No one ever expects to grow up to become an addict. Many people developed an addiction to opiates/narcotics as a result of being prescribed them by a doctor for a legitimate purpose. For others, it is a gradual decline that we never see coming. Whatever the reason of your opiate addiction, you can get clean. However, you first need to understand what you can expect to feel in the first week of withdrawal.
Day 1: The morning after you last used narcotics you probably won’t wake up feeling bad right away. However as the day progresses, the symptoms of withdrawal become blinding. Your nose will run, and your eyes will water. You will realize that you’ve gone all day without eating. Most importantly, you feel like your body is carrying an extra fifty pounds of weight. And this isn’t even the worst part.
Day 2: The worst part of day two is knowing you are going to wake up feeling much worse than day one. You might wake up sweating, but feel freezing at the same time. By now your legs are starting to ache and your back is screaming at you. Once again, the urge to eat probably isn’t there. Don’t stress that, just drink plenty of fluids. Your temperature changes from freezing to burning hot in minutes. Towards the end of the day, even though you are physically exhausted and sick, your legs won’t let you sit still. Trying to lie down to sleep is very challenging. Once again, once you do fall asleep you will probably wake up drenched in sweat at least once a night.
Day 3: Good news, this day SHOULD not be quite as bad as the first two. However, depending on the type of opiate you used, the symptoms could last longer. However, the one great thing about withdrawing from this drug is the symptoms come on fast, and generally subside within a week or two. You once again probably woke up sweating but freezing at the same time. You will still feel like not eating, but by now your stomach should be screaming at you in more ways than one. You may decide to try to eat, only to have it come right back up. Also, by this time your colon is starting to spasm from being dead for so long, so you will start having diarrhea. It is highly important to keep fluids going in on this day. You will still feel restless and exhausted, but by now it should be manageable.
Day 4: By now you’re probably tired of changing your sheets every morning, but the night sweats should subside soon. You’re stomach is still cramping and you’re spending a lot of time in the bathroom. However, your bones and muscles should not feel as bad as they have (especially if you were able to maintain some amount of nutrition). For a second you are starting to breathe deeply again. This is when the real work begins.
Day 5: As the physical symptoms start to subside (or at least lessen) this is when the hard part kicks in. By now you may have noticed that you’re dropping things, forgetting where you are or where you’re going, or even putting your clothes on backwards. Your brain is still in a fog and unfortunately, will probably remain that way for a while. You may break down in tears one minute, and then feel nothing the next. Or, you may feel emotions at inappropriate times or with inappropriate people. This feeling is the longest lasting of all the symptoms. Many people say they still experience the “fogginess” years after getting clean.
From here on out, it should only get easier. Remember; take it one day at a time and keep telling yourself that you will not feel like this forever. Find a support group, or attend twelve step meetings to help you cope as well as to help keep you occupied. Relapsing will only make future withdrawals more lengthy and painful. However, if you can make it through the first five days you are well on your way to a life and a future of sobriety.