Verify Insurance

Navigating the Opioid Withdrawal Timeline

Opioid withdrawal is the body’s reaction when someone who has been using opioids for an extended period suddenly stops or reduces their opioid intake. It’s a challenging process where the body adapts to the absence of opioids, leading to unpleasant symptoms.

Understanding opioid withdrawal is essential, as it affects millions of Americans and can be a barrier to seeking help for opioid addiction. Continue reading for an in-depth exploration of opioid withdrawal, highlighting the various aspects of this complex process.

Young adults sitting in a circle. White text on a blue background explains effective withdrawal symptom management strategies.

Key Takeaways

Opioid withdrawal is a challenging experience when individuals stop using opioids, marked by a range of symptoms. Here is what this article covers:

  • Opioid withdrawal symptoms encompass physical, psychological, and behavioral aspects, making it a complex process.
  • The withdrawal timeline duration varies based on use, opioid type, dosage, individual physiology, tolerance, and co-occurring conditions.
  • Effective withdrawal symptom management strategies include medical detox, MAT, therapy, and support groups.

Seek help at The Haven Detox-New England for comfortable opioid withdrawal treatment and a path to recovery. Contact us at (844) 933-4145 for more information.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms: Breaking it Down

Opioid withdrawal is a challenging experience marked by a range of symptoms. These symptoms can be categorized into three main groups: physical, psychological, and behavioral.

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms are the most noticeable signs of opioid withdrawal. These include:

  • Flu-Like Symptoms: Opioid withdrawal often begins with flu-like symptoms, including runny nose, sweating, and body aches.
  • Gastrointestinal Distress: Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps are common during opioid withdrawal.
  • Pain and Sensitivity: Individuals may experience increased pain sensitivity, muscle aches, and joint discomfort.
  • Sleep Problems: Insomnia and restless legs can disrupt sleep patterns, making the withdrawal process even more challenging.

Psychological Symptoms

Alongside physical discomfort, opioid withdrawal can also bring about psychological symptoms:

  • Anxiety and Restlessness: Feelings of restlessness, anxiety, and irritability are common psychological symptoms.
  • Depression: A sense of sadness and hopelessness may set in, often leading to mood swings.
  • Difficulty Concentrating: Many individuals struggle to concentrate or focus on tasks during withdrawal.
  • Cravings: Strong cravings for opioids can be emotionally distressing, urging individuals to use them again.

Behavioral Symptoms

Opioid withdrawal can lead to various behavioral changes, including:

  • Social Isolation: Many people going through withdrawal may withdraw from social interactions.
  • Drug-Seeking Behavior: Some individuals exhibit desperate behaviors to obtain opioids, even during withdrawal.
  • Agitation: Agitation and frustration may lead to aggressive or impulsive actions.
  • Lack of Interest: Hobbies and activities that were once enjoyable may lose their appeal.

Remember, these symptoms can be overwhelming, making it challenging for individuals to quit opioids. Recognizing these symptoms is important, as it’s the first step in addressing opioid dependence.

Opioid Withdrawal Stages: What To Expect

The opioid withdrawal timeline can vary from person to person. It typically unfolds in three main stages, each marked by distinct symptoms and experiences.

Early Stage of Withdrawal

The early stage of opioid withdrawal typically begins within six to 12 hours after the last drug use and can last up to two days. During this phase, individuals may experience the following:

Initial Symptoms: The early stage often starts with symptoms resembling the flu, including a runny nose, sneezing, and yawning.

Muscle Aches and Pains: Painful muscle aches and abdominal cramps can be particularly uncomfortable.

Nausea and Vomiting: Nausea is common and can escalate to vomiting.

Anxiety and Restlessness: Anxiety levels may surge, and restlessness can be overwhelming.

Cravings: Strong cravings for opioids are a hallmark of this phase, making it difficult to resist use.

Peak Stage of Withdrawal

The peak stage of opioid withdrawal typically occurs around two to three after the last opioid use and can last four to five days. This phase is often the most challenging, marked by:

Severe Symptoms: Symptoms like diarrhea, goosebumps, and sweating intensify.

Emotional Distress: Feelings of depression and irritability may peak during this time.

Insomnia: Sleep disturbances can be severe, with individuals experiencing difficulty falling asleep.

Pupillary Changes: Pupils may remain dilated, indicating ongoing withdrawal.

Intense Cravings: The desire for opioids can be overwhelming, making it crucial to seek support and guidance.

Late Stage of Withdrawal

The late stage of opioid withdrawal typically starts around seven to ten days after the last opioid use and can last for a few weeks. During this phase, individuals may encounter:

Reduced Symptoms: While still challenging, symptoms tend to subside gradually.

