What Is Opiate Detox and Withdrawal?

Opiate Detox and Withdrawal | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Opiates, also sometimes referred to as opioids, painkillers, or narcotics, consist of a variety of substances. They include both prescription drugs such as morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone, as well as illicit street drugs like heroin. People who use these drugs repeatedly are at risk for developing dependence and addiction. For purposes of this article, the terms opioid and opiate will be used interchangeably.

A person who becomes chemically dependent on opioids will experience a need to continue using the drugs to function normally. If they quit taking the drug abruptly or “cold turkey,” they will encounter a variety of unpleasant and sometimes painful symptoms as the body tries to adapt to life without the substance. Moreover, withdrawal symptoms will onset, and physical effects will persist for several days.

Opiate Withdrawal

The symptoms and severity of withdrawal depend on several factors, including the type of drug being abused, the person’s level of dependence, the duration of the addiction, whether they also abuse other substances, and their mental health and medical history. Most symptoms of withdrawal are flu-like and may include chills, sweating, vomiting, and body aches and pains.

Although withdrawal symptoms are not usually life-threatening, they can still produce great physical and psychological distress for the person suffering. Because of the magnitude of withdrawal symptoms, people who are trying to discontinue their drug use on their own may return to using again to avoid the withdrawal process altogether. However, the endless cycle of stopping and returning to drug use can make it more challenging to quit later on.

Attempting to stop using opiates abruptly can be arduous and risky to do alone. For this reason, persons in this situation are generally advised to seek the help of medical detox professionals and addiction specialists to overcome opioid abuse safely and effectively.

Medical detox programs take place in structured and safe clinical environments designed to help patients through the withdrawal process by treating symptoms and reducing cravings. Doctors can also help patients relieve symptoms by gradually tapering them off the addictive substance(s) until they are no longer chemically dependent on it. In many instances, doctors can prescribe certain medications to reduce the number of symptoms and their intensity and curb cravings.

After an individual completes a detox program, their treatment team will likely encourage them to seek therapy and counseling at a rehab center. This is a critical step toward fostering long-term sobriety and preventing relapse. Many detox programs, such as those offered by Recovery in Tune, are located inside rehab centers so that patients are provided with a smooth transition into more comprehensive addiction treatment.

Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

Opiate Detox and Withdrawal | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

The symptoms of opiate detox can be relatively mild, moderate, or very severe. Symptoms are typically the worst in patients who suffer from intense drug addiction. Consuming excessive amounts of a drug or doing so for a very long period is most likely to result in the severest of symptoms.

As noted, there are many other factors that also play a part in the development of withdrawal symptoms and the length of time they persist. These factors include all aspects of a person’s current health and emotional well-being, any co-occurring mental health disorders, and how they administered the drug (e.g., orally, by smoking, or injecting).

Within about one day after the last dose, a person will usually begin to encounter a combination of the following withdrawal symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle spasms, aches or pains
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating or cold chills
  • Stomach cramps and aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Fluctuating blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors

How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last?

There are four stages of withdrawal from opioids. They are anticipatoryearly acutefully-developed acute, and post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

Depending on the various factors aforementioned, acute withdrawal will typically onset within a few hours of a person’s last dose. The acute withdrawal stage involves flu-like symptoms that are associated with opiate withdrawal, also known as being “dope sick.” After acute withdrawal is over, the protracted abstinence period occurs and can last up to six months—during which time people in recovery are most vulnerable to stress and triggers that can compel them to relapse.

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

The anticipatory stage begins within 3-4 hours after the last dose and is hallmarked by increased anxiety or dread related to upcoming symptoms of withdrawal. Cravings and often obsessive drug-seeking behavior also characterize this stage.

The early acute stage begins 8-10 hours after the last dose, and anxiety and restlessness will likely continue to ramp up during this time. An individual may begin to experience flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, sweating, and stomach aches. Unless they receive appropriate medical treatment, cravings and drug-seeking behavior will usually persist.

The fully-developed acute stage will start between 1-3 days after the last dose, and here symptoms will peak. They may include body tremors, diarrhea, muscle spasms, and very intense cravings for more opioids.

The post-acute withdrawal stage (PAWS) can persist for months or years—there is no definite timeline. Acute physical symptoms are no longer present, but the person will still have to endure the emotional fallout from the disease. Without proper treatment, they may have depression, anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, and impaired ability to concentrate. During this stage, as with all stages, there is still the potential for relapse, so ongoing long-term care and support is vital for many to avoid it.

Medications Administered in Opiate Detox

Opiate Detox and Withdrawal | Recovery in Tune Addiction Treatment

Doctors frequently prescribe medications during the detox process. These medications help address the long-term problems associated with opiate withdrawal, such as cravings. Over time, a doctor can gradually taper down the dosage of such medications until the patient recovers fully from acute withdrawal symptoms. Medication may continue to be prescribed while the person is undergoing various levels of treatment, and in some cases, indefinitely.


Historically, methadone was the go-to answer for withdrawal in clinical environments but has been replaced by buprenorphine and Suboxone. Methadone is itself an opioid, thus it also has the potential for abuse. Still, it is often prescribed to help patients ease off the opioids they originally became dependent upon, such as heroin. And as a long-acting opioid, methadone can be effective as a long-term treatment measure for people who struggle with severe, chronic opiate addiction.

Buprenorphine and Suboxone

Buprenorphine is a commonly used medication that is considered to be a highly effective treatment for opiate withdrawal. As a partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine does not mimic the full, euphoric effects of stronger opiates. It does, however, help to relieve symptoms of withdrawal and cravings, which helps patients stay focused and motivated in treatment. Suboxone is a combination drug that includes buprenorphine and naloxone, the latter being added to decrease the drug’s potential for abuse further.

