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Opiate Detox & Opioid Detox

Opiate & Opioid Detox, Treatment & Expectations

An opiate detox program is used to treat individuals who are struggling with opioid addiction and meet the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder.  Opioids are a powerful class of naturally occurring and synthetic drugs.  These drugs are widely used for their pain management capabilities and are commonplace in the management of moderate and severe (and often chronic) pain.  However, due to how opioids affect the body, opioids can cause sedative and euphoria-inducing effects, making them a target of abuse.  As a result, the illegal types of opioids (heroin, fentanyl) and legal varieties (codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone) have become popular recreational drugs. Opiates or opioids are drugs used to treat pain.

Heroin Detox
Struggling with Opioid Addiction

The number of opioid-related fatalities has skyrocketed in the recent decade, accounting for nearly 70% of drug-related overdoses in 2018.  These numbers include illicit and prescription opioid drugs. But it has primarily been the latter that has driven the ongoing epidemic crisis in the United States. Unfortunately, the hundreds of thousands of individuals who are already physically dependent on these substances must face the reality of opioid detox, withdrawal, and rehab if they can get their recovery on track and build a better life. Fortunately, we do recover.

What Makes Opiates & Opioids Addictive?

No matter what the substance is, ongoing use can lead to the development of a physical dependency.  When this occurs, the body has become so used to a sense that it often requires it to function.  Psychological cravings usually follow shortly after that, resulting in what is known as full-blown addiction.

In the case of opioids, the risk of developing an addiction is significantly higher due to parts of the brain that are stimulated with opioid use.  Opioids activate our mu-receptors, which influence the sensations of both pain and pleasure. 

Feelings of happiness are closely related to reward pathways in the brain, and once triggered, it creates a strong association that can quickly lead to the development of compulsive behaviors.  Opioids can do this on a powerful level that can be up to 10x stronger than the feelings of pleasure our bodies would usually produce.  Opioid highs have been described as a “wave of euphoria” and can be so powerful as to rewire the brain, leaving it wanting more after a single use.

Opiate & Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Sweats and Chills
  • Soreness and aching in muscles and bones
  • Sinus Issues
  • Fatigue and Loss of Energy
  • Agitation and Restlessness
  • Vomiting and Diarrhea

Types of Opioids

There is a wide array of opioids present in America. Some are prescription drugs used in a medical setting to manage severe pain, whereas others are illicitly made and abused.  Learn more about some of the most common and dangerous opioid addictions:

  • Fentanyl
  • Heroin
  • Codeine (only available in generic form) 
  • Actiq, Abstral, Duragesic, Fentora
  • Hydrocodone (Hysingla, Zohydro ER) 
  • Oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Roxicet)
  • Hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin) 
  • Meperidine (Demerol) 
  • Methadone (Dolophine, Methadose) 
  • Morphine (Kadian, MS Contin, Morphabond) 
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo) 
  • Oliceridine (Olynvik) 
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin OxyContin, Oxaydo) 
  • Oxycodone and naloxone 
Opiate Detox: how long do opioids stay in your system
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Prescription Opioid Addiction

The opioid epidemic exploded in the 90s, and it has only gained MORE momentum in recent years. Thanks to modern technology, more accurate information is publicly available. Subsequently, people are somewhat more attentive to what exactly doctors are prescribing them.

Unfortunately, it does not take long to develop a dependence on them.  Therefore, if you notice any of the following, regarding you or a loved one’s use of a prescription opioid, you should contact an addiction specialist for help. We are here to answer your call 24/7.

  • Taking larger doses or more frequent doses to feel the same effect
  • Inability to stop or control the use
  • Uncontrollable cravings
  • Failure to perform at work, school, or fulfill personal obligations
  • Continued use despite consequences that negatively impact your life
  • Isolating; Withdrawn from social situations
  • Inability to stop despite mental or physical health concerns
  • Withdrawal symptoms

Addiction To Illicit Opioids

In many cases, the abuse of opioid painkillers is not detected early enough to prevent a physical addiction. Sadly, many addicts taste their drug of choice (DOC) for the first time after they’ve been prescribed opioids by a doctor. Typically, younger people have become addicted to opiates due to injuries sustained by playing competitive sports, automobile accidents, etc. This particular addiction leads to especially risky behaviors. Social pressure and the use of other illicit drugs can also lead to the abuse of illegal opioids.

