A common question asked of doctors and addiction treatment programs is this: How long does it take to detox from opioids? The United States began to deal with an opioid epidemic at the turn of the century. Since then, the medical community recognized the severity of becoming addicted to opioids. Psychiatry.org reports that only one in four people who develop an addiction to opioids seek treatment.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed a steady decline in the number of opioid prescriptions written over the past several years. Despite the slowdown, 153 million prescriptions were written for opioids in 2019. The CDC noted that 72,000 plus people died from a drug overdose in the U.S. in 2017. Nearly 30,000 of those deaths involved synthetic opioids.
Some of the common opioid prescriptions include:
A Timeline for Detoxing From Opioids
A person who is addicted may wonder how long does it take to detox from opioids. They may have heard scary stories about how difficult it is. While any detox event will have its challenging moments, knowing going into it what a person may be up against can be helpful.
Withdrawal symptoms after the last dosage of an opioid is taken begin fairly quickly. For short-acting opioids such as fentanyl, codeine, and heroin, symptoms may start within 8-24 hours. For long-acting opioids, such as extended-release oxycodone, symptoms may start 24-48 hours after the last dosage. The third through the sixth day of withdrawal are typically the ones with the strongest symptoms. The intensity of these symptoms then begins to recess. Withdrawal symptoms often time out after about the tenth day.
Several things can affect the withdrawal symptoms for someone detoxing from opioids. The amount of time and severity of the addiction can factor in. The level of opiates still in a person’s system when they begin detox can play a role, too. Other factors include a person’s mental health and physical condition.
Symptoms Experienced When Withdrawing From Opioids
Opioid withdrawal symptoms can include any of the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
- Runny nose
- Enlarged pupils
- Aching muscles
- Cravings for drugs
- Irritable mood
- Aggressive behavior
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
The question of how long does it take to detox from opioids has a two-part answer. After the initial withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction subside, a person may experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). PAWS takes the form of psychological and emotional conditions, rather than the standard physical ones from detoxification. While initial withdrawal symptoms last one to two weeks, PAWS can last for several months.
Once a person has completed detox and entered the next phase of treatment, they benefit from addressing any development of PAWS. After an individual has spent years or decades of their life living in a haze of opioid usage, they must learn to adjust to living a sober life.
Problems can arise from just the stress of learning to live a daily life without opioids. It can also come from stressors that develop in the first few months. Residential treatment programs and sober living environments can help assist with PAWS-related difficulties.
Typical PAWS symptoms may include:
- Insomnia or difficulty staying awake
- Mood swings
- Decreased appetite
- Trouble focusing and making decisions
- Difficulty coping with stressful situations and people
Professional Treatment Programs vs. Going It Alone
The answer to how long does it takes to detox from opioids often pivots around the type of treatment obtained. People who try to detox from opioids on their own often find it too difficult to complete. Checking into a professional program that can monitor detoxification from opioids gives a person a better chance of completing the cleansing process. Being in a hospital or residential program offers accountability. It also provides privacy and a lack of interference from friends and relatives.
Many detox programs offer medical assistance to help with withdrawal symptoms. They may also provide patients with psychological support to deal with the difficult emotions that come along with withdrawal.
Too often the shock of returning home immediately after detox leaves a person unprepared to begin recovery. Planning for entering residential treatment or a sober living house after detox ups the odds of success. With these types of programs, a person starts their recovery from substance use disorder surrounded by help. They benefit from the treatment offered by the program.
This typically includes individual and group therapy, as well as may involve the family in the treatment plan. Many residential programs offer medication-assisted treatment. This involves using medications to help a person adjust to cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Addressing Pain Management Without Opioids
Many people began an addiction to opioids when seeking out pain relief. Opioids can provide relief for moderate to severe pain. The source of pain may be chronic or temporary. It can relate to an accident, injury, or disease. A chief concern among many who decide to seek treatment for their addiction is what will take the place of opioids.
If pain still presents as an ongoing issue, discussions with a physician can provide alternative ideas. Holistic treatments such as massage therapy and acupuncture can help aid with pain relief. Getting into a habit of meditating can help center the mind. Speaking with a therapist trained to deal with patients with chronic pain can also give a person a much-needed outlet.
More traditional medical approaches for pain relief can include non-opioid prescription medications. Many over-the-counter medications and topical application products can assist, too. While more invasive than taking pills, medical procedures like nerve blocks, pain pumps, and surgery may be worth exploring.
Some patients find that their addiction to opioids became so all-encompassing that they lost sight of the pain relief benefits. Once they have completed detoxification, many people find their pain levels have changed. If they experience less pain, exploring ways to address that without a need for opioids can be life-changing.
Opioid Addiction Treatment in Texas
Casa Colina offers world-class addiction treatment in a luxury facility in the Dallas area. Our men-only facility provides residential treatment that addresses multiple needs. We treat substance use disorders, co-occurring mental health issues, and involve the family in helping with the healing process.
Our program includes holistic treatment, trauma therapy, medication-assisted therapy, and equine therapy. Contact us now to find out how to get started on recovery from opioid addiction.