Opioid Withdrawal: The Symptoms Explained and What to Expect

If you struggle with substance abuse, opioid withdrawal symptoms can be a major barrier on your road to recovery. Read on to find out more about the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, and how you can overcome them.

The Effects of Opioids on the Body

Opioids have tremendous effects on your body that you become desensitized to after prolonged use. When you try to quit, your body responds to their absence with a number of withdrawal symptoms, many of which can cause you to become physically ill.

In some cases, you may not even realize you’ve become dependent on the drug; withdrawal symptoms are often mistaken as everyday illnesses.

The Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal

If you’ve made the choice to stop using opioids, your body will likely try to fight back. As you start your journey toward sobriety, you could experience some withdrawal symptoms.

The type of symptoms you experience and their severity is dependent on several factors, including the level of your withdrawal. Because of this, everyone’s symptoms of withdrawal will differ slightly.

That being said, there is a general timeline of symptoms that most people follow; certain symptoms begin to appear early on in the withdrawal phase, while others aren’t seen until later.

Early Symptoms

Early symptoms generally appear sometime within the first 24 hours after you stop using opioids. These can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Muscle aches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Frequent yawning
  • Insomnia

Later Symptoms

Later symptoms usually start to appear sometime after the first day of withdrawal. These symptoms tend to be more intense than those experienced early on, and may include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Goosebumps
  • Rapid heartbeats
  • High blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils
  • Blurry vision

Complications in Pregnant Women

If a mother is addicted to opioids during her pregnancy, the newborn may demonstrate symptoms of withdrawal after birth. Their symptoms may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Digestive issues
  • Trouble eating
  • Seizures

How Long Do Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

While the withdrawal process may be extremely uncomfortable, its symptoms generally start to improve after 72 hours. After a week, your withdrawal symptoms should be significantly reduced.

The length of the withdrawal process also varies based on both the type and the amount of the drug in your system. Factors such as the severity of the addiction as well as your overall health also affect the length and severity of your withdrawal symptoms.

For example, heroin tends to leave your system faster, so withdrawal symptoms can start in as little as 12 hours after your last use. Methadone, on the other hand, exits slower and can take nearly two days to cause any discomfort.

Diagnosing Opioid Withdrawal

While you may be able to self-diagnose an opioid withdrawal, it’s a good idea to get a professional opinion.

To officially diagnose you with opioid withdrawal, your primary care physician will likely perform a general physical examination coupled with questions about your symptoms. Urine or blood tests may also be ordered to determine the exact level of opioids in your system.

You may also be asked to answer questions about your past drug use and any relevant medical history. Answering these questions honestly is important to ensure you get the proper treatment.

Treatment For Opioid Withdrawal in Massachusetts

It can be tempting to continue using opioids to mitigate any symptoms of withdrawal. However, there are treatment methods that can lessen your pain and discomfort; particularly with medical treatment in a controlled environment.

Since opioid withdrawal symptoms are generally divided into early and later intensities, treatment methods can also be split to address each level of withdrawal.

Short-Term Treatment for Opioid Withdrawal

Mild withdrawal symptoms can often be treated with over-the-counter medication containing acetaminophen (such as Tylenol), or NSAIDs like ibuprofen. You can also take medications containing loperamide or hydroxyzine to combat diarrhea and nausea, respectively.

In addition to OTC medications, it’s important to get plenty of rest and stay hydrated to ensure your body has the strength to withstand the withdrawal symptoms as the opioids leave your body.

Long-Term Treatment for Opioid Withdrawal

Once your symptoms become more intense, simple OTC medications likely won’t be enough to provide relief. At this point, the best course of action is to seek hospitalization or an inpatient treatment facility.

A detox facility like Mayflower Recovery in Massachusetts is a great place to turn when your withdrawal symptoms become too intense to handle on your own. At a detox facility, you’ll go through an intake process that is designed to relieve your symptoms as fast as possible.

From there, you’ll work with qualified specialists who are dedicated to helping you overcome substance abuse. At an inpatient, facility, you’ll be able to focus on detoxing and strengthening your mind and body in an ideal environment.

The Length of Recovery from Opioid Withdrawal

The length of the recovery period varies depending on a number of factors, including the intensity of your addiction and the level of opioids in your system at the start of your treatment. Certain drugs also exit your system faster than others.

Many specialists assert that the recovery period requires at least six months of complete abstinence; a period in which you may periodically experience symptoms of withdrawal. However, your journey may be different, and it’s important to discuss any issues with your healthcare provider.

World-Class Addiction Treatment in Massachusetts

If you’re located in Massachusetts and struggle with substance abuse, Mayflower Recovery is just the place you need to kickstart your journey to recovery. At Mayflower, you’ll be surrounded by world-class physicians and therapists who are dedicated to helping you reach your goals of sobriety.

Following Mayflower’s founding principle of compassionate care, experts will work with you individually to develop a unique plan of care that is tailored to fit your needs. And with cutting-edge detox facilities, you’ll receive the most advanced treatment available.

Start your journey to sobriety, and contact Mayflower Recovery today.

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