Getting trapped in opioid dependency can leave you feeling desperate. You may be at the point where you don’t want painkillers to control your life anymore. However, the fear of opioid withdrawal is intense. You might have seen loved ones experience severe symptoms. You might be afraid that you won’t be able to handle detox side effects. With a good understanding of the opioid withdrawal process, treatment options, and follow-up care, you can travel the road to recovery one step at a time.
Why Does Opioid Withdrawal Happen?
You may wonder why some drugs cause strong withdrawal symptoms while others get metabolized out of your system with few side effects. This has to do with the way that the drugs affect your body. Opioids, which include prescription painkillers like Vicodin, OxyContin, Dilaudid, and Percocet, replace your body’s need for natural pain-reducing chemicals.
Let’s look at the way your body reacts to pain if you don’t take opioids. Your body releases neurotransmitters that bind to opioid receptor sites. These neurotransmitters make you feel more relaxed and lower pain levels. It’s your body’s natural way of helping you deal with pain.
Sometimes, the pain becomes too much to bear. Individuals who have undergone surgery, been diagnosed with certain medical conditions, or been in an accident may be prescribed opioid painkillers to get some relief.
Opioids interact with the receptor sites in the central nervous system. When they do, they send your body signals to indicate that it doesn’t need to produce the natural feel-good chemicals anymore. If you stop taking the medicine or lower the dose, your body can’t respond by sending out its own pain relief.
Without the chemicals in your system, you may feel even worse than you did before you started taking the opioids. In reality, your body needs time to balance out its own neurotransmitter production again. Until that happens, you may experience the harsh consequences of withdrawal.
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
Individuals usually begin to feel withdrawal symptoms within about 12 hours of their last dose. Side effects can come on quickly and intensely. People who have gone a couple of days without their pills can attest to the excruciating experience. Because many people who struggle with addiction have had a glimpse into what withdrawal looks like, they’re afraid to fully immerse themselves in it.
The first phase of detox is the most powerful. People going through this first step to recovery experience side effects like:
- Severe nausea
- Abdominal pain
This stage lasts about five days, peaking at the three-day mark. After the acute detox stage, it takes about two weeks for your body to balance itself out. During this time, you may feel depression, anxiety, chills, leg cramps, drug cravings, and general malaise.
The third stage of withdrawal can last for several months. Side effects during this phase may be more psychological. They include restlessness, insomnia, and depression.
Getting Through Withdrawal Successfully
Imagining the entire withdrawal sequence at once can be daunting. If you know that you’re ready to fight your addiction, you just need to take one baby step at a time.
At Ashley Addiction Treatment, we understand how delicate the recovery process can be, which is why we create an individualized treatment plan for each and every client. Our core substance abuse programs include:
When you infuse your body and mind with long-term healing, you can stay strong as you move toward recovery. Don’t live in fear any longer. Call 866-313-6307 to find out how our programs can help you come back to life.