You’ve likely heard the U.S. is suffering from an opioid epidemic. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared it a public health emergency.

But what you may not know is how shocking the numbers are. The HHS found that more than 11 million Americans misuse prescription opioids. They estimate that more than 130 people die every day due to opioid-related overdoses.

There is hope. If you or a loved one suffer from an addiction to synthetic opiates treatment is available. 

But, you must know about the withdrawal and detox process. In this guide, we walk you through what you can expect.

What Causes Synthetic Opiates Withdrawal?

There are three terms associated with the drug: opiate, opioid, and narcotics. All three refer to painkillers. But, each is a different classification.

  • Opiates are a natural substance derived from opium.
  • Opioids are semi-synthetic and synthetic opiates that are manmade.
  • Narcotics is the umbrella term for opiates and opioids. Due to the negative connotation of the word, it’s largely fallen out of use. 

The list of opioids is long and includes illegal and legal drugs. The most common types of synthetic opiates are:

  • Heroin
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lorcet, Norco)
  • Oxycodone (Percoset, OxyContin)
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone

A person who suffers from chronic pain or has recent surgery is often prescribed painkillers. They’re designed to trigger endorphins in your body. These endorphins block your body’s response to pain.

Because of the euphoria one feels when they take opioids, it’s easy to become addicted. In fact, many people don’t know they’ve crossed the line into addiction.

Opioids cause a physical dependence. Dependence happens because the body starts to reduce its natural production of endorphins. It needs the opioid to maintain its equilibrium. 

If someone stops ingesting opioids, they go into withdrawal.

What are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Synthetic Opiates?

If you’re addicted to opioids, you can start feeling withdrawal symptoms a couple of hours after your last ingestion. But, it could also take up to 24 hours. The most common and frequent withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Abdominal cramps and aches
  • Constricted pupils
  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular or fluctuating blood pressure
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating (hot and cold)
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting

These symptoms range from mild to severe. Your level of addiction, as well as your overall health, affect your withdrawal symptoms. 

For example, if you’ve been addicted to heroin for a long time and quit “cold turkey,” you may start to experience severe symptoms hours after your last fix. 

Duration of Synthetic Opiates Withdrawal

Not only are the symptoms of withdrawal extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant, but they also can last for up to a month or longer.

Like the severity, the duration of the withdrawal symptoms depends on several factors.

Short-acting opioids — like hydrocodone and oxycodone — can deliver withdrawal symptoms 6-12 hours after the last dose. Long-acting opioids — like fentanyl and methadone — can take up to 30 hours to appear. 

Synthetic Opiates Withdrawal Timeline

Most addicts experiencing opioid withdrawal follow the same timeline. This happens in two stages: acute withdrawal and Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

In acute withdrawal, an addict can expect to experience:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Fever
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • A runny nose
  • Sweating (hot and cold)
  • Tachycardia (the feeling that your heart is pounding or racing)

Typically, the acute withdrawal stage lasts for a week. In extreme cases, it can last as long as four weeks. The normal peak period in this stage is between three and five days.

During PAWS, the symptoms are more mental than physical. They include:

  • Frequent and ongoing disturbed sleep
  • Low energy or enthusiasm
  • Mood swings (extreme anxiety and irritability)
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble concentrating

In the beginning stages of PAWS, your symptoms can change by the minute or hour. After a week or so, they start to last for days at a time.

There is no conclusive trigger for these symptoms. One day you may be fine and the next day you’re depressed. 

For some people, the post-acute stage can last for two years. That is why treatment — both initial and ongoing — is vital to recovery and to avoid a relapse.

Detoxing from Synthetic Opiates on Your Own

Some addicts understand they have a problem. Many of them don’t want to be addicted to opioids. They’re ashamed and may think they can’t face, or can’t afford treatment.

So, they attempt to detox on their own. But, this is a dangerous decision. 

Many opioid addicts describe a feeling of “wanting to die” because of the intense withdrawal symptoms after they quit cold turkey. As a result, many resort to using again to stop the intense symptoms.

Some addicts may feel they’re being strong by detoxing on their own. The truth is, that reaching out and getting proper medical care shows strength, not weakness.

Medical Detox for Synthetic Opiates

Getting assistance through a professional facility has many benefits. The first is that you’re under the supervision of medical personnel while you go through detox. 

How Medical Detox Works and What to Expect 

Medical detox uses pharmacological and psychological treatment methods. Medical and psychological personnel provide close supervision in a comfortable and safe environment. 

Due to the intense and extreme withdrawal symptoms, medical detox is the safest choice. It also gives an addict the best chances for recovery and for avoiding relapse.

This is because you’ll receive treatment for the physical withdrawal and the mental effects of withdrawal. Mental health care providers will evaluate your mental stability during detox. This includes signs of depression, anxiety, and harmful thoughts.

Medical professionals will monitor your vital signs often. This includes checking your blood pressure, respiratory functions, body temperature, and heart rate.  

In some instances, you may take medication to ease your withdrawal symptoms. 

Medications Available for Synthetic Opiates Detox

During medical detox, professionals can prescribe anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and other symptom-specific medications. The most common medications include:

  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex) – shortens the withdrawal period and lessens the severity of the symptoms
  • Methadone – helps to relieve withdrawal symptoms, making detox easier
  • Naltrexone – reduces cravings while preventing the opioid high

Suboxone and methadone are potentially addictive as well. Professionals will only prescribe and administer these drugs under careful and close supervision. They’re given under very controlled guidelines in a controlled environment.

Take the Next Step

If you believe you’ve crossed the line and you’re addicted to synthetic opiates, get help. 

At Addiction Treatment Services, we will help you find a safe and reliable detoxification facility. We will work with your insurance carrier to lessen the financial burden on you. 

To find out how we can help get you the treatment you need, visit our insurance information page which walks you through our process. 

Don’t let anything stop you from getting the help you need. Reach out to us today.