Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline


Opiate withdrawal – it’s something most people hope will never happen to them. Non-opiate users fear opiate withdrawal as it means they, at some point, must have started using opiates in the first place. On the other hand, regular opiate users live in constant fear of withdrawals, and try their hardest to continue using opiates out of desperation of keeping the withdrawals at bay for just a little while longer.

While heroin is definitely one of the strongest and most problematic opiates, it is far from the only one that can cause withdrawals. Ever had a tooth pulled? It’s likely your doctor gave you something for the pain that is more than capable of causing withdrawals if taken incorrectly, or for too long.

One common misconception about opiate withdrawals, is they are something that only happens to “junkies”, once they run out of money to score more dope. This stems directly from another misconception that only heroin is strong enough to cause painful opiate withdrawals.

The overwhelming majority of heroin users did not think they would end up in the position they are in, or ever using heroin in their lifetime. Most opiate addicts start on the road of self-destruction because of prescription pain medications. These drugs are very powerful narcotics that are made by pharmaceutical companies and have strict guidelines and quality control.

Users start taking prescription painkillers from a prescription or for recreation. They develop a strong desire to take them frequently until they are taking them every day. Pain pills are much more expensive than heroin and when the users tolerance grows to a point where they can no longer fun the use of pills, they turn to the cheaper and more dangerous heroin.

It is important to point out that heroin is considered more dangerous only because there is no quality control as compared to the prescription medications. When you are buying heroin, you have no idea what is mixed with the heroin and this can cause the drug to have varying strengths between bags. When you do not know what the heroin is mixed with and you do not know the potency, it is very easy to succumb to a deadly overdose.

The term “opiate” covers everything from opium to Vicodin and back to heroin. Opiate withdrawal really came to the attention of the mainstream though, once the drug Oxycontin started to become regularly prescribed in the United States. Although a Godsend for people who suffer from debilitating pain, Oxycontin has a chemical makeup so closely related to that of heroin, that well-meaning patients end up abusing their pain medication – ultimately trading debilitating pain for a debilitating addiction.

Just like with any drug, after the invigorating high comes the inevitable low. Unlike many other drugs though, opiate withdrawals can last for an exceptionally long time, making quitting opiates unthinkable to most people who are in the midst of a serious opiate addiction.

How long do opiate withdrawals last for?

If you ask a recovering addict, they might tell you they have been clean for years and are still going through opiate withdrawals. They don’t mean they are still experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms, but that the mental side effects of opiate use will last for a lifetime. Recovering addicts often find that even decades after quitting opiates, they still have to make daily, conscious decisions that keep themselves away from the situations and people that enable them to use opiates. This is why no one is ever “cured” or “recovered.” The only term that is accepted by the industry is “recovering” because you are always in the act of and is never over.

If nothing else, that should be a good enough reason to keep anyone from picking up an opiate habit. Starting to use opiates is akin to saying you don’t mind opiates (or the avoidance of) being a part of your life, for the rest of your life.

When it comes to the physical opiate withdrawal symptoms, they don’t last nearly as long, but the amount of time the physical effects can last for can vary greatly depending on the opiate you are taking. For instance, the amount of time the physical withdrawals could last for after abusing oxycodone will be much less than the withdrawals from methadone.

When people are researching information about opiate withdrawal, they usually end up looking for an opiate withdrawal timeline. There are two factors keeping any opiate withdrawal timeline you see from being 100% accurate though:

  1. Opiate withdrawals, their symptoms and severity, are all dependent on genetics, age, overall health, daily nutrition, type of opiate, usage amount and length of usage. Obviously, older people who have been using higher doses for longer periods of time will experience longer, more difficult withdrawals.

  2. Scientifically we can pinpoint different symptoms of the withdrawal process, but it is hard to verify the opiate withdrawal timeline from people who are actually withdrawing from opiates. This is because people going through withdrawals will find it difficult to accurately keep track of the time/date.

That being said, most cases of opiate withdrawal are typical enough in nature to make a fairly accurate timeline of. Our opiate withdrawal timeline below is simply a guideline of what most opiate addicts experience during withdrawal.

