Did you know The National Institute of Drug Abuse published that up to 36 million people around the world are currently addicted to the abuse of opiates?

Over 2 million in the United States alone struggle with addiction to prescription opioid pain relievers with an additional 500,000 addicted to heroin.

The problem is serious. The truth is, most people want to break the cycle but don’t understand the incredible challenge they face with withdrawal. What’s worse is that withdrawal isn’t JUST a physical experience.

Withdrawal touches mental barriers, emotional issues, and hidden traumas.

If you or a loved one are looking to detox, you must understand the difficulties involved.

The symptoms of withdrawal are not only serious but can be physically and emotional painful. They also dig up past traumas- and if they aren’t in the right place to heal from them, the cycle can start over and over again…

Doing an unassisted detox can lead to life-threatening relapse, overdose, or worse. Understanding the symptoms and timeline of withdrawal can help you overcome the most difficult part of detox with compassion towards yourself or a loved one.

Here’s a look at opiate withdrawals to fully understand the issues.

Opioid Withdrawal Based On Their Half-Lives, and Level of Dependency

Detoxing from opiates looks different person to person. Reaction to it depends on the length of time and level of dependency someone has with the opioid.

How the drug is taken also affects the speed withdrawal symptoms are felt. Drugs that have been injected, snorted, or smoked tend to be metabolized more quickly by the body, providing an immediate “high”. Drugs that are swallowed or ingested last longer in the system.

Heroin is the fastest acting opioid with it’s half-life ranging from just a few minutes to a couple of hours. Immediate release hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin) have half lives of 4-6 hours, while the half-life of methadone can average around 30 hours.

Why do half lives matter?

Every detail of the drug matters. What the drug is, how it has been taken, and level of dependency can all play a part in how soon you can expect to experience symptoms during detox- and how long detox symptoms will last. That’s why at our facilities we focus on the recovery, and not a deadline. Here’s why.

Timeline of Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

The timeline for opioid withdrawal depends on the person and symptoms range from mild to severe. Generally early symptoms start within 6-12 hours for fast acting opioids, like heroin, but can take up to 30 hours to appear for longer acting prescription opioids.

Here’s a short but concise list of possible symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty Sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Agitation
  • Racing Heart
  • Fever
  • Hypertension

These symptoms typically peak around 72 hours. Late onset withdrawal symptoms, such as those listed below, can last up to two weeks after detox.

Late withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea, Vomiting, Stomach Cramps
  • Depression
  • Intense Drug Cravings

The bigger psychological symptoms of opioid withdrawal can linger for weeks after detox and are difficult to overcome without help. This is why having the support of a mental health professional during detoxification is crucial for recovery.

We would love to help ease the path to sobriety with our team of compassionate experts and professional detox options- you don’t have to do this alone. 

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens

Amanda is a prolific content writer, and is in recovery from disordered eating. She has a passion for health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and being a mother of a beautiful daughter.

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