Opiate Withdrawal: Signs, Symptoms, Timeline, & Detox Medications

In severe cases, opioid withdrawal syndrome can be life threatening. If you’re using opioids, your body might grow accustomed to their presence and effects. When you’re frequently using, the body develops a physical dependence. Then, if you cut back on using opioids, you may experience opioid withdrawal syndrome. As with any chronic condition, it’s important to keep following your treatment plan. The good news is that newer medications and practices are available to help prevent relapse and manage withdrawal symptoms.

  1. Symptomatic medications should be offered as required for aches, anxiety and other symptoms.
  2. Organizations and businesses—big or small, public or private—should be ready to help keep their employees, customers, and communities safe.
  3. For example, heroin is typically eliminated from your system faster, and symptoms will start within 12 hours of last use.
  4. Dopamine is a well-known neurotransmitter that boosts feelings of pleasure.
  5. A person needs to go to the emergency room if they lose consciousness, experience chest pain, or are pregnant and feel very sick.

Throughout opiate addiction, the body develops a dependence on opiates, meaning that there will be unpleasant withdrawal symptoms during detox. To reduce the risk of relapse, patients should be engaged in psychosocial interventions such as described later in these guidelines. Patients who repeatedly relapse following withdrawal management are likely to benefit from methadone maintenance treatment or other opioid substitution treatment. You may receive a few hours of care per week, which may include medications, depending on the program and provider. When a person stops taking opiates, they may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as pain, aches, fatigue, and nausea. Morphine and codeine are opiates that derive naturally from the opium poppy.

It can be uncomfortable to stop using opioids, but it is very possible. It will go away as long you continue to stick to your treatment and surround yourself with the supports you need. Your doctor might prescribe buprenorphine when you start showing early withdrawal symptoms. They may recommend you keep taking it long term, or they’ll help you stop using it after a period of treatment by gradually reducing your dosage. Methadone is an opioid, but it’s also a medication for opioid use disorder. It helps with suppressing withdrawal symptoms of other opioids.

Depending on a person’s needs, they may receive sleep aids, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or over-the-counter medications to treat nausea. Especially follow your healthcare professional’s instructions about how and when to take medicines during the taper. Opioids are a broad group of pain-relieving medicines that work with your brain cells. Opioids can be made from the poppy plant — for example, morphine (Duramorph, MS Contin, others). Or opioids can be made in a laboratory — for example, fentanyl (Actiq and Fentora).

If you find yourself having difficulty during your taper, support from others can be very helpful. If you and your healthcare professional think you have an opioid use disorder, voluntary groups such as Narcotics Anonymous are structured support groups. They are led by other people who have been dependent on addictive substances. how long does it take to detox from alcohol timeline and more These groups can be a powerful support network for those who find that they aren’t able to quit using opioids despite their best efforts. Talking with your religious or spiritual advisor may help too. Your healthcare professional may recommend that you have naloxone available to lower your risk of an overdose.

If you know someone experiencing opioid withdrawal, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with the symptoms mentioned earlier so you know what you and they can expect. Withdrawal symptoms typically peak at 24 to 48 hours after they start, but they can last days to weeks. How long withdrawal symptoms last depends on the type of substance, the length and frequency of use, and individual metabolism. People withdrawing from opioids may experience strong cravings and a desire to return to the drug they are quitting. When a person stops taking opioids, they may experience shivering and tremors.

For opioid withdrawal, antipsychotics are typically used to treat insomnia and the “wet” effects of opioids, rather than managing psychosis. In the absence of opioid-assisted detoxification, a 2014 study found that clonidine can help with acute withdrawal symptoms and help with completing withdrawal treatment. The higher the dose of opioid you’re used to taking, the higher the dose of methadone you may need to manage withdrawal symptoms.

With heroin, you might experience withdrawal symptoms starting 8 to 24 hours after your last use. This can last from 4 to 10 days, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Most chronic opioid users require rehabilitation care after the management of acute withdrawal symptoms and outpatient follow-up with a psychiatrist.

However, this is one of the most dangerous and least effective ways to overcome addiction. The sudden removal of opiates can shock the system and result in dangerous symptoms like convulsions, hallucinations, and seizures. Everyone can do their part to beat the opioid and overdose crisis. We welcome commitments from organizations, philanthropists, ibuprofen and alcohol: is it safe to mix otc painkillers with alcohol local governments, and businesses—big or small and across all industries and expertise. Industries with employees at higher risk of overdose, likely to witness an overdose, or engaging high numbers of Americans may especially benefit from participating. If you experience nausea or vomiting, you may become dehydrated.

Anti-nausea medications

Methadone is a synthetic opioid and a partial opioid antagonist like buprenorphine. It produces similar effects and activates opioid receptors to compete with addictive opioids. In turn, this reduces any cravings and withdrawals caused by other opioids.

Because of the advent of opioid overdose antidotes like Narcan, a brand-name version of naloxone, a non-fatal opiate overdose is possible. Naloxone is a commonly-used antidote to opioid overdose that can be delivered intravenously, intramuscularly, subcutaneously, or intranasally. It is effective because it is an opiate antagonist, meaning it blocks the effects of opiates, including respiratory depression. While the drug may help reverse an opioid overdose, immediate medical attention should be sought after its use.

They are a subtype of opioids, which include synthetic drugs with a similar effect. Treating opioid withdrawal requires interprofessional teamwork by psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, therapists, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. The patient is initially stabilized in the emergency department setting before being transferred to an inpatient or outpatient drug detoxification unit. Thus, comprehensive care by multiple healthcare professionals is required to treat and manage an opioid withdrawal patient. The keys to working efficiently in a team are having proper communication and respect for the opinion of other healthcare providers. Most importantly, the patient should be actively involved in treatment decisions, and their needs must also be addressed.


Doxepin is another antidepressant that healthcare professionals may recommend to help treat withdrawal-induced anxiety and insomnia. If you’ve stopped taking opioid medication and are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible. They can help manage symptoms and adjust your medication regimen.

Alcohol Withdrawal Scale8

If this does not adequately calm the patient, it may be necessary to sedate him or her using diazepam. Provide 10-20ng of diazepam every 30 minutes until the patient is adequately sedated. No more than 120mg of diazepam should be given in a 24-hour period. The patient should be observed during sedation and no more diazepam given if signs of respiratory depression are observed.

The reason the risk is higher at these times is that people have reduced tolerance for opiates when they have been in a treatment setting or incarceration facility. If they return to using again, they may use more than intended and overdose. Detox and withdrawal may be the toughest parts of overcoming the disease of opioid addiction. The Recovery Village’s accredited treatment facilities help mitigate risks involved with detox while keeping patients as comfortable as possible as they begin recovery. You may be tempted to take more opioid medicine than your taper recommends. Do not start taking any opioids you have at home that you received from other health professionals or visits to the emergency room.