Improved Mood: Emotional stability returns, and anxiety and depression become less intense.

Physical Comfort: Muscle pain and other physical symptoms ease.

Cognitive Improvement: Concentration and mental clarity improve.

Cravings Subside: Cravings become less overpowering, but remaining vigilant is essential.

Remember, recovering from opioid addiction is challenging, and knowing what to expect during withdrawal can be empowering. Seeking professional help and support is vital to managing these stages effectively.

Factors Impacting Withdrawal Timelines

The duration and intensity of opioid withdrawal can vary significantly from person to person. Several key factors play a crucial role in determining the timeline of this challenging journey.

Duration and Frequency of Use

The longer a person has been using opioids, the more frequently they use them, the more profound their physical dependence becomes. Consequently, withdrawal symptoms may last longer and be more intense for individuals with extended opioid use histories.

Type of Opioid

The specific type of opioid used can influence withdrawal. Short-acting opioids like heroin lead to quicker onset and resolution of withdrawal, while long-acting prescription opioids may result in a more extended withdrawal period.


Higher doses of opioids can lead to more severe withdrawal symptoms. Those using large amounts of opioids will likely experience more protracted and intense withdrawal symptoms.

Individual Physiology

Each person’s body is unique, and how it processes and responds to opioids can vary. Genetics and overall health can influence the duration and severity of withdrawal symptoms.


Individuals with a high tolerance to opioids may experience more intense and prolonged withdrawal. Their bodies have become accustomed to opioids, making the adjustment more challenging.

Co-occurring Conditions

Having co-occurring physical or mental health conditions can complicate the withdrawal process. These conditions may exacerbate withdrawal symptoms or require specialized treatment.

Understanding these factors is important for individuals seeking to overcome opioid addiction. The duration and intensity of withdrawal can be daunting, but recovery is achievable with the right support and effective treatment.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptom Management

When it comes to overcoming opioid withdrawal, there are several strategies to help ease the journey and increase the chances of a successful recovery. These methods can provide much-needed support and relief during this challenging time.

Medical Detox

Medical detox is a supervised process that takes place in a treatment facility. During this critical phase, medical professionals closely monitor individuals as they withdraw. They may administer medications to alleviate symptoms and ensure safety.

The medical detox process can be an initial stage in managing withdrawal, as it offers a safe and controlled setting for individuals to begin their recovery journey.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) involves using FDA-approved medications to reduce opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms. These medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine, are administered under medical supervision. MAT can help individuals manage their withdrawal symptoms more comfortably and improve their chances of long-term recovery.

Therapy and Counseling

Therapy and counseling are essential components of opioid addiction treatment. Behavioral therapies, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM), can help individuals address the underlying issues contributing to their substance abuse. These therapies also teach coping strategies to manage cravings and prevent relapse.

Support Groups

Support groups, like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or SMART Recovery, offer individuals a chance to connect with others who have experienced similar challenges. Sharing experiences and learning from peers can provide a sense of belonging and encouragement.

Support groups are an important part of addiction recovery, as they foster community and accountability.

Choosing the right combination of these strategies depends on individual needs and preferences. It’s essential to seek professional medical advice when navigating opioid withdrawal and recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the common symptoms of opioid withdrawal?

Common withdrawal symptoms of opioid drugs include muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, depression, and strong cravings for opioids.

How long does opioid withdrawal typically last?

Opioid withdrawal usually lasts about a week, but the duration can vary based on factors like the type of opioid, individual physiology, and medical or mental health disorders.

Is it possible for the withdrawal symptoms to return after some time?

Yes, withdrawal symptoms can return, especially if a person doesn’t complete their recovery or encounters triggers or stressors that can lead to a relapse.

How long does it take to get over opiate withdrawal?

Recovery from opiate withdrawal varies, but it can take a week or even more. It’s a gradual process, and the duration depends on individual factors and the chosen treatment.

The Haven Detox-New England: Where Healing Begins

At The Haven Detox-New England, we believe recovery from opioid use disorder (OUD) is achievable. Our compassionate medical team provides a comprehensive approach to ensure your comfort throughout the healing process.

Our medical detox program helps your body adjust to life without opioids. From there, we provide inpatient treatment for more intensive care. Plus, our dual diagnosis program addresses co-occurring disorders, ensuring a holistic approach to your recovery.

Don’t wait any longer. Contact us at (844) 933-4145, and let us guide you toward an opioid-free future. Your journey to recovery starts now.