How to Detox From Opiates


Detoxing from opioids and opiates is a challenging, but ultimately worthwhile, process. In this article, we’ll walk you through the process and look at how you specifically detox from certain types, including heroin, tramadol, codeine, methadone, and morphine.

What Is an Opioid?

Opioids are a type of medication used for pain relief that can be created synthetically or derived naturally from the opium poppy. You might hear the drugs derived from natural sources, such as morphine and codeine, referred to as opiates. Synthetic opioids can include pethidine, fentanyl, and tramadol.

But what exactly are they used for? Prescription opioids are given for pain relief from illness or injury, as well as end-of-life care. While it is an effective pain relief, even when used under medical supervision opioids can hurt your health. Regular use of opioids can result in physical dependence, addiction, and even death. 

Of the 115,000 prescriptions written every day, five result in death. Approximately half (2,219) of all drug poisoning deaths registered in 2021 involved an opioid (with heroin and morphine being the most common). 

How Does an Opioid Detox Differ From Other Detoxes?

How you experience opioid withdrawal will be unique to you, but if you are very physically dependent on opioids, a detox will not likely be easy and may be a deeply unpleasant and challenging process to go through. Medical professionals sometimes use diagnostic tools like this Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale, along with examining your opioid history and symptoms, to determine how you might experience withdrawal. 

Is an Opioid Detox Dangerous?

Opioid withdrawal can be very uncomfortable and difficult for the patient, but the withdrawal can actually be dangerous too. Complications of opioid withdrawal are commonly underestimated, but opioid withdrawal syndrome is a complex condition that can be fatal. You can make your detox as safe as possible by undergoing a medically supervised detox. 

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How to Detox From Heroin?

Heroin is widely considered one of the most addictive drugs. You don’t have to use it much to become at risk of dependence, and from here you will likely quickly build up tolerance meaning you’ll need more and more to reach the same high. Unfortunately at this point, you will notice withdrawal symptoms if you try and stop using heroin. 

Because of its strength and the intensity associated with withdrawal, not to mention the health risks, it’s advised that you only attempt a detox under supervised medical care. 

How Long Does It Take To Detox From Heroin?

Because heroin leaves your body quicker than many other types of painkillers, withdrawal sets in fast. You will likely begin to experience withdrawal symptoms in as little as six hours after your last dose. 

The worst withdrawal symptoms will last about a week, with symptoms peaking on the second or third day. However, several factors impact the overall length of withdrawal you’ll experience, including:

  • How long you have used heroin for
  • What dose you were taking 
  • How often you were taking it 
  • How you took heroin 
  • Other physical or mental health issues 

While in most cases the worst of the symptoms are gone in a week, people recovering from heroin addiction may also have to deal with post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which can include anxiety, depression, fatigue, mood swings, memory problems, and poor sleep. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can last up to two years. 

Can You Detox From Heroin at Home?

Because of the intensity of withdrawal symptoms commonly experienced on a heroin detox, along with the complicated and serious risks to your health, it is not advised that you attempt to detox heroin at home. 

Instead, you should ideally undergo a supervised medical detox with doctors who can help guide you through it and manage the worst of your symptoms. You can do this as an inpatient or an outpatient at a rehab facility. Given the severity of a heroin detox, an inpatient program is usually the best option. 

How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Withdrawal symptoms set in after as little as six hours after your last dose and last for around a week, peaking on the second or third day. While the worst symptoms should become more manageable after a week, some people do experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which can last up to two years. 

Can Any Medication Help With Heroin Detox?

One of the benefits of completing a medically supervised detox is that there are doctors on hand who can prescribe medication to help reduce cravings and deal with some of the other withdrawal symptoms. 

Research has found that for mild opioid withdrawal, you might consider vitamin B and C supplements, for moderate to severe withdrawal you might also be recommended clonidine to help with the physical symptoms of withdrawal like vomiting, cramps, chills, and tremors. Depending on your withdrawal, you might be recommended opioid medications such as buprenorphine, methadone, or codeine phosphate. 

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How to Detox From Tramadol?

Tramadol is a strong painkiller and part of the class of drugs known as opioids. It is available on prescription to treat moderate to severe pain. Unfortunately, it is addictive especially if used for too long, even at therapeutic doses. Once addicted to tramadol, getting off of it can be challenging and withdrawal is usually unpleasant. 

Because of the mechanism by which tramadol relieves pain, withdrawing from it may be different compared with other opioids. Tramadol helps relieve pain in two ways: it stimulates the opioid receptors in the brain and it inhibits the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine (neurotransmitters). Because of this, people withdrawing from tramadol may experience both traditional opioid withdrawal (which includes symptoms like feeling and being sick, aches, and gastrointestinal pain) and atypical opioid withdrawal syndrome which can include symptoms like paranoia, hallucinations, confusion, and panic attacks. 

How Long Does It Take To Detox From Tramadol?

Withdrawal symptoms for shorter-acting opioids like tramadol usually peak at around 36 – 72 hours after the last dose, and last in total for around a week. You might notice symptoms for a second week, but they should quickly taper off and settle down. Unfortunately, you might also experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which can last up to two years (though they do typically decrease in severity as time passes). 

Can You Detox From Tramadol at Home?

Depending on the intensity of the addiction, there are options to detox as an inpatient and outpatient. If your addiction is such that you require a detox, it’s always advisable to make sure it is medically supervised. Not only will this option keep you the safest, but it can also help to manage any challenging withdrawal symptoms too. 

How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Withdrawal symptoms usually peak by day three and start to taper off in intensity after the first week. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which can include anxiety, depression, fatigue, mood swings, memory problems, and poor sleep, can last up to two years. 

