How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Treatment Last in Inpatient Care?

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Inpatient care can be beneficial to those in need of opiate withdrawal treatment, especially if they have been abusing opioid drugs for a long period of time or have attempted to quit using them many times before. Because opioid withdrawal is not usually life-threatening, many individuals attempt to go through the process of withdrawal without inpatient care. However, seeking treatment from healthcare professionals is always safer during your withdrawal period, and if you have a severe addiction to opioids, you may want to consider inpatient care. But how long does opioid withdrawal treatment last in an inpatient center?

The Opioid Withdrawal Process

opiate withdrawal

Opiate withdrawal can generally be broken into three stages.

People normally experience a number of symptoms during their opioid withdrawal process. If they have been abusing the drug, they will experience more intense symptoms along with cravings for opioids. The other symptoms of opioid withdrawal can often be broken into three main stages.

The first stage of opioid withdrawal usually causes individuals to experience anxiety, agitation, restlessness, insomnia, and increased yawning. A person will also begin to exhibit flu-like symptoms in many cases like a runny nose, goose bumps, alternating chills and hot flashes, sweating, and coughing. In addition, the person will begin to feel severe pain, usually early on after stopping their opioid use.

In the second stage of withdrawal, the individual will notice the first batch of symptoms begin to subside, but they will likely experience gastrointestinal problems such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Abdominal cramping may also occur. These symptoms will usually begin to subside after a few days, but the third stage of withdrawal may see the individual experiencing prolonged symptoms. This is why you must never attempt to return to your life prematurely after going through serious opioid withdrawal.

How Long Does Withdrawal Last in Inpatient Treatment?

Generally, the syndrome itself lasts from one to two weeks, but there are many factors that may affect this timeline when an individual decides to attend inpatient treatment. For example, it can sometimes take longer than two weeks for certain patients to be fully weaned off a medication while in medically-assisted withdrawal. Other centers, however, may provide a shorter treatment period to wean patients off medication. In some programs, the process can take as little as three days (Staten Island University Hospital). Many factors, like the medication you are on, the maintenance schedule your doctor gives you, the drug that you were specifically taking, and even the severity of your addiction can all dictate how long your withdrawal process may take.

Medications and Medical Needs

If you are receiving medication or being maintained on pharmacological agents like buprenorphine or methadone, it may take longer for your body to adjust to the medicine and then for you to be slowly weaned off it. This is a likely scenario in some inpatient care centers because individuals who stay in these types of treatment centers often need extra help when they are attempting to quit abusing opioids. This can amount to the need for extra time in treatment, and in the withdrawal process specifically, to allow the patient to work through the issues associated with their drug abuse instead of merely weaning them off the medication as quickly as possible.

Many individuals go through the withdrawal process over a one-to-two week period while in inpatient care, but the process can often last longer depending on the medication the patient is being given during treatment and their medical needs based on their addiction.

Drugs of Abuse and Length of Action

Different opioids have different withdrawal times depending on the dose the individual was taking and the medication’s length of action. According to Harvard Medical School, “Short-acting opiates tend to produce more intense but briefer symptoms. The effect of a single dose of heroin, a relatively short-acting drug, lasts 4-6 hours, and the withdrawal reaction lasts for about a week.” Longer-acting opioid drugs, such as methadone or extended-release medications like Xartemis XR (which contains oxycodone HCL and acetaminophen), may have milder symptoms but those symptoms may linger for a longer period of time. This could still affect the withdrawal timeline, even if the individual is being maintained on or treated with medications.

In addition, different drugs also cause the withdrawal syndrome itself to begin at different periods. Some medications and illegal opioids may quickly lead to the presence symptoms when they are suddenly no longer being abused while others may take longer to leave the individual’s system and, therefore, for the withdrawal process to begin. As stated by the National Library of Medicine, “Symptoms usually start within 12 hours of last heroin usage and within 30 hours of last methadone exposure.”

How Can I Know What The Length of My Treatment Will Be?

There are a few ways to find out how long you are likely to be in treatment for opioid withdrawal while in inpatient care and about how long your general symptoms will last.

First, find out if the drug you have been taking was a short-acting or a long-acting drug. If you were taking heroin, it is very likely that your symptoms will be more intense but shorter lived than if you were taking methadone. Then, once you have chosen an inpatient treatment center, always make sure to inquire how long their withdrawal process usually takes. You can also talk to your doctor once you arrive at the facility to find out how long the process will be.

Usually, opioid withdrawal lasts about a week, but there is no way of knowing for sure how long your process will last if you do not ask your doctor. Also, if you are attending a treatment center where you will also receive treatment for your opioid addiction, the program itself will likely be longer than a week, but your withdrawal symptoms may begin to subside before your full treatment period is over.

Do You Want to Learn More About Opioid Withdrawal Treatment?

Call 800-584-3274 today to find out more about the inpatient treatment programs in your area and the process of opioid withdrawal. Once you find a program and understand the process of withdrawal and its general timeline, you will be ready to start your journey of recovery.


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