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If you have taken or need to take opiates for more than 5 days due to surgery, quitting them frequently requires a medical detox, not just a taper protocol.


The presence of medication tolerance and physical dependence can occur even at prescribed doses or even after as little as 5 days. Research shows that a significant portion of people who become addicted to opioids started with a prescription after surgery.

Jane was a 51-year-old stay-at-home mom. She loved to play tennis in her free time, but her tennis elbow was bothering her, so she decided it was finally time to get surgery. After the surgery, her doctor prescribed her seven days of pain meds.

After the seven days, she went back in asking for a refill because when she started taking less, she didn't feel good. The doctor agreed to prescribe her three more days worth but told her to taper off of them taking half a dose each time until she was off of them.

Unfortunately, Jane's withdrawal symptoms were too much for her to handle while taking care of the kids, so she started calling pain management doctors to try to get a new prescription. Jane's elbow had healed, but she was stuck taking opioids due to the painful withdrawal symptoms.

Unable to find a doctor that could get her in quickly, Jane turned to friends and family for medications, but fortunately, one of her family members recommended a medical detox instead of giving her medications illegally. Through medical detox, Jane was able to stop the opioids and return to her normal, healthy life.

If her family member hadn't told her about medical detox, Jane could be buying opioids off of the street and exposing herself to the risk of overdose and serious legal implications. Had she stayed on the opioids unnecessarily, she would have had to deal with annoying side-effects such as constipation and serious side-effects such as impaired thinking and significant health concerns.

Jane and her family still enjoy tennis on the weekends, and Jane is back to her happy self.

Be your own advocate and properly detox after use of pain medications.

Not sure if you need to detox? If you answer yes to any of the following you may need a medical detox from your pain medication.

  • Are you using opioids for nonmedical Reasons?
  • Are you self medicating or not following the dosage guidelines?
  • Are you increasing the dosing to address the pain (tolerance)?
  • Are you taking the medication via smoking or injecting?
  • Are you isolating from friends and family?
  • Are you experiencing work or legal problems?

If you are unsure about your need for medical detox, please call us today for a free, confidential consultation. 

Prescription opioids can be used to treat moderate-to-severe pain and are often prescribed following surgery or injury, or for health conditions such as cancer.

Unfortunately, even patients who have never had any substance abuse or addiction problems will most likely become physically dependent on opioids while managing their pain.

The only solution to stopping pain pills is to medically detox.

If you have had surgery or are being treated for an injury, you have a plan to follow the doctors orders and rest. Maybe you have arranged for a loved one to care for you while you are healing.

You have made a plan to recover... BUT DOES YOUR PLAN INCLUDE HOW YOU WILL STOP USING OPIOIDS TOO? This is a critical step most patients don’t consider and dependence on opioids can happen after just five days of use.*


Take your life back and detox from pain medication.

If you feel like life revolves around the next dose of medication, afraid of getting “cut off”, or if you are trying desperately to cut back or go just a little longer between doses and are experiencing detox symptoms; reach out for help! You are not alone. Relieve Medical Detox has specially tailored programs for a safe and comfortable detox from pain medications.

The United States is in the midst of an opioid epidemic. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) indicates that close to 3 million people battled opioid addiction (to either heroin or prescription painkillers) in 2015. More than 60 percent of the record-high overdose deaths in 2015 involved an opioid drug, and 91 people in the US die from an opioid overdose daily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports. Also in 2015, roughly 300 million prescriptions were dispensed for narcotic pain medications around the world, and Americans consumed 80 percent of them.

Worried about taking opioids after surgery?

Jerry was nervous about having surgery. He needed to have foot surgery, but when his doctor told him he would be prescribed opioids after treatment, Jerry got nervous. He knew of friends who had become dependent (addicted even) to opioids after surgery, and he didn’t want to deal with the painful withdrawal symptoms that would result from taking opioids for too long. Jerry expressed his concerns to his surgeon, but his surgeon reassured him that he could quickly taper off of the medications once the pain was gone. Luckily Jerry did his research and found an easier solution. Through a medical detox, Jerry could safely and efficiently stop taking opioids (without painful withdrawal symptoms) in the likely situation that he developed a dependence on them after surgery. Jerry called and spoke to the detox facility before his surgery and felt confident that he had a good plan for his after-surgery care. He shared his plan with his doctor and proceeded with the surgery. Jerry was still very careful when taking the medication, but he had a medical detox pre-scheduled to start right after his last dose. Jerry’s surgery and post-surgery care went extremely well, and he is back to his normal life, pain-free.

What are opioids?


