Skip to content


Opioid Withdrawal And Detox

Opioids are a classification of drugs that can be obtained legally from a doctor or illegally for recreational use. Opioids are highly addictive, and withdrawal symptoms can be severe and life-threatening. Fortunately, with detox and proper treatment, Opioid withdrawal can be effectively treated.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Opioids impact the way you experience pain and pleasure. More specifically, Opioids block pain receptors and overwhelm the pleasure center of the brain with high amounts of dopamine, resulting in feelings of euphoria and happiness. These feelings are what make Opioids addictive to many.

When you try to reduce or stop Opioid use after your body has developed a dependence on the drug, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. The severity and type of withdrawal symptoms vary and are impacted by factors such as history of substance use and frequent polydrug use.

Withdrawal symptoms can make it extremely difficult for people to stop using Opioids despite experiencing significant physical, social, occupational, and family problems.

Need Addiction Support?

Help is available. Enter your phone number to receive a call from a treatment provider.

No formal evaluation is used to determine whether someone is experiencing Opioid withdrawal. However, signs and symptoms of Opioid withdrawal commonly include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive eye watering
  • Muscle pain
  • Abnormal light sensitivity
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fast heart rate
  • Fast breathing
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle twitching and spasms
  • Fever and increased body temperature
  • Yawning and fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Agitation or irritability

Together, these symptoms comprise what’s known as Opioid withdrawal syndrome, which can be fatal without treatment.

Withdrawal Timeline

Opioid withdrawal timelines vary and are commonly determined by individual factors such as overall health and genetics, as well as the type of Opioid used.

With Heroin and other short-acting Opioids, you can expect to experience withdrawal symptoms within 8 to 24 hours after the last use, with symptoms usually lasting anywhere between four and ten days. With long-acting Opioids, such as Methadone, symptoms typically begin 8 to 48 hours after last use, with effects lasting 10 to 20 days on average.

The Detox Process

Opioid detox is a medical process that aims to rid the body of the substance safely. Opioid detox can be conducted in a variety of settings. Still, given the risks associated with Opioid withdrawal, many people choose to complete the detox process under the care of trained medical professionals at an addiction treatment facility or hospital. Depending on the severity of your Opioid use disorder and subsequent withdrawal symptoms, inpatient detoxification may be recommended.

During an inpatient detoxification process, the following is recommended to treat withdrawal symptoms:

  • For mild symptoms: Taking daily supplements such as vitamins B and C and consuming at least two to three liters of water can decrease your risk of dehydration.
  • For moderate to severe symptoms: In addition to implementing the supplements and water intake listed above, additional medications and close monitoring of symptoms will be required.

Medications are often used in the treatment of Opioid detox, especially if you experience moderate to severe symptoms. Medications include:

  • Opioid agonists – Agonists, like Methadone, ignite Opioid receptors in the brain. Some medications are full agonists, giving the euphoric feeling of Opioids. Others are partial agonists, which partially activate Opioid receptors in the brain, resulting in a lesser euphoric effect.
  • Antagonists – An antagonist, like Naltrexone, blocks the brain’s Opioid receptors. If an Opioid is used, the euphoric effects won’t take effect.

Like all medications, they come with pros and cons. Below are some examples:

  • Methadone is a full Opioid agonist that reduces and alleviates withdrawal symptoms and decreases cravings, but it is given under medical supervision and rarely approved for at-home treatment.
  • Buprenorphine is a partial Opioid agonist that reduces cravings and relieves withdrawal symptoms. While it can be prescribed in short- or long-acting forms, it can only be prescribed for at-home use for short-term treatment.
  • Naltrexone is an Opioid antagonist that can reduce cravings and prevent relapse. However, it is only used after detox is complete, and it increases the risk of overdose if Opioids are used concurrently.

Hypnotics (sleep medications and Benzodiazepines) and analgesics (NSAID pain relievers) are used to treat Opioid withdrawal symptoms. These are used when non-Opioid medications are used concurrently.

What To Expect During Opioid Detox

The detox timeline can vary and is based on multiple factors, such as the specific treatment program, the severity of the SUD, and the existence of co-occurring physical or mental health conditions.  Detox timelines can be categorized as:

  • Rapid, with treatment occurring over three to six days.
  • Short-term, which is conducted over a one- to three-week timeframe.
  • Long-term, which typically occurs over a period of months.

If you decide to enter a detox program, you will have access to healthcare staff 24 hours a day and will be medically monitored and encouraged to rest as much as possible. Options to practice low-energy, holistic activities like meditation or yoga may be available to you; however, you are not expected to attend formal treatment programs during the detoxification phase. Initially, You can also expect to be kept separate from individuals who have already completed or who have progressed further in the detoxification process to avoid hindering any parties’ recovery process.

Get Help For Opioid Addiction

If you are struggling with Opioid addiction, you don’t have to suffer any longer. Help is available; detox can successfully rid your body of these substances so you can begin recovery.

Contact a dedicated treatment provider today to discover your rehab options and start your journey toward an addiction-free future.

Start Your Recovery Today

Help is available. Explore your recovery options and break free from addiction.