Opiate Detox - Successful Drug Detoxification - Detox Plus UK

Opiates and Opioids – What’s The Difference?

Originally, opioid was a term used for a group of medications synthesised to mimic the effects of opiates. Opiates and opioids are now used interchangeably for any drug or medication that contains or mimics the effects of opiates.

Opiate/Opioid drugs

All opiates, whether prescribed, illicit or over the counter, are incredibly addictive and quickly create a physical dependence. Once physical dependence has been established in an individual, it is common to also suffer from psychological dependence – This is known as opiate addiction.

Addictive opiates that we offer a full medical detox for include:

Whatever opiate you are struggling to stop, we assure you we can help.

What is an Opiate/Opioid Detox?

Opiate detox is a term used for the process of eliminating opiates from the body. There are various methods of detoxing from opiates/opioids, but not all are safe or pain-free.

Methods of opiate/opioid detox:

Full Medical Opiate Detox

Full medical opiate detox is clinically recognised to be the safest and most successful way of stopping opiates.

Full medical opiate detox is conducted within a residential environment, staffed by doctors, nurses and therapists trained in opiate detox. Private drug detox clinics and hospitals are examples of where a full medical opiate detox can be facilitated.

Detox Plus UK strongly advocate a full medical opiate detox for any individual suffering from opiate addiction or opiate dependence. Symptoms of opiate withdrawal are effectively managed through prescribed medication, vastly increasing your chances of becoming opiate free.

Success rates for full medical opiate detoxes are far higher than other methods as you are monitored throughout the withdrawal process. The environment in which you undergo a full medical opiate detox is also very safe, secure and free from the temptation to use drugs.

A full medical opioid detox can be accessed privately through one of our reputable and well-established opiate detox clinics.

Medically Assisted Opiate Detox

A medically assisted opiate detox is a detox method that incorporates pharmaceutical medication to ease opiate withdrawal symptoms. The main difference between a full medical detox and a medically assisted opiate detox is in the levels of support the patient receives while they are undergoing detoxification.

Medically assisted opiate detoxes are usually conducted within quasi-residential drug rehab or the community.

A private medically assisted opiate detox tends to be slightly cheaper than a full medical opiate detox and therefore is better suited to someone on a budget.

If conducted within the community, a medically assisted opiate detox offers very low levels of medical support, and only works for those that are extremely motivated in stopping and have a good network of supportive family and friends.

Within the safety of a quasi-residential rehab, patients are offered support from qualified counsellors and therapists throughout their stay. They can also undergo reviews from a medical doctor as and when required.

Detox Plus UK wants to help as many individuals to become opiate free as possible. We, therefore, work with both fully residential drug rehabs and quasi-residential drug rehabs.

Opiate Substitution Regime

An opiate substitution regime is usually conducted within the community under the supervision of the local drug and alcohol team. The opiate that the person is dependent on is replaced by prescribed alternative medication. An example of this would be substituting heroin for methadone. In the community, there are many drawbacks and pitfalls to this process.

Opiate substitution can be a very lengthily process. There is nothing to stop the individual from becoming addicted to the substitute opiate or using Class A drugs, drinking alcohol or abusing prescribed medications on top of the regime. For this reason, it rarely is successful in the community; especially in cases where the individual has a history of alcohol or drug addiction. 

Opiate/Opioid Reduction Regime

An opiate reduction regime involves a detox plan whereby the individual reduces the number of opiates they take until it is safe for them to stop completely.

Usually, this is a detox method implemented by GPs who are trying to wean a patient off an opiate painkiller medication that they have become dependent on.

Opiate reduction regimes can be lengthily and difficult. They only tend to be successful where an opiate dependence has occurred inadvertently as a result of having to take opiate pain relief for a prolonged period.

opiate drugs

If the individual suffers from addiction, psychotherapy will be required in addition to the reduction regime to help them stop.

