Breaking Down the Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

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Millions of Americans suffer from opiate addiction, due largely to the increase in the use and abuse of prescription medications, such as codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone. Over the years, the number of people addicted to opiates has created what has become known as a national epidemic. Opiate addiction has infiltrated suburban communities just as it’s affected inner-city neighborhoods in the past. No one is immune to the power of opiate addiction. In any form, it can become a dangerous situation.

Because of its highly addictive nature, you can’t simply stop taking opiates without cravings and the subsequent pain and discomfort from settling in. It’s highly recommended that you go through detox under the care of a treatment facility. The actual time it takes to go through withdrawal varies per individual.

Although it’s not the same for everyone, the typical withdrawal period lasts for approximately one week. However, in some cases, the opiate withdrawal timeline can last for a few weeks. In others, withdrawal side effects can last for months or even years. That’s because opiate addiction changes the makeup of the brain. When someone is going through withdrawal, the body is trying to make sense of the change. This transition and adaptation doesn’t happen immediately.

There are also several factors that will affect the timeline as well. Your age, general health, and how long you’ve been using opiates will all play a part into the full duration of opiate withdrawal. How often you take opiates and how much you’ve taken also factor into the timeline equation.

As an example, someone who has been battling with opiate addiction for years may go through the withdrawal process for a longer period of time than someone who may have just begun an addiction. Regardless, when it comes to the effect of opiates on the body, nothing is fully predictable. One road to addiction is not “safer” than the other. There are risks every time a person takes opiates, whether it’s a prescribed medication or a street drug like heroin.

People turn to opiates because it helps with pain relief in a powerful way. The euphoria is what causes the craving, which causes a person to want to take them in larger amounts more often. When the body begins to adapt to this frequency, stronger doses are necessary to feel the same high as before. Not only does this pose a risk for addiction, it can easily lead to an opiate overdose.

If you are considering going through the detox and treatment process, know that your plan will be customized to what you need. It’s more than just going through the motions. It’s taking the time to allow your body to recover and heal.

Opiate Withdrawal Side Effects

As you go through the withdrawal process, symptoms will vary in intensity. The first few days are often the most difficult. They are strongest and occur more frequently during the first few days and then, eventually tend to taper off. When you are addicted to opiates, the body becomes learns how to function with the addiction. In the withdrawal process, the body has to learn how to function without.

This sudden change (the withdrawal) can be painful and uncomfortable. It’s strongly recommended that you go through the detox stage under the safety and security of a treatment center. It will provide you an environment where staff members can monitor any severe reactions to the withdrawal process. They can assist medically and with emotional support as needed. During this time, treatment staff can also help you with your cravings and ease your pain as much as possible. Detox is difficult; it helps to have someone supporting you when possible.

Generally speaking, you can expect opiate withdrawal side effects to begin approximately 12 hours after your last dosage. These side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, profuse sweating, loss of appetite, and insomnia. At first, it may feel like a severe case of the flu. It is your body’s way of ridding the drugs from your system. Additionally, due to these symptoms, it’s even more important to stay hydrated and well-nourished. This is another reason why it’s best to go through this process with the help of others. Now, more than ever, you will have to take good care of your health.

Addiction is a tough battle to fight, but one that can be achieved. After the first few days, the side effects should start to decrease and lessen in intensity. Those who choose to go through detox alone find the pain, discomfort, and cravings are all too much to deal with and may turn to taking opiates again. During this time, it is common for people to relapse.

When the temptation is there, the urge to use is harder to ignore. In a treatment facility, you have guidance and support through each step. There will also be a transition plan in place once you’ve finished your detox period. This will help you maintain your strength and keep you moving forward, as well as prevent relapse.

Speak with a treatment specialist today.
(888) 325-1995

Types of Opiate Withdrawal

Side effects of opiate withdrawal are also determined by what type you are experiencing. Acute withdrawal side effects may include diarrhea, muscle cramps, anxiety, and irritability. These symptoms usually last for a few days or a week, depending on your current medical and/or addiction condition. After this initial withdrawal stage, you may then experience protracted withdrawal.

Protracted withdrawal side effects may last longer than the typical week-long timeline. They can last a few months, if not longer. If you’ve been a long time sufferer of heroin or opiate addiction, you may experience abnormal sleep patterns, depression, fatigue, and/or anxiety. These may continue even as you progress with your treatment. Again, the type of side effects and their severity will vary from person to person. Through rehabilitation, you’ll learn how to cope with or treat these specific side effects.

