Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline: How Long Does It Take to Detox from Opiate Drugs?

Pinpointing the opiate withdrawal timeline isn't always an exact science. Detoxing from opiate drugs can produce a range of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, some of which may manifest sooner than others.

The length of time it can take an opiate user to detox from the drug may vary widely, depending on the type of drug being taken. The severity of the actual symptoms that may emerge will also vary, depending on a number of factors. The dosage being taken, the length of use, and the type of opiate being taken play strong roles in how protracted the withdrawal process might be.

Research shows that short-acting opiates may produce more intense symptoms over a briefer period of time. Conversely, symptoms associated with detoxing from prolonged use of longer-acting opiates may seem less severe by comparison but can extend over a longer period of time.

Withdrawal symptoms may also be more severe in people with pre-existing physical health problems or those with malnutrition due to poor diet. When trying to determine an opiate withdrawal timeline, it's also worth factoring in whether the person has any co-occurring symptoms of mental health disorders that could extend the time frame for some psychological withdrawal symptoms.

For the majority of people detoxing from opiate drugs, the withdrawal process usually lasts anywhere from one week up to one month. However, some of the psychological symptoms of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) could extend for several months in some cases.

Stages of Opiate Withdrawal

There are three primary stages of opiate withdrawal a recovering person will go through during the detox process.

Phase 1: Early Withdrawal

The early stages of opiate withdrawal are also known as acute withdrawal and begins within 6 to 12 hours after taking the last dose. Symptoms usually peak within 2 to 3 days.

The symptoms of early opiate withdrawal are usually the most painful and can include:

  • Intense cravings to take more opiate drugs
  • Severe abdominal cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bone and muscle aches
  • Profuse sweating
  • Runny nose and flulike symptoms
  • Excessive sneezing or yawning
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of appetite

As the symptoms of the first phase of withdrawal can be quite severe for some people, the risk of relapsing back into self-destructive patterns of drug use is particularly high. The risk can be reduced by choosing to go through the detox process under medical supervision at an inpatient rehab treatment facility.

Phase 2: Middle Withdrawal

Phase two of the opiate withdrawal timeline may not be as physically severe, but they are still uncomfortable and difficult to manage. Symptoms of the second phase of withdrawal usually begin 2 to 3 days after the last dose and may continue for up to 3 days.

Symptoms of the second phase of opiate withdrawal may still include some of the symptoms from phase one, but may also include:

  • Insomnia and sleep disturbances
  • Diarrhea
  • Goosebumps
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Depression

Many people may still struggle to eat during phase two of withdrawal. Combined with the persistent diarrhea and vomiting, the recovering person is also at risk of dehydration.

Phase 3: Post-Acute Withdrawal

Phase three of the opiate withdrawal timeline sees the worst of any physical symptoms subsiding, which usually leads many recovering people to assume that they've finished detoxing. However, many people may continue to experience ongoing psychological symptoms of post-acute withdrawal that can last for up to a month.

In severe cases, some of the symptoms may extend as long as several months. Symptoms can include:

  • Cravings to take opiate drugs
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

Reducing the Severity of Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

Specialized Fort Myers opiate addiction treatment can help to reduce the severity of opiate withdrawal symptoms for some users. Addiction treatment specialists can administer prescription treatment medications, such as methadone or a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone (Suboxone) to replace the opiate of addiction.

According to studies, methadone maintenance remains the most successful treatment for opiate addiction.

The recovering person takes the treatment medication under medical supervision throughout the addiction treatment process. The dosage being taken is slowly tapered down, which reduces the risk of the person experiencing some of the more unpleasant physical withdrawal symptoms associated with detox.

At the end of the medical detox process, the person is free from both drugs and ready to begin a comprehensive treatment program to address the underlying psychological triggers behind addictive opiate drug use. Fort Myers opiate addiction treatment incorporates a combination of behavioral therapies and individual counseling. Group support meetings and alternative therapies are also introduced to improve likely outcomes for recovering people.


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