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline


Day 1 – 3 – These are the most difficult days to get through and also where most relapses tend to occur. The withdrawal symptoms usually kick in about 12 hours after the last dose was taken, or even before with lighter symptoms like agitation. Once the withdrawals fully begin, the most noticeable symptom is the muscle aches and pain – the muscles have forgotten what it’s like to not be numbed, so the feeling can be excruciatingly painful.

Along with the pain, most people sweat quite profusely, have diarrhea, experience loss of appetite and can’t sleep. Those going through withdrawals almost always experience anxiety and extreme irritability which can lead to panic attacks as well. A runny nose, excessive yawning or general cold symptoms can also be present but are quite minor compared to the others.

Day 4 – 6 – By this point, the worst of the pain should be over, though not completely gone. Eating and keeping solid food down will still be difficult but it is recommended to force yourself to eat something to stay nourished. If you are having problems eating solid foods, turn to full vegetable and fruit smoothies and also meal replacement shakes.

Diarrhea tends to stops during this period, although usually due to having nothing to actually pass through the bowels, rather than the diarrhea clearing itself up. Goosebumps, shivers, abdominal cramping  and vomiting are all common symptoms during this period.

Day 7 and beyond – Once most people reach day 7, they start to experience little victories, but it’s not quite over yet. It still may be difficult to eat and it is normal to still experience nausea and anxiety.

The best thing to do at this point is to keep your mind and body active. Instead of just sitting around the house feeling miserable, force yourself to go out and do something to take your mind off the situation. A bit of light exercise, like walking or doing housework can do wonders to your overall mood and outlook on your new life. If possible get out of the house and into fresh air.

How to make an opiate withdrawal more tolerable

The simplest answer is to simply never start using opiates so the problem never presents itself. Of course, if you are past that stage already, it’s not very useful advice.

If you are planning to cease your opiate use and anticipate withdrawals, the best advice is to not try and go through it alone. Whether you check yourself into a rehab facility for your detox, or have a friend or family member by your side, things are much easier when your aren’t experiencing the withdrawal with no one to depend on but yourself. Also, the temptation to go out and find more opiates to relieve the pain can be overwhelming – almost impossible to resist with no one there to stop you.

Some medical experts advise the use of Benzodiazepines like Klonopin or Valium. While these can help to make the withdrawal symptoms more bearable, it needs to be noted that these are also addictive drugs with a potential for abuse, and their own withdrawal process if used for too long. If you do decide to use drugs like this to assist in your opiate withdrawal, tread lightly. You didn’t develop an opiate addiction by only making responsible decisions with addictive substances, and the last thing you want to do is trade one addiction for another. It is also very important to note that you are trying to allow your brain chemicals to kick start on their own. Using benzos can disrupt your brain from healing itself and may make your depression more pronounced.

Finally, if you are addicted to opiates and scared or confused about your options for quitting, don’t hesitate to consult with your doctor, or any doctor for that matter. While possession of drugs is illegal, admitting that you are addicted to drugs is not. Unless you blatantly expose yourself to be in possession of drugs, you will face no legal repercussions from discussing your addiction with a doctor. A doctor can also point you in the right direction of a rehab center that is able to help you, or prescribe you other medications to help you make it through the withdrawal process successfully.

Some of the most common opioids that are being abused are oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, fentanyl, methadone, buprenorphine, suboxone, morphine, clonidine, dilaudid, and drugs used for anesthesia, although there are a long list of other dangerous narcotics. Ultimately, abusing any narcotic will be threatening to your health, and there is always the risk of overdose.

Once the initial withdrawal is over and you are mentally transitioning into long-term recovery, it is important to build a strong foundation. Your recovery should be similar to an onion. Picture you being the center of the onion and picture your different aspects of your recovery as each layer of the onion. If you have many different parts of recovery that you can rely on for help the more protective layers you have to help protect you from relapse. If you are relying on one person to take your call if you are having a bad day and they are not there to answer, that one layer strips away leaving you unprotected and vulnerable but if you have meetings, recovery social networks, 5 different people you can call, exercise etc. you are much more protected and ready.