Cold Turkey Opiate/Opioid Detox

Cold turkey detox involves stopping all opiates/opioids abruptly and without a detox plan or professional support in place.

Cold turkey detox from opiates/opioids is both dangerous and extremely unpleasant. Producing severe opiate withdrawal symptoms – some of which can become life-threatening if medical attention is not sought.

A cold-turkey detox from opiates is only likely to work for someone who is not on high levels of drugs and does not suffer from addiction. More often than not, with a chronic dependence to opiates, the withdrawal symptoms and opiate cravings are too much for any individual to bear, and they end up returning, back to opiate use.

Detoxing, in this way, where there is a heavy opioid dependence is also likely to produce protracted acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). These symptoms can last for months and tend to come and go in waves. It can take up to a year or more before the individual starts to feel fully well again.

Detox Plus UK understand that withdrawing from opiates is a daunting prospect for most. We only work with rehab clinics that are entirely able to support a medical opiate detox with high levels of clinical care. We can ensure your safety and maximum comfort at all times. Please call us today to find out more.

Why Opiates/Opioids Are So Very Addictive

Opiates/opioids are well known for their addictive properties. You may be wondering how you so quickly became dependent on them.

Many individuals become opiate dependent inadvertently, as a result of taking over the counter or prescribed opiate pain relief for a prolonged period. It is when they try to stop taking the opioid medication or opiate drug that they realise there is a problem and develop withdrawal symptoms.

The body and brain can become opiate dependent within as little as 5 to 7 days of continually taking an opiate medication. This can happen even quicker with illicit opiate drugs such as heroin.

Tolerance to opiates/opioids can occur within as little as 3 to 5 days of continuous use. This means that to feel the effects of the drug, the dosage will need to be increased.

The reason tolerance and dependence to opiates occurs so rapidly is that opiates replicate our own naturally occurring painkilling chemicals produced by the body and brains opioid receptors. The body and brain, therefore, readily accept them as a boost to our organic response to pain.

Opiates and opioids also create addiction very easily. As well as having powerful analgesic properties, this class of drugs also have a very pronounced side effect of euphoria. When opiates and opioids are taken when pain relief is not required, the euphoric effects are even more pronounced. This makes them a popular choice of drug for abuse.

Would I Benefit From An Opiate/Opioid Detox?

If you have a dependence on opiates and are unable to reduce and stop them on your own, then you would undoubtedly benefit from a medical opiate/opioid detox.

The easiest way to tell if you are opiate dependent is if you take fewer opiates than you usually do and go on to develop opiate withdrawal symptoms.

Opiate withdrawal symptoms occur when the brain requires more opiates to function normally. This only happens where an opiate dependence has developed.

Those that regularly abuse opiates would also benefit from an opiate detox. Opiate abuse is particularly dangerous and can be a tough habit to break without professional intervention.

The Symptoms & Stages Of Opiate/Opioid Withdrawal

Opiate/opioid withdrawal has three main stages; each stage is presenting slightly different symptoms and in varying degrees of severity.

Where there is prolonged abuse of opiates, a 4th stage can present. This is known as protracted withdrawal or PAWS (post-acute withdrawal symptoms). PAWS symptoms can last for months after the opiates are out of the persons’ system.

Early symptoms of opiate withdrawal, stage 1

Stage 1 of opiate withdrawal starts between 6 and 30 hours after the last dose of opiates, depending on whether the drug is short-acting or long-acting.

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Dehydration
  • Mental Fog
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Lack of motivation
  • Depression
  • Restless legs
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose and increased tearing
  • Skin crawling
  • Yawning
  • Strong opiate cravings

Later opiate withdrawal symptoms, stages 2 and 3.

Stage 2 symptoms of opiate withdrawal start around 72 hours after the last dose of opiates. The symptoms are more severe and present the most challenging part of opiate detox. Symptoms can last for between 7 and 10 days, after which they start to taper off.