Some signs of severe opioid addiction or the use of illicitly made opioids include:

  • Withdrawal from normal activities
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia (mental spoon, glass pipe, syringe, lighter, candle & matches).
  • Doctor shopping (going to multiple doctors to receive prescriptions)
  • Going to numerous pharmacies around town to fill prescriptions

Withdrawal Timeline

Opioid drug withdrawal mostly adheres to a general timeline, although the factors listed above may cause some variation.  In general, the withdrawal symptoms typically peak within 48-72 hours and subside within a period of 5 to 10 days.  The onset, duration, and intensity of withdrawal symptoms will be experienced differently by each person.

On average, those withdrawing from opioids will experience symptoms somewhere along this timeline:

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  • 8-12 hours:  Anxiety, agitation, watery eyes, runny nose, and increased sweating
  • 12-24 hours:  Nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, goosebumps, and dilated pupils
  • 36-72 hours:  Symptoms peak and then gradually subside over the next few days

How Long Does Withdrawal Last?

The period and extent of withdrawal symptoms also depend on whether the opioid is long-acting or short-acting. Heroin is relatively short-acting compared to other opiates.  Therefore, heroin withdrawal symptoms appear just hours after the last dose and may last for a shorter period.  On the other hand, longer-acting opioid painkillers may not provoke withdrawal symptoms till some days after the final amount, and some symptoms may last for weeks.

Opioid Addiction Treatment Starts With Detox

When the substance is suddenly absent, the body responds with very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms ranging from flu-like to potentially fatal.  For this reason, it is recommended to slowly taper off opioid use rather than quitting cold turkey and ideally, with the supervision of a medical professional.  Fortunately, several opioid antagonists can be used to help beat opioid addiction at the more difficult stages.  These medications can help mitigate opioid withdrawal effects or intervene in the instance of an opium overdose.


Naloxone is the generic name of a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.  It works by attaching itself to the same receptors occupied by the harmful opioids and taking their place.  By disrupting the connection between the harmful opioid and the receptor, Naloxone can immediately reverse the adverse effects of an overdose.  This can be life-saving, namely by restoring the ability to breathe.

It is available as an injectable liquid and as a nasal spray.  The most common brand names include Narcan and Evizo.  This medication is only effective if administered when an overdose occurs and cannot be used pre-emptively to prevent an opioid overdose. 


Buprenorphine can activate opioid receptors and relieve cravings without eliciting any surge of euphoria.  Thus, being an opioid can fulfill the receptors’ physical need to be stimulated but does so without generating feelings of joy (the leading cause of addiction-forming behavior). 

What makes it even more helpful is the limits in the effect this partial opioid can exert on these receptors.  This ensures that It can achieve no high, effectively eliminating the likelihood of being abused, and also limits the effects of other opioids that are taken.

This medication functions similarly to methadone, another opioid antagonist that is commonly used to treat opioid dependence.  However, methadone has recently fallen out of favor as a treatment for opioid addiction due to its potential for habit-forming.  As such, it has largely been replaced in turn of buprenorphine in addiction treatment settings.


Suboxone is a brand-name drug composed of Naloxone and buprenorphine used to treat opioid dependence, not just manage the symptoms.  The buprenorphine component enables it to lessen any persisting opioid cravings – the primary side effect of opioid detox or withdrawal. 

The presence of Naloxone allows Suboxone to take treatment a step further.  Instead of reversing the symptoms of an overdose, Naloxone acts as a deterrent to further opioid abuse.  It does so by causing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms should Suboxone be used via injection (a typical administration method for drug abusers) instead of being taken orally as directed.  This prevents Suboxone users from trading one addiction for another.