Opiates are medications used to relieve pain. They work by reducing the intensity of the pain signals sent to the brain. They also affect brain centers that deal with emotions and diminish the effect of painful stimuli.

“Opiates are not new to the world. They can be traced back to Mesopotamia when poppies were cultivated as a “natural” source of opiates for pain. The Sumerians called them the “Joy Plant” and Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” acknowledged opium's usefulness as a narcotic.

Today there are opiates should only be prescribed when the benefits outweigh the risk associated with dependency. There are many regulations today on how doctors prescribe opiates because they are so addictive.

Opiates are mainly prescribed for severe pain and should never be prescribed for greater than 3 months unless there are very serious extenuating circumstance like terminal illness.

Why is this? Opioid dependence can happen after just five days because the drugs are some of the strongest on the planet. 1 After 3 months the risk of addiction is 15 times greater than the first 5 days. 2 According to the CDC 11.5 million people reported misuse of their prescription pain medication in 2016. 2

Prescribed Opiates fall into four categories:
  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
Nerve cells in the brain have specific responses to pain. When an individual abuses opiates, the brain begins to rely less on the natural process and relies more on opiates to respond to the pain. When someone wants to quit using opiates, the brain has a hard time dealing with this radical change, and the person experiences a painful response in the form of withdrawal symptoms. This effect happens to anyone and everyone, regardless of a person's experience with addiction or substance abuse in the past.
Why are opioids used?


While used for legitimate medical needs (including short- and sometimes long-term pain control, cough suppression, or to control severe diarrhea) prescription opioids are also sometimes also used inappropriately for non-medical use.

Although many patients find themselves relying on opioid medications for pain relief, some grow dependent on them even after their underlying pain has gone away.

Are opioids legal?


In addition to prescribed opioids, there are also illegal formulations of opioids. Although ALL formulations pose the risk for dependence and/or abuse, the degrees vary. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) schedules opioids according to their acceptable medical use and potential for abuse or dependency.

It is important to note that the use of opioids without a prescription is considered “illicit use,” and may include “street drugs” like heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil - All of which are significantly more potent than prescription-grade agents. Help is available for people who believe that they are dependent on opioids.

What are the risks of using opioids?


Prescription opioids can be useful to manage chronic pain, but they come with risks even when used appropriately. In addition, when used too frequently, inappropriately, or without a prescription, they can also cause serious life-threatening effects. Here are just a few of the risk:

Short-term effects of opioids and morphine derivatives include:

  • Drowsiness

  • Slowed breathing

  • Constipation

  • Unconsciousness

  • Nausea

  • Coma

  • Physical dependence and addiction

  • Unintentional overdose and death

Long-term effects of opioids and morphine derivatives include:

  • Physical dependence and addiction

  • Unintentional overdose and death - Respiratory Depression and Failure

  • Constipation, sleep-disordered breathing, fractures, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal dysregulation

  • Tolerance can also occur, meaning that long-term users must increase their doses to achieve the same high

  • Actual changes to the brain chemistry - brain’s perception of everything from reward to pain management becomes fundamentally distorted

  • Liver damage

  • Increased risk of depression

  • Sexual dysfunction

Risks of stopping abruptly

  • Restlessness

  • Muscle and bone pain

  • Insomnia

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Cold flashes

  • Goose bumps – (this is where the term “cold turkey” came from) 

While many people want to stop using opiates, the pain and discomfort associated with doing so are usually frightening. At Scottsdale Detox Center, we understand the fear of quitting. Using professional methods, we can help design an opiate detox treatment plan tailored to your needs, ensuring that the detox process is as pain-free and comfortable as possible. Our doctors, counselors, psychiatrists, and nurses know that everyone’s situation is different, and we tailor each program to each individual’s needs.

How do opioids work?


Opioids attach to receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and gut. This produces a range of effects that include the release of chemical messengers to the brain, resulting in pain relief.

In addition to relieving pain, opioids can also cause life-threatening side effects, which include:

1) Slowed or shallow breathing
2) Weak pulse
3) Low blood pressure

These effects can start as quickly as 5 to 10 minutes after taking an opioid and, depending on whether opioids are taken by mouth, via a skin patch, or by injection, can peak within 30 minutes to an hour.

Will I become addicted if I take opioids prescribed by my doctor?


Opioids dependence can form in as little as 5 days, but at Relieve Medical Detox we provide a safe and easy way for you detox after your last dose. 

If you're currently on opioids or plan on taking opioids, please call us to schedule your detox according to your last dose.

The Next Step...

If you or your loved one is ready to take the next step to be free from opioids, please call us today at 480-549-2220!