What to Expect During Opioid Withdrawal: A Timeline

Opioid addiction
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What are Opioids Doing to Pennsylvanians?

In Pennsylvania, there have been over 47,600 opioid deaths in a year. Pennsylvania is in the top ten states for opioid addiction. Every day 10 citizens of Pennsylvania are lost to opioid overdose. This does not take into account other opioid-related deaths not directly related to an overdose. Some of these causes are: being involved or being the victim of drug-related crime, extreme neglect of personal hygiene and health, disregard of personal safety, and being involved in car crashes influenced by drug use.

 What Goes into Opioid Withdrawal?

Withdrawal from opioids involves two factors, physical withdrawal, and psychological withdrawal. The physical symptoms usually subside after 1 week. Psychological dependence can linger for much longer. For many people, drugs have caused them to alienate almost everyone, if not everyone in their lives. Most people have trouble committing to drug rehabilitation because of this. Many compare the feeling of stopping drug use to the feeling of losing a good friend.

Some factors of this emotional dependence on drugs occur because drugs have become the only thing in their lives that offer gratification. In fact, one of the side effects of long-term drug use is numbness. The drugs make it hard to experience pleasure from anything except the drugs.

Why is it So Hard to Stop Using Drugs?

Many have likened withdrawal from drugs to have the same symptoms as a very bad case of the flu. While this comparison might not seem reassuring many people who are going through withdrawal, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Most of the physical withdrawal symptoms of withdrawal either ease or completely quit after the first week.

When Does Physical Withdrawal Begin? 

In the first 12 hours, the physical withdrawal will begin. This can be foreseen by many victims of addiction. Many people who have an addiction disorder have gone through some level of detoxification when they cannot get and take opioids quickly enough to maintain a consistent level of the drugs in their bodies. This can cause apprehension for some people. Fortunately, clinics like DreamLife Recovery offer medication-assisted tapering.

Medication-assisted tapering involves using methadone and/or other approved drugs to wean the victim of addiction off of the drugs slowly. While this means that the withdrawal process will last longer, medication-assisted tapering makes the symptoms of addiction detoxification much more manageable. Some people prefer to go “cold turkey” but that can be very dangerous. However, professional clinics often have around the clock care by medical professionals who can intervene if the patient starts to show extreme symptoms of withdrawal, like dangerous seizures.

When is a Recovering Victim of Addiction Most Likely to Relapse?

Relapse is tempting when physical withdrawal begins. It is especially tempting in the first 48 hours. This is why many clinics keep their patients in a residential treatment facility or a specialized detoxification facility for this process. It is much harder to access drugs in a controlled environment. Patients are searched upon admission to ensure that drugs are kept out of the clinic. Even in aftercare programs drug testing is often a part of the treatment plan. This gives the patient the feeling of accountability both to themselves, their support system, and their caretakers in their treatment program.

 What are Some Other Symptoms of Withdrawal?

Some of the psychological symptoms of withdrawal are:

  •       Agitation
  •       Anxiety
  •       Aggression
  •       Possible panic attacks

 It is important to be in a good, clean, environment because two more common symptoms of opioid withdrawal are: diarrhea and stomach ache. Unfortunately, loss of appetite is also common. It is very important to stay hydrated. It can be hard to sleep during the first 3 days. This is why many clinics have televisions in the bedrooms of detoxifying patients and keep them busy during the day with activities and therapy.

 Do Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms Stop After 48 Hours?

After the first three days, shivers, sweating, and stomach aches can still occur. Fortunately, most of the physical symptoms of withdrawal will be subsiding by now. It is important to eat a healthy, balanced diet. A reputable rehabilitation clinic will take care of your nutritional needs, making it easier to focus on other aspects of learning personal care like developing a healthy work out routine.

What Affects the Outcome of Recovery from an Opioid Addiction?

Working out can release serotonin, a natural pain killer, into your system. While you are adjusting to the rush of returning feelings our mental health professionals will be with you every step of the way. This return of feelings is both physical and psychological. For many victims of addiction physical and emotional sensations can disappear during the length of the addiction but when they come back, they can be confusing to a long-term victim of addiction.

