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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain that opiates refer exclusively to the natural version of opioids whereas opioids encompass all natural, semisynthetic, and synthetic opioids. Opioids are a type of drug used to alleviate moderate to moderately severe pain. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.” Opiates are substances that are derived from the opium plant, poppy. They elicit a pain-relieving effect by binding to the opioid receptors in one’s brain and depressing the central nervous system.

Opiate Withdrawal

Any person that habitually abuses opiates is likely to develop a tolerance to the abused substance or substances. When a drug tolerance is built, one’s body begins to rely on the substance to function. When the body lacks the previously abused substance (e.g., opiates) it will react accordingly, and withdrawal symptoms will ensue. Withdrawal symptoms are a defining feature of detox. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains detox as “a set of interventions aimed at managing acute intoxication and withdrawal. It denotes a clearing of toxins from the body of the patient who is acutely intoxicated and/ or dependent on substances of abuse.” An individual’s detox experience will depend on a variety of contributing factors. These can include one’s personal health history, the type of substance abused, the potency of the substance, the frequency of abuse, the length of time the individual abused the substance, if he or she simultaneously abused other substances, and the presence of any co-morbid disorders will all inform one’s detox experience and associated withdrawal symptoms. There are several medications, each with different objectives, used for opiate withdrawal.


Lexapro is the brand name of the prescription medicine escitalopram. It belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This class of medications is used to treat depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically approved Lexapro for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) in adults and adolescents in August 2002, and for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in December 2003. In general, SSRIs work in the brain by slowing the re-absorption of serotonin (a neurotransmitter that directly influences one’s sleep, mood, and emotion), which subsequently, increases the overall levels of serotonin available to interact within the brain. Lexapro works by helping to restore the balance of serotonin in the brain. The use of Lexapro for opiate withdrawal can help alleviate certain symptoms during the acute detox period and can also be used over the long-term in people with co-occurring mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression.

For Information and Support

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.