Opioid Addiction: What Do Withdrawal Symptoms Look Like?

October 12, 2021

Unfortunately, opioids have withdrawal symptoms that can make overcoming opioid addiction a challenging and painful process.

Opioids are a class of drugs prescribed as a painkiller, but when misused, your body may become dependent on them, leading to addiction. Besides the painkilling effect, other effects of opioids may include a rush of pleasure, drowsiness, relaxation, and slowed breathing. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at what makes opioids addictive and what the withdrawal symptoms feel like. Keep reading to learn more.

Opioid Addiction 

When using an opioid, it attaches to the opioid receptors in the brain. These receptors are what lead to pain relief and pleasure. After the drug is taken and the opioids bind to the receptors, dopamine is released, and the brain’s reward circuits are activated. 

Dopamine is associated with many different types of drug use that lead to addiction. It is considered the “happy hormone,” which is released when you’re doing things that make you happy or excited, such as exercising, enjoying a hobby, and spending time with someone you love. However, when dopamine releases as an effect of a drug, your brain will stop producing the hormone by itself, so you become more reliant on the opioid, eventually leading to addiction.

Once someone is addicted to opioids, weaning off them can be a painful process that addicts often avoid. Let’s take a look at the symptoms.

Opioid Withdrawals 

Everyone will feel withdrawal symptoms differently, depending on how long you’ve been using opioids, how healthy you are, and how long your body keeps the drug in your system. However, many people do experience the following symptoms: 

  • Insomnia 
  • Restlessness 
  • Anxiety 
  • Excessive yawning 
  • Body aches
  • Sweating 
  • Chills
  • Vomiting 
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea 
  • Fever 
  • Shaking 
  • Rapid breathing 
  • Hypertension 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Rapid heartbeat 
  • Seizures 
  • Hallucinations 

For short-acting opiates, such as codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, and morphine withdrawal symptoms are likely to start setting in somewhere between six and twelve hours after the last dose. Many people will report that symptoms will last between seven and ten days for someone who has been taking short-acting opioids. For long-acting opiates such as fentanyl, methadone, and oxycodone (controlled-release), symptoms will start to appear around thirty hours after your last dose. In both circumstances, the symptoms peak around seventy-two hours after the latest dose. For those who have been using long-acting opioids, withdrawal symptoms can last up to fourteen days.

Seeking Help for Opioid Addiction 

Because of the severe symptoms accompanying opioid withdrawal, it is not advised to quit “cold turkey” or do it yourself without seeking help. While no single treatment will work for all addicts, addiction can be medically treated and successfully managed. 

Seeking help through a treatment center around doctors and medical staff that are well-versed in addiction treatment is one of the most effective ways to cleanse the body of the drug and manage future cravings. By choosing a recovery center, you will have specialized care where the staff will create a program that is right for you. Many recovery centers will over a holistic, behavior therapy, or medicated approach or mix of the three. By seeking professional help, you’ll have access to a staff that will give you the tools you need for a recovery journey that is as successful and painless as possible.

Steps Recovery Centers 

At Steps Recovery Centers, we have your best interest in mind. Whether you are struggling with opioid addiction or another form of substance abuse, we are ready to help you find peace. We take an individualized approach to each of our patients, and we are prepared to help our patients create better habits leading to a healthier and happier life. 
We have recovery centers in Draper, Payson, and St. George, Utah, so if you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, consider Steps Recovery Centers. Contact us today to learn more about our program and to schedule your free consultation with us.

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