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What To Expect When Detoxing Off Of Opiates

Written by Opiates | Published on March 30, 2018 | Updated on July 13th, 2020,

One of the most frightening experiences for any opiate addiction is having to experience an opiate detox. Many individuals who find themselves addicted to opiates attempt to detox on their own for years before seeking professional help and many find that doing so avails them nothing.

The main reason why attempting to detox from opiates on your own is not in your best interest is because the withdrawal symptoms associated with opiate abuse can be so overwhelming that people who are addicted to these substances are drawn back into addiction in order to stop the withdrawal symptoms they are experiencing.

Even though they may start out with the best of intentions and a strong resolve to kick the habit once and for all, many opiate addicts repeatedly experience the detox process over and over, until such a time when they finally decided to quit once and for all. This decision usually comes about as the direct result of some great upheaval in their life, whether it be because of legal issues, the dissolution of a marriage or relationship, the loss of a job, or simply the final understanding that they cannot beat their addiction on their own.

Before this time they mostly attempt to quit and fail, not so much because they do not really want to quit, but because they do not have the proper supports in place that will allow them a successful detox and transition into a life of recovery. It is imperative that if you are attempting to go through opiate detox that you seek professional medical assistance, so that you can ensure a safe detox and ensure that you will be able to manage your withdrawal symptoms and the cravings that will inevitably come up.


Detox from opiates usually refers to a facility where an individual seeks help in order to begin their journey into recovery. It is in detox that they rid their body of opiates and go through the withdrawal symptoms commonly attributed to opiate abuse. However detox can also be used as a term to describe the experience of going through the withdrawal symptoms of opiate abuse.

When attending a detox program you can expect to receive around the clock medical supervision and support, which will be necessary because as you can imagine, the detox process from opiates is usually incredibly uncomfortable for the person experiencing it. It is during this time period when mental and physical withdrawal symptoms are most severe, causing many detox patients to give up on the treatment program and return to using because they cannot bare the symptoms caused by the detox process.

Detox usually lasts from 4 to 7 days and during this time period you will be given medications that will help to alleviate some of the withdrawal symptoms you are experiencing, as well being t introduced into the wider concepts of recovery that will be expounded on during a long-term treatment stay.

People who have experience opiate detox describe the experience as follows, but it should be noted that each individual will have their own unique experience depending on the length of time they used for, how much they used, and their own personal physiology.


The first day in detox usually consists of filling out paperwork, and if you come early enough in the day, meeting with a doctor so that you can get on a medication regimen. It is during this first day in detox that you will begin to acclimate yourself to the facility, meet the other individuals who are attending and begin to attend groups centered on a number of recovery topics.

Depending on the detox facility, you will usually start your medication regimen on the second day and these medications will help to mitigate the withdrawal symptoms you are experiencing and allow your body to slowly acclimate to the notion that it will no longer be receiving opiates.

The third day of detox is similar to the second in that you will attend group and individual therapy sessions, continue to take you medications and usually you will begin to settle into the program, as you are now familiar with all of the individuals who are there and what the schedule looks like.

While it can vary depending on circumstances, many times the fourth day will mean a reduction in the dosage of medication you are receiving. With this reduction you may begin to experience withdrawal symptoms to one degree or another, but this is to be expected. As far as we have come in our understanding of addiction, there is still no way to entirely remove the effects of withdrawal in individuals detoxing from opiates. We can simply lessen the symptoms.

The firth day in detox can possible result in a further reduction in the medications you are taking and as a result you will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms at increasing levels. You may begin to experience flu like symptoms and all of the other symptoms associated with opiate withdrawal, but luckily there will be other non-opiate or opioid medications that you can take in order to help you through this.

By the 6th day you may find that your medications have been entirely removed, as your stay at the detox is beginning to come to an end. Once again this totally dependent on the facility and the individual, but by 6 days in you can make the assumption that the stepping down process will be complete.

At this point your withdrawal symptoms will be in full effect and as terrible as they may feel always remember that they will not last forever. This part of the recovery program is entirely necessary in order to continue on into a life of sobriety, so while you may be uncomfortable in the short-term, try to remind yourself that it is necessary for you to get where you’d like to go in your life.

