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Opiate Withdrawal Timeline: What Symptoms To Expect

calendar June 13, 2021 user By Key To Recovery

The opiate withdrawal timeline looks different for each individual. That said, people typically have similar symptoms as they go through the stages of opiate withdrawal. Unfortunately, opiates can be extremely difficult to quit since they can cause people to become both physically and psychologically dependent on them. 

Those suffering from opiate withdrawal symptoms may be tempted to start using opiates again in an attempt to stop the discomfort. To avoid this, individuals should attend opiate detox followed by opiate addiction treatment. 

Millions of Americans have a prescription for opioids. Oftentimes people that were prescribed opiates in the form of prescription drugs develop an addiction to the substance. This is due to how highly addictive opioids/opiates are.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 191 million opioid prescriptions were dispensed in 2017. Also, the CDC writes that 25% of individuals with long-term opioid prescriptions struggle with addiction. Opiate withdrawal symptoms can be extremely severe, especially if a person is on a long-term prescription that suddenly stops. Medical detox for opiates can help individuals overcome opiate withdrawal symptoms in a short amount of time. 

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

The opiate withdrawal timeline varies for everyone. Those with an opiate use disorder may have withdrawal symptoms that may last months. On the other hand, medical detox can decrease the intensity and duration of opiate withdrawal symptoms. Most people begin to feel withdrawal symptoms after 8 to 30 hours after decreasing their regular consumption or stopping completely.

Day 1 Opiate Withdrawal

The first day of opiate withdrawal is usually uncomfortable for most. Many people will suffer from opiate withdrawal symptoms within their first day of stopping or decreasing their dosage. This is certainly true with short-acting opiates. Day 1 of opiate withdrawal can include both physical and mental withdrawal symptoms. 

Day 1 opiate withdrawal symptoms can range from: 

  • Insomnia 
  • Opiate cravings
  • Increased anxiety   
  • Increased agitation
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Bodily aches and pains

Opiate cravings can be particularly intense during this period of time. They can start around this period of time but can continue far after the first day of withdrawal. In part, this happens because drug abuse literally changes a person’s brain chemistry over time. Opiates are especially addictive and can change neuroplasticity. The brain reacts to the chemical change of going from constant opiate use to little to no opiate use in the form of opiate cravings (among other symptoms). 

Day 2 Opiate Withdrawal 

The second day of opiate withdrawal can include many of the same symptoms from the first day. Those with an addiction to extended-release opiates may not experience symptoms on the first day of withdrawal. That said, they will more often than not experience them on day 2 of opiate withdrawal. 

Thus, day 2 opiate withdrawal symptoms may include: 

  • Upset stomach 
  • Opiate cravings
  • Anxiety disorders 
  • Bodily aches and pains
  • Aggression and agitation 
  • Changes in appetite and sleep patterns

Day 2 opiate withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person. Though, they tend to intensify on day 2 in comparison to day 2. It’s important to attend medical detox during opiate withdrawal to deal with the psychological and physical manifestation of withdrawal symptoms. Medical professionals can help mitigate the worst of it. 

Day 3 Opiate Withdrawal 

People suffering from opiate withdrawal symptoms might feel the worst on the third day after decreasing or stopping opioid use. Day 3 opiate withdrawal symptoms will be similar to those that happen on the first and second days. Still, there will likely be more signs and symptoms of opiate withdrawal after 72 hours. 

While this point of the opiate withdrawal timeline can vary between short-acting and extended-release opiates, day 3 opiate withdrawal symptoms can include: 

  • Insomnia 
  • Indigestion 
  • Runny nose 
  • Opiate cravings
  • Mood swings 
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Sweating excessively 
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Bodily aches and pains  
  • Increased agitation and anxiety 

The peak means the worst of the withdrawal symptoms. For many individuals suffering from an opiate use disorder, the peak is three days. This can differ for those on long-acting opiates. 

Day 4 Opiate Withdrawal 

Day 4 opiate withdrawal symptoms can start the peak for those on long-acting opioids. Yet, most opiates are short-acting. So, most people within the opiate withdrawal timeline will start their peak on day 3. Opiates are different from other types of opioids because they are naturally made. Synthetic opioids, like fentanyl, aren’t opiates. 

Those experiencing withdrawal symptoms from extended-release opiates might feel similar or worse to the first few days of the opiate withdrawal timeline. Many of day 4 opiate withdrawal symptoms will be the same, but may also include cramps, feeling excessively tired, chills, and dilated pupils. 

