Author: Alex Thompson

Tapering off opioids: When and how

opiate detox

Depending on a person’s needs, they may receive sleep aids, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or over-the-counter medications to treat nausea. If you’ve taken opioid medicine for more than 7 to 10 days, it’s likely you need to stop soon — and stop slowly — to keep from having symptoms of withdrawal. It is important for a person to seek ongoing support and to address any factors that initially caused them to misuse opioids. Such factors might include chronic pain, depression, anxiety, or trauma.

opiate detox

A person needs to go to the emergency room if they lose consciousness, experience chest pain, or are pregnant and feel very sick. Many people find that they need a combination of treatments to get the best results. The SAMHSA Helpline is a valuable tool connecting people in the United States to substance use treatment referrals and the appropriate information services. Withdrawal side effects can be severe, but you don’t have to go through the experience alone. Trazodone is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved antidepressant. It has off-label uses for anxiety and insomnia, which are other complications from opioid withdrawal.

Can you treat opiate withdrawal symptoms at home?

The American Society of Addiction Medicine recommend using medication to treat the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Opioid withdrawal happens because a person is physically and psychologically dependent on opioids. This dependence triggers physical symptoms, such as nausea and muscle pain, and psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and mood changes. This article also provides information on when to contact a doctor and the dangers of opioid use disorder. Withdrawal can also happen to those who take long-term opioids for pain, but there are differences between the two. This article will focus on opioid withdrawal in those with opioid use disorder.

opiate detox

Most of these can last for several months, but a craving for drugs can last for years. If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately. If you do not have access to a phone contact Web Poison Control Services for online assistance. Make your tax-deductible gift and be a part of the cutting-edge research and care that’s changing medicine.


The sudden removal of opiates can shock the system and result in dangerous symptoms like convulsions, hallucinations, and seizures. Undergoing detox at an accredited facility is of the utmost importance to maintain a person’s health and safety. When someone enrolls in opioid detox at one of The Recovery Village’s facilities, doctors and staff will help the person feel as comfortable as possible during withdrawal. It’s important to remember, however, that the discomfort is only temporary. Because of this temporary discomfort, relapse is very likely to occur during the first two or three days of withdrawal.

Most opioid withdrawal symptoms start within the first 24 hours after a person stops using opiates, but they may appear as soon as 8 hours after a person discontinues use. According to NCBI, withdrawal tends to last a total of four to 10 days, but each person’s timeline may vary. Most withdrawal processes, however, steer along a similar trajectory. A facility specializing in opiate detox makes the process safer; it also provides comfort as they undergo the challenges of withdrawing from these addictive drugs. Your healthcare professional may recommend that you have naloxone available to lower your risk of an overdose. Naloxone reverses the effects of opioids during an emergency if you stop breathing.

  1. With most drugs, the symptoms are the most intense a day or so after a person stops using.
  2. Once detox is complete, patients can transition to further treatment.
  3. If you’ve successfully tapered off opioid medicine in the past, taking opioids for a brief time — with guidance from your healthcare professional — may be OK.
  4. Tapering over time can help lessen withdrawal symptoms or keep you from having them.
  5. Initial symptoms of opioid withdrawal can begin within the first day of detoxification.

You can find over-the-counter anti-nausea medication, such as dimenhydrinate (Dramamine), at your local pharmacy. Ondansetron (Zofran) is a potent anti-nausea medication available through a prescription. However, medical treatment in a controlled environment can make you more comfortable and lead to a greater chance of success. These can show up within 12 hours after you take the last dose of the drug. Caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and soda, may worsen a person’s shaking or stimulate tremors. It’s not unusual for some mild symptoms to linger; however, focusing on the goal of recovery and using coping mechanisms like exercise and healthy eating can help tremendously.

But ask about all nonopioid pain medicine options to treat your pain, including the benefits and risks. But there are risks linked to opioid use — including severe constipation, nausea, dependence, misuse, opioid use disorder and accidental overdose. For example, opioid medicines may help when the pain level is very high and short term. During the evaluation phase at The Recovery Village, members of the medical and clinical teams will evaluate the patient to determine the extent of his or her addiction. Then the patient receives a customized treatment plan based on specific needs.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Also, the body never produces opioids in large enough quantities to cause an overdose. Opioid medications and recreational drugs mimic these naturally occurring opioids. If you have withdrawal symptoms, tell your healthcare team right away. Follow all instructions about how to manage your withdrawal symptoms. Opioid withdrawal symptoms will become progressively more severe as opioids leave the body.

When you take opioid medication for a long time, your body becomes desensitized to the effects. Over time, your body needs more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect. This can be very dangerous and increases your risk of accidental overdose. Methadone is given in inpatient or outpatient treatment settings. The starting dose is 10 mg oral or intravenous (IV) methadone, which may be given every 4 to 6 hours if withdrawal persists.

Over time, your doctor may lessen the amount of withdrawal medication you take. The purpose of this is to get your body accustomed to not having opioids present. It’s still a powerful opioid, but it can be reduced in a controlled manner that’s less likely to produce intense withdrawal symptoms. Opioid withdrawal can be very uncomfortable, and many people continue taking these drugs to avoid unpleasant symptoms, or they try to manage these symptoms on their own. Some specialists point out that recovery requires a period of at least 6 months of total abstinence, during which the person may still experience symptoms of withdrawal. Because of this, everyone experiences opioid withdrawal differently.

Tapering off opioids: When and how

Ask your healthcare team if you’re not sure when you can stop your opioid medicine. The intense symptoms of opioid withdrawal will likely be short term, but it is possible that mild symptoms will linger, and they may become bothersome without treatment. A 2013 Cochrane review evaluated relapse after short-term methadone use for detoxification and found high rates of relapse. Methadone treatment can reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptoms. Opioid withdrawal can be a painful and potentially dangerous condition.

Detox can take anywhere from a day to a week to complete, depending on the severity of the opioid dependence. It can be an uncomfortable experience because opiates rewire the brain to think it needs these drugs to function properly. Once the opioids are removed, the body can have a volatile reaction, which the person will experience as withdrawal symptoms. Stopping or decreasing the number of opiates a person takes causes specific physical and psychological symptoms known as withdrawal symptoms. Using higher doses of opiates, especially over long periods, tends to worsen these withdrawal symptoms. Initial symptoms of opioid withdrawal can begin within the first day of detoxification.

Most chronic opioid users require rehabilitation care after the management of acute withdrawal symptoms and outpatient follow-up with a psychiatrist. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recommends motivational incentives to help manage withdrawal from heroin or prescription opioids. Therapists and recovery experts can recommend other tips and techniques to help someone overcome their cravings in the long term.

Timeline of opioid withdrawal

If you’ve been taking opioids at high doses for a long time, this may increase the duration and intensity of your withdrawal symptoms. Frequent diarrhea is a common but concerning symptom of opioid withdrawal. It’s important to treat withdrawal-induced diarrhea because it increases the risk of severe dehydration.