Opiate addiction can be a scary thing. Someone who suffers from it can make bad decisions, all because of what their mind tells them. Unfortunately, opiate dependency and addiction are one of the most prevalent problems the US has today. It has ravaged the country, destroyed families, and left many in a state of despair. But all hope is not lost. Locating an opiate treatment center can bring patients back to society. With the right kind of support and the proper care, they can recover fully. But what is it that makes opiates such a dangerous threat to people? Why is it so hard to leave the habit behind? 

What are Opiates?

Opiates are naturally derived substances. They are narcotic painkillers that are derived from the opium plant. Opiates have been around for centuries. As Asian culture spread across the globe in the late 19th century, so did the opiate habit. It’s not uncommon to see shows or films set in the early 20th century to have “Opium Dens” in them. These dens facilitated the smoking of opium poppy seeds as a recreational drug. That’s not to say that getting intoxicated is all that opiates are good for. Doctors quickly realized the painkilling effects of opiates. Many doctors of the time carried extracts of the opium poppy – the first opiates. 

With time, it became easier for others to extract the active ingredients from the poppy. As a result, opiates became easier to attain, and the price dropped as a result. Today, we see opiates and their lab-made cousins, opioids, as helpful painkillers. However, doctors are well aware that opiates have highly addictive properties. This situation occurs because the brain naturally produces a chemical called dopamine. This neurotransmitter is responsible for the “good feeling” that we get from any pleasurable activity.

In most cases, the brain keeps this chemical under tight control by using inhibitors. Opiates affect the release of these inhibitors, making the brain spew out dopamine freely. This release creates the feeling of euphoria (the high) that users crave so much. Unfortunately, this leads to people becoming dependent on the substance.

What Is Opiate Dependence?

Dependence is the first stage of addiction. Unfortunately, many people use the terms addiction and dependence interchangeably. However, there are critical distinctions between both of these conditions. Dependence is a physical state. The body cannot function normally without the substance in the person’s bloodstream. Stopping the use of the drug suddenly usually leads to withdrawal symptoms. 

Addiction is a brain disease that affects the lengths to which someone will go to obtain a substance. This condition sees people disregarding social norms and legal barriers in search of the substance their body craves. Dependence is usually the first thing that needs to be addressed when someone goes into rehabilitation for opiates. This first stage of recovery is typically termed detoxification or detox for short.

What is Opiate Detox?

What is Opiate Detox?Before someone can successfully leave a drug behind, they must first get it out of their system. As we mentioned above, dependence forces people to seek out the substance, ensuring some of it is in their bodies at all times. Someone physically dependent on the substance can’t go without it.

Detox forces a person to get off the substance by stopping their intake. Some facilities wean patients off the opiates before they start the detox process. They slowly reduce the amount the person takes. This approach leads to a milder withdrawal process. The symptoms are far less intense, and it’s easier to deal with for the client. It may even lead to less time in the grip of withdrawal itself.

However, in some cases, patients decide to stop taking opiates in detox without prior reduction in dosage. This decision can lead to the person facing several uncomfortable side effects. These side effects vary from person to person. Their intensity depends on how long the client has been taking the substance and how far along the detox timeline they are. Most opiate detox centers offer on-call staff to deal with problematic withdrawals. In addition, medical professionals are usually nearby to help with complications that may arise from the withdrawal.

Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

Opiate withdrawal varies by the amount of time that has passed since the person has stopped taking the drug. In the early phase, withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Yawning, but being unable to sleep
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Runny nose and teary eyes
  • Muscle aches

As the withdrawal process continues, symptoms may become more pronounced and present as:

  • Rapid heartbeat (arrhythmia) leading to high blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping and diarrhea
  • Goosebumps
  • Blurry vision because of dilated pupils

Withdrawal symptoms may last a while, but the intense feelings may fade after the first seventy-two (72) hours.

How Long Does Opiate Detox Take?

Opiate detox varies from person to person. The length of time for complete detox may vary depending on:

  • How long the person has been using the substance
  • The overall health of the subject
  • How often the person consumed the substance
  • The type of opiate involved in the process

Withdrawal symptoms start within twelve (12) hours since the person’s last use and may continue for some time. Detox is only complete when the person no longer has any of the substance within their body. The detox process takes time, but professionals can usually track how far it’s progressed.

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

The early stage of withdrawal usually sees a person demonstrating cravings for the substance. They start between six and thirty hours after the person last consumed the opiate. Over the next few hours, opiate cravings will rise. The patient will feel pressured to seek out the substance. At this early stage, the individual can try to use a distraction to manage their symptoms. The side effects aren’t severe yet, and the mental strain isn’t that much to stop them from doing something to take their mind off the discomfort.

