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How To Detox From Opiates

By Jenny Hunt, Palm Partners Recovery Center

March 7, 2012

Opiates are a class of drug that includes street drugs like heroin, as well as prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, oxycontin, fentanyl, vicodin, and lortab. Opiates are a highly addictive class of drugs. These drugs mimic natural painkilling neurotransmitters in the brain, which is what creates the high from opiates. However, in response to long term use of opiates, the brain produces less of these substances, which causes detox from opiates to be very painful.

Detox from opiates can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms. Common opiate acute withdrawal symptoms include extreme pain, tremors, muscle cramps, sweating, chills, rapid heartbeat, itching, restless leg syndrome, runny nose, sneezing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness. Detox from opiates alone is not life-threatening, but it is extremely uncomfortable. Acute detox from opiates can last ten to fourteen days (depending on level of use.) Post-acute detox from opiates lasts an indefinite amount of time, usually proportional to how long you have been abusing opiates. However, post-acute detox from opiates is much less severe and generally includes symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, and mild anxiety.

One of the most common medications given to a person who wants to detox from opiates is buprenorphine (brand name: Suboxone or Subutex). Buprenorphine has replaced methadone as the medication of choice to treat symptoms of detox from opiates. This medication eliminates the worst of the withdrawal symptoms from opiate detox. If you choose to detox from opiates at home, I would highly recommend making an appointment with your doctor to discuss the use of buprenorphine. Always take this medication under the supervision of your doctor.

There are a few other things that can make your detox from opiates more comfortable. Warm baths can help with the chills and muscle aches. Make sure to clear your schedule when you detox from opiates, because you will feel very sick and will not have much energy. Sleep is essential when you detox from opiates, so be sure to get plenty of rest. Buy food that will be easy to keep down when you feel nauseous. Make sure to drink plenty of water and try to get up and move around at least once a day.

Detox from opiates is just the first step when trying to kick an opiate addiction. Most people who undergo detox alone eventually relapse. When you detox from opiates at home, 12-step support groups can be invaluable. You will be able to meet people who have been through the same thing and can offer you advice. The 12-steps will help you continue to live a drug and alcohol free life.

If possible, detox from opiates at a medical detox facility is the best option. These facilities are able to offer around-the-clock monitoring and medications to east the withdrawal symptoms. Detox facilities will ensure a safe, comfortable detox from opiates. They will provide comfortable accommodations, good food, and therapies like massage to help ease the pain of detox from opiates.

If you or someone you know needs to detox from opiates, call us at (877) 711-HOPE (4673) or visit us online at

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