How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your System?

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What Are Opiates?

Opiates are a category of drugs derived from opium, which is naturally found in poppy seeds and poppy plants. Unlike some street drugs, opiates are commonly prescribed in medical settings. Many who use opiates wonder “how long do opiates stay in your system?”. Opiates are clinically used for treating mild to severe pain.

But given their addictive properties, combined with their ability to calm patients and relieve physical discomfort, they are frequently misused.

Powerful Painkillers That Can Cause Addiction

It may be common knowledge that opiates are powerful painkillers that can cause addiction, but it is also natural to wonder how long opiates stay in your system? Opiates are narcotics and can be natural or synthetic. Synthetic opiates relieve pain like natural opiates due to their similar chemical structure.

However, unlike their natural counterparts, they are produced in laboratories.

Synthetic Opiates

Some research suggests that synthetic opiates, like fentanyl, can be even more dangerous than their natural equivalents because they are more potent. Whether natural or synthetic, opiates bind to receptors in the brain, which depresses the central nervous system, resulting in decreased pain sensations.

Opiate Prescriptions

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there was a roughly 19% reduction in opiate prescriptions from 2006 to 2017 in the United States. However, in 2017, there were nearly 58 opiate prescriptions written for every 100 Americans. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that over two million Americans abuse opiates and that more than 90 Americans die from opiate overdose every day.

Below are some of the most commonly abused opiates:

  • Codeine
  • Heroin
  • Morphine
  • Hydromorphone
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone
  • Hydrocodone/Dihydrocodeinone
  • Oxycodone
  • Dilaudid
  • Demerol
  • Vicodin
  • Meperidine
  • Oxymorphone

How Long Do Opiates Stay in Your System?

To successfully detox from a drug, it is important to answer the question, “How long do opiates stay in your system?” For opiates, the answer is not always easy to understand because opiates are a diverse category of drugs, and each opiate has a different duration of time in the body.

Accordingly, the method through which the drug is taken is a consideration. For example, drugs like heroin and morphine are often injected and do not pass through the digestive system, so they act more quickly and leave the body more quickly.

Other considerations that impact how quickly an opiate leaves the body include the potency of the drug as well as the users:

  • Metabolism
  • Body mass
  • Weight
  • Age
  • Overall Health
  • Water consumption

The “half-life” of a drug determines how long it will remain in the body.

What is a Half-Life of a Drug?

A half-life is a time between when a drug enters the system and when it has been halfway metabolized. For a drug like heroin, that half-life can be up to seven hours, and for oxycodone, it can be up to 30 hours. While this information helps you understand when withdrawal effects may occur, it is important to remember that side effects can last long after the drug has left the body.

Opiate Effects and Abuse

Opiates work by binding to specific receptors in the brain and blocking sensations of pain. But it is not only physical pain that opiates can relieve. Opiates trigger the body’s dopamine release response. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and hormone released by the body as a reward after positive behaviors, such as exercising, eating, and having fun.

This chemical release leads us to want to engage in more of those activities. Unfortunately, when connected to drugs such as opiates, this chemical reward response can lead to addiction – even when drugs are taken as prescribed. As the body grows more tolerant of the drug, it takes more of the opiate to produce the same sedating or pain-relieving effect.

This often results in the user increasing the quantity consumed.  Failure to take the opiate will result in withdrawal, the symptoms of which can include anxiety, irritability, insomnia, muscle aches, congestion, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping.

Opiate Addiction

Opiate addiction can also have significant additional consequences for the body, including reduced immune response and increased sickness, greater sensitivity to pain, reduced respiratory activity, psychomotor impairment, liver damage, and a variety of other long-term health consequences.

Mental Illness and Opiates

Due to their anxiety-relieving and sedative effects, the use of opiates is common among individuals struggling with mental health disorders. Roughly 16% of Americans have been diagnosed with mental health disorders, and research indicates that they receive more than half of all opiate prescriptions. Opiate use can also have negative consequences for the mental health of patients who did not previously struggle with such disorders.

Opiate Abuse Anxiety and Bipolar Disorder

Opiate abuse has been linked to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. There is evidence showing that the typical use of opiates can also be the cause of these disorders. This is because opiates slow, so the longer an opiate is used, the more depressed the brain’s activity becomes.

Depression or a chronic, emotionless state becomes common with prolonged use of opiates, preventing those experiencing addiction to opiates from feeling joy in their daily lives.

Strong Correlation Between Opiates and Depression

Additionally, research reveals a strong correlation between the use of opiates for longer than 90 days and depression, even in individuals who have no history of depression. However, many treatment options can end the cycle of addiction, helping the brain and body of those struggling with addiction return to a normal, healthy state.

Opiate Treatment

Research suggests that most individuals who attempt detoxification “cold turkey” are likely to relapse. This can be particularly dangerous because, as the body’s tolerance to a drug begins to return to normal, a relapse can easily trigger an accidental overdose.

However, unlike treatment for some other addictive substances, prescription medications can help those struggling with opiate abuse beat their addiction. For example, lofexidine is an FDA-approved medicine designed to reduce opiate withdrawal symptoms.

By reducing withdrawal symptoms, those struggling with opiate abuse can better resist the urges created by their addiction. Combined with other treatment options, this strategy can lead to lasting recovery.

Vivitrol for Opiate Addiction Treatment

Another drug that assists with opiate addiction is Vivitrol. Instead of reducing withdrawal, Vivitrol prevents opiates from activating reward chemicals in the brain. Furthermore, the effects of Vivitrol can last for weeks, making this treatment option more convenient for those who work or have limited access to local medical care.

While medication-assisted detoxification is dramatically more likely to succeed than programmatic recovery alone, pairing medication-assisted recovery with treatment programs can lead to even greater success.

12-step programs, such as Narcotics Anonymous, can provide emotionally supportive environments in which those in recovery can find friendship and advice. Additionally, inpatient and outpatient treatment centers can provide the necessary support for those in need of recovery services.

Addiction Treatment at Resurgence

Equipped with medical staff, counselors, and therapeutic services, centers such as Resurgence can help treat any underlying reasons for the addition. Furthermore, they can also assist with co-occurring disorders, such as substance abuse and depression, anxiety, grief, and low self-esteem.

Since these centers usually have medical providers on staff to write prescriptions, they can offer medically assisted recovery, detoxification, and holistic treatment in one location – thereby giving those recovering from opiate addiction the best possible chance of permanent recovery.

Resurgence Behavioral Health

You can beat addiction. And Resurgence can help. Resurgence Behavioral Health is Orange County’s preferred drug and alcohol treatment center. We understand your struggle with opiate addiction, and our experienced and empathetic staff can help you break the cycle.

Our team includes addiction specialists, medical professionals, certified addiction counselors, and licensed therapists. We are Joint Commission, CARF, and ADP certified, and able to provide you the best care possible to meet your needs. Resurgence residential locations can be found in Huntington Beach, Fountain Valley, Costa Mesa, and Fullerton Hills.

Our program also offers a beautiful outpatient campus, with communal spaces, a computer lab, ponds, and water features, to help you feel safe and at home.

No Two Treatment Journeys Are Alike

Since Resurgence Behavioral Health understands that no two treatment journeys are alike, we offer diverse, customized care options, such as social and medical drug detoxification, residential, outpatient, and partial hospitalization programs, and other state-of-the-art recovery resources to support and empower.

And we want to make this recovery accessible to everyone. We accept most PPO insurances and offer payment plans, including online payment. Call Resurgence Behavioral Health, and begin your healing today.

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.