Opioid Withdrawal Timeline

Opioid addiction is commonly known as dangerous. With the opioid epidemic sweeping the United States, and overdose deaths on the rise, awareness is growing. However, the need for treatment options and a reduction in deaths is also needed. In this article you will learn all about opioid withdrawal, and the timeline of symptoms and feelings.

More than 2 million people each year abuse or depend on opioids. Dependence on opioids leads to withdrawal when people try to stop. The severe withdrawal symptoms of opioids are difficult to handle.  They often cause even the most willful to continue using. 

Opioid Dependence

Opioids are used by most for their effects. May use them for pain relief, others to get high. When taken in larger doses they cause extreme euphoria, relaxation, and comfort. Unfortunately, those pleasant feelings cause continued use, which leads to physical dependence and addiction. 

Using opioids causes a reaction in the brain, which is responsible for their pain relieving effects. Over time, people build a tolerance to the opioids, causing them to need more of the drug to experience the same effect. This increased use causes dependence. 

Dependence to a drug means that the body cannot function normally without it. When you stop using the drug, the body has a negative reaction in the form of withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms are very uncomfortable and cause a list of health concerns. 

Stopping Cold Turkey 

Most people try to stop taking opioids on their own first. It is free and seems like it might be easy with just enough will power. While some short-term users may be able to stop taking the drug on their own, most people are simply unable.

Most people experience such severe withdrawal symptoms that they are unable to stop, or stay stopped. They want to stop, but they feel so uncomfortable and the cravings are so immense that they resort to using again. 

Sadly, many people who try to stop and cannot begin to feel hopeless. The withdrawal symptoms scare them. They feel they cannot possibly overcome the addiction, even with medical help. This leads to continued use and progression of the addiction.

Opioid Withdrawal

As previously mentioned, withdrawal is an extremely uncomfortable process. It usually lasts from days to weeks, with symptoms lingering months in some cases. It depends on the individual how severe and long-term the withdrawal symptoms are. 

Opioid Withdrawal Timeline 

The withdrawal timeline is pretty similar for most. Although it can vary, this will outline the most common scenario of withdrawal.

First 2 days

Most people begin to experience withdrawal symptoms 12 hours after their last use. These symptoms can be mild but usually include chills, depression, muscle aches and fatigue. Cravings can be severe during this time. 

Most people are bed ridden during this time and unable to function. This makes it difficult to handle responsibilities or work.

Days 3-5

The third day of withdrawal is often considered the worst day of symptoms. They will be the most extreme at this time and include insomnia, constipation, nausea and vomiting, and overall discomfort.

The third day of withdrawal includes inability to function, sleep, or even use the bathroom. This is frequently when people end up relapsing. Relapse at this point also makes people prone to overdose, as their tolerance will have gone down.

Days 5 and On

After the fourth day, symptoms begin to pass. People will finally be able to sleep, and may be able to attend some of their responsibilities if they are up to it. Cravings persist during this time, but are not as severe as they are on days three and four. 

Unfortunately, symptoms may persist for up to two weeks. Beyond two weeks, there are post-acute withdrawal symptoms.

Post-Acute Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Post-acute withdrawal symptoms, or PAWS, refer to withdrawal symptoms beyond the main withdrawal period. PAWS can persist for months to years in some people. They are usually more mild, and frequently psychological. 

These symptoms include depression, anxiety, and mood swings. Insomnia also can persist for some time beyond the initial withdrawal. 

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Medically Supervised Opioid Withdrawal

As you have read, the symptoms of withdrawal are difficult to handle. This is why we recommend a medically assisted withdrawal. Medically supervised withdrawal is much more comfortable and effective than trying to quit on one’s own. 

In a medical setting, doctors and medical staff can prescribe medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Treatment is also recommended following a detox protocol to help tackle the underlying issues that led to addiction. 

Detox in a Medical Setting

Detoxification in a medical setting is far more comfortable than trying to go cold turkey. Professional staff treat the symptoms of withdrawal and in some cases can alleviate them completely. 

We utilize medications and therapeutic modalities to help people overcome their withdrawal and fight their addiction.

Why Medical Treatment is Important

Most people who do not seek professional treatment relapse. Those that relapse after a short period of sobriety are at a high risk for overdose. Withdrawal symptoms make overcoming an addiction unbearable. Medical treatment is the only way to overcome the withdrawal period for some. 

We offer a safe, comfortable facility with experienced staff and doctors. We can detox, and treat addiction to opioids. We offer individualized, medically reviewed treatment plans to meet the needs of each patient we treat. 

If you or a loved one would like more information about opioid withdrawal, or needs help finding a program, we are here to help. We are available 24/7 at  (800) 817-1247