  • Intense opiate cravings
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Poor concentration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps and restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Racing thoughts
  • Severe abdominal cramping
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Heightened emotions
  • Impaired cognitive ability
  • Severe lethargy
  • Sweating
  • Weight loss

Dangerous opiate withdrawal symptoms include hallucinations (auditory or visual), dehydration, malnutrition, paranoia, suicidal ideation and seizures.

Not everyone suffers from these symptoms. The longer you have been dependent on opiates and the more opiates you have been taking, the higher the risk of developing dangerous withdrawal symptoms and complications.

Dangerous or severe opiate withdrawal symptoms require immediate medical treatment as can become life-threatening.

What Is Classed As Opiate/Opioid Abuse?

Opiate abuse is recognised by:

  • taking more than the prescribed dose of opiates
  • mixing opiates with alcohol or other drugs for more significant euphoric effects:
  • taking opiates that are not prescribed for you,
  • taking opiates purely for euphoria and not for a remedy that relieves pain
  • taking illicit Class A drugs 

Over-the-counter medicines that contain opiates are also frequently abused. They should never be used for longer than 3 to 5 days without consulting a doctor and should only be used as instructed on the box or by your pharmacist.

Another form of opiate abuse is diverting the route of administration to gain a quicker and more powerful euphoric effect. This may involve crushing and snorting, making into a solution and injecting or crushing and smoking.

Is Detoxing From Opiates/Opioids Painful?

Detoxing from any drug where there is a physical dependence is going to cause a level of discomfort and opiates are renowned for their unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. However, detoxing from opiates/opioids doesn’t need to be painful or hard going.

While there is always a level of discomfort in any drug detoxification, we manage opiate withdrawal symptoms using approved pharmaceutical medications. These NICE approved medications drastically reduce or entirely diminish opiate withdrawal symptoms.

Opiate detox medications are only safe to take when under the care of a registered detox clinic or a doctor specialising in opiate detox.

By undergoing a medical detox for opiates, the dangerous withdrawal symptoms are reduced to being non-dangerous, and the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms are far more manageable. Your chances of relapse are also reduced.

Undergoing a medical detox will reduce your chance of opiate relapse.

No one can guarantee you a pain-free opiate detox. If you have a chronic opiate addiction or dependence, we can guarantee that our detox clinics will make it as pain-free as possible. They will support you every step of the way to achieve abstinence from opiates.

What Happens If Detox Medication Does Not Agree With Me?

Some individuals fear that detoxing from opiates is going to be unbearably painful. The truth is, with chronic opiate dependence, this can be the case if symptoms are not managed medically.

If you have previously undergone a medical opiate detox and found that a particular medication does not agree with you, then we will relay this to the clinical team in charge of your care and ensure that you receive an alternative.

Detox Plus UK believes in listening to our patient’s needs – All relevant factors are taken into consideration when formulating a bespoke opiate detox plan. We will take every measure possible to ensure that your detox is as painless as possible. We want you to succeed in becoming opiate-free and will do all we can to help you achieve this.

Pharmaceutical Medications Approved For Opiate/Opioid Detox

The NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) guidelines recommend the following pharmaceutical medications approved for opiate/opioid detox.

Opiate detoxes need to be bespoke and take into account numerous factors personal to the individual. This is to determine which medication is likely to produce the most successful long term outcome.

Medications approved to treat opioid dependence include:

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine (Subutex)
  • Dihydrocodeine
  • Lofexidine
  • Clonidine

To find out more about private inpatient opiate detox, please call Detox Plus UK today.

Is Detoxing From Opiates Life Threatening?

Detoxing from opiates is not usually life-threatening, but there are risk factors involved. The heavier the dependence, the higher these risks are.

Undergoing a medical opiate detox will reduce risk factors. Risks are more likely to occur in someone who does not have a medical detox plan in place or support.

Electing to go “cold turkey” (stopping all opiates suddenly) on your own, can be very dangerous and is the detox method most likely to result in life-threatening complications.

