Opioid Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms, and Treatment

opioid withrawal timeline symptoms and treatment

The opioid epidemic has been claiming the lives of thousands of Americans each year for decades. Unfortunately, the rate of opioid addiction and opioid-related deaths only increases each year. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “more than 760,000 people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose. Two out of three drug overdose deaths in 2018 involved an opioid.”[1]

The only way to fully recover from the causes and effects of opioid addiction is to attend a professional addiction treatment program. While rehab is effective in providing people with the tools and support they need to recover, many individuals avoid treatment out of fear.

One of the main barriers to recovery is the fear of experiencing withdrawal, especially for opioid addicts. Without proper treatment, the opioid withdrawal timeline can be unbearable and potentially dangerous. However, opioid detox centers can provide you with the medications and treatments you need to remain safe and comfortable throughout the entire process.

Understanding what the symptoms of opioid withdrawal are, how long it takes, and how a medical detox program can treat it will help ease some of your fears surrounding getting the help you need.

Opioid Withdrawal

What are the Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal?

The symptoms of opioid withdrawal largely depend on the severity of your addiction. Someone who had a mild issue with opioid abuse may experience minimal symptoms, while a person with severe opioid addiction can expect to deal with uncomfortable and painful complications.

Even mild symptoms of opioid withdrawal should be monitored and treated by a medical professional to ensure your safety.

The symptoms of opioid withdrawal may include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Yawning
  • Teary eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Excessive sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings for opioids
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps in the abdomen
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Blurry vision
  • Rapid heart rate
  • High blood pressure

While opioid withdrawal isn’t known to cause life-threatening symptoms like seizures, excessive vomiting and diarrhea could lead to severe dehydration.[2] Without medical treatment, severe dehydration can end in death.

If you are suffering from opioid addiction you should always take advantage of medical detox to prevent life-threatening emergencies.

Opioid Withdrawal Timeline & Treatment

The timeline of opioid withdrawal varies depending on an array of factors like your body weight, overall health, and how often you used opioids all play a role in exactly how long your withdrawal symptoms will last. Another important factor is the type of opioid you are detoxing from. Short-acting opioids like heroin will have a shorter withdrawal timeline than long-acting opioids like methadone.

Typically, opioid withdrawal begins between 6 to 10 hours after your last use of the drug and peaks at around 72 hours. Most people have overcome their symptoms in a week.

There are three stages of opioid withdrawal, which include:

Early Stage

When the first symptoms of withdrawal begin depends on the type of opioid you were addicted to. For example, opioids like oxycodone will cause symptoms of withdrawal between 6 to 10 hours after your last dose. On the other hand, symptoms of methadone withdrawal will not begin for at least 8 to 24 hours after your last dose.

The early stage of withdrawal typically involves intense cravings to use the substance and feelings of anxiety or irritability. Other early symptoms may include:

  • Frustration or agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings for opioids
  • Slight physical symptoms like body aches or a runny nose

Early symptoms are usually mild, however, they can be uncomfortable. Opioid detox centers may prescribe opioid-replacement medications to slowly taper you off opioids rather than forcing you to detox cold turkey. This approach keeps you comfortable, safe, and motivated to continue your recovery journey.

Peak Stage

The peak stage of opioid withdrawal is when you will experience the most severe symptoms because your body is removing the last bit of the opioids from your system.

If you were taking a short-acting opioid like oxycodone, you should begin the peak stage after one day of abstinence. People taking long-acting opioids like methadone can expect to experience peak symptoms 30-72 hours after their last dose.

The peak symptoms of opioid withdrawal usually include:

  • Mood changes
  • Feelings of anxiety or depression
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling hot and cold
  • Excessive sweating
  • Flu-like symptoms

If you are attending an opioid detox program, they will prescribe medications like buprenorphine or methadone. These drugs affect the opioid receptors in your brain, preventing withdrawal symptoms and cravings without getting you high.

Late Stage

You will likely complete the withdrawal process a week after your last dose of opioids. Depending on the type of opioid you were addicted to, the severe symptoms of withdrawal will end before the 72-hour mark. After your peak symptoms subside, you usually only have to worry about psychological symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, or depression.

Some individuals experience something known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). This condition causes them to experience the symptoms of opioid withdrawal for an extended period. People who suffer from PAWS will receive medications that lessen their symptoms and allow them to focus on other aspects of addiction recovery.

During the late stages of the opioid withdrawal timeline, people in detox may begin to participate in individual therapy, group counseling, addiction education groups, and support groups for addiction. This prepares them for the next phases of addiction recovery that occur in a residential or inpatient treatment program.

Get Connected With an Opioid Detox Center in New Jersey

Opioid addiction can significantly impact your ability to function in your daily life and puts you at a constant risk of experiencing a life-threatening overdose. Detox and treatment can provide you with the support and tools you need to overcome addiction and live a successful life.

Moving Mountains Recovery Center can refer you to a trusted detox facility in New Jersey that can help you overcome the withdrawal stage of addiction recovery. After you complete detox, you can immediately transfer into our highly individualized opioid addiction treatment program.

Contact Moving Mountains Recovery Center today to learn more about medical detox and inpatient treatment for opioid addiction.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/add.13512
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