Opioids: From Start to Finish

Last Updated: Sep 20th 2019

Reviewed by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

You’ve seen Trainspotting, you’ve seen House, probably several other shows with painful withdrawals from heroin or prescription painkillers. But what’s the reality? What are opioids and what’s the big deal?



Opioids are a type of drug that includes substances such as heroin, fentanyl, and oxycodone among others. In America some opioids are illegal while others are prescribed. Some are derived from the opium poppy while others are synthetic with similar traits.

The human body naturally produces a small quantity of opioids. It does this for a variety of reasons such as naturally fighting pain or depression. So, when a refined version of the drug is created, it can naturally attach to the receptors of the nervous system. Too much use of this drug can create dependence, and increased tolerance, and even an overdose. Although many people’s lives have been saved by limited use of drugs like morphine, the addictive nature of opioids causes major problems for many others.



A person going off opioids should do so with the help of a doctor and rehabilitation professionals. There are many challenges which complicate getting clean and that’s why it should be done sooner rather than later. Withdrawal from oxycodone and other opioids can create physical sickness, diarrhea, and even a risk of a heart attack.


Different drugs remain in a user’s system for longer and this affects detox time. Withdrawal symptoms for heroin may start within only 12 hours from the last use while methadone may take a day and a half to start.


When working with a rehabilitation program, a person can have a safe and supervised detox. They can also meet with peers who have successfully gone clean. One of the most important things they can do is learn the tools necessary to create a new lifestyle—a lifestyle that helps them avoid a relapse.


To learn more about what options you or a loved one has to detox from an opioid, contact us today.


Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Brittany Polansky, MSW, LCSW

Brittany has been working in behavioral health since 2012 and is the Assistant Clinical Director at our facility. She is an LCSW and holds a master’s degree in social work. She has great experience with chemical dependency and co-occurring mental health diagnoses as well as various therapeutic techniques. Brittany is passionate about treating all clients with dignity and respect, and providing a safe environment where clients can begin their healing journey in recovery.