Opiate Withdrawal Timeline: What Should I Expect?

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline: What Should I Expect?

Understanding what an opiate withdrawal timeline will look like is important for addicts and their loved ones. It is too common for users to reject even trying to become sober out of fear of opiate withdrawal. After all, opiate withdrawal is very painful and could even be fatal. However, professional detox with medical supervision could minimize the painful effects of opioid withdrawal. 

An opiate addict will fabricate justifications for not getting sober – fear of withdrawal is a popular one. By familiarizing oneself with an opiate withdrawal timeline and understanding how a medically supervised opiate withdrawal transpires, an addict and their loved ones can feel confident about sobriety.   

What are Opiates?

To understand how a body reacts during opiate withdrawal, one must understand how opiate usage affects the body. Opioids are a large class of drugs, including heroin, oxycodone, codeine, morphine, and many more. 

Opioids are effective pain relievers because, when consumed, they attach to proteins on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body. Essentially, opioids tell your brain that you are not in pain by blocking the pain messages sent from an injury through the spinal cord to the brain. 

Statistics about the opioid crisis are simply terrifying. 1.27 million Americans are currently receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid withdrawal. In 2016, 297 people out of every 100,000 suffered opioid-related hospitalizations. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, synthetic opioids are the most common cause of overdoses. In 2019, over 70% of the 70,630 overdoses involved an opioid. In the 20 years between 1999 and 2019, about 500,000 people died from opioid usage.

How Do People Become Addicted to Opioids?

Opioids release endorphins into the body, which are the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters. When people start taking opioids, the euphoria created is a result of an excess of brain chemicals. Gradually, the brain stops producing its own feel-good neurotransmitters because the consumed opioids are getting the job done. As a result, a person will need the opioids to return to their regular physical and emotional well-being.

Since opioids are so effective at blocking pain and making users feel good. Every day, countless people suffer injuries and are prescribed opioids. In the few days of taking the prescription to numb the pain, the person has become addicted. Addiction is blind to sex, race, intelligence, or wealth status – anyone can become an opioid addict.

When the opioid effect wears off, the body will want to consume it again. Frequent usage will rewire the body so that the pain is magnified when the user stops taking the drug. As a result, the user will continue taking the opioid, making the addiction more ingrained each time.

Opiate Withdrawal Can be Fatal

Depending on how severe a user’s opiate addiction is, their withdrawal can be fatal once they stop taking the drug. Opiate withdrawal will not directly kill someone. However, the anatomical reactions of opiate withdrawal can. Nausea and diarrhea are common symptoms of opioid withdrawal and can cause dehydration. If the user fails to replace these fluids, they can die. 

Opiate users who get arrested are at risk of dying from an overdose due to a lack of supervision in their cells. As long as jails follow the right protocols to take care of inmates suffering opiate withdrawal, there should not be any deaths. In addition, any addict who experiences withdrawal by themselves is at risk of dying. Besides increasing the chances of death, people who try to detox themselves from opiates have a good risk of resorting to more opiates to relieve withdrawal symptoms.

The Opiate Withdrawal Timeline Will Look Different for Different Users

Opiate Withdrawal TimelineBetween eight and thirty hours after an opiates addict’s last fix, withdrawal symptoms will begin to materialize. The half-life of a drug can accurately predict when cravings will start. The half-life of a drug refers to the time a body requires to expunge half a dose of the drug.

Typically, opioids have a half-life of a few hours. Oxycodone’s half-life is three to five hours. Methadone’s half life is eight to 60 hours. Substances with shorter half-lives will have more intense withdrawal symptoms. 

While these withdrawal symptoms will usually be painful, they should begin to decrease within a few days, and within a week, there will be an apparent improvement in acute symptoms. 

Opiate withdrawal symptoms will range in pain and intensity from mild to severe and can last from a few days to a month. 

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

As with most good things in life, we need to trudge through the storm to get to the clearing. This can not be more true when it comes to opiate withdrawal. Anyone suffering from opiate withdrawal symptoms should understand that their symptoms will progressively lessen. Time simmers all physical dependency. Most drug users just need to lock themselves in a room for a week, and the addiction will be reduced. However, because opiate withdrawal symptoms can be so painful, opiate withdrawal must transpire with medical supervision.

Anyone considering giving up opiates needs to familiarize themselves with the opiate withdrawal timeline. Opiate withdrawal symptoms are different for different users, but generally, they can be forecasted, making this painful and imperative experience easier for the addict and their loved ones.

Day 1: Opiate Withdrawal

Day one of opiate withdrawal will start bad and end worse. During that first day, individuals may experience cravings, headaches, anxiety, muscle aches, insomnia, eyes tearing, excessive sweating, aggression, and appetite loss. Day one of opiate withdrawal symptoms usually correlates with fears of the withdrawal process. The recovering addict understands that his cravings and anxiety are about to get a lot worse. As a result, day one of opiate withdrawal is plagued with anxiety and drug-seeking behavior.

Day 2: Opiate Withdrawal

Day two of opiate withdrawal symptoms will include all the symptoms from day one and more. Individuals can experience body tremors, panic attacks, muscle spasms, and increased blood pressure. On day two of opiate withdrawal, individuals will see an increase in anxiety and restlessness. Individuals may become nauseous, they might start vomiting, and they might suffer from stomach aches. The worse that the symptoms become, the more cravings and drug-seeking behavior will endure.

