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Opioid Detox Timeline

The opioid detox timeline is an individual process, but medically monitored opioid detox is an essential recommendation. Detoxification from an opioid addiction can be extremely unpleasant and cause extreme discomfort. Long-term use of opioids for chronic pain can develop into a habit very quickly. Opioids affect receptors in the brain and influence the brain chemically, so withdrawal can be dangerous once dependence is present. 

Why Professional Opioid Detox is Vital

Opioid withdrawal is uncomfortable and difficult. When dependence on opioids is present, the brain and the body are affected when usage ends. Illicit opioid drugs are hazardous to detox from, as the chemical compounds within them are unknown. Factors such as the length of addiction, the amounts regularly ingested, and the type of opioid determine the opioid detox timeline. The patient’s physical, weight, age, and mental health affect withdrawal. 

Medically monitored detox is a significant recommendation. While detox from opioids isn’t typically life-threatening, if there is a pre-existing medical problem or detox is at home without medical care, symptoms such as dehydration and heart failure could be deadly. Without medical monitoring, the user may end detox because of discomfort, take a hefty dose of opioids for relief, and accidentally overdose. Medication-assisted detox provides medication to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms and control severe diarrhea and vomiting.

Opioid Detox Process

The opioid detox process will be different for each person. Some types of opioids will cause withdrawal symptoms to begin sooner, and some will extend longer than others.  Before the detox starts, an initial assessment will examine the type of opioid detox program to utilize. The differences lie in synthetic opioids and prescription opioids, including short and long-acting types. 

Those taking prescription opioids for 2 weeks or less can typically just stop taking the drug without complications. If the prescription is for more than 2 weeks or extended long-term use, tapering to detox from the drugs under a doctor’s supervision is adequate. Once tolerance and dependence are issues, a medically monitored detox program is the safest and most effective method to detox. 

The following opioid detox timelines list with a corresponding drug:

  • Heroin and short-acting opioid prescription medication: symptoms begin within 8 to 12 hours after the last dose and continue for typically 7 days. 
  • Morphine and immediate-release short-acting opioid prescription medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl: symptoms begin within 8 to 24 hours after the last use and typically extend out 10 days. 
  • Long-acting opioids such as methadone, extended or controlled-release formulas of morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl. Symptoms can appear up to 36 hours after the last dose and continue for 14 days or more. 

More than 106,000 people in the U.S. died from a drug-involved overdose in 2021, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids, from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Opioid detox is available for pregnant women as well. The estimation is that every 18 minutes in the United States, a newborn starts life with painful withdrawals from exposure to opioids in the womb, called neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS). These infants undergo a medically monitored detox in the hospital and experience the same withdrawal symptoms and opioid detox timeline as adults.

Opioid Tapering Techniques

Tapering techniques can be an effective detox process for those taking opioids for over 2 weeks and an extended period. Tapering is a slow, safe method of slowly withdrawing from the medication. A healthcare provider will direct the patient to minimize drug use over time, performing specific procedures to ensure safety. Like a regular detox program, the opioid detox timeline depends on many factors because each person has an individual case scenario. 

A typical taper technique follows these specific guidelines under a physician’s care:

  • Monitoring of pulse, blood pressure, and temperature
  • Urine or blood tests for drug levels in the body
  • Request permission to speak with all healthcare providers on the case to ensure a medically safe taper and be aware of all medical conditions
  • Utilization of other pain therapies to replace opioid pain control
  • May utilize medication-assisted taper to lessen withdrawal symptoms

As the dosage of opioids decreases, the doctor will continue to monitor the taper process. Changing the dosages that are part of the taper process is not advisable. Another essential factor is to stay away from alcohol and other substances. Those struggling mentally with tapering must advise their healthcare provider for assistance. 

Effects of Synthetic Opioid Abuse

Synthetic opioid abuse has a risk of tolerance, dependence, and addiction. The CDC, Centers for Disease Control states that in 2019 there were almost 40,000 deaths due to abuse of synthetic opioids other than methadone. This number was three-quarters of all opioid-related deaths that year. The synthetic opioid detox timeline varies depending on the type of drug. 

The following symptoms are a result of synthetic and semisynthetic opioid abuse. 

  • Drowsiness and sedation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slowed shallow breathing
  • Urine retention
  • Constriction of pupils
  • Euphoria followed by apathy
  • Uneasiness
  • Hand wringing, pacing, and uncontrolled tongue movements
  • Impaired thinking and movements
  • Impaired judgment
  • Respiratory problems
  • Sexual dysfunction

Effects of Prescription Opioid Abuse

Prescription opioid abuse can occur intentionally or by accident after misusing the prescription. Addiction can occur quickly, and the opioid detox timeline differs depending upon the type of drug. Misuse includes taking medication other than prescribed or someone else’s medication.

Prescription opioid medications can be effective, but addiction is highly probable because of the euphoric effect they produce. The following symptoms are a result of prescription opioid abuse:

  • Despair and anxiety
  • Rage and violent interactions
  • Risk-taking behaviors
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Cause of dysfunctional behaviors with family and friends
  • Inability to communicate effectively
  • Poor performance on the job and decline in responsibility
  • Low blood pressure
  • Skin rashes
  • Headaches, double vision
  • Increased saliva production
  • Confusion and memory problems
  • Dry mouth

Explore Opioid Detox with Tennessee Valley Recovery

Those affected by addiction to opioids and fearful or anxious concerning the opioid detox timeline can find assistance with Tennessee Valley Recovery near Tennessee. Medically monitored detox with our professional and compassionate detox staff can be safe and effective.

Contact us to discuss our many programs and address any questions and concerns left unanswered. Recovery begins with the initial detox process and is most successful, followed by a solid treatment program.