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Opioid Detox | What to Expect

The United States continues to grapple with the most significant public health crisis it has ever seen. Unfortunately, the more we talk about it, the more it seems like America’s deadly new normal. Fatal drug overdoses related to opioids continue to set new records each year. 

Unfortunately, Americans are now more likely to die from opioid overdose than a car accident. While researchers link this crisis to prescription pain relievers, which are Schedule II substances, drugs like fentanyl have pushed the crisis to new heights. 

For a majority of opioid users, their desire to use is only to stave off withdrawals. These individuals describe opioid detox as a nightmare and will continue using opioids despite their compromised relationships, homelessness, or any other significant issues addiction can cause. 

You may wonder if you can detox from opiates without treatment. While it’s possible, experts strongly advise against this. Here is what to expect during opioid detox.  

Can I Detox Without Medical Supervision?

If you decide it’s time to stop using opioids, and you do not want formal treatment, you must have a plan. Before moving forward, you must review your options with a medical professional and see how the process might affect you.

If you are struggling with severe opioid use disorder (OUD), you are not in the right frame of mind to undergo opioid detox alone. Attempting this process by yourself can have dire consequences. Medical detox will mitigate these risks and save you from relapse. You must have your doctor’s blessing before moving forward.

Opioid Withdrawal: What to Expect

Opioid withdrawal symptoms will appear shortly after the drug(s) have left your body. A standard timeline for opiate withdrawal does not exist, but many factors will determine how and when you experience the symptoms. WebMD outlines several factors that can influence your opioid detox, such as:

  • Your overall health
  • How long you’ve used opioids
  • Whether you quit cold turkey or with supervision
  • Substance abuse history
  • If you abused other drugs along with opioids

Health Risks

The mind adjusts to drug use in a short period, and when the body comes to rely on these foreign substances, it soon cannot function without them. When this occurs, withdrawal symptoms can develop and cause discomfort. Withdrawal symptoms are commonly linked with flu symptoms, but are, at times, more severe. Opioid detox is rarely fatal, but those who relapse can die due to lower drug tolerance. 

Clinicians can provide medications that can ease the worst symptoms of drug withdrawal. These include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Body soreness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Intense opioid cravings

The severe symptoms stemming from withdrawal are likely to fade around one to two weeks. However, those who abused significant doses of opioids may notice that their symptoms last longer. The only way to ensure a comfortable detox is to seek help. While one person experiences no symptoms, others can have rare problems that require immediate medical attention. Due to the unpredictability, we can’t stress enough that you must seek help.

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018, December 19). Opioid Overdose. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/index.html

U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2019, from https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/

Sternberg, S., & Galvin, G. (n.d.). The Opioid Crisis Is America's Deadly New Normal. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2019-01-28/opioid-crisis-points-to-deadly-new-normal-for-america

WebMD. (n.d.). Opioid or Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/opioid-withdrawal-symptoms#1

National Safety Council. (n.d.). Odds of Dying. Retrieved from https://injuryfacts.nsc.org/all-injuries/preventable-death-overview/odds-of-dying/

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