Can Any Medication Help With Tramadol Detox?

If withdrawal symptoms become too intense, there are medications you can use to improve your experience. Which medications you will be offered will depend on the symptoms you have. For example, you might be offered metoclopramide for vomiting or clonidine for anxiety.

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How to Detox From Codeine?

Codeine is often used for ongoing pain where other painkillers, such as aspirin, paracetamol, and ibuprofen haven’t worked. You can buy a low-strength version from a pharmacy, but the stronger formulations are only available on prescription. 

Unfortunately, codeine can be addictive, especially after prolonged use. As is the case with other opiates, as time passes the body and brain become more dependent on the drug to function, and when trying to stop withdrawal symptoms kick in. 

How Long Does It Take To Detox From Codeine?

The first four days after quitting codeine are when the physical symptoms of withdrawal peak. This could include muscle pain, sleep problems, sweating, and vomiting. By the end of the first week, the worst of these symptoms will begin to fade and should stop altogether fairly soon. 

Can You Detox From Codeine at Home?

As with other opiates, the best option is to engage in a medically supervised detox as an inpatient or otherwise as an outpatient. If that isn’t accessible to you, you could discuss home detox options with your doctor or healthcare professional who will be able to advise. 

They will likely suggest you taper off of codeine slowly, rather than quitting cold turkey. While stopping abruptly will make the process faster, the withdrawal symptoms can be more intense. However, for people in the grips of an addiction, self-regulated tapering can feel impossible and in many cases leads to relapse. 

How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Withdrawal symptoms should peak by day four and gradually taper off around the week mark. 

Can Any Medication Help With Codeine Detox?

Which medications you are recommended will depend on whether you have mild, moderate or severe withdrawal symptoms. 

For example, mild pain could be treated with ibuprofen and diarrhoea could be treated with loperamide. Moderate symptoms including anxiety, agitation, and sweating could be treated with clonidine and if you’re going through a severe withdrawal, you may be prescribed methadone to help with cravings. 

How to Detox From Methadone?

Methadone is a synthetic opioid commonly used to treat heroin addiction. It works on the same opioid receptors as heroin, so it can help minimise withdrawal symptoms like shaking, shivering, and cravings. 

Some people use methadone for maintenance therapy. This is where you swap from heroin to a heroin replacement, like methadone, and stay on a stable dose (often long-term). From here, people then undergo a methadone detox where they gradually withdraw from it.  

How Long Does It Take To Detox From Methadone?

Withdrawal symptoms typically begin around 24 hours after the last dose of methadone and may include tiredness, anxiety, and sleep issues. To begin with, withdrawing may feel like the flu. Symptoms peak at around three days and can include feeling and being sick, intense cravings, and muscle aches. Some symptoms can last longer than a week, but the worst of them should be over by then. 

Can You Detox From Methadone at Home?

Going through methadone withdrawal is not easy, it’s best avoided doing it solo at home. As is the case with all opioid detoxes, the ideal scenario is a medically supervised detox with professionals on hand to help manage the worst of your withdrawal symptoms. 

How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Withdrawal symptoms kick in around 24 hours after the last dose, peak around day three, and should gradually taper off after a week. 

Can Any Medication Help With a Methadone Detox?

Undergoing a medically supervised detox is also helpful because there will be doctors on hand to prescribe medications to make your withdrawal symptoms more tolerable and increase your chances of detoxing and avoiding relapse. 

The specific medications you take will depend on your symptoms. When it comes to managing some of the worst symptoms associated with methadone, buprenorphine, naloxone, and clonidine can be used. 

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How to Detox From Morphine Sulfate?

Morphine is a strong painkiller reserved for severe pain where weaker painkillers do not work. It’s a controlled medicine and is only available only on prescription. It’s a strong drug and can be highly addictive as tolerance develops quickly. Once tolerance has developed, physical dependence and addiction can follow. 

How Long Does It Take To Detox From Morphine Sulfate?

As with all withdrawal processes, the length of time and experience will depend on the individual. As a guide, withdrawal symptoms can start as soon as six hours after the last dose of morphine. 

The physical symptoms usually last up to ten days, but generally, fade after day five. Unfortunately, some people experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which can include depression, poor energy, and insomnia, and this can last much longer. 

Can You Detox From Morphine Sulfate at Home?

Detoxing from morphine is challenging, in part because of the severity of physical and mental symptoms many people experience while going through this process. For that reason, a supervised medical detox is the best option. 

However, if you choose to detox, make sure you speak with your doctor or healthcare provider. They will likely stress the importance of tapering off use gently, rather than abruptly stopping cold turkey (which often results in severe withdrawal symptoms and increases the chance of relapse). 

How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Withdrawal symptoms typically begin six hours after the last dose and start to fade by day five. By day ten, your physical symptoms should have cleared up. Unfortunately, some people experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms which can last for months if not years. 

Can Any Medication Help With Morphine Sulfate Detox?

Depending on the severity of your withdrawal symptoms, there are several treatments to help ease you through your detox. Addiction treatment medications including naltrexone and buprenorphine are sometimes used to aid in morphine detox.

Contact Castle Craig

If you are dealing with opioid addiction, you might feel overwhelmed, scared, or not sure of the next step to take. It’s important to realise that you are not alone, there is support available and you can break free of your opioid addiction.

Castle Craig has successfully helped people beat addiction for over 30 years. We have an opioid addiction treatment programme that reflects the specific requirements of opiate users and includes a medically managed detox and withdrawal process.

If you’d like to discuss your situation please contact us on our 24-hour, free and confidential helpline and speak to one of our specialists.

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