Severe opiate withdrawal symptoms that are unmanaged can result in:

  • Becoming severely dehydrated and developing imbalances in essential electrolytes – This affects the function of the heart and other vital organs.
  • Lung infections from inhalation of your vomit
  • Choking on your vomit
  • Severe malnutrition
  • Suffering from hallucinations and psychosis
  • Severe depression leading to thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation

All of these symptoms can be avoided or managed by undergoing a medical detox in one of our CQC registered and regulated detox clinics.

What Causes Opioid Dependence?

Opioid dependence is caused by taking opioids for prolonged periods and frequently. Most individuals that have an opiate dependence will find that they need to take opiates daily to avoid opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Over time, with frequent exposure, the user’s brain makes chemical and structural changes. This causes the individual to seek and take opiates to make themselves feel better compulsively. These changes can be very hard to reverse, and the more severe the dependence, the more severe the changes to the brain.

Most opiate-dependent individuals are unable to feel any pleasure unless they take opiates. Without opiates, they are unable to produce mother natures feel-good chemicals serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are our essential emotional regulators and are what keeps us feeling happy, motivated and able to experience pleasure in life.

Chronic long term opiate users who take high doses of opiates daily eventually become unable to feel pleasure even with drugs. The changes in their brain prevent them from producing any feel-good chemicals, and the only thing that the opiates achieve in a chronic user is to avoid the onset of withdrawal.

As a result, those with chronic opioid dependence become depressed, unmotivated and lose hope. They may also become suicidal, which is why it is so important to address any opiate addiction/dependence without delay.

This short clip by National Geographic explains how opiate addiction, tolerance and dependence can occur.

What Are The Risks Of An Opiate Relapse After Detox?

Relapsing on opiates after a period of abstinence is extremely dangerous and is what causes most opiate-related overdoses.

Once detoxed from opiates, tolerance levels rapidly fall. After a sustained period of abstinence, there is little to no tolerance for drugs. Exposing yourself to the similar amounts that you once used to is likely to send you over, this frequently results in death.

Opiate relapse can be avoided by undergoing a bespoke opiate rehabilitation programme. It is essential to address the underlying personal factors that contributed to your opiate abuse. In addition to undergoing professional therapy and counselling, a new way of life must be adopted, one that is far removed from your days in active addiction.

Many individuals who suffer from opiate addiction benefit from following a recovery programme and implementing the tools of recovery that they have learned during an opiate rehab programme.

We cannot stress enough how important it is to undergo a comprehensive opiate rehab programme and access support services following an opiate detox. Complacency is very dangerous and not making and maintaining essential changes is what causes most opiate addicts to relapse.

If you would like more information on our opiate rehab programmes, please call us for further details. We can arrange for this to follow on seamlessly from an opiate detox.

What Happens After An Opiate Detox?

Once you are entirely free from opiates and detox medications, you are then in a position to undergo intensive rehabilitation to help prevent you from relapsing.

Relapse rates for substance misuse disorders are high – Between 40-60% of individuals will relapse following a detox.

Opiates are one of the more prominent drugs that individuals relapse on, that and alcohol. Perhaps the reason for this is that these particular drugs cause substantial damage to the brain when they are abused.

Ideally, after detox, you should undergo a full rehabilitation programme with us and then attend an outpatient aftercare programme. We can also arrange supported housing for those in recovery. Therapeutic communities have proven to be very useful in helping to prevent relapse.

The longer you stay within a treatment environment, the better the outcome.


Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

This is why we advocate drug rehab and medical detox so strongly. These treatment methods are evidence-based and are proven to work!

Opiate Detox Treatment Centres – The Benefits

Opiate detox treatment centres offer many benefits in assisting you to become free from opiates long term.