Related topics:

suboxone, opiates, opioid, opiate, ncbi, pmid, heroin, pubmed, methadone, buprenorphine, detox, naltrexone, accumbens, opioids, dependence, loperamide, clonidine, withdrawal, withdrawals, genome, addiction, kratom, medlineplus, dosage, subutex, prescribing, pmc, naloxone, urac, narcotics, analgesics, morphine, duration, symptoms, narcotic, nucleus, receptor, medline, relapse

Heroin Withdrawal

The Most Addictive Drugs


The Top 10 Most Addictive Drugs

Is it any surprise there are so many opiates on this list?

There are almost 230 million people in the world who are dependent on some kind of illicit substance. The use of recreational drugs is most common among the younger generation, although drug users can be found in almost each age group, irrespective of gender, race or religion.

The indulgence of youth in the drug trade and their addiction is one of the most serious public health concerns that countries face today. The drugs make the youth cripple and unworthy of any social movements. Several countries have already estimated the danger that is upon them. Despite these countries’ efforts to eradicate the drug trade completely, illegal traders manage to find some loopholes in the system to continue the supply of drugs. The addiction of the drug addicts and their continuously lethal craving towards various kinds of drugs has helped the drug traders to continue and even grow their business in a considerable way.

Apart from the illegal drugs, some legal drugs or medicines are also used extensively as narcotic elements. The addiction towards those drugs gradually converts to desperation and out of desperation; the addicts take ferocious steps and commit horrible crimes. The complicacy the society is facing because of the drugs has gone beyond any control. In 2014, a panel of some Dutch scientists have done a study and revealed a list of 10 most addictive drugs in the world. They have also labeled those drugs in a scale of 0 to 3, depending upon their potential to cause severe addiction. The list of those drugs is as follows:

10. GHB (Dependence Rating: 1.71)

GHB is the short form of the chemical substance GABA. The span of the effect of those drugs is limited to a mere two to four hours. But the withdrawal rate is very lengthy, sometimes lasting for more than ten to fourteen days. The drugs include the most infamous date rape drugs and club drugs. The quitting procedure of these drugs results in severe insomnia, delirium and hallucinations among other symptoms.

9. Benzodiazepines (Dependence Rating: 1.89)

This type of drugs includes the more common medicinal drugs such as Klonopin, Valium and Xanax among others. It is also a substance of GABA and is more extensively used to calm down the nerves. This type of drugs gets adapted by the body very quickly and builds a tolerance level for itself. As the tolerance level grows, quitting becomes even harder.

8. Amphetamines (Dependence Rating: 1.95)

Amphetamines are one of the most addictive drugs which make quitting almost impossible. Although they are not as addictive as meth, but have a long lasting effect on the users. They create euphoria, extra energy, weight loss a sort of feeling of self accomplishment in heavy rates.

7. Cocaine (Dependence Rating: 2.13)

Cocaine gets mixed with the dopamine in the brain and causes extreme cravings. The withdrawal of cocaine is not that much extensive. Cocaine can be consumed in a number of ways, injecting, smoking or inhaling.

6. Alcohol (Dependence Rating: 2.13)

Alcohol is undoubtedly the most common, widely used drug. It has been used by mankind for centuries. Most addicts around the globe are addicted to alcohol. The withdrawal rate of alcohol is the worst and once addicted it becomes almost impossible to get rid of it.

5. Methamphetamine (Dependence Rating: 2.24)

Methamphetamine or meth directly deals with the dopamine and norepinephrine of the brain. It releases almost ten times more than the average release of dopamine by the human brain. It messes up the basic chemical balance of the brain and causes extensive tolerance and cravings.

4. Methadone (Dependence Rating: 2.68)

Methadone is generally used to treat morphine or heroin addiction. The risk of addiction is very low while taken under medical supervision. Its effects are similar to the effects that heroin causes and the withdrawal often lasts longer than a month.