What is Physical Withdrawal from Drugs Feel Like After 1 Week?

Physical withdrawal is generally over by the end of 1 week. While psychological symptoms will continue much longer the majority of physical suffering is, for the most part, over. Unfortunately, some victims of addiction have to battle the psychological symptoms for a lifetime.

When is a Person with an Addiction Disorder Most Likely to Relapse?

The victims of addiction who detoxify even partially sometimes attempt to take the same dose of drugs they were taking before the detox. Unfortunately, the recovering victim of addiction does not have the same tolerance that they used to and they often die from an overdose. This is one of the reasons that staying in your rehabilitation for the full time recommended by the clinic’s medical staff is important.

What is the Opioid Withdrawal Timeline? 

  •       Detoxification lasts around 4 days
  •       Partial Hospitalization Programs last around 16 days
  •       Residential treatments can last around 90 days
  •       Outpatient treatment can last around 180 days
  •       Aftercare is provided for 365 days

Some people’s initial recovery journey might take longer, and some people’s journey might be shorter.

How are Psychological Symptoms of Withdrawal Combatted?

Some of the psychological symptoms of withdrawal are combatted, by necessity, through a more creative approach. Therapy is a cornerstone of psychological addiction treatment. For many, therapy is needed long term. Group therapy is also beneficial. Family therapy is often needed. Many people push away family members because of the negative effects of their addiction. Some of the effects and examples of negative opioid abuse are:

  •       Aggression (methamphetamine)
  •       Lack of personal hygiene (heroin)
  •       Possible criminal activity to obtain drugs (all)
  •       Paranoia/psychosis (methamphetamine)
  •       Medical problems from damage to organs/organ systems (fentanyl)

It is important to continue family therapy. Often, the issues brought up in therapy can be hard to deal with and, sometimes, embarrassing. However, it is important to address these issues. A strong support network is essential to recovery. Marriage counseling is also important for victims of addiction and their spouse or significant other. While sometimes their spouse or significant other is also a victim of addiction, it might help bring them around to decide to begin their healing journey.

Group therapy during detoxification and during residential treatment is often also instrumental in creating a strong support network of fellow victims of addiction who are also in recovery.

Can Equine Therapy Help with Drug Rehabilitation?

There are several methods for treating the psychological stress of initial addiction recovery. One of which is equine therapy. One of the most soothing things about equine therapy is that the horses do not judge anyone. They are very accepting, specially trained and temperament tested to be valuable therapy tools and kind influences in recovering patient’s lives. Not only is the experience of interacting with these animals healthy, but mental health professionals also guide their patients to come to realizations, find peace, and rediscover parts of themselves that they previously thought that they had lost to addiction. While there is research that the presence of animals is soothing, therapy horses are specially trained to provide quality therapy.

Can Adventure Therapy Help with Recovery from Drug Addiction?

Another important tool in combatting the problem of psychological withdrawal is adventure/wilderness therapy. In adventure therapy patients venture into the wilderness under the direction of health professionals. Together they learn new skills that utilize problem solving and teamwork. The professional(s) with them take note of their progress and help guide them through team issues at the end of the day.

How do I Continue My Drug Rehabilitation Journey After a Drug Rehabilitation Clinic?

There are several support networks available to continue combating psychological addiction after initial rehabilitation and clinic provided aftercare. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is one of these organizations. Although NA is self-reliant and does not associate or rely on any outside organizations or people, we can direct you to an NA near you.

What is Important to Consider When Detoxifying from Opioids?

It is important to address both the physical and psychological effects of opioid withdrawal. For some people, the initial discomfort of detoxification/withdrawal will lead a person to relapse and return to opioid abuse. For many more people, the continued psychological draw of opioids is a powerful factor in relapse.

While the journey to recovery is life-long there are many benefits to going through withdrawal and a clinical opioid addiction treatment program. You can get back to your family, friends, and your life. When you are ready to start your journey please contact us at (844) 402-3592.