The body undergoes significant changes as it withdraws from the dangerous substance. As the person works through the withdrawal stages, he or she will experience a range of physical and mental changes. Symptoms and the length of the withdrawal process will vary from person to person. Understanding opiates and their powerful grip on users will help us develop effective treatment programs for those who suffer with opiates addiction.
What Does Research Say About Opiates Addiction?
In 2010 alone, there were 210 million opiate prescriptions filled. As much as nine percent of the population admits to abusing opiates during their lifetime. World Health Organization research shows that approximately two million people in the United States are addicted to prescription drugs.
Other opiate addiction facts:
- There were one million ER visits attributed to prescription drug abuse in 2009.
- For the first time in 2007, the number of opiate related deaths surpassed the amount for cocaine and heroin combined.
- In 2009, 16 million Americans under the age of 12 took opiates for recreational purposes.
- In the U.S., prescriptions showed a 61 percent increase in the past decade.
- The average person experiences opiate withdrawal symptoms between 10 and 25 times.
In the U.S., an estimated 52 million people admit using prescription drugs at one point in their life. The growing problem of opiates addiction has affected teens. Approximately, 1 in 20 high school seniors reported using OxyContin in a recent survey.
What Are the Stages of Opiate Withdrawal?
The patient first begins to the see the signs and symptoms of withdrawal within 8 or 12 hours of the dose. In 5 to 7 days, the person’s opiate withdrawal systems will occur. For up to 3 weeks, a person can experience a range of symptoms. Below is a timeline of what to expect during the withdrawal process:
- Day 1 – Runny nose, eyes watering, lethargy
- Day 2 – Sweating, chills, body aches
- Day 3 – Upset stomach, diarrhea
- Day 4 – Night sweats, stomach cramping
- Day 5 – Memory problems, forgetfulness
Of course, everyone responds differently to the effects of the drug, but the above are the most commonly experienced symptoms.
What to Expect During Withdrawal
There are two types of withdrawal symptoms. One set of symptoms occurs during the earliest stages. Those symptoms are agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, increased tearing, insomnia, runny nose, sweating and nausea. Abdominal cramping, diarrhea, dilated pupils, goose bumps, nausea and vomiting are the symptoms that manifest during the later stages of withdrawal. One of the most difficult symptoms for patients to work through is the diarrhea.
The vomiting and diarrhea symptoms can lead to disturbances in the system, which affects the level of electrolytes. During withdrawal, the person will feel extremely lethargy but won’t be able to rest due to insomnia. Muscle spasms and restless leg syndrome will make it harder to sleep peacefully through the night. The person may feel as though they are in a mental fog and will have recall problems. It takes time for the drugs to completely leave the system and this affects how the brain functions.
When Do the Withdrawal Symptoms End?
The withdrawal symptoms can last for a week in some patients. Others may not see improvements in symptoms for two weeks. Most patients see an improvement in their symptoms after the initial two weeks.
One of the leading risk factors for overdose is relapse after the body is cleansed of the substance. The opiate withdrawal process lowers the person’s resistance to the drug. Over time, the person will find that they are unable to tolerate what they previously took in larger dosages before they sought treatment. When they resume their habit, people are at risk for overdose. Any lasting mental illnesses that aren’t managed will continue if undiagnosed and never treated.
How Does Inpatient Treatment Help?
Inpatient treatment reduces a person’s risk of overdosing. The person receives the treatment in a world-class facility that is supervised by addiction counselors and specialists around the clock. The person remains safe throughout the entire part of the opiate withdrawal process and will learn the necessary coping skills to manage their sobriety long term. During inpatient treatment, any mental illnesses that may be affecting a person’s sobriety are examined and treated. It is this uninterrupted course of treatment that ultimately sets the patient up for success.
The opiate withdrawal symptoms affect each person differently. Medically supervised inpatient treatment specialists monitor every aspect of the withdrawal process and manage the person’s mental state as he or she works through her opiates addiction.