Opiates are extremely addictive. This is because they block pain signals from the brain to the body, basically, making the user feel good. There are several different types of opiates that are both legal and illegal.

Opiate addiction is characterized by a compulsive need for opiates that goes beyond medical use. Because of the intense withdrawal symptoms that often accompany trying to quit opiates, users often have difficulty stopping. ‘

Opiates are becoming an increasing threat to the health of the nation. Due to their addictive properties, more and more are finding themselves struggling with addiction. Through opiate addiction treatment at a drug detox center, recovery is possible.

What are Opiates?

Opiates are narcotics that relax muscles and relieve pain. When consumed in high doses users experience pleasure, acute relaxation, and semi-consciousness. Very high doses can result in coma or death.

Opiates include illegal recreational drugs such as heroin and opium; prescription pain medications such as morphine, oxycodone, and fentanyl; cough suppressants and anti-diarrheal medications that are codeine-based; as well as opiate addiction treatment medications such as buprenorphine and methadone.

Opiates are narcotics that relax muscles and relieve pain and therefore are prescribed for many reasons. There are two main types of opiates, antagonists and agonists.

Antagonist Opiates

An antagonist is a type of opiate that is not considered to be addictive. Antagonists attach to the opioid receptors without activating them. Therefore, they cause no opioid effect and will actually block full agonist opioids. Antagonists are often used to reverse an overdose on other agonists opiates like heroin or methadone. 

Examples of antagonists include Naloxone and Naltrexone. 

Agonist Opiates

Agonists include drugs like morphine and fentanyl; these are most commonly used in medical settings and have the most potent effects. Agonists imitate the effects of naturally-occurring endorphins in the body and create an opiate effect by interacting with specific receptor sites in the brain. Many substances in this category have an extremely high potential for abuse and addiction. 

Here is a list of the most popular opiate agonists:

Opiate Dependence

friends comforting each other in opiate addiction treatmentOpiate dependence means an opiate user is susceptible to opiate withdrawal symptoms whenever he or she stops taking opiates. The length of time required to become physically dependent on opiates varies from person to person, but it generally takes just a few weeks of daily use. Dependents are so driven to avoid withdrawal symptoms, they stop at almost nothing to obtain more and more opiates, even if that means damaging relationships, losing a job, or going to jail.


Morphine has been considered as a godsend for people suffering from severe chronic pain. It is also one of the most addictive substances known and responsible for a large amount of unintentional drug-related deaths nationwide.


This is a synthetic painkiller that is up to 100 times stronger than heroin. Fentanyl is only prescribed by physicians in instances of extreme pain. If fentanyl is used with other opioids, it can lead to very dangerous side effects, including overdose. 


Heroin is a natural substance that is made from the seed pod of the many different opium poppy plants. Heroin is also illegal and has no medical uses. For this reason, the creation of heroin is not regulated whatsoever. Users generally have no idea how strong the heroin is that they are purchasing. Heroin is also known to be easily contaminated with other substances, such as fentanyl. 


This prescription pain pill is often prescribed for moderate to severe pain. Oxycodone is often mixed with other pain relievers like ibuprofen, aspirin, and acetaminophen. The most common forms include Percocet, OxyContin, and Roxicodone. Oxycodone is one of the most commonly abused prescription medications in the country. 


Methadone is often used as a pain reliever in conjunction with an opioid addiction treatment regime. Methadone reduces withdrawal symptoms individuals, as it is still an opioid, so it mimics the same effects as other opioids, but not nearly at the same strength. Individuals can become addicted to methadone because of it. 

Opiate Dependence

Opiate dependence means an opiate user is susceptible to opiate withdrawal symptoms whenever he or she stops taking opiates. There are many factors that may determine whether an individual will become addicted to opiates. In most cases, the intensely pleasurable feelings of taking opiates is a contributing factor.

The length of time required to become physically dependent on opiates varies from person to person, but it generally takes just a few weeks of daily use. Opiates are prescribed to treat pain. In the absence of significant pain, that can trigger the brain for repeated use in order to feel the pleasure. 

By the time opiate dependence occurs, there has been a fundamental change within the brain’s systems. Dependents are so driven to avoid withdrawal symptoms, they stop at almost nothing to obtain more and more opiates, even if that means damaging relationships, losing a job, or going to jail.