On the 7th day you may begin to feel a little bit better, as your body is beginning to adjust to the fact that it no longer has opiates in it’s system. You are more than likely getting ready to be discharged from detox and if you are attending a long-term treatment program after, then you are finalizing plans for what the next steps are.

Understand that by 7 days in you are in the home stretch and victory over opiate addiction is just around the corner. While it may be a very difficult time right now for you, hold on strong and you will not regret your decision in the long run.

Early Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

Early Withdrawal Symptoms usually begin to appear between 6 and 12 hours after last usage. They can be thought of as the body’s warning signs that withdrawal symptoms are about to begin, as once the body becomes physically dependent on opiates it will become accustomed to operating with opiates in its system. While uncomfortable, early physical withdrawal symptoms are never life threatening, which is important to remember.

They include:

  • Teary eyes
  • Yawning
  • Anxiety
  • Nose running
  • Sweats
  • Muscle aches
  • Insomnia
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hypertension
  • Fever


Late Withdrawal Symptoms begin around 24 hours after the last time that you used opiates and can last  anywhere from 72 hours to a week after they have begun. These symptoms are what people usually think of when think of opiate withdrawal and they include:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Body aches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Goosebumps
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat


While psychological withdrawal symptoms are sometimes overlooked they can be equally as uncomfortable as physical withdrawal symptoms. Beyond this, psychological withdrawal symptoms can be more precarious for the individual experiencing them, because many times these symptoms can cause an individual to resort back to using, in order to deal with the obsession and compulsion that is currently driving their thinking.

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Craving or obsession for drugs


If you are unsure whether or not you need an opiate detox then hopefully the questionnaire below will help to inform your decision. The questions listed below are ones that only you can answer and if you are honest with yourself and answer yes to a number of the question presented then more than likely you will need to attend detox in order to overcome your addiction to opiates.

Making this decision is never an easy one, but know that there are many understanding people in your surrounding community who are committed to helping you through this trying and difficult time and are committed to helping you find the life of recovery you have always wanted.

So take a look at the questions below and see how you measure up:

  • Have you used opiates other than those required prescribed for medicinal reasons?
  • If you have been prescribed opiates have you used them at higher dosage or higher frequency than the prescription called for?
  • Can you go a week or more without using opiates?
  • Are you able to stop using drugs when you want to, if so, are you able to stay stopped?
  • Have you ever experienced a blackout as a result of opiate use?·
  • Have you ever mixed opiates with other substances?
  • Do you ever feel bad or guilty about your opiate use?
  • Has your loved ones ever complained about your opiate usage?
  • Have opiates created problems in the relationships in your life?
  • Have you ever experienced withdrawal symptoms?
  • Have you had medical problems as a result of your opiate use?
  • Have you sought help in the past for your opiate usage?
  • Have you attended a treatment center in the past because of you opiate use?
  • Have you lost friends because of opiate usage?
  • Have you neglected your family or friends because of opiates?
  • Have opiates ever gotten you in trouble at work?
  • Have you lost a job because of opiates?
  • Have you gotten into fights while using opiates?
  • Have you partook in illegal actions in order to obtain opiates?
  • Have you been arrested for opiate possession?


If you have gone through the questionnaire and discovered that you do in fact have an issue with opiates and that you do need to seek opiate detox, do not fret. Many people have been in your shoes before and they are now living a life of recovery. So if you do believe that you are in need of opiate detox then do not hesitate to reach out to a professional detox facility near you. We are lucky that we live in a world where we have tremendous access to such facilities. At these facilities you will be able to find trained and caring professionals who can help you in your time of need.

For now do not worry about the withdrawal symptoms or the fact that you have managed to become addicted to opiates, just stay present in the moment and make the choice to seek help. There will be time enough to deal with any issues that may have resulted from your active addiction, and none of that needs to be resolved right now.

If you are afraid that your friends and family may be disappointed or angry with you because you are in need of detox, you will probably be surprised at their reaction because most of the time it is positive. Addicts often believe that no one is aware that they are having issues with addiction, but when finally exposed to the light, it becomes apparent that many of the people in their life were aware, and were just waiting for them to reach out for help. So good luck in whatever may come and remember to just put one foot in front of the other and you will be fine.