These benefits include:

  • Full medical opiate detox with professional medical supervision
  • 24/7 support from medical staff, therapists and counsellors
  • The opportunity to undergo a bespoke opiate rehab programme
  • A drug and alcohol-free environment
  • Undergo evidence-based therapy treatments for addiction
  • Learn essential relapse prevention techniques
  • Receive support and understanding from like-minded individuals and peers
  • Free aftercare supplied by the CQC registered opiate detox treatment centres that we work with

Affordable Opiate Detox Clinics

Detox Plus UK offers a wide variety of CQC registered and reputable opiate detox clinics located throughout the UK.

We appreciate that not everyone has large sums of money to spend on an opiate detox and that many are looking for an affordable treatment option.

Opiate detoxes can start from as little as £2,000, depending on your treatment needs. Considering everything that addiction can cost you, this is money well invested in saving your own life.

Call us today to discuss your individual circumstances and treatment needs in complete confidence.

Rapid Opiate Detox

We understand that many opiate-dependent individuals want to get clean from opiates as quickly and painlessly as possible. While we try our best to accommodate our patient’s requests, we do not cut corners when it comes to providing effective opiate detox and treatment.

Our experience is that rapid opiate detoxes carried out over a couple of days usually result in a relapse. This is because the body is not given enough time to adjust to being opiate free. Most opiate detoxes can be completed safely within 10 to 14 days.

The duration of opiate detox we recommend for you will be dependent on your the outcome of your free assessment. We can conduct this over the phone with you today.

Immediate Opiate/Opioid Detox

Detox Plus UK has years of experience in professionally treating opiate addiction, dependence and abuse. We have multidisciplinary teams consisting of addiction treatment professionals on standby to help you or your loved one start the journey to recovery today.

Our drug detox clinics and drug rehabs provide a compassionate and respectful environment. You or your loved one can safely withdraw from opiates/opioids while healing on a physical, psychological, emotional and social level.

All of our detox clinics are CQC registered. They follow stringent protocols and are staffed by fully qualified medical professionals as well as counsellors and therapists who specialise in the treatment of opiate addiction and dependence. Most of our staff are in recovery from addiction themselves, and they know recovery from opiate addiction is possible.

Do you or a loved one have a problem with opiates? If so Detox Plus UK specialises in private residential opiate detox. We have several highly reputable CQC registered opiate detox clinics located throughout the UK.

Detoxing from opiates can be very challenging in the community or at home. The severity of unmanaged opiate withdrawal symptoms often leads opiate-dependent individuals to carry on taking opiates, despite having a great desire or need to stop.

The good news is that detoxing from opiates/opioids doesn’t need to be painful or prolonged. Our drug detox clinics specialise in facilitating medical detoxes from all manner of prescription, illicit and over-the-counter opiates.

Furthermore, all patients who undergo an opiate detox programme with Detox Plus UK will have the opportunity to enter into a bespoke opiate rehabilitation programme. We will try to ensure that they never have to return to retaking opiates.

If you or a loved one want immediate help, please call Detox Plus UK today.

We can facilitate same day/urgent admissions to our private detox clinics and are dedicated to ensuring that you receive the best treatment and care possible.

An opiate free life is possible, and it starts with admitting you have a problem and asking for professional help.


Frequently Asked Questions

Is Diazepam an opiate?

Does Buprenorphine/Subutex block opiates?

How long do opiates stay in your system?

What happens when you mix alcohol with opiates?






British Pain Society

NHS Direct

Journal of substance abuse treatment

NICE – National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

ONS UK – Office for National Statistics



Opiates faq

What happens when you mix alcohol with opiates?

Both opiates and alcohol depress the activity of the central nervous system, slowing breathing and heart rate. When taken together, the effects of these substances only increase, slowing breathing and heart rate down dangerously and depriving essential parts of the body of oxygen. Without an adequate amount of oxygen, essential organ systems begin to shut down. This can cause brain damage, or worse, death. Ingestion of opiates and alcohol also leads to loss of balance and coordination, increasing the risk of severe falls and rendering normal activities like driving deadly.

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