Opiate withdrawal refers to a range of symptoms that can occur once opioid intake is interrupted or reduced. The amount, length and intensity of the symptoms vary from person to person. For some individuals, it can be a natural process, and for others, withdrawal can be severe. Opiate withdrawal occurs because it takes time for the body to regulate and adjust to no longer having the drug in the system.
An opioid is synthetic narcotic that works similarly to naturally occurring opiates. These opiate-like substances bind to the opioid receptor sites in the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal tract. Once the drugs attach to these receptor sites, they immediately exert their effects.
The brain manufactures natural opioids, which are responsible for a host of physical responses. Some of these reactions are exhibited as a decrease in pain, a slower respiratory rate, or more-controlled anxiety or depression. The body does not produce the number of opioids needed to manage high levels of pain. Taking prescription or illicit opioids can reduce adverse effects caused by pain, but they present an array of dangerous side effects.
Signs and Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal
Opiate withdrawal symptoms can be excruciating to get through if not correctly treated. For example, in some people, withdrawal symptoms can resemble the worst imaginable flu. The fear of going through a painful withdrawal is what keeps many people dependent upon drugs like heroin and oxycodone. Symptoms also can affect the individual physically and emotionally, and there are treatments to manage all of these aspects of withdrawal.
Different opioids remain in your system for various lengths of time, and the substance or combination of substances can affect the withdrawal syndrome onset. The duration of withdrawal symptoms also depends on a combination of other factors, such as frequency and amount of the use, length of the dependence, and the person’s health and emotional status.