Opiate Detox: Expectations vs. Reality

Opiate withdrawal has a bad reputation. The fear of the enduring sweats, shakes, and muscle aches of detox can even sometimes make people delay getting addiction treatment.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Choosing not to enter detox out of fear will only prolong and intensify substance abuse. It could even be fatal.

Learning what you can really expect from withdrawal could make a life-saving decision that much easier for you or a loved one.

Expectation: Opiate withdrawal is brutal.
Reality: There are ways to make opiate withdrawal less painful.

It only takes about 12 hours from the last dose of an opiate for the initial withdrawal symptoms to set in. Muscle aches, sweating, stomach problems, severe anxiety — the symptoms are familiar to anyone who has been in need of a fix.

Detoxing from opiates like heroin or opioids like Oxycontin is definitely tough on your body, and for that reason, most relapses occur within 24 to 48 hours from the last dose.

At a medical detox facility, you can undergo withdrawal in a safe and supported environment. Medically trained staff can prescribe medications that will lessen the severity of your symptoms, getting you through to the next phase of your recovery.

Expectation: Opiate withdrawal feels like it lasts forever.
Reality: You’ll be on the road to recovery sooner than you think.

Most opiate withdrawal symptoms get better within 48 hours. By the end of a week, they’ll be pretty much gone, or very mild.

As symptoms fade, nutrition and light movement can help improve lingering issues. Choosing a medical detox facility means that you’ll have staff to provide you with healthy meals, and supported activity during the delicate days of early recovery. You might even want to start talking about options for your next steps.

Expectation: Opiate abstinence doesn’t usually last long after detox.
Reality: Detox can be the first step on your road to recovery.

Detoxing on your own means that once you’re clean and clear-headed, you’re going to be faced with all of the same problems and factors that may have triggered your opiate abuse to begin with. Without a real plan for long-term success, the recovery you’ve won could be lost.

In a medical detox facility, staff members will talk with you to learn more about your recovery goals, and suggest next steps to help you get there. Whether that means intensive outpatient rehab, residential treatment, or something else, they will help you find a plan that works for you.

In sum, you don’t have to face your fears of opiate withdrawal alone. To learn more about what you can really expect from opiate detox and recovery — for yourself or a loved one — contact one of our Care Coordinators today.

And if you’re not sure whether you’re ready to enter treatment, check out our easy 10-question quiz to see if it might be time to stop.

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