Pain Killers: Getting off is hard to do...

Opiate Overdose Symptoms

Opiates are drugs which are based from the opium poppy. These drugs are most frequently prescribed as painkillers, because they attach themselves to the opiate receptors inside the brain and create relief of pain as well as sensations of euphoria, accompanied by a time of feeling peaceful and content. Opiates are extremely addictive, specifically when not used as directed through a physician. Additionally, because the body gets accustomed to the opiates, it will require more medication to produce the same result, which unfortunately can cause an overdose.

In addition to the immediate effects of the drugs, other short and long-term effects are often related to opiate use and abuse. The most typical side effects are constipation, nausea and pinpoint pupils. As the addict increases intake, the results become more severe and may include extreme sleepiness, slowed respiration or breathing and pulse rates. The most well known side effect is physical dependence or addiction that takes place with long-term use.

The most unfortunate side effect of opiate or painkiller abuse is overdose or death.

Opiate Overdose Symptoms

Intestinal Symptoms

Opiates make the muscle tissue of your intestinal tract to become relaxed, which cause the regular movements which assist digestion and move waste products out of your body, to stop. The end result is constipation, which will, in the case of an overdose, becomes serious. Stools become so hard the intestinal tract become impacted. If they are not treated, this may lead to a rupture with the bowels. Other intestinal signs and symptoms of an opiate overdose might include loss of appetite or spasms of the stomach or intestines thereby causing nausea and vomiting.

The Eyes

Anyone who has consumed an excessive amount of an opiate will likely have blood-shot eyes, but will also have pinpoint pupils. Pinned or pinpoint pupils become very small, even in a dark room. Even though pinpoint pupils aren’t limited to an overdose, it is a symptom which can help confirm an opiate medication is the reason for the overdose.

Respiratory Symptoms

Probably the most dangerous symptoms of opiate overdose is a depressed, respiratory or breathing rate, as per the National Institute for Drug Abuse. The individual could have difficulty breathing, show labored breathing or very shallow breaths. This could lead to the appearance of blue skin tone, lips or fingernails. Breathing can become so shallow that it stops. This is normally the main cause of death from an overdose.

Cardiovascular Symptoms

Opiates can also negatively affect the cardiovascular system, specifically in an overdose scenario. An individual who has consumed an excessive amount of an opiate will have a decreased pulse rate together with low blood pressure. When your heart is unable to pump blood efficiently throughout the body, internal organs and brain they can become oxygen starved and the result is damage.

Central Nervous System

Opiates depress the central nervous system, which causes a loss of alertness. The most typical result of this is drowsiness which causes the overdosed individual to briefly fall asleep, even in the middle of a conversation. Much more harmful effects on the central nervous system are a loss of consciousness, seizures or even coma.

The CDC estimates that more than 100 people die every day from unintentional drug overdoses; many of them involving prescription pain killers.

Leave a Comment

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

If you’re trying to kick your addiction to painkillers or some other opiate, heroin, oxy’s, or whatever, here is the Opiate Withdrawal Timeline you can use to follow your symptoms and gauge your time to physical recovery. The opiate withdrawal timeline is a general timeline and some people may experience a different or longer timeline, depending on how long you have used and especially if you are coming off of either Methadone or Suboxone/Subutex.

Methadone and Suboxone(buprenorphine) both have a half life longer than regular opiates, as they are “Partial” opiates that are used to block opiate receptor cells int he brain. So the withdrawal symptoms will last longer and can be a bit harder or more severe than a regular opiate. The good news is that if you taper down to as low as you can get before jumping off, your withdrawal will be less severe and won’t last as long.

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline – The First Stage

The first part of the Opiate Withdrawal Timeline usually starts within the first 12 hours of your last opiate intake and it is also known as Acute Withdrawal.

  • The first symptoms usually begin within 12 hours of your last opiate intake or use but within 24-36 hours of last opiate use.

  • The initial withdrawal symptoms peak at about day number Three and have been known to last up to 5 days, usually tapering after the 72 hour mark

  • The main symptoms of First Stage Acute Withdrawal are:

  • The first initial symptom many addicted encounter is Sneezing and Runny Nose with Watery Eyes.
  • Irritability and Depression/Extreme Depression

  • Insomnia – Inability to get any sleep

  • Nausea and/or Vomiting

  • Abdominal cramps

  • Diarrhea
  • These Flu-like physical symptoms usually subside after seven to ten days but everyone is different. For some it may be a little longer, for others it will be less. However, the magic number seems to be 72 hours. 72 Hours seems to be the hump everyone needs to get over then it starts gettign better from there on out.

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline – The Second Stage

The second stage of the opiate withdrawal timeline can usually last for about Two Weeks. During this time the natural levels of endorphins, that the brain stopped making and were depleted of during long-term painkiller or opiate use, begin to stabilize during this period and the brain starts to make them again. This part of the opiate withdrawal timeline is critical as many people return to opiate abuse because they want to be happy again. This is due to the depression associated with this stage of withdrawal and the brain not making enough endorphins. If you exercise during this time, it will help the brain produce natural endorphins and normalize.

  • The major symptoms during the second stage are:
  • Insomnia
  • Goose bumps
  • Chills
  • Dilated pupils
  • Leg cramps
  • After the initial first acute withdrawal symptoms, a person may start to feel much better and feel as if they are starting to get their life back.

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline – The Third Stage

This third stage can last the longest but it is usually the least severe stage of the opiate withdrawal timeline. In this stage we experience PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome). It can take anywhere from one week to two months or more.  Some people don’t even experience this stage of the withdrawal and the person feels back to normal and goes on with life as if nothing ever happened. However, if a person does experience this stage, once  finished, they usually feels back to their normal selves again

  • The symptoms of this stage are mainly psychological, including but not limited to:
  • Depression and/or Anxiety (Depending on how long you used/abused opiates for, the brain could take a while to normalize, but have no fear, you will be happy again)
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia

This is the Opiate withdrawal Timeline as seen by many an addict. It helps to have support throughout all stages of withdrawal and recovery. Support in the form of loved ones being understanding. Typically loved ones who have never been addicted or gone through opiate withdrawal will never understand what you are going through, so it may be in your best interest to check out a 12 step program.

Read the real life Opiate Withdrawal Timeline of a recovering addict in this post:

A Week In The Life Of A Recovering Pill Addict


Comments (201)