Detox Facility

Treatment programs for opioid addiction usually start with detoxification from the drug, followed by either inpatient treatment or some specified procedure of organized outpatient treatment (partial hospitalization or concentrated outpatient programs).

Only a finely managed treatment facility provides a controlled and comfortable setting in which detox of the drug can occur while providing opiate withdrawal support and medications to help decrease the possibility of complications and difficulties associated with opiate withdrawal. 

In addition, opioid detox at a medically supervised facility can minimize the severity of the symptoms and make the withdrawal process significantly more manageable and more comfortable to endure.  Our facilities also offer multiple levels of treatment for an easy transition following the completion of an opiate detox program.

Amenities at We Level Up include semi-private rooms, luxurious bathrooms, spacious common areas for socializing, a communal dining area that is always stocked with nutritious snacks, and much more!

Detox at Home

Opioid detox at home can be difficult and sometimes unproductive.  Unaided withdrawal may not be life-threatening, but there is a significant possibility that it will lead to relapse.  When opioid substances such as oxycodone and heroin begin to leave the human blood system, they develop severe cravings for the substance.  Intense cravings mixed with unpleasant flu-like symptoms can make it easy for someone going through withdrawal at home to give up and relapse before their recovery gets in its way. 

Without the medical and social support that a detox center offers, it is tempting to abandon withdrawal and start using again.  Medications and therapy are accessible at a medical detox center to help reduce the discomfort and simultaneously reduce the risk of relapse compared to detoxing at home.

Opiate Detox Process

The opiate detox process is not the same as detoxing from other addictive substances, such as alcohol or cocaine.  The withdrawal symptoms are different, and often, medications are used to help minimize the physical withdrawal symptoms and prevent the intense cravings that accompany opioid detox.  Detox from heroin, fentanyl, and prescription opioids is a closely managed process, and often the same or similar medications are continued to be used following detox.

Medications such as Subutex and Suboxone have been officially approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) exclusively to treat opioid dependence.  These new medications have opened up various opioid detox treatment methods.  The opioid detox process will be different for individuals who are detoxing via medically assisted treatment versus abstinence.

Opiate Detox Medications

  • Buprenorphine:  Prescribed to reduce the period it takes for opiate detoxification and assists an individual in upholding prolonged abstinence from opioids.  The commonly used brand name of this substance is Subutex.  Suboxone is a drug that includes both buprenorphine & Naloxone.
  • Methadone:  Relieves and reduces the unpleasant impact of withdrawal symptoms.
  • Naltrexone:   blocks the effects of opioids and may be used to induce withdrawal. It does not let the opioid intake affect the individual.  Therefore, It may also use it to avert future dependence and misuse.
  • Clonidine:  Can help diminish the flu-like symptoms that come with opioid withdrawal, along with other withdrawal symptoms such as the anxiety and agitation most people experience.

Medical opioid detox helps smooth the withdrawal process, reduce side effects, prevent serious complications, and lessens opioid cravings.  Overall, these medications offer a decent start towards recovery and help to maintain sobriety long-term.  However, detox has to be followed; with counseling, education, and awareness. Family, individual therapy, and support groups are can aid an individual to stop using drugs and continue sobriety.

What to Expect from an Opioid Detox Center

Our opioid addiction treatment center is here to help individuals complete the opioid detox process and address; psychological, physical, and spiritual issues connected to drug abuse.  Qualified specialists; doctors, nurses, therapists, and addiction case managers will be with you throughout the recovery process to ensure you have the support you need.

This Is Hope from Opiate Detox

If you or a loved one is dealing with dependence or addiction to opioids, contact our treatment support.

At We Level Up Treatment Center, we provide world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope.  We work as an integrated team providing support through opiate detox and other aspects of treatment.  Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life.  Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists.  Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.

Your call is private and confidential, and there is never any obligation.