From an outsider’s perspective, overcoming an opiate addiction may simply come down to a question of desire. However, in many cases, opiate users may have the desire to quit, yet a massive challenge still stands in their way: withdrawal. The duration of opiate withdrawal and the severity of the symptoms are often simply too much for people to endure. Those unfamiliar with the dependency the body acquires due to addiction often can’t understand the monumental physical and emotional challenge this can be.
The Stages and Symptoms of Withdrawal
An addiction to opiates leads to certain nerve receptors in the brain becoming dependent on it in order to function. An absence of it triggers an actual physical reaction that varies in intensity as time goes on. Methadone users typically begin to experience withdrawal symptoms within 30 hours of their last use. Heroin users may begin experiencing them, in as quickly as 5 hours. Rapid detoxification instigates withdrawal using an opiate antagonist.
In most cases, the withdrawal process goes through stages. Some of these are listed below, along with the symptoms that can be associated with them:
- 12-24 hours: Sweating, runny nose, body aches, eyes watering, restlessness, insomnia, anxiety
- 24-72 hours: Nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, blurred vision, tachycardia (rapid heart rate), hypertension (high blood pressure)
- 3-7 days: Continued flu-like symptoms, dehydration, lack of appetite
The Lingering Effects
The majority of the physical withdrawal symptoms usually last about one to three weeks. The emotional manifestations, however, can last longer. These can include can include depression, anxiety, and in some extreme cases even suicidal ideations. Thus, just as it’s recommended to have ready access to medical personnel during the first week of withdrawal, so too is it encouraged to have mental health professionals available in the subsequent weeks.
Opiate withdrawal can be a long, arduous process that will challenge even those with the strongest resolve. The key to enduring it is having the right resources at one’s disposal, as well as access to qualified medical staff, to help deal with its emotional and physical effects. For those who choose to go through the rapid detoxification process at the Waismann Method Detox Center, that assistance is on-hand, every hour of every day during the most difficult stages of the ordeal.