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Opiate Detox

Opiate & Opioid Detox, Treatment & Expectations

An opiate detox program is used to treat individuals 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 pain management capabilities and are commonplace in managing 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.

The number of opioid-related fatalities has skyrocketed in the recent decade, accounting for nearly 70% of drug-related overdoses in 2018, according to the CDC.  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.

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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
Heroin Detox
Struggling with Opioid Addiction

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 are publicly available. Subsequently, people are somewhat more attentive to what doctors prescribe.

Unfortunately, it does not take long to develop a dependence on them.  Therefore, if you notice any of the following regarding your 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

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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 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

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

Opioid drug withdrawal mostly adheres to a general timeline, although the abovementioned factors may cause some variation.  In general, the withdrawal symptoms typically peak within 48-72 hours and subside within 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:

  • 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 Opiate 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.

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Opioid Addiction Treatment Starts With Detox

When the substance is suddenly absent, the body responds with 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 on 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 limits the effects of other opioids.

This medication functions similarly to methadone, another opioid antagonist 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 by 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 can 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.

Opiate 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 where drug detox 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 always stocked with nutritious snacks, and much more!

Opiate 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 and 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) to treat opioid dependence.  These new medications have opened up various opioid detox treatment methods.  The opioid detox process will be different for individuals detoxing via medically assisted treatment versus abstinence.

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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 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 withdrawal, reduce side effects, prevent serious complications, and lessen opioid cravings.  Overall, these medications offer a decent start towards recovery and help maintain long-term sobriety.  However, with counseling, education, and awareness, detox must be followed. Family, individual therapy, and support groups are can aid an individual in stopping using drugs and continuing 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.

Recovering from opiate addiction is never easy, but We Level Up’s opiate detox facility can make the process much more comfortable. The team at our medical detox program is dedicated to helping people break through this difficult first stage of recovery while preparing them for the next steps in the addiction treatment process.

The first steps at a detox center typically include a detailed assessment. When you first enter our facility, our team will ask you questions about your drug use history, including how long you’ve been using opiates, how frequently, and what your typical dose was. This information helps our team develop a personalized treatment plan to manage your acute withdrawal symptoms.

In addition, we will screen for any preexisting medical or mental health conditions that could impact your course of treatment. If you do have preexisting conditions, there’s no need to be alarmed; our opiate detox programs are equipped to help manage a wide range of health concerns, and you can still get the help you need to overcome opiate addiction.

During Treatment

During your stay at detox, you will be under 24/7 medical supervision to ensure that your opiate withdrawal symptoms are under control. Acute withdrawal symptoms can last for up to two weeks, and the targeted medications offered at our opiate detox center can help them stay manageable.

Attending inpatient detoxification is an all-inclusive experience. Our team takes care of all of life’s necessities so you can focus on feeling better and working toward overcoming your opiate addiction. That includes meals, healthcare services, medication schedules, and much more.

The main focus of an opiate detox center is to help people overcome the physical symptoms of opiate withdrawal. While you might also receive treatments that can help you manage psychological symptoms, much of your time in detox is spent relaxing and engaging in practices that can ease the physical discomfort associated with withdrawal.

We encourage detox clients to bring items to help them pass the time and distract them from their symptoms. You might consider activities like these:

  • Reading a book
  • Making art
  • Writing in a journal
  • Creating small crafts
  • Knitting

Keeping focused on a hobby or interest can help people get through the first few days of detox while they receive medical treatment.

Leaving Detox

Before you leave detox, our team makes a thorough and detailed transition of care plan for the next stage in your treatment. While medical detox is a vital first step, it must be followed by intensive addiction treatment in order to support long-term recovery.

At We Level Up, we have streamlined this process to be as simple as possible. Our treatment network spans the full continuum of care, and our residential treatment centers, partial hospitalization programs, and medical detox facilities work together for client transitions. You won’t have to wait for a bed or be unsure of where you’re going after detox when you seek care at We Level Up.

Opiate Detox: how long do opioids stay in your system

What Happens After Detox?

We Level Up offers several different levels of care for clients to enter after completing their opiate detox programs. Each of these programs provides evidence-based treatment methods that have decades of research proving their effectiveness in helping people overcome opiate addiction.

Residential Treatment

Most clients will enter residential treatment after completing an opiate detox program. Residential treatment is the most intensive drug and alcohol therapy model available, with clients living on-site at a treatment facility with other people working toward recovery.

During the day, clients attend several different therapies and groups designed to help them overcome opiate addiction, including these evidence-based treatments:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Relapse prevention programs
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Medication-assisted treatment
  • Family therapy

Together, these techniques help people manage the lingering symptoms of opiate addiction, learn healthy coping mechanisms to deal with future stressors, and develop relapse prevention skills that can last a lifetime.

Residential treatment also offers a safe place free of drugs and alcohol where people can focus on recovery without outside distractions and triggers. This environment allows them to hone their skills before being tested in the outside world.

Partial Hospitalization Programs

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) are an intensive form of outpatient treatment. They offer the same therapies and treatments provided in a residential program but allow clients to continue living at home or in supportive recovery housing during treatment. Clients at a PHP attend treatment several days a week for several hours at a time. Their time in the program might be compared to a full-time job.

PHPs are ideal for people stepping down from residential treatment, as well as those who need intensive addiction therapies but cannot live in a community setting.

Dual-Diagnosis Treatment

Dual-diagnosis treatment is designed to help people who are dealing with both addiction and mental illness. Mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder are extremely common among people with opiate addictions and can be a serious roadblock on the path to recovery if left untreated.

These mental health disorders can exist before substance use ever begins or may develop as a result of months or years spent in active addiction. Whatever the case, a dual-diagnosis treatment facility can help.

In a dual-diagnosis program, effective mental health treatment is integrated with the evidence-based treatment offered for substance use disorders. This could include treatments such as:

  • Psychiatric evaluations
  • Medication management
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing
  • Dialectical behavior therapy

A dual-diagnosis program offers these therapies alongside all the treatments offered for substance use disorders.

Untreated mental health challenges can drastically increase the risk of relapse after leaving an intensive program. Dual-diagnosis treatment offers an additional defense against relapse by treating the symptoms of mental illness and addiction simultaneously.

With targeted treatment, many people can achieve remission from their mental health concerns. Those who don’t achieve total remission may still experience a significant reduction in symptoms, which might be just what it takes to achieve lasting sobriety.

Opiate Detox Treatment

We Level Up Treatment Opiate Detox
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If you or a loved one is dealing with dependence or addiction to opioids, contact our treatment support.

We Level Up Treatment Center provides 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.

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