People use opioids both legally and illegally. Doctors prescribe these medications for chronic pain treatment. Many of these prescribed patients suffer accidental addiction to their medication, while others become addicted after illegally using opioids for a euphoric high. Regardless of how addiction occurs, ending painkiller use means going through uncomfortable opioid withdrawal.

What Are Opioids and Why Are They Used?

Man lying in bed trying to sleep through opioid withdrawal.

Opioids are a broad class of drugs usually taken to help relieve chronic pain. Because these drugs create euphoric and relaxing feelings, many people use them for illegal recreational use. Opioids are man-made versions of opiates, illicit drugs like heroin and morphine.

Commonly prescribed versions of opioids are codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, and fentanyl. In 2013, doctors wrote about 250 million prescriptions for opioids in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthcare professionals write most of these prescriptions for chronic pain, to reduce a cough, for surgical sedation or to manage diarrhea.

People abuse opioids because they provide intense feelings of well-being, reduced anxiety, lowered physical tension and decreased aggression. Even when patients start using the medication according to doctor instructions, many overuse their supply because of the soothing feelings opioids provide.

Side effects patients experience include nausea, vomiting, constipation and slowed activity levels. This keeps many from overusing their prescription or trying to obtain more of the drug.

Even after just a short period of opioid use, taking these drugs leads to physical dependence. After dependence has set in, quitting use is more difficult because it causes the unpleasant side effects of opioid withdrawal. Opioid withdrawal starts a dangerous cycle of addiction, that of drug seeking and drug taking despite knowing that using the drug is causing problems.

Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal

Opioid withdrawal is a collection of symptoms you feel when opioid dependence has taken over and you try to quit using them. Although withdrawal is not usually life-threatening, it is very uncomfortable. How uncomfortable your opioid withdrawal will depend upon many factors. These factors include how long you’ve been using the drug, how much you take per dose, whether you combined use with other substances and your own physical and mental health.

Many symptoms result from withdrawal. Most of these are just very uncomfortable. But some are indirectly life-threatening. These dangerous effects include severe depression, suicidal thoughts, and drug cravings.

Drug cravings are dangerous due to potentially deadly post-withdrawal relapse. When the drug has been cleared from your body, you are not able to handle your previous dose. This means it is difficult to know how much you can take and many people simply take too much.

Symptoms of withdrawal from opioids include:

  • Watery eyes and runny nose
  • Sweating, anxiety, irritability, and sleeplessness
  • Muscle pain, cramping, shaking and chills
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • Dilated pupils

For most people, opioid detox symptoms last between four and ten days. They begin in 12 to 30 hours after taking your last dose. Some people experience long-term withdrawal with symptoms like depression, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, irritability and poor decision making.

The Help You Need for Opioid Detox

If you suffer the symptoms of addiction to opioids, particularly when you try to stop using your drug, you need help from a quality detox center. Serenity House Detox & Recovery in Fort Lauderdale and Jupiter, Florida provides accredited detox for men and women seeking freedom from their physical dependence on drugs or alcohol.

Accredited programs at Serenity House Detox & Recovery include:

If you are ready to end the cycle of addiction in your life, call Serenity House Detox & Recovery now at 866-294-5306 for more information about available programs. You can end your opioid addiction. You just need the right help.