How to Deal with Opiate Withdrawal

A growing number of people nowadays are struggling to overcome an opiate addiction. Opiate drugs include various strong prescription medication such as morphine, methadone and fentanyl. Heroin is also an opiate drug but is illegal. Whatever type of opiate drug a person is addicted to, the symptoms experienced during withdrawal are similar. Opiate withdrawal can be very unpleasant, and because of the highly addictive nature of these drugs, those that try to get sober may suffer what is often described as ‘insanity’.

Opiate drugs affect the way the brain functions. They can result in the person affected being unable to make sound or logical decisions. Opiate addicts are often unable to make rational decisions even if such decisions could result in a life or death situation. For them, the only thing that matters is the drug, and despite knowing that they could die as a result of taking it, they cannot fight the compulsion.

Opiate Detox

As with all substance addictions, recovery from an opiate addiction will require a programme of detoxification to be completed initially. This is the process of quitting the drugs and waiting for the body to expel all traces of the toxins. Opiate withdrawal can be very unpleasant, and as soon as the effects of the drug begin to wear off, the individual is likely to exhibit intense drug-seeking behaviour.

Patients detoxing from opiates usually become desperate for the substance in question and will do everything in their power to get it. They will beg, plead and manipulate those around them in the hope of getting what they want. Many patients will pretend to have symptoms or will say the symptoms that they do have are much worse than these are if they believe that this will enable them to get their hands on the drug they crave.

What to Expect from Opiate Withdrawal?

Most people who are going through opiate withdrawal will experience some symptoms. Symptoms range in severity from mild to severe and are usually classified from Grade 0 to Grade 3, with Grade 0 symptoms being the mildest and Grade 3 symptoms being the most severe.

Grade 0 symptoms typically begin around eight hours after the drug has been withdrawn but can begin up to sixteen hours later. These include intense craving, drug-seeking behaviour, and anxiety. As the symptoms progress to Grade 1, patients may experience sweating, yawning, runny nose, watery eyes and restlessness. Many sufferers find it very hard to sleep at this stage.

Grade 2 symptoms will see a progression in severity and tend to result in leg cramps, muscle twitches, goose pimples, irritability, dilated pupils, and loss of appetite. Around thirty-six hours after the drug has been withdrawn, Grade 3 symptoms might begin. These can include fever, rapid breathing, insomnia, weakness, high blood pressure, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, stomach cramps and severe restlessness.

When it comes to opiate withdrawal, affected individuals should expect symptoms to worsen before they peak around forty-eight to seventy-two hours after the last drug was taken. After this, the symptoms will gradually subside. In most instances, symptoms will disappear within seven to ten days. However, some people will experience cravings for many months while some symptoms will linger for a number of weeks; these can include muscle aches, anxiety, and insomnia.

Treatment for Opiate Addiction

A programme of rehabilitation usually follows opiate withdrawal. It is not enough to just quit taking a drug if one has been addicted to it. The addictive behaviour needs to be addressed. In most instances, this requires the help and expertise of professional counsellors and therapists.

Individuals who want to overcome an opiate addiction must learn what caused the addictive behaviour in the first place. Part of addiction rehab involves learning how to replace the maladaptive behaviour with more positive behaviour through various therapies including cognitive behavioural therapy, contingency management, and motivational interviewing.

Repetition is often necessary to cement new ideas, and this is a process that can take time. When it comes to inpatient treatment, programmes typically last from four to six weeks. Nevertheless, during this period, patients will receive intensive therapy every day. Many people believe this is the best way to recover from addiction.

Inpatient treatment is not the only way to recover from an opiate addiction, though. Many affected individuals prefer the idea of an outpatient programme because it means not having to be away from loved ones for an extended period of time. There are some people for whom being away from family and friends would be counterproductive. Others have work or family commitments that would make an inpatient stay impossible. Either type of treatment is effective when it comes to overcoming addiction.

Accessing Treatment

Here at, we can assist when it comes to opiate withdrawal and addiction. Not knowing how to access treatment can often be a barrier to recovery. Many individuals do not know where to look and are overwhelmed by the amount of information online.

Sifting through this information can be time-consuming and frustrating, but thankfully, it is not something you need to worry about. We work with organisations around the UK and overseas and we have compiled a vast database of information regarding treatments for a variety of addictions.

We can help you when it comes to deciding which treatment provider is most suitable for your needs. Our team includes fully qualified counsellors, therapists and support staff, some of whom have been through their own recovery journeys.

Our staff have a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to helping patients dealing with all types of addiction. With this experience, we can assure you that we will find the most suitable provider based on your requirements and personal situation.

Our service is free and confidential. We will never pass your details on to a third party without your express permission. We will provide you with a fully comprehensive assessment of your situation, which will give you a clearer understanding of what you need to do to overcome your addiction. If you just want more information on opiate addiction and opiate withdrawal, contact us today, and we can help you with this also.

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