About Opiate Detox Drugs

About Opiate Detox Drugs

Prescription medication such as OxyContin and Percocet, and narcotics such as heroin, methadone, morphine and opium are classified as opiates. These drugs can eliminate pain and produces the user with an intense high upon use. They are also highly addictive. Once an individual becomes addicted to opiates, to get “clean” she must undergo the detox process (ridding her body of the drug she has become dependent on).


For more than 30 years, clinicians have used methadone to treat opiate addictions such as heroin addiction. Methadone is a narcotic that is close to morphine but is not as addictive. It is a stabilizing drug that lowers the desire for other opiates and blocks withdrawal symptoms. If taken properly (orally once a day), methadone suppresses the withdrawal symptoms for 24 to 36 hours. Methadone lowers opioid cravings; it does not give the user the euphoric rush they receive from other opioids. Although the patient becomes dependent on methadone, she is free from the addictive and destructive behavior opiate addicts exhibit. Per the Executive Office of the President Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), long-term medically-supervised methadone use produces no serious side-effects.


Per the Office of Diversion Control, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the DEA have approved almost 15,700 physicians to administer office-based buprenorphine treatment. Buprenorphine is designed to treat pain and opiate addiction. It poses less of a dependency threat than methadone and provides lesser withdrawal symptoms in users who stop taking it. The availability of buprenorphine in physician’s offices allows opiate addicts more treatment options. However, some patients respond better to methadone than buprenorphine, and therefore continue methadone treatment.

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Although naltrexone has been approved to treat heroin addiction, it is not commonly used because patient compliance is poor. Naltrexone helps the user to stop using drugs but does not prevent the withdrawal symptoms from occurring. It is generally prescribed to patients undergoing outpatient care, but the treatment begins after detox in a residential (inpatient) environment has occurred. Before taking naltrexone and to avoid withdrawal symptoms, the patient must be detoxified by medication and already be free from opioids for several days.

Detox Timeframe

An opiate addict generally undergoes withdrawal symptoms a few hours after his last dosage. Significant withdrawal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, muscles and bone aches, and cold flashes generally peak 48 to 72 hours after the last use. Seizures and convulsions can appear if medical attention is not sought. Opiate detox tends to last five to seven days.


The 2006 Monitoring the Future Survey revealed that in 2005, 5.5 percent of 12th graders used OxyContin, 9.5 percent used Vicodin and .8 percent used heroin, all for non-medical reasons.