3. Nicotine (Dependence Rating: 2.82)

The addictive potential of nicotine is very high. Although nicotine is being used from the very onset of civilization, the addictive prowess of it was never neglected. More than half of the total population of the world is addicted to nicotine.

2. Crack Cocaine (Dependence Rating: 2.82)

This is the purest form of cocaine. It too increases the amount of dopamine released by the brain and creates extensive self indulgence. It can cause addiction from the very first usage.

1. Heroin (Dependence Rating: 2.89)

King of all those addictive substance, Heroin sits top of the tree. The withdrawal of heroin is almost impossible. It causes intense cravings and extreme euphoria.

Heroin Withdrawal: Timeline, Symptoms, Detox & Treatment

Heroin is obtained from the opium poppy, which grows in Asia, South America, and Mexico. This is an illegal and a highly addictive drug. It can be white, brown or look like black tar. Some popular street names for heroin are dope, H, brown sugar, junk, smack, and horse. Once heroin enters your system, it reaches your brain, and you can easily get addicted. Even after using it just once or twice, you may find it difficult to resist yourself from using it again. Addicts become terrified of heroin withdrawal because of its severity which will be explained.

However, if you have gathered enough courage and decided to quit, then you will likely experience some heroin withdrawal symptoms, but remember, withdrawal may also happen after heavy use of this drug. Generally, withdrawal symptoms will start showing 6 to 12 hours after you have had the last dose, it will peak within 1 to 3 days, and after 5 to 7 days, it will start subsiding. Now, let us get to know about the most common withdrawal symptoms that an addict will likely experience.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Mood Changes

A person trying to withdraw is likely to feel depressed, irritable, or anxious. These feelings are very strong during the heroin withdrawal, but they gradually subside when the withdrawal stage is over. If, however, they do not pass, you should consult your doctor for the right treatment.

Pains and Aches

As you take heroin, it blocks the pain pathways of your body. So, when you withdraw, you will experience a rebound effect, and feel achy, particularly in your legs and back, and you will become more sensitive to pain. The slightest scratch can be excruciating.

Overproduction of Body Fluids

During the withdrawal stage, you may experience an excessive production of body fluids, like tears, runny nose, and sweat. You may also find your hairs standing on their ends. This is yet another heroin withdrawal symptom, and your body is trying to bring itself back into balance.

Diarrhea and Stomach Pain

During the withdrawal stage, you may experience diarrhea, or frequent, watery, and loose bowel movements. Together with this, you may also experience stomach pain, and this is caused by the spasms in your digestive system.

Restlessness and Sleep Problems

People going through withdrawal usually experience restlessness, and this is followed by sleep problems, insomnia, and anxiety. Most addicts claim that the lack of the ability to sleep is one of the worst symptoms of heroin withdrawal. Your eyes will be burning and you will be over exhausted but you still cannot fall asleep.

Heroin Addiction Treatment

Heroin addiction can be bad for the user, his/her family, society in general, and thus it must be treated at the earliest possible time. The lower the dose and length of time the addict has been on heroin, the more bearable the withdrawal symptoms will be. Treatment basically involves detoxification and behavioral therapies.

One method to get off heroin is by using medications. There are three types of medications that are used for (ORT) Opiate Replacement Therapy. The first is Methadone, which is a narcotic and should be a last resort medication because it has a very long half-life and has many adverse side effects on the body. Second is Buprenorphine, which is also a narcotic and the active ingredient alongside Naltrexone in medications like Suboxone. Suboxone has a reputation to be safer than Methadone but it also has a long half-life. The safest choice out of the three medications is Naltrexone. Naltrexone is NOT a narcotic and can be administered by your doctor in a once a month injection. Naltrexone cannot be abused and one injection blocks the effects of opioids on the body for approximately 30 days. Talk with your medical doctor about the best option for your situation.

Rapid detox is yet another method for detoxifying addicts. In this case, the heroin users are given opioid antagonist, which helps detoxify the body in just three hours. Normal detoxification takes 3 to 4 days, but this method puts a tremendous strain on the body and intensifies the withdrawals. Due the extreme discomfort patients are sedated with anethesia for the whole process.

