What Kind Of Withdrawals Will I Experience In An Opioid Rehab?

Anyone who takes an opiate or opioid daily for any length of time exceeding a few weeks or so will become physically dependent upon the drug. Physical dependency, withdrawal and addiction are not the same thing. Physical dependence is a result of the effects of opioids upon the brain and body. It will happen to everyone. Addiction is a compulsive desire to use an opiate or opioid for non-medical reasons. Addiction will not happen to everyone.

What Is An Opiate?

The terms opiate and opioid are often used interchangeably. Technically, an opiate is a narcotic substance directly derived from the opium poppy. Examples would be codeine, morphine and opium. An opioid is either a semi-synthetic narcotic originally derived from opium or a totally synthetic narcotic substance with no opium source at all. Examples of semi-synthetic opioids are oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone and hydrocodone. Some totally synthetic opioids are methadone, fentanyl, meperidine, buprenorphine and propoxyphene. This article will use the term, opioid, to refer to all forms of opiates and opioids.

Once an individual has become physically dependent upon an opioid, an extremely unpleasant withdrawal syndrome will result if the drug is suddenly stopped. Fear of withdrawal is universal among all opioid addicts who have ever experienced it. It keeps many people addicted. In fact, many opioid addicts take their drug of choice just to feel normal. They no longer get much of a high; they just don’t want to be sick. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal vary in length, character and intensity, but they generally include the following:

  • Sweating
  • Feeling hot and cold
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea and intestinal cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Depression
  • Extreme weakness
  • Bone, muscle and joint pain
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety

Acute symptoms typically abate within a week to 10 days, but this depends upon the person, the drug abused, the dosage and the length of time the drug was taken. Buprenorphine and methadone have a longer withdrawal period than opioids with a shorter half-life. This means those that are shorter-acting. However, any opioid can produce withdrawal symptoms that can linger for a month and more.

It’s no wonder no one will voluntarily subject themselves to such a nightmare of symptoms. Those thinking of entering rehab may not want to because of their fear of withdrawal. However, there is no reason for this. Opioid rehabs know how to keep their patients comfortable during the withdrawal process. In fact, it’s part of their job.

Don’t let the fear of opioid withdrawal stop you from getting the help you need. You will not suffer any significant discomfort during your withdrawal. If you do, you need only to speak up. Your medication regimen can be adjusted by rehab staff. It’s their job to ensure that you’re not in pain. It may not be possible to completely abate every symptom, but you shouldn’t be in pain. You should be able to sleep and you shouldn’t be unduly uncomfortable. Modern withdrawal from opioids in a rehab facility is safe and free from undue discomfort.

Medications for Opioid Withdrawal

One way to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms is to gradually reduce the dosage of the drug over time. However, someone addicted to opioids is powerless to control their usage. It’s part of their addiction. After all, if they could control their use, they would be unlikely to need rehab services in the first place. Therefore, patients entering drug rehab are often using very high dosages of opioids. Here are some medications used to help them get through withdrawal in relative comfort:

Clonidine

Clonidine is in a drug class known as beta-blockers. These drugs are normally used to control high blood pressure and for certain types of heart disease. However, clonidine has an important use in opioid withdrawal. It can reduce withdrawal symptoms by as much as 50 percent. It’s especially effective against feelings of anxiety. Clonidine is not a narcotic or a controlled substance. There are no addiction concerns with this medication.

Buprenorphine

This medication is best known as its combination form, Suboxone. Buprenorphine is an oral medication that attaches to the same brain opioid receptors that all opioids do. However, buprenorphine doesn’t affect the receptors in the same way. Its effect is only partial, but it’s longer-acting. Buprenorphine acts to both alleviate withdrawal symptoms and drug craving. In opioid rehab, the drug will typically be given in gradually reduced doses over time until the patient is totally free of all opioids.

Buprenorphine can be unpredictable in that it won’t help everyone. It may not help those patients who have been taking vast doses of opioids for long periods of time. Others just don’t respond to it that well. On the other hand, for some patients, it can eliminate all traces of withdrawal symptoms like magic. For some people, it works so well, they don’t need any other medications during their withdrawal period at all.

Methadone

Methadone is a full synthetic opioid with the power to quell all withdrawal symptoms in virtually everyone. It’s best known for its use in methadone clinics, but it can be used in gradually reduced doses over time to detox a patient from other opioids. It only needs to be taken once a day. It will stop withdrawal symptoms completely. Other medications will not be necessary.

Muscle Relaxants

Opioid withdrawal often produces severe muscle cramps. Muscle relaxants like Robaxin can help with this annoying, sleep-robbing symptom.

Trazodone and Chlorpromazine

Both of these medications will help with some opioid withdrawal symptoms, especially anxiety and insomnia. Chlorpromazine will help the patient to relax and may help with insomnia, too. Trazodone will help the patient to get some sleep. Both are non-opioids.

Benzodiazepines

These are anti-anxiety and hypnotic drugs most commonly known as Valium, Halcion, Ativan, Xanax and Tranxene. They are addictive, too, but they aren’t opioids. They are sometimes used for short periods of time for patients who are extremely anxious or unable to sleep and who haven’t responded to other medications.

If you think that you or someone you love may need help with a substance abuse problem, please call us. We’re professional counselors. We are here 24 hours a day to help guide you to the right substance abuse program for you. Just call us at 877-978-3125. We look forward to your call.

Real Client Testimonials

  • Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.

    Travis B. Avatar
    Travis B.
    12/07/2020
  • Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today

    Brandon B. Avatar
    Brandon B.
    1/16/2020
  • My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!

    Brenda A. Avatar
    Brenda A.
    1/01/2020
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/13/2019
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/06/2019

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