Approximately three million people in the United States and 16 million worldwide suffer from opioid use disorder. That number more than doubles when the unreported population is accounted for.

Opioid withdrawal is difficult and must be managed properly for long-term success. The symptoms of opioid withdrawal are severe and agonizing which often keeps people from seeking help.

Long-term users should not attempt detox on their own as it can be dangerous and the opioid withdrawal timeline is different for everyone. Symptoms can last weeks or even months.

Analyzing the Opioid Withdrawal Timeline

Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be different for everyone but there are a few that are generally common across the board. Ultimately, the symptoms of withdrawal depend on the type of opiate, length of use, and amount in the user’s system at the time of detox. What follows is a generally expected course of symptoms.

Day 1 (8-24 hours without short-acting opiates like heroin or fentanyl)

  • Headaches
  • Cravings
  • Muscle & body aches
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability

Day 2 (24 – 48 hours without long-acting opiates like oxycodone or hydrocodone)

  • Day 1 symptoms
  • Hypertension
  • Runny nose
  • Hostility
  • Diarrhea

Day 3 (48 – 72 hours without opiates)

  • Day 1 & 2 symptoms
  • Profuse sweating
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Vomiting
  • Shivering & cramping

Day 4 and beyond

  • Days 1, 2 & 3 symptoms
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Violent cramping
  • Body aches
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Strong cravings

Physical symptoms tend to peak around the 72-hour mark. The length of symptoms can be difficult to summarize based on the user’s length of dependence. Treating symptoms independently is the most effective course of action.

Individual Reaction to Opioid Withdrawal

Everyone reacts differently to the symptoms of withdrawal which can become extreme. It’s important not to try to go cold turkey off these types of drugs/medications. After withdrawal symptoms peak somewhere around the 72-hour mark in the opioid withdrawal timeline, they typically begin to slowly decline.

Treating the Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist commonly used to ease physical symptoms in the earlier stages of the opioid withdrawal timeline.  Coupled with other over-the-counter medications it greatly increases the odds of long-term success as well as the comfort of the patient being treated. The dosage is eventually tapered as allowed by patient comfort.

Antinausea and anti-diarrhea medications can be combined to ease some of the later symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs coupled with acetaminophen are used to treat pain and body aches while herbal sleep supplements help calm and relax patients battling insomnia resulting from opioid withdrawal.

It’s also important to note that nutrition plays a key role in recovery and alternative treatments can help ease ugly symptoms along the opioid withdrawal timeline. Hydrotherapy, whirlpool baths, and vitamin supplements can provide comfort and rejuvenation as one battles the intense symptoms of addiction-related withdrawal.

Medical Assistance Drastically Improves Odds of Success

The opioid withdrawal timeline varies between individuals. Patients who undergo medically assisted withdrawal dramatically increase their chances of long-term success and enjoy a more comfortable stabilization overall. Medically assisted supervision is vital during the withdrawal process as it can become dangerous for long-term users or those with high drug tolerance.

Education is the most important tool outside of medical assistance. The staff at Addiction Intervention understand how important it is to educate the entire family and restore the family dynamics during the recovery process. The opioid withdrawal timeline can be brutal so don’t go it alone. Get the help that will greatly increase the odds of long-term success and simultaneously help repair the damage done to the family unit with a single phone call.