Opiate Withdrawal

Opiate withdrawal refers to a wide range of symptoms that occur shortly after discontinuation for any person physically dependent on opiates. Symptoms of opiate withdrawal are similar to influenza symptoms, but the good news is that opiate withdrawal symptoms can be easily handled with proper treatment.

Early symptoms of opiate withdrawal include:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

Late symptoms of opiate withdrawal include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Withdrawal symptoms are very uncomfortable but are usually not life-threatening. An opiate addict who is experiencing withdrawal symptoms may think they are going to die but they’re much more likely to die from using opiates than they are from coming off opiates. After detox, an opiate rehab in Los Angeles can help you better manage cravings for the drug and withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal Complications

Two of the most severe threats posed by opiate withdrawal are diarrhea and vomiting, which can lead to dehydration if fluids are not replaced. Water and electrolytes (sodium, chloride, potassium, and bicarbonate) are lost through liquid stools, vomit, sweat, urine, and breathing. It is important to replenish fluids and maintain adequate hydration during opiate withdrawal.

Withdrawal treatment involves supportive care and pharmacotherapies. 

Due to the severity of complications associated with opiate withdrawal, it is often encouraged that an individual goes through medical detox. Medical detox limits withdrawal symptoms and helps ease users through detox. 

Medical Detox is supervised by medical professionals to be sure that the process is as painless as possible. However, it is only the first step in opiate addiction treatment. Medical detox will help an individual break free from physical addiction, but psychological addiction requires a treatment plan. 

Opiate Addiction

Opiate addiction happens when dependence becomes to interfere with an individual’s daily life. Symptoms of addiction include constant craving for opiates regardless of the negative effects it is having in someone’s life. 

Opiate Addiction Signs

  • Financial troubles
  • Relationship problems
  • Troubles at work 
  • Lack of attention to one’s appearance and cleanliness
  • Not engaging in regular hobbies or activities
  • Avoiding events with family and friends

If you or a loved one is showing any of these addiction signs, it may be time to seriously take a look at treatment options. 

Opiate Addiction Treatment

There are several factors that will help determine the type of treatment that is best for an individual suffering from opiate addiction. 

These factors include:

  • The length of the opiate addiction
  • The frequency of the opiate use
  • If the opiates have been used in conjunction with other substances
  • If the individual has been to addiction treatment previously
  • If the individual is dealing with a co-occurring mental health disorder
  • Current family or job responsibilities and obligations that could interfere with treatment

Medically-Assisted Treatment

Specialized medications have been shown to work better than many other types of opiate withdrawal treatment. Buprenorphine based medications typically shorten the length of opiate addiction treatment.

Medications like Buprenorphine relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that create chemical imbalances in the body. MAT treatment provides a safe and controlled level of medicine to overcome opiate addiction. Research has proved that when given at the proper dose, medications used in MAT have no adverse effects on a person’s intelligence, mental capacity, physical functioning, or employability.  

Medically-Assisted Treatment can be done in conjunction with an inpatient or outpatient treatment program. 

Inpatient Treatment for Opiate Addiction

This type of treatment is often touted as the most effective for more extreme, long-term addictions that are generally associated with opiates. Patients will live at the treatment facility for an extended period of time and attend therapy on-site. 

Living at an inpatient facility is a stark contrast to a person’s normal life. Patients have strict rules and a comprehensive schedule that focuses on rebuilding their lives without addiction. There is also medical staff available for patients 24/7. This accessibility can make the ultimate difference between someone potentially relapsing.

Outpatient Treatment for Opiate Addiction

For individuals with job or family responsibilities that they can not leave for inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment is available. Outpatient treatment offers many of the same therapies as inpatient treatment. Therapy is done around a person’s schedule, often taking up much of their extra time outside of work or family obligations. Patients get to stay at home and commute to and from the facility.

Outpatient treatment is generally only recommended for lesser severe addictions, but that does mean these programs are less effective than inpatient. It does take a person that is strongly motivated to recover to be successful; however, that is considered a prerequisite of any successful treatment program. 

LA Detox Can Help You in Your Opiate Recovery Journey!

To many people suffering from addiction, the idea of going to treatment often feels daunting. The first step is recognizing that you need help. Our team is available to answer any questions you may regarding treatment options and insurance payments. 

With the proper addiction therapy services, recovery is possible. You don’t have to live a life that is suffocated by addiction. Contact LA Detox today for the help you need!