Opiate Detox: Overview, How it Works, and Detox Length - America's Rehab Campuses
Get Into Treatment Today: Detox & Inpatient - Beds Available Now. Updated: 01/23/19

Opiate Detox: Overview, How it Works, and Detox Length

Opiates like oxycodone, heroin, and fentanyl pose a high risk for physical dependence and can be difficult to stop using without professional treatment. Going through opiate withdrawal on your own can be painful and uncomfortable; it can also increase the risk for relapse and drug overdose. However, opiate drug detox can help you safely and comfortably withdraw from heroin, painkillers, and synthetic opiates so you can benefit from improved health and long-term recovery.

What Is Opiate Detox?

Opiate detox is an addiction treatment that helps people withdraw from opiates and recover from opiate dependence. Opiates are highly addictive substances that can change brain chemistry and structure with repeated use, increasing the risk for mental health disorders and addiction. Opiate detox is designed to help people successfully stop using opiates without suffering the pain and discomfort caused by withdrawal.

What Happens During Opiate Detox?

Opiate detox usually involves the use of medications that reduce and relieve opiate cravings and other withdrawal symptoms. Methadone, buprenorphine, and Suboxone are a few FDA-approved medications used to treat opiate dependence. People who receive an opiate detox can replace the abused drug with one of these medications to benefit from reduced pain and discomfort as they withdraw from opiates. Some drug and alcohol detox programs also include personalized nutrition and supplement plans that help patients boost their nutrient intake during recovery.

How Long Does Opiate Detox Last?

The length of an opiate detox depends on factors such as treatment method, the severity of the opiate addiction, and the amount of opiates being used. Many drug detox centers replace the drug of abuse with an opiate detox medication and gradually reduce the dose over the course of several weeks until the patient is no longer opiate-dependent. In some instances, opiate detox can last a lifetime, such as with methadone maintenance therapy.

Withdrawal symptoms for short-acting opiates like heroin generally set in within eight to 24 hours after the last use and can last between four and 10 days. Symptoms for long-acting opiates like methadone set in within 12 to 48 hours after the last use and can last for between 10 to 20 days. However, some patients may choose to overcome opiate dependence at a slower, more gradual pace and may work with their doctors to develop a tapering schedule.

Opiate withdrawal symptoms are often compared to the flu, and may include the following:

  • Runny eyes and nose
  • Hot and cold flashes and sweating
  • Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
  • Insomnia and anxiety
  • Muscle cramps

What Happens After Opiate Drug Detox?

Some people experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms, including depression and opiate cravings, for up to six months following opiate drug detox. These symptoms often lead to relapse, which can be prevented with aftercare at a drug and alcohol rehab center. Aftercare and outpatient programs use individual and group counseling, cognitive-behavioral therapy, substance abuse education, and a range of other therapeutic activities to help you recover from psychological addiction and reduce the risk for future relapse.

When exploring your treatment options, choose a drug rehab center that combines opiate detox with ongoing therapy and aftercare so you can benefit from a healthy, long-term recovery from opiate addiction.

America’s Rehab Campuses offers opiate detox, behavior therapy, and a variety of other evidence-based treatments designed to help you or your loved one safely recover from addiction. Contact us today to learn more about our many available addiction treatments.

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