Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms and Detox in Colorado

Written by Erica Weiman

& Medically Reviewed by Dr. Jessica Pyhtila, PharmD

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Last Updated - 11/14/2023

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Updated 11/14/2023

Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and other cities and towns in Colorado have felt the tremendous impacts of the nationwide opioid crisis. This includes a 54% increase in opioid overdose deaths from 2019 to 2020. In 2020 alone, almost 1,500 Coloradans died from an overdose.

An opioid use disorder could lead to an overdose, but treatment is possible. Successful, long-term recovery begins with opioid detox.

Opioids are generally synthetic or semi-synthetic narcotics, while opiates are naturally derived from the poppy plant. Opioids include oxycodone and fentanyl, while opiates include codeineheroin and morphine, among others.

For many people, one of the toughest parts of eliminating opioids and opiates from their life is the withdrawal experience. Opioid withdrawal can be uncomfortable, but it can be managed at a professional detox facility.

Opioid and Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

Opioids are psychologically addictive, but they also create a physical dependence. As a person builds a tolerance to opioid use, which can happen relatively quickly, their brain and body become used to them. The body feels like it needs opioids to function normally. Once someone stops taking an opioid after the body has become dependent on it, they experience withdrawal and the uncomfortable symptoms that come with it.

Opiate withdrawal is difficult, and it’s one of the biggest reasons people relapse or avoid treatment and aren’t able to work toward their goal of sobriety.

Opioid withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Sweating
  • Stomach pains
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Today, there are several treatment options available to help you manage withdrawal and detox. Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is considered the gold standard for withdrawal management. MAT medications include methadone and buprenorphine-based agents, which can help you taper off opioids while reducing severe symptoms associated with “cold turkey” withdrawal. Other treatments include antihypertensives like clonidine, which treats physical symptoms, and opioid receptor antagonists like naltrexone, which can help prevent relapse.

Opioid Withdrawal Timeline

It’s natural for someone with an opioid use disorder to be apprehensive about the withdrawal process. The fear of the unknown may keep someone from receiving the treatment they need.

The specifics of withdrawal vary from person to person, but there is a general opiate withdrawal timeline:

  • The early symptoms usually begin within 8–12 hours after the last dose is taken and may last 1–3 days. Symptoms can include headaches, aggression and irritation.
  • In the first 48–72 hours of the opiate withdrawal timeline, symptoms can worsen and may include aches and pains, stomach and gastrointestinal problems, loss of appetite and sweating. There can also be psychological side effects like anxiety and panic attacks.
  • Usually, opiate withdrawal symptoms will peak within 72 hours after the last dose of drugs is taken and will resolve 7–10 days after the last dose. There may still be some aching, pain, shivering and chills, but to a lesser degree for most people.

There are factors that can play a role in how long opiate withdrawal lasts and how severe the symptoms are. These factors include:

  • Overall physical health
  • Age and metabolism
  • The length of time you misused opioids
  • The dose you took while using opioids
  • How often you took opioids
  • Whether there are co-occurring substance use or mental health issues

No matter your opiate withdrawal experience, there are many options for help available.

Opioid Detox

The most effective way to navigate withdrawal symptoms safely is a medically-supervised detox program to cleanse your body of opioids. A medical team will provide you with the interventions and medications that will improve your comfort level — the more comfortable you are during opiate detox and withdrawal, the more likely you are to stick with treatment. For this reason, doctors will often start MAT during detox. While opioid detox isn’t usually life-threatening, it is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in your recovery, and without successfully completing detox and rehab, you may continue to relapse.

Some opioid withdrawal complications include aspiration if you vomit, dehydration due to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and possible seizures.

Opioid Withdrawal Medications

Opioid withdrawal treatment is an important part of getting and staying off opioids. Withdrawal medications can ease symptoms while a person is detoxing from the opioid, and MAT helps prevent overdose and relapse by blocking the intended pleasurable effects of opioid use.

