Opioids are a group of very powerful drugs, and their side effects can be very dangerous. Continued opioid use can cause permanent damage to both the mind and body and the risk of overdose is very high, as well. So why don’t more people try to get treatment for their opioid addiction? It’s most likely because the withdrawal symptoms from opioids are also really terrible. The intensity of the effects of withdrawal makes quitting seem insurmountable, particularly for those who have tried to quit on their own. The risks of continued opioid abuse, however, are far worse than the symptoms of withdrawal. 

Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal

The primary reasons that people use opioids are to block pain and to feel pleasure or euphoria. When attempting to break an opioid or heroin addiction, you not only lose the pleasant side effects but also gain withdrawal symptoms that are numerous and intense. According to MedLine Plus, withdrawal symptoms typically begin within 12 hours of using an opioid. Some of the immediate symptoms include:

  • Runny nose and watery eyes
  • Yawning frequently
  • Sweating excessively
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety or panic
  • Agitation
  • Muscle aches

Further into the withdrawal, you might also experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Chills

All of these symptoms can be absolutely miserable to deal with, but the symptoms themselves are not life-threatening. The side effects of opioid use, however, present significant risks to the cardiovascular and respiratory systems which can also be dangerous during withdrawal, so it is ideal to detoxify from opioids with medical supervision.

Why Opioid Cravings Are So Intense

The brain and physical chemistry of opioid use can create powerful amounts of pleasure and euphoria but going without opioids leaves a powerful void in that process, too. Additionally, opioids can create a tolerance, which creates a physical need for the drug, as well as withdrawal symptoms when you stop using opioids.

Because of both the chemistry of how opioids work in your body and the propensity for creating a tolerance, opioids can create intense cravings. Once you are addicted, the cravings can be so intense that it feels like you have no choice but to access the drugs and use them again. This creates an additional barrier to treatment for opioid and heroin addiction because the cravings are so powerful.

Withdrawal Treatment for Opioids

As with all addictions, successful treatment of opioid addiction has multiple components. Because of the intense withdrawal symptoms and cravings, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) options for opioids can be used as well. These options include medications such as Methadone, Buprenorphine and Naltrexone, which can help reduce the symptoms of withdrawal from opioids.

There is no magic wand and no miracle drug that can counteract the effects of withdrawal from opioid drugs. With MAT, however, there is at least some relief from the most extreme symptoms, which makes it a little bit easier to endure withdrawal. MAT is a much better option than quitting cold turkey and is designed to make it easier mentally, emotionally and physically. Using MAT as one component of treatment for opioid addiction, together with therapy, education and other resources, can greatly improve your chances of recovery.

Why Opioid Addiction Is Worse than Withdrawal

The most obvious reasons that opioid addiction is worse than withdrawal are the high risks of overdose and death. The opioid epidemic has become a public health crisis in the United States because of the high number of overdoses. 

The possible consequences to your overall physical health that you risk when you continue to use opioid drugs are horrific and include brain damage, cardiovascular and respiratory complications, depression or other mental health diagnoses, and more. 

Whether you have a prescription pain medication addiction, or fentanyl or heroin addiction, withdrawal is a temporary and uncomfortable state that comes and goes. The mental and physical health risks of continued addiction, however, can be permanent, even fatal. The consequences of continued opioid addiction are always worse than the consequences of opioid withdrawal.

Healing from Opioid Addiction

Withdrawal symptoms can be miserable and also misleading. Your body may make you uncomfortable enough to believe that you will not survive the withdrawal symptoms, but they are part of the healing process. As you seek withdrawal treatment for opioids and heal from addiction, the withdrawal symptoms will gradually decrease. You can overcome the effects of withdrawal, and by doing so, have a much healthier outcome.


The effects of withdrawal from opioids can be discouraging for someone who is trying to recover from opioid addiction. However, as miserable as withdrawal symptoms are, the alternative, remaining in an opioid or heroin addiction, is far more dangerous. With MAT, withdrawal symptoms are decreased, and the opportunities for your success increase. New Life in Maryland can guide you through your treatment for opioid addiction. Call us at (877) 929-2571 to find out more about MAT and other treatment for opioids.