Narcotic Withdrawal Symptoms and Signs and Detoxification
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Narcotic Withdrawal Symptoms and Signs and Detoxification

Dependency on narcotics can occur very rapidly or after a prolonged period of time. Recreational use can both lead to narcotic abuse and physical dependence.

What you will learn
  1. What is a narcotic?
  2. Signs of narcotic withdrawal
  3. How long does it take to detox from narcotics?
  4. Narcotic withdrawal treatment

Narcotic withdrawal results from a physical dependence on narcotic drugs. Legally, the term narcotic refers to opiates. This includes naturally occurring opium, drugs derived from opium, and synthetically engineered opiates. Well-known narcotic drugs include legal medications like morphine, codeine, and Oxycontin and illegal substances like heroin.

Narcotics are known to be highly addictive substances. Misuse or abuse of opiates increases the risk of physical dependency. Attempting to quit a narcotic substance once addiction has manifested can be difficult, but seeking outside treatment from medical professionals can help considerably.

Withdrawing from Narcotics: Options for Help

Dependency on narcotics can occur very rapidly or after a prolonged period of time. Recreational use of narcotics and medically prescribed painkillers can both lead to narcotic abuse and physical dependence. You may have developed a tolerance to a narcotic painkiller by taking it too frequently or for too long.

When tolerance develops, individuals need stronger doses of the narcotic substance to feel its full effects. Physical dependence has developed when your body requires the presence of the drug to prevent withdrawal. The euphoric effects that narcotic drugs produce in users often drive them to abuse and addiction. You may also find yourself experiencing a psychological dependence in which you use the drug for personal satisfaction.

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When being treated for dependence, you will experience narcotics withdrawal symptoms. The severity, type, and duration of narcotic withdrawal symptoms depend on a number of factors including the type of drug, the dose, and the duration of use. Your physical and mental health at the time of treatment can also affect withdrawal symptoms. Generally, higher doses produce more intense symptoms.

You may experience any number of symptoms including psychological effects like irritability, anxiety, and confusion along with physical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and shaking. You are also likely to feel an intense craving for the drug. You can expect withdrawal symptoms to appear as soon as 12 hours after your last dose.

Narcotics abuse is considered a serious disorder that should be addressed immediately. Fortunately, a number of treatment methods exist to help you overcome your addiction, and you should seek help as soon as possible for the best outcome. The initial stages of treatment for narcotic abuse are usually hospitalization to help with the withdrawal process and medications to alleviate the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.

Support groups aid with counseling and lifestyle changes and behavioral therapy allows you to address the reasons for dependence and communicate with family members and loved ones. You can choose to undergo narcotic withdrawal treatment at various places or at a dedicated rehab center that guides you through all the stages of treatment.

How Long Do Narcotic Withdrawals Last?

Depending on the drug, the timeline for withdrawals can be anywhere from minutes to days. The duration of symptoms can be several months in length if the addiction was severe.

Detoxing, Addiction Treatment Rehab and Recovery

Detoxification is a process that involves flushing the narcotics out of your system. Detoxing is one of the first hurdles on the road to recovery and can be mentally and physically taxing as this is when you will experience withdrawal symptoms. When you attempt to overcome your dependence on narcotics, you must first successfully manage withdrawal and detoxification.

Treating your dependence with the help of medical professionals will make it easier to overcome your craving for narcotics and work through any unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Rehab usually incorporates a number of treatment options to help you both mentally and physically. Most rehab centers offer 30-, 60-, and 90-day programs that provide dedicated support during treatment, rehabilitation, and recovery. Some programs isolate you from negative external influences, so you can focus solely on treatment and overcoming your addiction.

Are There any Home Remedies for Getting Clean Safely?

Getting clean from narcotics such as heroin and morphine can be among the most challenging drugs to overcome. It is possible in some cases to use a home remedy as an alternative to ease and relieve the symptoms of withdrawal, but this route is not recommended because the physical pain during detox leads many people to relapse. It’s also important to distinguish between symptoms that are a natural cause of detox and those that are signs of something more life-threatening.

How Long Does it Take to Detox from Narcotics?

It can take several weeks or even months for the effects of narcotics to leave someone’s system.

Narcotic Information at a Glance
Medication Name, Costs Class of Medicine
  • Generic Name: Narcotics
  • Generic Name Variations: Varies
  • Chemical Name: Varies
  • Brand Name: Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet, Darvocet, Darvon, Percocet, Percodan, Tylox, Oxycontin
  • Brand Name Variations: Morphine, hydrocodone
  • Cost/Price: Varies, but usually between $0.25 and $75 per pill
  • Used to Treat Addiction? Yes
  • Function or Use at Low Dose: Treat pain
  • Function or Use at High Dose: Treat severe pain, often after the surgery
  • Chemical Makeup: Varies
  • System: Central Nervous System
  • Duration of Action: Between 4 and 6 hours
Form, Intake, and Dosage Interactions and Complications
  • Drug Forms: Tablet, elixir, liquid
  • Administration Routes: Ingested/swallowed, injected
  • Dosage: Varies
  • Overdose: High risk, Varies
  • Alcohol Interaction: Yes
  • Illicit Drugs: Yes
  • Prescription Medications: Yes
  • Contraindications: Yes, depending on narcotic
Effects and Adverse Reactions Substance Abuse
  • Short-Term: Pain relief, euphoria, constipation
  • Long-Term: Tolerance of the narcotic, withdrawal symptoms every few hours without the drug including severe pain, muscle cramps, tremors (shakes) and other symptoms
  • Risk of Substance Abuse: High
  • Signs of Abuse: Decreased focus, theft, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, decreased interest in appearance, discipline issues
Physiological Problem Signs and Symptoms Dependence and Addiction Issues
  • Withdrawal Syndrome Onset: Anywhere between a few hours to several days
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: Abdominal pain, confusion, diarrhea, anxiety, excessive tearing, fever, achiness, muscle cramps, mood swings, leg cramps, sweating, tremor (shakes)
  • Tolerance: Rate varies by drug and patient
  • Cross Dependence: Yes
  • Physical Dependence: Yes
  • Psychological Dependence: In some cases
Legal Schedules and Ratings
  • Controlled Substances Act Rating: Depends on substance; some narcotics are Schedule I


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