Despite these benefits, in Colorado, only about 62% of people with an opioid use disorder are getting any treatment.


Methadone has been available since the 1960s as a MAT approach to treat opioid use disorder. It is an opioid and a Schedule II controlled substance. Methadone is extremely long-acting, and it is difficult for people to get high from it. Medically, it is used to block the high from opioids like heroin, reducing drug use. People who take methadone generally need to go to a clinic on a daily or near-daily basis to receive the drug. More than 400,000 Americans take methadone to combat opioid addiction.

Buprenorphine (Suboxone)

Buprenorphine is an opioid and a Schedule III controlled substance. It is combined with naloxone to prevent a person from getting high, as the naloxone will block buprenorphine’s effects when injected.

Naltrexone (Vivitrol)

Naltrexone is a drug that blocks the effects of opioids. It is available in both oral and long-acting injectable forms, although oral forms do not help people avoid drug use. When medically appropriate, naltrexone is given to patients after detox is complete.


Clonidine can be used to help treat withdrawal symptoms, but it does not work as well as methadone or buprenorphine. Its side effects include low blood pressure, which limits the dose of clonidine that can be used. Clonidine reduces the amount of norepinephrine in the brain, a chemical that is linked to withdrawal symptoms.

Lofexidine (Lucemyra)

Lofexidine is an FDA-approved medication for opioid withdrawal, but it does not work as well as methadone or buprenorphine. Like clonidine, lofexidine reduces the amount of norepinephrine in the brain. However, lofexidine has less of an impact on blood pressure than clonidine.

Opioid and Opiate Detox in Colorado

There are several opiate detox options available. Standalone medical detox facilities can help with medical interventions when necessary, but they wouldn’t offer addiction treatment after detox is complete.

For people who are not only addicted to but also dependent on opioids, the best choice is a comprehensive detox and addiction treatment center like The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake in Colorado. Patients can move straight into opioid addiction treatment after completing a safe detox program, reducing the chance of relapse.

At an addiction treatment center like our Colorado facility, patients first complete an intensive evaluation. Then, they are given around-the-clock medical care during the opiate detox timeline. Once the toxins of the drugs have left their system, they can begin the work of recovering from a substance use disorder. We focus on treating both physical and psychological symptoms and side effects of withdrawal and addiction.

After Opioid Detox

Detox is only the first step in opioid recovery. After detox, a continuum of care is crucial to help prevent relapse. Rehab options include:

  • Inpatient rehab: In inpatient rehab, you live at the rehab facility to completely focus on your recovery and develop skills to live an opioid-free life.
  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP): In PHP, you spend daytime hours in rehab and return to your living arrangements at the end of the day.
  • Outpatient rehab: In outpatient rehab, you live at home in a sober living environment and attend rehab either face-to-face or via teletherapy.
  • Aftercare: After rehab is complete, aftercare keeps you focused on your recovery over the long term. Aftercare can include support groups, 12-step programs, relapse prevention plans and referrals to local resources.

The answer to, “Are there opiate detox centers near me?” is yes. If you’re in Colorado, including DenverBoulderColorado Springs or any surrounding areas or statewide, opiate detox and treatment are available at The Recovery Village. We also have out-of-state opiate detox centers for people who feel it would be best to leave Colorado.

The concept of opioid detox can be scary and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. There are various therapies and detox options that can set you up for successful recovery.


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Colorado Health Institute. “Opioid Overdose Deaths Up 54% in 2020, F[…]nyl Fatalities Spike.” November 5, 2021. Accessed December 11, 2021.

Johnson, Carla K. “How COVID pandemic changed methadone treatment for addiction.” The Associated Press, August 12, 2021. Accessed December 11, 2021.

Gold, Stephanie; Chen, Yuli; Furniss, Anna; et al. “Closing the Treatment Gap

for Opioid Use Disorder in Colorado.” University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, April 2021. Accessed December 11, 2021.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). “Controlled Substances.” November 18, 2021. Accessed December 11, 2021.


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