Opiate Addiction Treatment: Withdrawal and Detox Explained

Opiate withdrawal and detox is a painful process that can take weeks or months to complete. Understanding the timeline of opiate withdrawal will help you understand what you are going through and prepare for how long it may take to feel better.

Opiates have been around for many years. They’re a class of drugs that come from the poppy plant.

We can extract opium from the florae to create a medication that mimics the effects of morphine. This resulted in drugs that can help with disorders like chronic pain.

Because of that, countless people around the globe rely on prescription opioids to carry out their normal daily activities. However, there are negative side effects to taking opiates.

For instance, this class of drugs is highly addictive. Opiates can result in a physical dependence that can take months to shake.

On top of that, due to opioid withdrawal symptoms, you’ll need specialized help to overcome this opioid abuse disorder.

Thankfully, there are several facilities like the Long Island Treatment Center that can help with that. These institutions focus on aiding addicts to get clean.

So, if you’d like to learn more about opiate addiction treatment, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll walk you through the recovery process and the negative effects of opiates.

Opiate Addiction Overview

We can trace back the origins of opiates all the way back to 3,400 B.C. At the time, locals in lower Mesopotamia (Southwest Asia) started cultivating poppies.

People would use the plants to extract opium and make medicinal concoctions that could alleviate chronic pain. Because of that, news of the power of poppies spread like wildfire.

Soon, the entire world was growing its own patches of the plants.

By the early 1860s, opiates had made their way to the US. Doctors used these medications to treat wounded soldiers, alleviate diarrhea, and reduce swelling.

That’s how narcotics came about.

Although the drugs were effective at treating ailments, they led to a whole new type of problem. After patients consumed opiates for a prolonged period, they seemed to develop a chemical dependency.

They were no longer able to function without opiates in their systems. That’s because the drugs caused physical and physiological changes in patients.

Because of that, the Food and Drug Association has placed strict guidelines on the use of opiates. However, this didn’t do much to stop the widespread use of the medication.

Today, there are several types of opiates on the market. These include:

  • Morphine
  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone
  • Tramadol

At first, these were all controlled substances that you could only get your hands on with a doctor’s prescription. Yet, due to the rise of drug trafficking, people found illegal ways to obtain opiates.

On top of that, they weren’t taking the medications using conventional means. People would smoke, sniff, and inject opioid drugs to deliver a sense of euphoria. 

Treating Opiate Addictions

Due to the highly addictive properties of opiates, people all over the country display symptoms of substance use disorders. In fact, about three million US citizens struggle with an opioid use disorder.

They have to live with various side effects as a result of their addiction. That includes symptoms like excessive sweating, pulmonary complications, and liver and kidney damage.

Because of that, they’re unable to lead normal lives. Although, that doesn’t have to be the case.

In our world today, an opioid use disorder is no longer a death sentence. You can get effective treatment for the disorder in a facility like the Long Island Treatment Center.

Symptoms of Opiate Addiction

Unfortunately, there are countless side effects when it comes to opioid drugs. In this section, we’ll cover some of the common symptoms of abusing the controlled substances.

1. Heart Damage and Infections

Right off the bat, one of the most serious consequences of opioid use disorders is heart damage. To help you understand this, let’s take a look at how the drug affects your cardiovascular system.

When you overuse opiates, they’ll cause vasodilation. That means your blood vessels will expand, which will lower your blood pressure.

At first glance, this may seem like a harmless, even positive, side effect. Yet, there’s a lot more to the story. When your blood vessels dilate, your heart will go into bradycardia.

This refers to your cardiac muscle beating slower than normal. Unfortunately, that can lead to conditions such as edema, hypotension, orthostatic hypotension, and syncope.

On top of that, illicit opioids tend to come with a few contaminants. They contain a wide range of bacteria that can wreak havoc on your system.

These microorganisms can result in cardiac infections that can be life-threatening.

2. Permanent Lung Damage

Most people have heard that opioids can do irreparable damage to your lungs. Yet, they’re not sure how this happens.

Well, for starters, if an addict sniffs opiates, the drug will travel directly to their lungs and lay waste to the organs.

