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medical detox

What Does Being “Dope Sick” Mean?

Dope sickness typically refers to the state of withdrawal from opiates. Most drugs have a period of withdrawal when stopped, but the term, “dope sick” usually means someone is coming off heroin or prescription narcotics. For most people, withdrawal symptoms or dope sickness begins roughly six to 12 hours after their last use, and the symptoms usually peak around 72 hours after the last dose. At around five to seven days, the symptoms become less intense and are substantially better than the first 72 hours. Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) begins after the acute stage, and can last for months, which is why it is important for addicts to have a recovery plan in place after detox.

Opiate withdrawal is serious and the symptoms that accompany it are best handled in a medically-supervised detox center. Many addicts try to detox at home, but the severity of the withdrawal symptoms will often see them returning to drug use. The only way to get over the symptoms, is to go through it. In detox, medications may be given to make the process much more comfortable and less taxing on the mind and body. Many of the following symptoms will depend on how much a person used and for how long. The most common physical symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or constipation
  • Muscle pain and spasms
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Feelings as though bugs are crawling on or under the skin
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Loss of appetite or greatly increased appetite
  • Hypervigilance

In addition to the physical symptoms of withdrawal, an individual may also experience mental and emotional symptoms such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Depression
  • Frustration
  • Dysphoria (feeling down or emotionally blunted)

For an addict, experiencing any or all of the physical and emotional symptoms is extremely difficult. Some may make it a day or two, and then go back to drug use because it is too much to bare. Medical detox is the safest and most effective method for coming off opiates, and the likelihood an individual will stay clean increases with treatment and a recovery plan.




If you are struggling with addiction, we can help. At the Serenity Recovery Center, your safety and comfort are our top priorities. You don’t have to live addicted any longer. There is life on the other side of drug addiction, and we can help you on your journey. Give us a call, we are available 24/7, toll-free at (844-339-6964). Recovery is possible. Call now.