March 8, 2018 Felicia Durling

Detoxing from Opiates

Opiate addiction is a widespread epidemic taking lives by the dozens day by day. Opioids are powerfully addictive drugs that can come in different forms. Found in painkillers, street drugs, and cough syrups, opiates are hiding in plain sight, often obscuring their addictive qualities. Popular prescription opiate drugs include Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, Percocet and Zohydro. Codeine, a substance commonly prescribed to combat chronic coughing, is also an opiate. At the heart of these opiate painkillers is a variation on the ingredient morphine, which is what the body creates when it absorbs heroin into the system.

Detoxing from Opiates

Originally derived from the poppy plant, opiates are the result of processed opium, which is the pure form of heroin. On the street, heroin is rarely pure. Already condensed by the time heroin reaches the hands of illegal manufacturers, it can be cut with any number of substances. Additionally, heroin can be used to cut into other drugs like synthetics and the popular club drug ecstasy.

Addiction to opiates happens quickly, especially when prescriptions are abused. Using more than the prescribed amount at any time can create an enjoyable feeling of warmth, euphoria, and weightlessness, but it simultaneously creates a tolerance in the mind. Even without abusing these fickle drugs, a tolerance can still build based on the fact that opiates create a copious amount of dopamine, a chemical in the brain that stimulates pleasure and reward. The effects of opiates are intense, drawing many into addiction out of a need to avoid the insufferable symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal occurs when tolerance has reached a threshold disallowing the brain to get the same high it was getting before.

Symptoms of Opiate Detox

  • Opiate detox can include digestive issues as heroin and morphine are constipating. As digestive enzymes return to function, expect stomach cramping, difficult bowel movements, or diarrhea.
  • As dopamine drops from overproduction to normal production, feelings of depression, anxiety, irritability, and discontent are likely to occur in unannounced waves.
  • Restlessness and spasming may occur as a result of ‘kicking’ the body’s way of releasing heroin from the system.
  • Depending on severity of use, symptoms can include confusion, hallucinations, and disorientation.
  • Pupils may quickly change from constricted to dilated.

Detoxing from opiates usually takes 2-3 weeks for the substance to be undetectable in the system, but side effects of opiate addiction can last in the system for up to two years.


Opiate detox is difficult, but should not sway you from overcoming your opiate addiction. If you or a loved one is suffering from an opiate addiction and need help, call the Center for Life Change today. We’re here to help you get well. (951) 775-4000

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