Opiate Withdrawal: Symptoms and Timeline

Opiate Withdrawal: Symptoms and Timeline, In case you, or someone you know, is either contemplating or has actually taken the all important steps to quit opiate substances, you need vital information that will make the process successful and bearable. The opiate withdrawal timeline comes to mind. But, first things first. Opiates do not just mean opium, but rather the term includes prescription painkillers like Oxycontin to Vicodin and back to heroin. So you don’t have to be a hardcore heroin addict to benefit from this information. Oxytocin, for instance, is a common pain killer used widely by well-meaning patients who unwittingly trade debilitating pain for a terrible addiction.

Why Are Opiates Highly Addictive?

These compounds contain chemicals that change the way your brain responds to pain while at the same time producing a ”High feeling’‘. This feeling is a result of a disruption of the pleasure and reward centers in your brain. The central nervous system, including the brain and respiratory and cardiovascular systems has opiod receptors. These receive the opiate drugs which generate various physical and emotional effects including the reduction of your body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure while pleasant feelings are heightened. The problem arises when the body is exposed to repeated use or abuse of such opioid drugs. This leads to a change in the way your brain chemistry works which in turn leads to psychological and physical dependence. The body gets used to these feelings which now become the new abnormal.

Getting out of this situation is the biggest but surmountable challenge that you have to face. Anytime time the body and mind deviates from the new abnormal it responds with debilitating physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

These symptoms can generally be classified into early and late withdrawal symptoms. In the opiate withdrawal timeline, early withdrawal symptoms usually start manifesting within 6-12 hours if one is dealing with short acting opiates or they can set in within 30 hours if you are contending with long acting opiates. Some of these symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Agitation
    •Tearing up
    • Muscle aches
    • Difficulty falling and staying asleep
    • Racing heart
    • Anxiety
    • Sweating
♦ Late withdrawal symptoms include:
  • Goose bumps
    • Depression
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Drug craving
    • Stomach cramps

With this in mind, let us focus attention to the critical segment of this informative piece; the opiate withdrawal timeline.

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

This leads us to what you are to expect over specified time lines as your body readjusts to its natural settings free from opiates. Granted, the time lines here are not cut and dry, but rather, they reflect the general trends that have been identified among addicts who are making the bold step of breaking free from this devastating addiction.

  • Day 1-2

Just like with many other addictions, these two days are the most difficult days one has to go through. It is also during the first two days when relapses are most likely to occur. With muscles forgetting what it feels to be numbed, expect to experience muscle aches and excruciating pain. Most people also undergo profuse sweating, lack of sleep, diarrhea and lack of appetite. The net effect is noticeable weight loss. Panic attacks occasioned by heightened anxiety are also common. During this time, carry a handkerchief along in readiness for a running nose and general cold symptoms. Note, these symptoms can set in anywhere within the first 12 hours.

  • Day 3-5

During this period, the body starts to adjust to the new reality; diarrhea stops, though initially this might be due to lack of anything to pass through your bowels. To overcome the effects of diarrhea, patients are advised to force themselves to eat enough solid food and take plenty of water and other healthy fluids. Between day 3 and 5 the body continues to put up a fight against your erstwhile intentions. The fight manifests itself through shivers, goose bumps, vomiting and abdominal cramps. Buy never mind, these are the last kicks of a dying horse.

  • Day 6 and beyond

Having fought this far, you are most likely out of the woods but the battle is not over yet. Eating might still be difficult and you might still experience some anxiety and nausea. Keep yourself meaningfully occupied; do something that engages you physically and psychologically.

The opiate withdrawal timeline highlighted does not imply all the symptoms will be gone forever. Your resolve and commitment to stay opiate-free does not end with the successful six or so days. The physical addiction and withdrawal signs might be gone, but you have the trickier psychological dependence and withdrawal symptoms to keep at bay for the rest of your life. This calls for deliberate, proactive measures to avoid people, situations and thoughts that might ignite in you the desire to go back to the opiate substances. At this point, self discipline and professional help will still come in handy. With all the challenges mentioned, you might wonder if there is something you can do to make opiate withdrawal more tolerable. Yes there is.

Making Opiate Withdrawal More Tolerable

Try not to fight this battle alone, seek the support of trusted friends and relatives. You can also opt for the services of a rehab facility. Consult your physician for any medications that can help you handle the withdrawal symptoms, but be very careful with this option as it might lead you to new addictions to other equally harmful substances. For all it takes, do not go back to the opiates or any other addictive substances.

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