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What Causes Opiate Withdrawal? - Addiction Advice Online

What Causes Opiate Withdrawal?

Opiate addiction is a serious and growing problem in many countries around the world, with devastating consequences for individuals, families, and communities. But what causes opiate withdrawal, and how can it be treated? In this article, we’ll explore the causes of opiate withdrawal, the symptoms associated with it, and what can be done to help those struggling with opiate addiction.

What Causes Opiate Withdrawal?

What is Opiate Withdrawal?

Opiate withdrawal is a set of physical and psychological symptoms that occur after stopping or reducing opiate use. It occurs because of changes in the body’s chemistry that have occurred over a period of time due to opiate usage. Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and can last for days, weeks, or months.

Opiate withdrawal can be difficult to manage and uncomfortable, but it is important to understand that it is a normal process and can be managed with the right treatment and support. Symptoms can include physical and psychological changes, such as nausea, excessive sweating, muscle aches, anxiety, and restlessness.

What Causes Opiate Withdrawal?

Opiate withdrawal is caused by changes in the brain and body that occur after taking opiates for a long period of time. When a person takes opiates, they bind to receptors in the brain and body and create a feeling of euphoria. Over time, the body becomes used to the opiates and starts to depend on them in order to function normally.

When the opiates are no longer present, the body goes into withdrawal, as it has become accustomed to having the opiates in order to function. This can lead to a range of symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, muscle aches, anxiety, and restlessness.

What Are the Symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal?

The symptoms of opiate withdrawal can vary in intensity and duration from person to person. Common withdrawal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, agitation, insomnia, and muscle aches. Other symptoms can include anxiety, depression, irritability, cravings for opiates, and restlessness.

The severity of the withdrawal symptoms will depend on the type and dosage of the opiate that a person was taking, as well as the length of time that they were taking the drug. The withdrawal process can last for several days or even weeks, and it is important to seek medical help if the symptoms become severe or if they last for an extended period of time.

What Are the Treatment Options for Opiate Withdrawal?

Opiate withdrawal is best managed with medical care and support. Treatment options include medications, counseling, and lifestyle changes.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a combination of medications and counseling to help manage opiate withdrawal symptoms. The most commonly used medications are buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. These medications work by binding to the same receptors in the brain and body that opiates bind to, helping to reduce the cravings for opiates and the severity of the withdrawal symptoms.

Counseling and Support

Counseling and psychotherapy can help to address the underlying issues that may have led to opiate use in the first place. It can also help to provide coping strategies to better manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce the risk of relapse.

How to Manage Opiate Withdrawal at Home

Get Support

Getting support from family and friends can be invaluable during the withdrawal process. They can provide moral support and help to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness.


Taking care of oneself is important during opiate withdrawal. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and avoiding drugs and alcohol can all help to manage withdrawal symptoms.

When to Seek Professional Help

Opiate withdrawal can be difficult to manage and uncomfortable. In some cases, professional help may be necessary. If the withdrawal symptoms become too severe or if they last for an extended period of time, it is important to seek medical help.

Top 6 Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs and symptoms of opiate withdrawal?

The signs and symptoms of opiate withdrawal can vary depending on the severity of the addiction, but generally include physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, cold sweats, muscle aches, and abdominal cramps. Psychological symptoms can include intense cravings, mood swings, anxiety, depression, and difficulty concentrating.

What are the stages of opiate withdrawal?

The stages of opiate withdrawal typically include a pre-withdrawal period, an acute withdrawal period, and a post-acute withdrawal period. The pre-withdrawal period typically includes the onset of physical and psychological symptoms, and can last for several days. The acute withdrawal period is the most intense, and can last for up to a week. During this time, physical and psychological symptoms are at their peak. The post-acute withdrawal period is the final stage and can last for weeks to months. During this time, symptoms gradually become less intense, and cravings become less frequent.

What causes opiate withdrawal?

Opiate withdrawal is caused by abrupt discontinuation of opiate use after a period of heavy or chronic use. When an individual uses opioids over a long period of time, their body becomes dependent on the drug, causing a physical and psychological dependence. When an individual abruptly stops using opioids, the body goes into withdrawal, causing the individual to experience intense physical and psychological symptoms.

What are the long-term effects of opiate withdrawal?

The long-term effects of opiate withdrawal can include physical and psychological changes. Physically, there can be long-term damage to the organs and systems of the body. Long-term psychological effects can include changes in mood, decreased motivation, difficulty concentrating, and difficulty sleeping. Additionally, long-term withdrawal can also lead to an increased risk of relapse.

How is opiate withdrawal treated?

Opiate withdrawal is typically treated with medications and therapy. Medications can include anti-nausea, anti-diarrheal, and anti-anxiety medications, as well as medications that can help reduce cravings. Therapy can include cognitive-behavioral therapy and support groups, which can help individuals identify and address the underlying causes of their addiction, as well as learn healthy coping skills to help manage cravings and prevent relapse.

Are there any complications associated with opiate withdrawal?

Yes, there are potential complications associated with opiate withdrawal. Complications can include dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and heart arrhythmia. Additionally, there is also a risk of psychosis, seizure, and death in extreme cases. It is important to seek medical help when experiencing opiate withdrawal in order to avoid any potential complications.

The science of opioid withdrawal

In conclusion, opiate withdrawal is an uncomfortable and often painful process that can have a range of causes. It is important to understand the basics of opiate withdrawal, such as the different causes, the symptoms, and the ways to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Ultimately, talking to a healthcare professional or a substance abuse specialist is the best way to ensure that you receive the proper care and support needed to help you overcome opiate withdrawal.

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