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What is Opioid Detoxification Like?

Detoxifying the body of any remaining traces of drugs is the first step of addiction treatment. Opioids such as heroin and morphine carry a host of discomforting withdrawal symptoms. Fortunately, treatment facilities are staffed with medical professionals capable of managing withdrawal symptoms as they occur. The process can be difficult, but once we successfully get through the detoxification process, we are on our way toward achieving a life of happiness, joyousness, and freedom in sobriety.

Opioid addiction creates major changes in the brain that cause one to be physically dependent on the drug. When an individual suffering from opioid addiction stops taking the drug, they may face painful withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal include, but are not limited to, agitation, anxiety, muscle aches, insomnia, runny nose, sweating, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. According to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, “These may vary in their intensity depending on the level of opioid use as well as other factors such as context and environment. Minimizing these symptoms, which emerge within 6–12 hours from short-acting opioids such as heroin and about 24–36 hours after the last dose of methadone or buprenorphine, depending on the dose, is the main aim in any opioid detoxification program.” Symptoms will vary based on an individual’s biology, amount and frequency of use, and type of opioid being used.

Medical professionals are able to manage symptoms of withdrawal during the detoxification process, often using medication to minimize the most discomforting symptoms. According to the National Institute of Health, “Buprenorphine is the best opioid medication for management of moderate to severe opioid withdrawal. It alleviates withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings. Because of its pharmacological action (partial opiate agonist), buprenorphine should only be given after the patient begins to experience withdrawal symptoms (i.e. at least eight hours after last taking heroin).” However, detox professionals take into account all aspects of an individual’s opioid dependence and health, and may choose a different medication to manage symptoms.

Detoxification alone does little to ensure that an individual will be able to maintain sobriety. The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains, “Although medically assisted detoxification can safely manage the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal and can, for some, pave the way for effective long-term addiction treatment, detoxification alone is rarely sufficient to help addicted individuals achieve long-term abstinence.” After detoxification, it is necessary to enter into treatment to address all other factors contributing to one’s addiction and form an effective treatment plan to give them the best possible chance of overcoming addiction and maintaining long-term sobriety.

Choosing to seek help for addiction and alcoholism is the most rewarding decision you will ever make. Recovery is possible for anyone. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, offers medically-assisted detoxification to ensure that all clients have a safe and positive start to the treatment process. For information about Detoxification and other treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431