Day 3: Opiate Withdrawal

Depending on the sort of opiate the user has been taking, the peak of symptoms will occur during the third day of opiate withdrawal. Individuals going through this vicious stage should drink plenty of water and eat nutritious food. It is important to keep the body hydrated and healthy. On this day, there is a good chance that the detoxing individual may not have an appetite. In that case, they should eat whatever they can, including soups and mashed potatoes, anything that is easy on the stomach and does not require much chewing. Cravings and urges will be strongest on this day.

Day 4: Opiate Withdrawal

Day four of opiate withdrawal will see a continuation of all previous symptoms. Individuals could see their peak of withdrawal symptoms on day four. Additional symptoms may include shivering and enlarged pupils. 

Day 5: Opiate Withdrawal

Some users experience a tapering off of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms on this day. Individuals may start to feel better on this day. However, withdrawal symptoms may last weeks or even months for some users. Until all opiates have left the body, people will continue to feel increased anxiety, trouble sleeping and lingering drug cravings. 

Day 6 and After: Opiate Withdrawal 

During this stage, the physical withdrawal may be gone, but individuals will continue to be affected by lingering symptoms. Mood swings, drug dreams, poor concentration, depression, and insomnia are just some of the afflictions that may affect an individual. In addition, environmental triggers that may lure someone into relapse are potential hazards.

How Does Medical Detox Help Minimize Symptoms and Cravings?

opiate withdrawal timelineA detox can take place three ways; alone, with friends or family, or medically. The first two scenarios are dangerous. Even under the supervision of friends or family, something can go wrong. If someone does something wrong or doesn’t know what to do, serious consequences could unfold, including death.

Medical detox is the most effective way to minimize both the painful symptoms and the length of time of withdrawal. For starters, medical detox is medically supervised. In addition, individuals undergoing a medical detox receive specific medications that help to reduce the severity of withdrawal.

During medical detox, the supervising team will use certain medicine that has been proven to assist those going through opiate withdrawal. The following medication is often used during a medically supervised detox:


Clonidine is prescribed mainly to reduce blood pressure and suppress withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and stress. The extended-release tablet is taken once or twice a day. It could also come in the form of a wearable patch. Clonidine does not provide the euphoric sensations that come with opioid painkillers. As a result, Clonidine will not become habit-forming.  


Once upon a time, methadone was the most widely used medication in detox situations. It has since been replaced with buprenorphine. Methadone is effective in weaning patients off of their addictions. However, the reason that methadone has been largely replaced is that it is a long-acting opioid. Most of the medical community does not approve of replacing one opioid with another.


Frequently used in treatment for alcoholism, buprenorphine is also very effective in treating opiate withdrawal. The drug decreases withdrawal symptoms. The drug can be injected, placed under the tongue, as a skin patch, an implant, or placed in the cheek.

How to Perform a Detox Quickly

The purpose of rapid detox is to make the detox process as quick as possible. Detox is a harrowing experience, so the faster the process, the less painful and the more likely an effective outcome will transpire. There are two methods of speeding up the detox process:

Rapid Detox

In a rapid detox, the patient is given different medications that have been proven to speed up detox.

Ultra-Rapid Detox

In an ultra-rapid detox, general anesthesia is used. While the patient is sedated, an opioid blocker is given, causing the body to commence the detox process. When the patient awakes, the most unpleasant symptoms have passed.

If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. According to the American Addictions website, the rapid detox process is not considered safe. The rapid detox could cause a heart attack, paranoia, infections, relapses, and other afflictions.

Continued Treatment After Detox is the Best Way to Ensure Sobriety

When the patient finally walks out of detox, he or she is certainly on the road to recovery. However, they have just begun their voyage; a few oceans and a few mountains still must be traversed. Some people may be in treatment for the rest of their lives. After all, detox is just to expunge substances from the body. In terms of changing an addict’s addictive habits, a detox does nothing.

According to the Principles of Effective Treatment by the NIDA, National Institute on Drug Abuse, number five is “Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical.” This statement is supported by extensive research illustrating that most addicts need AT LEAST three months of drug treatment to reduce or stop drug use.

When a patient leaves their rehab program early, not all the blame should lie with the patient. Clinics and programs need to develop strategies that keep their patients in treatment. 

Number eight on the same NIDA document, Principles of Effective Treatment, is that “An individual’s treatment and services plan must be assessed continually and modified as necessary to ensure that it meets his or her changing needs.”

A recovering addict will see a lot of ups and downs. The most effective way to ensure sobriety is to modify the intensity of the patient’s therapy to match their changing needs and lifestyles. A team of experienced medical professionals is required to accomplish such a task. 

What Sort of Treatment is Available Post-Detox?

Opiate Withdrawal TimelineThe best way to achieve sobriety after detox is to follow a mapped-out journey. After detox, depending on the severity of their addiction, a person will go to inpatient or outpatient rehab. The most significant difference between these two forms of rehab is that patients go back home for the night in outpatient rehab. They both provide counseling and introduce patients to many others going through similar lifestyle changes. As a result, these rehab centers provide overwhelming support.

After rehab, patients need to continue their rehabilitation with counseling and therapy. Nowadays, a session with a therapist can be conducted on a computer in someone’s living room. As a result, excuses for discontinuing therapy are hard to come up with.

Contact Intrepid Detox Residential Today

Deciding to get a detox is the first step of a very long road. However, that first step is the hardest and most important. Acknowledging a problem is evidence that a person is determined to defeat it. As this article has illustrated, the road to recovery has many different paths. One wrong turn could easily lead to a relapse. 

Speak with an operator at Intrepid Detox Residential to find out what we can offer you. One of the most respected detox facilities in South Florida, Intrepid Detox has been helping people gain sobriety for decades. We have earned the highest level of accreditation in healthcare. Call now to get the best possible results!


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