Opioid Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms, and Treatment

Beating opioid addiction isn’t easy. One of the first obstacles people face is withdrawal. Opioid withdrawal is a challenging and often painful process that individuals dependent on opioids must endure when they decide to quit using and embark on the road to recovery. Understanding the withdrawal timeline, symptoms, and available treatments is crucial for anyone looking to overcome opioid addiction.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Understanding the array of symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal is crucial for both individuals going through it and those supporting them in their recovery journey. Opioid withdrawal is commonly compared to a severe case of the flu. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

Physical Symptoms:

  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Runny nose and teary eyes
  • Piloerection (goosebumps)
  • Dilated pupils

Psychological Symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Intense drug cravings

Post-Acute Symptoms

  • Lingering depression and anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities

The severity and duration of opioid withdrawal symptoms can vary significantly from person to person. Individuals who have co-occurring medical or mental health conditions may experience more severe and long-lasting symptoms. Similarly, people who use opioids frequently, in higher doses, or for longer periods of time may have to endure more severe symptoms than those with a mild to moderate opioid use disorder.

Opioid Withdrawal Timeline: What to Expect While Detoxing

The timeline for opioid withdrawal varies from person to person, depending on factors like the type of opioid used, the dosage, and the duration of use. Some opioids like methadone are longer acting than opioids like hydrocodone, so the type of opioid can significantly impact the withdrawal timeline. However, a general withdrawal timeline can be outlined as follows:

Initial Symptoms

Opioid withdrawal often begins within 6-12 hours after the last dose. Users may experience initial symptoms, which can include anxiety, restlessness, excessive yawning, runny nose, and teary eyes.

Peak Symptoms

The most intense withdrawal symptoms usually occur during the first 1-3 days. These symptoms can range from muscle aches and pains to abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and dilated pupils.


After the initial peak, withdrawal symptoms gradually start to subside over the next 4-7 days. While the severity of symptoms can vary, many individuals still experience lingering discomfort and cravings.

Post-Acute Symptoms

Some individuals may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) that can persist for weeks to months after the initial withdrawal period. These symptoms can include depression, anxiety, irritability, and sleep disturbances. Unlike the other stages of opioid withdrawal which are best managed at a detox facility, PAWS can be treated with behavioral therapy and lifestyle changes.

Opioid Withdrawal Treatment Options

Thankfully, there are various treatment options available to help individuals manage the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, placing them on the right path toward recovery. These treatments aim to ease symptoms, reduce cravings, and provide psychological support during this difficult time.

Inpatient or Outpatient Detox Programs

Inpatient detox programs offer intensive, around-the-clock care in a controlled environment. However, they can be costly and disruptive to daily life. Outpatient detox programs like Cobb Outpatient Detox provide flexibility, allowing individuals to receive medical guidance while living at home. The choice between inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation depends on the severity of addiction and individual circumstances.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT is a highly effective approach that combines medication with counseling and therapy. Medications commonly used in MAT for opioid withdrawal include:

  • Methadone – A long-acting opioid that reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Buprenorphine – A partial opioid agonist that eases withdrawal symptoms and cravings while having a lower risk of abuse.
  • Naltrexone – An opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids and reduces cravings.

Individuals may start taking medication during detox and continue doing so until they can sustain recovery independently.

Counseling and Behavioral Therapies

Counseling and therapy are essential components of addiction treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and contingency management (CM) are often used to address the psychological aspects of opioid addiction, helping individuals develop healthier coping strategies. However, they can also be soothing during the detox process.

Support Groups

Support groups like Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and SMART Recovery provide a sense of community and encouragement for individuals in recovery. These groups offer a platform to share experiences and receive emotional support from like-minded individuals.

Nutrition and Holistic Therapies

Eating a balanced diet and engaging in holistic practices such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture can help support physical and emotional healing during withdrawal. Quality opioid detox centers will ensure your entire well-being by offering a range of complimentary services such as nutritional assistance and holistic healing approaches.

Find Help for Opioid Withdrawal at Cobb Outpatient Detox

Opioid withdrawal is a challenging but essential step in the journey to recovery from opioid addiction. While the timeline and severity of symptoms can vary from person to person, there are various treatment options available to help.

At Cobb Outpatient Detox individuals can start on the path to a healthier, drug-free life with our safe and comprehensive detox services. Guiding you through the process and ensuring symptom relief, our team can help you get through withdrawal safely and arrange a plan for your continued care. If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, please contact us today to learn more about your treatment options.

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