What Are the Common Symptoms of Acute Withdrawal?
Withdrawal symptoms largely depend on the severity of the addiction, the patient’s overall state, the frequency of usage and the type of drug.
Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle cramping
- Sleep issues
When Does the Withdrawal Pain Peak?
Withdrawal symptoms can begin as soon as six hours after the patient has stopped taking the opioid. In most cases, the symptoms reach their peak after about 72 hours have passed. That is the moment when the early effects grow in intensity and new ones occur, such as chills, nausea, stomach aches, vomiting or diarrhea.
Opioid withdrawal symptoms can last up to a month, with the first week being the worst.
What Are the More Serious Side Effects of Detoxing from Opioids?
While painful, the withdrawal and detox process from opioids is not usually life-threatening. Possible complications include vomiting or aspiration that can cause a lung infection, dehydration, or chemical and mineral disturbances.
However, the most serious side effect of opioid detoxing is relapsing. After the withdrawal, the patient’s tolerance to the drugs decreases significantly, which means that they can overdose with smaller doses than before, increasing death risks.
How Long Does It Take to Detoxify Fully?
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for opioid abuse. Most professionals adapt their methods based on the unique needs of their patients. Some specialists claim that a recovery process needs at least six months at the end of which patients may still experience occasional withdrawal symptoms.
Rapid detoxification is also an option, although most doctors will avoid or advise against it, as death is a potential risk. Specialists perform this method under anesthesia and using opioid-blocking drugs like naloxone or naltrexone that decrease the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms dramatically. However, the patient can still experience vomiting sensations, and since they are under anesthesia, they risk choking.
How Can Medical Detox Help?
Several medications have proven to be effective in opioid detox programs as they can reduce withdrawal symptoms and increase patients’ comfort. The doctor in charge of the treatment will prescribe them according to several factors and the different stages of recovery.
Some of the most common medication for opioid detox include:
- Buprenorphine/Naltrexone – Buprenorphine/Naltrexone is a long-acting opioid, commonly prescribed for opioid withdrawal. It can reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and the cravings that come with detox, but without the specific opioid high.
- Buprenorphine – Buprenorphine is similar to Buprenorphine/Naltrexone, in the sense that it helps with dealing with the withdrawal symptoms. Partially an opioid agonist. This med also lacks the common sense of euphoria opioid drug users usually experience. Buprenorphine is available either as a pill or as a sublingual film, but it can also be combined with naloxone, in a formula known as Suboxone.
- Probuphine – Probuphine is a newly-approved version of buprenorphine. Most doctors prescribe it for at least six months and in small doses. The primary goal of this medication is to prevent abuse.
- Clonidine – Clonidine has no effect in reducing or even eliminating the risk of abuse. However, it can help control a patient’s blood pressure during detox treatment.
- Naltrexone – Naltrexone is commonly used to block opioid effects but can also be used for withdrawal symptoms, along with Buprenorphine/Naltrexone and buprenorphine. It is available either as a pill or as a monthly injection under the name of Vivitrol.
While not life-threatening or as extreme as other detox programs, opioid withdrawal can still be difficult to manage on your own. Your chances of overcoming your addiction and resisting temptations are higher if you enroll in a facility that can guide you every step of the way. Look for a facility that will provide the kind of treatment you need and always build a support system that can help you get through the most difficult stages of recovery.