Opiate addiction treatment cuts through the static and gets to the core of prescription drug abuse.

opiate abuse facts

Opiates are powerful drugs derived from the narcotic parts of a poppy flower. These narcotic components are the starting parts of opiates, which are also called opioids. Technically, opiates more entail drugs that were naturally produced using opium from poppy flowers. Opioids, on the other hand, include drugs that were synthetically enhanced. For all extensive purposes, however, they can basically be used interchangeably.

Opiates and opioids are comprised of a lot of different single drugs, like morphine, opium, codeine, fentanyl, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and heroin.

Opiates have an incredibly high potential for addiction, even if used as prescribed. Many patients or addicts alike will develop a tolerance to opioids. This dynamic can often incite a substance use disorder as the individual has to take more and more opiates just to maintain themselves. If they don’t they put themselves at increased risk for opioid withdrawal, which is extremely painful, physically and psychologically. Opiate addiction creates a terrible cycle that leads to a person taking ever-increasing dosages. These ramped up doses are often behind overdoses and deaths. Furthermore, the effects of opiates are vast and dangerous. They entail:

  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Pinned, or smaller pupils
  • Slow breathing
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Constipation

symptoms of opiate withdrawal

Opiate withdrawal is extremely painful and can happen rapidly after abstinence from opiates. Opiates with a lesser short life, which include street drugs like heroin and fentanyl, can lead to withdrawal very quickly. And it doesn’t take that much longer for drugs with longer half-lives, like oxycodone and hydrocodone, to be missed either.

Heroin withdrawal and general opiate withdrawal is marked by a number of different physical symptoms, as well as psychological ones. Physical opioid withdrawal symptoms can look like the flu and entail:

  • Anxiety
  • Exhaustion
  • Excessive sweat
  • Diarrhea
  • Pounding headache
  • Nausea, vomiting, upset stomach
  • Insomnia


Withdrawal symptoms can set in just hours after the last dosage of heroin or prescription painkillers and they can last for about a week, sometimes more. Though heroin withdrawal is not as life-threatening as drugs like benzodiazepines and alcohol, it is highly recommended to carry out in a detox or treatment center. The medications and therapy offered in medical detox may make relapse less likely. Unfortunately, relapse can be common due to the extreme cravings experienced in heroin or other opiate withdrawal. Some other psychological symptoms are depression, anxiety, and agitation.

opiate withdrawal timeline

Opiate withdrawal can begin soon after the last dose of opioid and can continue on for a week or more. Most symptoms start within the first 24 hours after stopping. The pain during these days is at its peak and can lead to relapse potential. Here we will list the various phase of opiate withdrawal, starting with days 1-3:


Phase 1: First 3 Days:

  • Aggression
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Muscle soreness
  • Irritation
  • Excessive sweat
  • No appetite
  • Psychological problems such as panic attacks or depression


Phase 2: Days 3-5:

  • Exhaustion
  • Shivering
  • Muscle pain
  • Stomach problems and cramps


Of course, the severity and frequency of use lead individuals to experience detox and withdrawal in different ways. For those with milder addiction, most of the symptoms may subside after five days. However, it is not uncommon for symptoms to linger, especially for those who were using a lot. Undergoing detox at a reputable facility is important, as this time period is turbulent and painful. Medical professionals can help make sure every individual with a substance use disorder is safe and cared for.

symptoms of opiate detox

As we discussed, the time period following abstinence from opiates is incredibly painful and difficult. Though detoxification is a natural process that your body uses to eliminate toxins from your system, it can often come with harrowing side effects. Detox is the first step to recovery and it often ranges from a day to a week complete, with more reporting symptoms for several days.

There is simply no way to recover from an opiate addiction without going through the painful process of detoxification. It is important to know that medical detox entails three main steps:

  • Evaluation
  • Detox
  • Transition to longer treatment

Detox symptoms can be so severe, and range from nausea, anxiety, fatigue, sweating, depression, agitation, cravings and more. The intensity of this period, and the power of opiate drugs, especially those with shorter half-lives, like heroin and fentanyl, display the need for medically assisted detox and subsequent transition to a treatment center. This will give someone with an opiate abuse disorder the best chance at recovery.