a few weeks or months to recover from.

Fact: Medications can effectively treat withdrawal symptoms.

When someone is undergoing detox from opioids in an addiction treatment center, they will have access to medication as well as behavioral therapy which can be important in managing the more difficult symptoms of withdrawal. This approach to opioid detox is called medication-assisted treatment or MAT. The benefits of MAT are that the approach has been shown to reduce the risk of opioid overdose and also increases the retention rates of patients in opiate alcohol rehab centers.

Fact: New forms of medication are continually being researched to better meet the needs of patients.

In January 2016, the FDA approved a revolutionary new drug called Probuphine, which can be taken orally, implanted or injected. The drug is designed to be used in the treatment of opioid addiction and it works by preventing withdrawal symptoms during detox and cravings through rehab and recovery. Probuphine has been shown to be an effective and convenient treatment option for people with opioid dependency and illustrates how breakthrough medications are consistently emerging as a result of specialist research.

Fact: Relapse after opiate withdrawal is common.

When an individual abstains from using opioids and they’ve been dependent for a prolonged period of time, withdrawal symptoms can become very distressing. Many addicts falsely believe they can detox on their own, but they fail to take into account the many variables at play and the potential for medical emergency, particularly with opiate-based drugs.

Opioid withdrawal symptoms can sometimes include:

  • Dizziness and nausea
  • Sweating and fever
  • Joint aches and pain
  • Nervous agitation
  • Tremors and seizures
  • Irregular heartbeat or palpitations

The Importance of Medical Supervision During Opiate Withdrawal

Opiate treatment centers provide the best environments for detoxification from this powerful drug. It’s important that there is qualified medical staff on-hand to treat any uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. There is also more to effective opioid detox than the medical approach and it’s also necessary to address the behavioral issues underlying the need to use.

Individual and group therapy sessions play an important part in patients with opiate dependency discovering what drives their compulsion to use and how they can overcome the cravings and triggers that keep them addicted. Being in a balanced, clinical environment alongside others from similar backgrounds facing the same issues provides an enormous boost to the efficacy of a specialist opioid addiction treatment program.

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