Opiates are taxing on the body, especially the brain and heart. When you go through the detox process, neither immediately goes back to normal. Whatever it takes for your body to right itself without the use of drugs will determine how you will feel in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Treatment for Opiate Addiction: What to Expect

The good news is you don’t have to go through any of it alone. There are options for how you approach your opiate addiction treatment goals. The main choices are inpatient or outpatient care. Regardless of which treatment you choose, the process will always begin with detoxification. During this withdrawal timeline, you will have staff to support you, keep you accountable, and ensure that your health is not any further danger as your body goes through this process. You will also be given the tools you need to prevent relapse and advance along your path to sobriety.

When you enter rehabilitation, one of the key factors of success is your environment. Many find inpatient care to be valuable because it takes them out of their current situation and places them in a location that is calm and structured. It also removes you from the direct temptations that may plague you in your daily life.

Most inpatient facilities also have location benefits, being near mountains or water, which further aids in helping you to relax the mind and focus fully on recovery. A typical inpatient care plan is 90 days, although some can be shorter or longer. It will be based on how quickly you go through the stages and how your health is progressing along the way.

Following inpatient care, you may enter an outpatient center as a way to maintain your progress and receive any additional assistance you may need during the transition into sober living. In both inpatient and outpatient care, you have access to resources, education, and support groups to help you learn about your addiction. The more you understand what triggers your addiction and how to deal with cravings in a healthy way, the more prepared you become for living a life of sobriety.

In both inpatient and outpatient care, there will be group therapy, as well as individual counseling sessions. There are often workshops and classes to help as you transition to living a life a sober lifestyle. These life skills may include everything from preparing for a job interview to securing your own living space to interacting socially in situations sans drugs or alcohol. You are given real-life coping mechanisms to help you post-recovery.

In certain situations, people may opt for outpatient care only. This gives the person a chance to live at home or within the safety of their chosen, built-in support group. While this type of care is valuable, speak with an adviser about which option is best for your health. It may be a combination of both.

You may not be able to realize what is posing as a risk to you until after you’ve gone through treatment and have learned where your addiction stems from. What are some of the temptations or influences you currently face in your life that may be directly or indirectly affecting your addiction? Is it better to remove yourself from your current environment to focus solely on your sobriety? Or, do you have commitments at home, which must be tended to while you go through treatment? These are all questions to consider. However, you need a program you can feel dedicated. We can help you find a path that works best for you.

How You Can Help a Loved One

Are you concerned that someone you care about is addicted to opiates? Common signs of addiction include constricted pupils, slowed breathing, drowsiness to the point of nodding off, and confusion. These signs in combination with known use of opiates could mean the person is addicted. If you strongly feel like this is something one of your friends, family members, or co-workers is dealing with, you can be part of the solution.

While it is up to the person with the addiction to seek the help they need, you can help guide them toward that path. It will take time, patience, and understanding from everyone involved. If you are the one helping someone in need, it can be a difficult topic of discussion. However, the sooner that you can face the situation head on and find treatment, the better it will be for your loved one’s health.

Employ the help of an intervention specialist who will walk you through how to handle the conversation. Talk through the best places to have the intervention, how to broach the subject, and come with solutions for the person to choose from. Gather support from other friends and family to create a place of openness and love.

It can all feel overwhelming, but addiction means there’s an immediate need for a lifestyle change. Help your loved one by finding out information about treatment, including the logistics of when, where, and how, so the one decision they have is deciding to start rehabilitation or not.

Remember, though, the time it takes to withdraw from opiates is not the same amount of time it takes for someone to go through treatment. In short, a person can technically detox in an estimated one-week span of time, but your support is helpful through the duration of the entire recovery process.

Seeking the Help You Need

Opiate withdrawal is not an experience anyone should have to go through by themselves. If you suffer from opiate addiction and are unsure of where to turn, we have help available for you. We have the support and resources you need to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

We have answers to questions you may have about treatment, such as the duration, location, and the different steps to take to reach sobriety. Opiate addiction treatment calls for a commitment to your health and well-being. And, you deserve to take the time necessary to care for yourself and become sober. We will stand with you along your journey to recovery.

Find hope. Find recovery. Begin a commitment to lifelong recovery today – for yourself, your friend, or for your loved one.
(888) 325-1995


WebMD. Treating Opioid Use Disorder With Medications. Accessed April 7, 2016.

WebMD. Turning to Kratom For Opioid Withdrawal. Accessed April 7, 2016.

WebMD. Painkillers and Opioid Use Disorder. Accessed April 8, 2016.

WebMD. What Is Methadone? Accessed April 8, 2016.

Healthline. Withdrawing From Opiates and Opioids. Accessed April 7, 2016.

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