Get Help for an Opiate Addiction

Detox alone cannot help a person obtain freedom from opiate addiction. After completing an opiate detox program, individuals are urged to undergo further treatment at a treatment center such as Recovery in Tune. We offer outpatient detox services and programs in partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and regular outpatient formats.

Our programs are based on a comprehensive approach and are equipped with the resources, and support clients need to understand the root causes of addiction. Services include cognitive behavioral therapy, group support, individual and family counseling sessions, and activities such as adventure, art, and music therapy. The services that our center offers, combined with consistent and thoroughgoing care, will help you remain focused and motivated during the withdrawal and treatment processes and beyond.

We are available around-the-clock to help you or someone you love to find a treatment program that fulfills your needs. It only takes one call and the desire to get better to start a new, more satisfying life in recovery! If you are ready to reclaim your life, free from the use of drugs or alcohol, contact us today!

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Amphetamine Withdrawal Timeline to Detox

Amphetamine Withdrawal | Recovery In Tune

Amphetamine Withdrawal Timeline to Detox – Amphetamines are powerful stimulants that have a high potential for abuse and addiction. Prolonged use of amphetamines, illicitly or otherwise, can result in psychological and chemical dependence on the drug.

Amphetamines are often legally prescribed by doctors to treat conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy and have also been used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Other types of amphetamines – such as speed – are produced and sold illicitly.

Once a dependence is established, people who attempt to quit or cut back will face withdrawal symptoms. These are a result of the body becoming accustomed to the presence of amphetamine and unable to function normally without it. Symptoms manifest in response to the brain and nervous system “recalibrating” so to speak, and struggling to regain a chemical balance.

Amphetamine misuse can also lead the development of tolerance, or the brain’s propensity to reduce the effects of certain psychoactive substances upon repeated exposure. This condition requires the person to use an increasing amount of the drug to experience the desired effect, and therefore, significantly increases the level of dependence, side effects, withdrawal symptoms, and the risk of overdose.

Some of the physical effects that users face during amphetamine withdrawal including the following:

  • Tremors
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness and blurry vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia and restless sleep
  • Oversleeping
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle tension or aches

Unfortunately, these effects are often a primary reason for relapse. They can be extremely unpleasant and lead to emotional despair and in extreme cases suicidal ideations.

Emotional effects that may accompany amphetamine withdrawal include:

  • Depression and apathy
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Impaired concentration
  • Mood swings
  • Strong cravings
  • Vivid, often unpleasant dreams
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia

Amphetamine Withdrawal Timeline

The types of symptoms a person experiences during withdrawal and detox – as well as their severity- depends on many different factors, including the following:

  • The duration of amphetamine use
  • The average dosage of the amphetamines
  • Age
  • Height/weight
  • Gender
  • Physical health
  • Psychological health
  • Method of detoxification (e.g., tapering off, quitting cold turkey, home or medical detox)

Regardless of these differences, however, a standard timeline for withdrawal typically looks like the following:

Day 1 – 3

The first few days of detox are often the toughest physically because the brain is re-learning to function without the presence of amphetamines. During this time, it’s common for the person to experience disturbed sleep patterns, depression, anxiety, irritability, and exhaustion. Also, cravings for more amphetamine will likely manifest.

Day 4 – 7

By the fourth day or so, symptoms will probably be decreasing in intensity, although cravings and fatigue commonly persist.

Days 8 – 14

During the next second week of detox, insomnia and unpleasant dreams when sleeping are possible. Appetite may return to normal, however, after prolonged suppression by the amphetamines.

Day 15 – 28

Through the end of the first month, some symptoms from the second week may persist, such as cravings. At this point, it’s important to note that many people experience some setbacks as part of the recovery process, but this is more common when people choose to withdraw and detox at home rather than undergo medical supervision.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms (PAWS)

When amphetamine withdrawal symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, they are considered protracted or post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). Former chronic users may experience PAWS effects that can last several months.

Amphetamines have a profound impact on various functions of the brain. Some of the symptoms of PAWS may include:

  • Short-term memory impairment
  • Decreased ability to focus, concentrate, or maintain attention
  • Lack of self-control, impulsivity
  • Depression with or without suicidal thoughts/behaviors.
  • Inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia)
  • Drug cravings and urges to use
  • Sleep problems and chronic fatigue

At-Home vs. Medical Detox

Detoxing at home can present additional challenging that a patient would not encounter at a hospital or detox center. Moreover, ideally, patients should undergo a supervised detox by trained medical professionals to ensure the withdrawal process is safe, comfortable, and more likely to succeed.

Home detox is undesirable because the person experiencing withdrawals does not have access to medication or emotional support and other critical treatment measures that prevent complications and relapse.

Amphetamine Withdrawal and Treatment

Following detox, patients are encouraged to participate in a long-term addiction treatment program. These may include the following:

Inpatient (Residential) Rehab

During a residential stay, the patient lives onsite at our center and receives 24-hour care. The treatment team determines the length of stay. Here, people receive treatment daily, including behavioral therapy, counseling, and group therapy, in addition to other therapeutic activities such as yoga and meditation.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatients live offsite in a personal residence or sober living home and commute to the center each week for treatment. Treatment methods are similar to those used in inpatient programs and involve individual counseling and group therapy. This option may be best suited for those who have completed a residential stay or who need more flexibility in their schedule to attend to professional, academic, or family obligations.

All programs and services are delivered by caring staff who specialize in addiction and who can provide patients with the tools they require to achieve abstinence and sustain long-lasting sobriety and wellness.

You can reclaim your life free from drugs and alcohol – please contact us as soon as possible to find out how we can help!