However, even when people with opioid addictions don’t take the medications nasally, their respiratory systems aren’t safe.

That’s because opiates can affect your immune cells. They’ll lead to a surge in histamine production, which will cause bronchospasms and hypersensitivity.

3. Collapsing Veins

Regrettably, many opioid abusers choose to inject the drug directly into the veins in their arms and legs. This will lead to a more instantaneous high, but it’ll cause several negative effects.

For instance, collapsing veins are a common complication of the overuse of intravenous drugs. When an addict repeatedly injects themselves in the same location, they’ll compromise the structure of their blood vessels.

On top of that, using needles that are too large, or syringes with blunt tips, can make the problem worse.

This will result in the veins falling apart, leaving them incapable of sustaining cells by carrying around blood. Not only will that create circulation problems, but it can cause permanent damage to the limbs.

With all these medical complications, it’s best to stay as far away from opioids as possible. Besides that, your physical health won’t be the only aspect that takes a hit.

Addicts also often struggle with their finances, since drugs can cost an arm and a leg.

Opiate Addiction Treatment Plan

Now that you understand how destructive opiates can be, we can move on to how to treat the problem. In this section, we’ll cover some of the techniques you can rely on to beat an opioid addiction.

1. Opioid Detoxification

The first step to kicking an opioid habit is detoxification. You’ll need to immediately stop the use of the drug and flush it out of your system before you’re ready to start recovering.

That’s when detox programs come into play.

First up, a doctor will examine the addict and evaluate their physical and mental conditions. Then, they’ll work on reducing their consumption of opioids.

Typically, quitting cold turkey is too harsh of an approach. That’s because opioid withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming.

Because of that, health care providers will use medication-assisted treatment. They’ll rely on prescription drugs to ease symptoms like muscle aches, excessive sweating, nausea, and abdominal pain.

Depending on how long the addict has been taking the opiates, and the type of drug, the detox duration can change.

2. Inpatient Rehab

Overcoming drug addictions isn’t a walk in the park. The process isn’t as simple as flushing the chemical out of your system.

That’s because people with substance use disorders usually create various negative habits. They do that to better maintain their chemical dependency.

So, to overcome the issue, they have to unlearn all their destructive behaviors. To do that, they’ll go through extensive cognitive-behavioral therapy.

That’s when inpatient rehab facilities can be exceptionally useful. These institutions will offer addicts a bed and 24/7 medical supervision.

This should make detoxification and learning coping mechanisms much easier.

3. Outpatient Rehab

When an addict no longer needs around-the-clock monitoring, they can go back to their normal lives. Yet, if they head out on their own, they may fall back into old habits.

Because of that, outpatient rehab facilities are crucial. These programs work to support addicts as soon as they leave inpatient treatment.

They’ll continue the cognitive-behavioral therapy and help the former drug user find ways to curb their drug cravings.

4. Sober Living Facilities

After leaving inpatient care, some addicts aren’t ready to reintegrate into society. This can be due to several reasons.

For example, they don’t have a place to stay or a job to support themselves. In that case, the addict needs a constructive environment, like a sober living facility.

Places like halfway homes can be invaluable tools for former addicts. These institutions will provide a safe space for them to recover from their chemical dependency.

To top it all off, sober living facilities can help with various aspects of reintegrating into society. For instance, they’ll make it easier for former addicts to find housing and jobs.

5. Counseling and Narcotics Anonymous

Getting over an opioid use disorder is a lifelong journey. Former addicts will still need to maintain their mental and physical well-being to ensure they don’t relapse.

Unfortunately, in our busy world, this can be tough to do on your own. So, many addicts will join group therapy programs like Narcotics Anonymous.

Wrapping Up

Opioids have been around for hundreds of years and come in many forms. That includes methadone, codeine, heroin, and morphine.

While these drugs can assist with many medical conditions, they’re highly addictive. Plus, with long-term use, they can wreak havoc on your physical and mental health.

Thankfully, the Long Island Treatment Center can help addicts with opiate addiction treatment. The facility can help with detoxification, medication-assisted treatment, inpatient rehab, and outpatient care.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Long Island Treatment Center