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Opiate addiction remains a big problem in the United States, as well as the rest of the world. As people get hooked on these prescription painkillers, they put themselves at risk of fatal overdose, among other terrible adverse effects.

If you are struggling with opiate addiction, you will know that withdrawal is a huge obstacle that can keep you from getting better. Withdrawal symptoms, paired with intense cravings for a certain drug, can prevent you from reclaiming a sober lifestyle.

And dealing with either of those things is not a walk in the park. That is why so many people get overwhelmed and relapse. But do keep in mind that it’s possible to get through this challenge. Today we’re going to focus on withdrawal, how long it lasts, and what you can expect.

Addiction and Dependence

Opiates are drugs that are prescribed for moderate to severe pain. Common examples are methadone, morphine, oxycodone, and codeine. The illegal drug heroin is also considered an opiate. They are all derivatives of the opium poppy plant.

Long term use and misuse of these substances can lead to addiction and/or dependence.

Addiction is the compulsive use of opiates (or any other substance) even when the user is already suffering from its adverse health effects. They will keep taking more and more of the drug. Dependence, on the other hand, is when the person’s body has adapted to the presence of opiates. It will react negatively if the person stops taking it. It will create withdrawal symptoms.

And because the only way to stop opiate addiction is to stop taking the drug, it is inevitable that the addicted individual will go through withdrawal.

This is why rehabilitation is necessary—so that medical professionals can help the user get through withdrawal safely.

Detoxification and Withdrawal

As you go through the rehab process, you will develop withdrawal symptoms. Some of these symptoms can be dangerous. This is why it is not advisable to self-regulate. Medical professionals can help you deal with (or even counteract) the effects of withdrawal.

This is known as the process of detoxification.

There is no exact timeline for this process, because it depends on a number of factors. This includes your overall health, the severity of your addiction, your drug of choice, the adverse effects you’re experiencing, and your drug history.

Early Stages

Withdrawal may begin around six to 30 hours after you stop taking the drug. The timeframe may depend on the type of opiate you are addicted to.

You may experience symptoms such as muscle pain, body aches, exhaustion, excessive sweating, insomnia, anxiety, and irritability. Others experience runny nose, fever, hypertension, and palpitation.

Later Stages

Around 72 hours after you’ve stopped your opiate intake, the withdrawal symptoms typically worsen. Early symptoms may become more severe. You may encounter new symptoms including nausea, vomiting, chills, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and even depression.

The psychological aspects of withdrawal usually last longer than the physical ones, which is why you’ll need counseling alongside the medical detox.

What Should You Do?

The best thing you can do right now is look for an addiction treatment center near you. Self-regulation rarely works. And for those who have been taking opiates for a long time, these withdrawal symptoms can even be dangerous.

Do not face this problem alone.

Addiction treatment can be done in an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on your case and your condition. The combination of medical detox and behavioral therapy can help speed up the recovery time, but in any case, you will need a lot of patience and commitment.

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