Opioid Detox

Opioid Detox

Steps Recovery Center recognizes how vital the mind, body, and spirit are in their connection to the whole person. We take a holistic approach to treating those in opioid detox and relatable disorders that may contribute to their substance abuse; this includes treating the whole person, and find that it tends to be more successful, especially since addiction affects every aspect of a person’s life. With a customized and individualized program, a holistic approach just makes sense. It affords an opportunity to meet the patient’s physical and psychological needs and allows them to engage physically, emotionally, and mentally.
What is Opioid Detox?
Opioid detox is a medical process by which your body purges itself safely and successfully of opioids. The goal is to minimize the impact that opioid withdrawal can have on a person and enable them to proceed to the next level of the treatment process. Opioids are some of the most commonly addictive substances known to man, even though most of them can be legally prescribed. The way opioids work is by stimulating opioid receptors within the brain to block pain and produce a calm or euphoric feeling. The problem is that they quickly rewire the brain, forcing the body to accommodate and adapt to their presence. When someone stops the consumption of opioids, it can trigger many withdrawal symptoms in as little as 6-12 hours after quitting the drug. The symptoms of opioid withdrawal can be dangerous and cause significant discomfort; they also vary from person-to-person. These withdrawal symptoms include:
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Muscle tension
  • Insomnia
Under the supervision of a doctor, meds are routinely prescribed to help mitigate the symptoms and prevent patients from other severe symptoms that may include seizures or hallucinations.
Methods of Opioid Detox
There are various ways in which to begin drug detox. It depends on the type of drug and the level of dependence. Some rehab centers prescribe medication to help minimize symptoms; this is known as Medically-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and combines medication with counseling and behavioral therapies. These medications are Methadone and Buprenorphine (a combination of Suboxone, Subutex, and Zubsolv). To reduce cravings after detox, people can also take Naltrexone.  Another way to detox is called Rapid Opioid Detoxification or ROD, where doctors place a patient under IV sedation and monitor them as they detox under anesthesia. This allows them to sleep through withdrawals that include intense pain and other uncomfortable bodily symptoms. After the patient goes through this process, they are usually put on Naltrexone or Vivitrol. Using anesthesia for detoxification is called Anesthesia-Assisted Rapid Detox. Note that this is still a controversial method of detox, and it doesn’t mean the individual won’t still experience withdrawal symptoms once they go home. They could still have nausea, extreme cravings, or other withdrawal symptoms. Also, adverse effects can occur, such as infection, heart attack, come, or even death. It’s thought that anesthesia may be dangerous while detoxing, so it’s best to consult with your doctor about this particular detoxing method.
Length of time
Because the tendency to relapse is high, opioid detox may take some time to be successful. Some factors may include:
  • Genetics and age
  • Level of chemical dependency
  • Type of opioid they used
  • Amount of opioids they used
  • The length of time
  • Overall health
  • The detoxification process
  • Other substances in which the patient has a dependency
Taking into consideration these factors, it could be hours or a month or more to get the body in normal working function again.
Stages of Opioid Detox
The following stages of opioid detox depend on the tolerance of the drug and the user’s body, but these are the familiar patterns of symptoms after the drugs are flushed out.
Between 6 and 24 hours after the drug use has stopped:
  1. Intense cravings for the drug begin
  2. Depression and anxiety start to develop
  3. Nausea and vomiting starts
This is also when medication or Anesthesia-Assisted Rapid Detox is started to help minimize these withdrawal symptoms.
Between 36 and 48 hours after drug use has stopped:
  1. Abdominal cramps
  2. Nausea and vomiting
  3. Sweating and running nose
  4. Watery eyes
It’s at this time when medication is increased to the maximum level since this is the most uncomfortable period of detoxification. It’s also the time when most relapse occurs, so security and supervision are critical.
Between 48 and 72 hours after stopping drug use:
  1. Insomnia
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Muscle pain and tremors may occur
Doctors may choose to keep medication at its maximum dosage or may start to taper off gradually. For most, the worst symptoms occur around the three-day mark and then decrease after that. During this stage, it’s vital that close supervision is enacted to ensure patients stay comfortable and relapse is prevented. Individuals can choose to detox in an inpatient or outpatient rehab facility, or if their doctors permit and think necessary, under rapid detox at a hospital.