How Painful is Opioid Withdrawal?

One of the biggest obstacles to recovery is the fear of the withdrawal process. Many drug and alcohol addicts will continue their addictive behavior long after they want to quit, simply to avoid the detox process and painful symptoms that accompany the withdrawal. Some even try to detox from their addictions at home, suffering through days of discomfort and violent withdrawal only to go back to abusing drugs and alcohol to relieve the pain.

How Painful is Opioid Withdrawal?

Information on Opioid Withdrawal

Every substance has different withdrawal symptoms that feel different to different people.

When going through withdrawal, there is no real answer as to how long you will be detoxing or how painful or bad it will be. There are many factors to determine your length of withdrawal and severity:

  • Which drug was being used
  • If a mix of different drugs where being used
  • How often you use the drugs
  • How much of the substance the user took
  • The presence of underlying co-occurring mental health conditions
  • The user’s medical history
  • The user’s age
  • The user’s gender

Opioid Addiction is Rising

There is and has been a national crisis of opioid abuse in our country. Opioids are prescribed painkillers, synthetic opioids, and illegal drugs such as Codeine, Heroin, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Methadone, Morphine, and Oxycodone. Some of these are prescribed daily for pain, acute and/or chronic. Many people who are prescribed painkillers abuse them. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse:

  • Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
  • Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder.
  •  An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
  • About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
  • Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.

The Difficult Road to Opioid Detox

Some opioid addicts attempt sobriety every day but many don’t succeed because of the fear of painful withdrawals. A drug’s half-life is what determines how painful the drug detox will be is usually how long it lasts. Half-life is basically how long it stays in your bloodstream. Drugs can be categorized either as Short Half-Life vs. Long Half-Life Drugs. Short half-life drugs tend to take action quickly, and their effects may wear off rapidly as well. Drugs with longer half-lives remain active for 12-24 hours.

Heroin is not considered painful because of its short half-life but it is uncomfortable. If you are lucky enough to have the means to get into detox that helps you through your withdrawal symptoms with medicine your symptoms are lessened and can be easier to endure. Never the less you will still experience withdrawal symptoms and this is when and what you can expect:

  • 24 hours to 2 days – Withdrawal depends on how fast-acting the opioid is. Heroin withdrawal may begin after a few hours and include muscle pain, anxiety, teary eyes, runny nose, sweating, insomnia, and frequent yawning.
  • 3 to 5 days – Peak of symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, goosebumps, blurry vision, and rapid heart rate.
  • The first week – Symptoms taper off but may still experience digestive issues, loss of appetite, dehydration, or seizures.
  • After the first week – For severe addictions, insomnia, irritability, cravings, sweating, anxiety, and depression may persist for 6 or more months.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH):

Medical detoxification safely manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal associated with stopping drug use. However, medical detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug use. Although detoxification alone is rarely sufficient to help addicts achieve long-term abstinence, for some individuals it is a strongly indicated precursor to effective drug addiction treatment.

Get the Most Out of Opioid Addiction Treatment

To get the most out of treatment and have the best chance of continuing on the path of recovery, one must regain good health in all dimensions – mental, emotional, and physical. The one that gets overlooked the most can have more of an impact than one would think – physical therapy. Physical therapy will not help with all the conditions, but it can help with many and is associated with better outcomes for people who enter treatment for a substance use disorder.
When we think of physical therapy we usually think of therapy to help someone to gain range of motion but there are many different types from ones that help you regain health to your body to your brain health.

No matter what you are detoxing from Allure Detox provides you with much more than the bare minimum. Of course, we help clients stop using safely – that’s just a given. Almost as important as that, though, is that we offer clients the foundation for a lifetime of relief and recovery.

Medical Detox for Opioid Dependence

That’s the Allure Detox promise: that patients leave our care with more than good health at their disposal. Our focus is on minimizing your withdrawal symptoms to a comfortable level while beginning the comprehensive treatment process that will keep you sober.