Intense symptoms characterize the peak stage of withdrawal. The symptoms that started in the early stage slowly get more prevalent. At the peak stage, they reach their height. This transition usually takes between thirty (30) to seventy-two (72) hours after the person last took the substance. The cravings get so intense that individuals attempting to detox outside of a facility usually falter at this stage. There is also a very high chance that the patient will start feeling very sick at this juncture. An opiate detox center usually has medical staff to help with this complication.

The late stage of withdrawal typically sees symptoms start clearing up. After the peak stage, the intensity of the symptoms starts fading. There’s no defined time when a person switches from the peak stage to the late stage. Observationally, they seem to improve dramatically, cluing staff into if the person has passed the worst of the process. Physical withdrawal symptoms may last for up to a week but psychological cravings are likely to be less intense after the dependence is broken. However, detoxification is only the first step towards complete recovery. Typically, after detox, individuals follow up with therapy to help them cope with the pressures that might lead them to relapse.

How to Detox from Opiates

How to Detox from OpiatesMany opiate detox centers have a clearly defined methodology for helping their visitors detox in a safe and healthy environment. The process varies from location to location, but they all share similarities across all iterations.

1. Check-In and Evaluation

The visitor first has a meeting with a representative of the detox center. During this discussion, they evaluate the individuals mental, and physical needs. Next, they create a profile of the visitor’s habits and their physical and mental condition. This process usually involves a questionnaire that the facility personnel fill out after interviewing the individual. During check-in, both the medical and clinical teams will be involved.

This stage of the detox process might seem invasive, but it’s necessary if the person is to have a program personalized for their care. Several tests will be administered, such as a blood test and a psychological assessment. Check-in usually has a representative helping the person work through their insecurity about the detox process. This step is crucial since it helps to keep the patient committed throughout the process. Any questions that the person may have are also addressed at this point.

2. Customized Opiate Detox Plan

As mentioned before, opiate detox differs from person to person. If that’s the case, then it’s not possible to use a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Instead, most detox centers evaluate the results of the tests and come up with a streamlined plan that addresses the individual’s issues with the substance. This personalized approach helps to give support where it’s needed. It also allows the medical and clinical personnel to assess what complications may arise during detox.

At this stage, professionals also address dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis is where someone who suffers from a substance use disorder also has an associated co-occurring mental health condition. This condition would impact their ability to cope with detox. It may lead to other complications that need to be addressed in the personalized care plan. Dual diagnosis can help medical and clinical staff prepare for the detox process more effectively in some cases.

3. Medical Stabilization

This stage is the actual detoxification process. As mentioned above, withdrawal symptoms typically start within the first twelve hours. From there, symptoms may intensify for up to three days. After this peak time, the cravings and withdrawal symptoms dissipate. Some opiate detox centers use a method to help wean their visitors off the drug by reducing their dosage little by little. This process makes detox a much more bearable exercise but will also take longer as a result.

A detox center offers one of the best places to deal with withdrawal. The detox center is isolated from anywhere that may cause the person to give in to their urges. This approach is essential during the peak period of withdrawal. Patients typically fail in their quest to detoxify at this point when they’re doing it outside of a center. Additionally, medical staff can aid if there are medical complications to deal with during the process.

4. Post Detox Recovery

After detox, many people will need some time to recover. The withdrawal process drains a person of their strength. The body will have gone through so many drastic changes that it may not function normally for a little while. Post detox recovery offers patients a spot where they can gather their strength and plan their next move.

Most people who go through detox decide to continue on the road to recovery. This process may involve therapy to help deal with psychological cravings and the behavioral aspect of addiction. Asking for guidance from the detox center personnel is an excellent option that a client should look into.

What to expect in opiate detox

What to expect in opiate detoxOpiate detox isn’t fun, but it is necessary. Without a proper detox, no other method of getting over substance use disorder will work. Opiate detox may last for some time, but it’s well worth the time investment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you first enter the opiate detox center. The interview is a chance for you to become acquainted with the detox center as well, so take advantage of it.

Who needs opiate detox?

Opiate detox is helpful for individuals who want to recover from their substance use disorder. Some people see it as a short-term solution, but it shouldn’t be considered like that. It’s the first step of a process. If an individual wants to succeed at detox, every step needs to be followed. The worst thing someone can do is to complete detox but have no plan where to go next. This lack of foresight can lead to a loss of momentum and potential relapse.

Finding an opiate detox center near me – what to look out for

Across the US are several opiate detox centers. But which one is right for you? Pathfinders Recovery Center offers visitors the privacy and security they need to get over their substance use disorder. Medical and clinical staff and helpful. The guidance we provide to our visitors is second to none. Our detox services cater to each visitor uniquely. Let us find a solution that works for you. Contact us today to start your personal road to recovery.


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  • (877) 224-0761
  • Mon-Sun: 24x7


  • 2953 S Peoria St. Suite 230 Aurora, CO 80014
  • (877) 224-0761
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