Opiates are natural drugs that are derived from the opium plant, poppy. Opiates are commonly used in the medical field and are prescribed as acute pain relievers for moderate to severe pain. An example would be prescribing opiates after an individual has had surgery. The most frequently prescribed opiates are Morphine, Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Codeine, Fentanyl, and Meperidine. Opiates are highly addictive. Even people who are prescribed opiates, take them as directed, and by the method directed still have a propensity to become addicted to them. Opiate abuse occurs when an individual takes a medication that was not prescribed, takes a different dose than he or she was prescribed, and or ingests the opiate differently than prescribed (i.e. crushing and snorting). Due to the fact that opiates are widely accessible, in addition to being highly addictive, anyone who is prescribed opiates must take them carefully and always under the direct supervision of a medical health professional.

Opiates work by creating a false sense of excessive endorphins and dopamine (neurotransmitters that govern the feelings of pleasure) in one’s brain. This will, in turn, create a feeling of euphoria for the individual. If, however, a person abuses opiates, a larger issue arises, as his or her brain will stop creating natural dopamine and endorphins. This will cause an individual to be unable to experience pleasure without the use of opiates.

Withdrawal Symptoms

There are many withdrawal symptoms that an individual may experience when he or she has stopped abusing opiates. The severity of one’s withdrawal symptoms will range, and will depend on several factors. The length of time an individual abused opiate drugs, the dosage of opiates abused, if a person abused other drugs and or alcohol, one’s health history, and any comorbid disorders will all play a role into one’s withdrawal experience.

Every individual is different and his or her body will respond differently to the abrupt lack of or weaning off of the abused opiate in his or her body. Early withdrawal symptoms typically initially start within six to twelve hours after one’s last short-acting dose of opiate and within thirty hours of an individual’s last long-acting opiate dose. Some examples of early withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Muscle aches
  • Agitation
  • Excessive yawning
  • Eyes tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Anxiety
  • Hypertension
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Elevated heart rate

The late withdrawal symptoms are usually experienced around seventy-two hours after an individual’s last dose of opiates and last approximately a week. Some examples of late withdrawal symptoms can include any combination of the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Drug cravings

The time-frame for the withdrawal symptoms experienced will vary from person to person. In some cases, the withdrawal symptoms can last far beyond a week.


Detoxification is the process by which an individual rids him or herself of an abused substance. There are some substances where a medical detox is highly recommended. The withdrawal symptoms that an individual may experience during his or her detox process from opiate abuse, can be incredibly uncomfortable, and in some cases, dangerous. Medical detox will offer twenty-four-hour supervision for the individual detoxing. This can help to insure one’s mental and physical comfort and safety, as well as provide emotional support.

Furthermore, should medications be deemed helpful for an individual’s detox process, he or she will have access to such medications. Individuals who are detoxing from opiates will often require a tapering off of the medication, as opposed to an immediate termination of one’s use. This can help mitigate the onset of the severe withdrawal symptoms.

A medical detoxification facility will also help an individual with transitioning to a treatment program. It is essential for a person who struggles with substance abuse to continue to maintain his or her sobriety, post detox. The detox process, albeit essential, is challenging, and draining to one’s physical, emotional, and mental health. By continuing on to a substance abuse treatment program, an individual will hopefully not have to go through detox again.

Further Information

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please seriously consider getting help as soon as possible. Addiction can be an incredibly damaging disease and the sooner help is received, the better. For further information on substance abuse or addiction, feel free to reach out to us at: or 1-800-210-1216. You are also more than welcome to email us at We are happy to answer any questions and provide any information you may be looking for regarding substance abuse and addiction.




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