Apart from detoxification, behavioral therapy is also an important part of heroin addiction treatment. Behavioral and cognitive therapy and contingency management therapy, etc, are popularly used while helping people overcome heroin addiction.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs in the world, and one of the hardest to quit. Opiates in general have a propensity to be especially addictive to their users because of how they mimic the body’s natural feelings of happiness and calm.

Nevertheless, there are programs that are aimed at helping users safely manage heroin withdrawal. The question is: how long is that going take?

Basically, how long will it take to detox or completely withdraw from heroin? This will depend on a number of factors, unfortunately, such on the age of the person, how much the person used and the how long the person has been using the substance. For instance, older folks that did the drug for a longer period of time will also take longer to fully withdraw from its influence.

The length and duration of heroin withdrawal

The overall time of withdrawal will basically vary from one user to another, but on average, heroin withdrawal will take a maximum of about 7 days. The withdrawal side effects will start about 6 to 12 hours after your last use or dose. The persist stage of the detox will begin from a day to three after your last use of the drug. The withdrawal will become more effective after about 5 to 7 days. Here, the user will be less intense, but in a gradual process. The sensitive withdrawal will start with craving and anxiety, which will get to its highest point after 26 or 72 hours. These symptoms will reduce gradually in the next 5 days. There might be some PAWS, protracted withdrawal symptoms that may recur for some months after the acute heroin withdrawal.

The withdrawal timeline

The average timeline is expected to take about 7 days, though some conditions can take more.

Here is a breakdown of the normal timeline for heroin withdrawal:

• 1st to 2nd day:

The first and second days of withdrawal are the most challenging to get through. This is because the user will be facing conflicts from within. Also, there are severe symptoms at this point. It starts in between 12 hours, after the last dose. Some of the most common symptoms include muscle aches and pain around the body, insomnia, loss of appetite, anxiety and also diarrhea. All this could be caused by the natural panic of the body.

• The 3rd to the 5th day

At this stage, the person is gradually withdrawing from the substance, but there are more discomforts that can be faced at this point. The patient is highly encouraged to eat well, for the sake of improving their immune system. The most common symptoms at this stage are vomiting, abdominal cramping as well as shivers.

• 6th day and beyond

If the person successfully reaches the sixth day of withdrawal, then they are almost getting to a complete of the opiates from their body. For some people, the 6th day will be the last, or will only need one day to completely finish the process. In others, it can take longer, especially if there are no positive signs of withdrawal from the heroin. Some of the common symptoms at this stage are the insomnia and loss of appetite, which can get worse. For other people, anxiety and nausea can occur.

It can take up to 3 or 6 months for the long-term users to completely withdraw from heroin, though in many cases, a week is always enough.

Famous Opiate Addicts

Famous Opiate Addicts

Opiate addiction isn’t confined to the shadows anymore. Many famous people have made public now how they’ve struggled with it over the years. From prescription drugs to heroin, opiates have rapidly become the most pressing drug problem in our country. While we want to respect the privacy of everyone struggling with addiction, here are just a few of the famous opiate addicts who’ve chosen to speak publicly about their struggles.

Robert Downey Jr

Robert Downey Jr. is arguably the most famous of the modern-day opiate users. His highly-publicized battle with addiction in 1990s and early 2000s was bookended by his stunning return as Tony Stark in The Avengers and the Iron Man franchise to become one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman

Only a few years removed from winning the Academy Award for best actor, and another nomination, Phillip Seymour Hoffman found him struggling with an addiction to prescription pain pills. Fortunately, the first time he found himself turning to heroin to get a fix, he realized he needed help and checked himself in to a detox facility. While there’s been some concern that he addressed the chemical problem too quickly, without addressing the underlying psychological challenges, we’re happy to see him feeling better and starting down the road to recovery.

Other famous opiate addicts include:
* Eminem
* Courtney Love
* Charlie Sheen
* Michael Jackson
* Anna Nicole Smith
* Rush Limbaugh
* Elvis Presley
* Chevy Chase