Days 5 and 6 of Opiate Withdrawal 

Day 5 of opiate withdrawal can be the worst for those prescribed extended-release opioids. This is because day 5 is often the peak day when it comes to the intensity of extended-release opioid withdrawal symptoms. 

All the symptoms from the previous days will likely be intensified. As for those addicted to short-acting opiates, like heroin, the symptoms will largely remain the same. Days 5 and 6 of the opiate withdrawal timeline will be the same for the most part and won’t subside until later on. Again, these symptoms can be lessened through medical detox at a facility that offers this kind of program. 

Day 7 Opiate Withdrawal 

After about a week of withdrawing from opiates, symptoms should begin to subside almost completely. The worst of the symptoms and opiate cravings should be gone at this point, although other symptoms may persist. Opiate withdrawal symptoms on day 7 may include low mood and problems sleeping. However, some people experience opiate withdrawal symptoms long after a week is over. 

Day 8 and Beyond of Opiate Withdrawal 

The fact is that people that are suffering from opiate addiction are battling against one of the most addictive substances. While many in this situation may stop feeling withdrawal symptoms after a week or so, not all will. When opiate withdrawal symptoms last beyond a week, their classification becomes Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). PAWS last long-term and can stick with some for years. 

Symptoms of PAWS related to opiate withdrawal include: 

  • Low energy  
  • Issues sleeping 
  • Vivid nightmares 
  • Increased irritability 
  • Continued opiate cravings 
  • Mood disorders (ie: depression)

A substance use disorder is a lifelong diagnosis. Yet both PAWS and addiction are treatable with the right help. Facilities that specialize in medical detox and addiction treatment can help clients manage their withdrawal symptoms. 

What Can Affect the Opiate Withdrawal Timeline?

There are many factors that can affect the length of the opiate withdrawal timeline. Not only does it depend on the person, but it also depends on the type of opiate. Factors like this combined can either decrease or increase the length of an opiate withdrawal timeline. 

Some factors that can alter the length of a withdrawal timeline for opiates include: 

  • Genetics 
  • Overall well-being 
  • How severely one is addicted to opiates
  • The length of time a person used opiates 

The length of time that a person experiences opioid withdrawal can vary. Usually, individuals who withdraw from short-acting opiates will feel unwell within the same day in as little as 8 hours. But this can be different for extended-release opioids. Extended-release opioids may take a full 24 hours to feel any withdrawal symptoms. 

Whatever the type of opioid, individuals with an opioid addiction must seek medical detox and treatment. Medical detox and treatment can help reduce the length of withdrawal symptoms and the intensity. 

Withdrawal symptoms can escalate to the edge of deadly. For example, too much vomiting because of opiate withdrawal symptoms can cause dangerous levels of dehydration. And this could lead to hospitalization. Thus, it’s better to seek professional help for opioid withdrawal before it gets to that point. 

Detox and Treatment During the Opiate Withdrawal Timeline 

Withdrawal from opiates can be excruciating to deal with. However, a quality detox and treatment center for opiates can help individuals reduce the time of withdrawal. Also, medical detox can reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms through different means. 

Detox for Opiate Addiction

Before treatment, it’s crucial to rid the body of any traces of opiates. Medical detox allows people to safely withdraw from opiates, like morphine and heroin, in the most comfortable way possible. Addiction treatment centers, like The Key to Recovery, offer medication to ease the worst symptoms of opiate withdrawal when needed and 24/7 support during the process. 

Treatment for Opiate Addiction 

After detox, clients learn about what they need to do to maintain sobriety after opiates aren’t in their systems anymore. For instance, clients at The Key to Recovery have the ability to attend both cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. This helps them uncover any underlying issues that may lead to opiate use, like a mental illness. Traditional talk therapy also helps people identify other factors that may exacerbate their addictions, then take action to prevent unhealthy coping. 

The Key to Recovery also offers holistic and experiential therapies. Holistic and experiential therapies focus on treating the body, mind, and spirit. These forms of therapy can range from writing therapy to nutritional therapy. Combining modern and traditional therapies helps create a comprehensive addiction treatment plan for our clients here at The Key to Recovery. 

Overcome Opiate Addiction at The Key to Recovery 

Those struggling with an opiate addiction may fear the timeline for opiate withdrawal. While it can be uncomfortable, The Key to Recovery gives clients the solution to the worst of opiate withdrawal symptoms. We offer detox, MAT when necessary, and residential treatment in the Orange County, CA area. That way we can help people with their recovery journeys from start to finish. Contact us now to see how we can help you take back your life from an opiate use disorder.