Opioid Withdrawal Timeline - Suboxone Treatment Clinic in Palm Beach

According to the National Institutes of Health, “Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.”[1]

While prescription opioids are useful in the treatment of chronic and severe pain, these drugs are highly addictive. The opioid addiction epidemic has become so widespread that 10.1 million people reported abusing opioids in 2019.[2] Addiction to opioids poses many health risks, including potentially fatal overdoses. Because of this, individuals abusing this drug must seek professional treatment.

Unfortunately, it is common for individuals to avoid receiving professional treatment for opioid addiction for a variety of reasons. The main barrier to opioid addiction treatment is the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid detox. While opioid withdrawal can be difficult, professional medical detox programs help their patients throughout this process.

Understanding what to expect during the opioid withdrawal timeline can help prepare individuals for detox and treatment.

What is Opioid Withdrawal?

Opioid withdrawal occurs when an individual abruptly quits using opioids. After long-term opioid use, the body becomes accustomed to the presence of opioids, causing the systems to go haywire when the substance is suddenly removed from the body. While opioid withdrawal symptoms are considered less severe than alcohol or benzodiazepine withdrawal, individuals should always seek professional help.

One of the main causes of relapse in early recovery from opioid addiction is the symptoms of withdrawal. When someone attempts to detox at home, they do not have access to the medications and treatments offered at a professional detox program. As a result, they receive no relief from their withdrawal symptoms. This causes them to abuse opioids to soothe the symptoms they are facing.

Fortunately, professional medical detox programs for opioid addiction are available all over the country, providing treatment for individuals in need.

The Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal

The severity and duration of the opioid withdrawal timeline vary from one person to the next. According to The National Library of Medicine, the symptoms of opioid withdrawal that people may experience when quitting opioids include:[3]

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The symptoms of opioid withdrawal can be managed with FDA-approved medications under the direction and supervision of a professional medical detox program.

The Opioid Withdrawal Timeline

There are several factors that play a role in how long it will take for an individual to complete opioid detox. Some of those factors include one’s overall physical health, age, duration of opioid abuse, and whether one has co-occurring mental health conditions.

While the length and severity of withdrawal vary, there are three stages of withdrawal that everyone experiences during the opioid detox process. Let’s take a look at each stage of the opioid withdrawal timeline.

The Beginning Stage

When an individual begins a medical detox program, their withdrawal symptoms begin within 12 hours of their last dose of opioids. It is important to note that the type of opioid will play a role in when the first symptoms begin because some opioids last longer than others. Opioids with a short half-life will produce symptoms earlier than opioids with a long half-life.

Early opioid withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Cravings for opioids
  • Fever
  • Profuse sweating
  • An increase in heart rate
  • Hypertension
  • Runny nose

Some of the early symptoms of opioid withdrawal will subside before the second stage of detox. However, other symptoms may begin to worsen throughout the withdrawal process. When the symptoms of withdrawal increase in severity, medical detox professionals may prescribe FDA-approved medications like methadone or buprenorphine.

Peak Stage

The second stage of opioid withdrawal is referred to as the “peak stage”. During this time, the symptoms of withdrawal will be at their highest level of severity. The peak stage of withdrawal begins around 30-72 hours from the individual’s last dose. Individuals who have a severe case of opioid addiction will require medical intervention during this stage of detox.

The symptoms that occur during the peak stage include:

  • Stomach disturbances such as cramps, nausea, vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Severe mood disturbances such as depression, anxiety, or feelings of panic
  • Intense feelings of cravings for opioids
  • Insomnia
  • Cold sweats and chills
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Heightened blood pressure and heart rate
  • Restless leg syndrome

Without medical treatment, this stage of the opioid withdrawal timeline can be too difficult to deal with. This causes many individuals to relapse on opioids. Additionally, the symptoms of withdrawal may cause additional health risks that require medical intervention. As a result, individuals must attend a professional medical detox.

The End Stage

The end-stage of withdrawal typically begins one week after the individual last used opioids. The physical symptoms of opioids should be gone, while the psychological symptoms become less severe. However, the cravings for opioids can continue for weeks after an individual completes detox. Because of this, many individuals continue attending medication-assisted treatment.

Find Support for Opioid Abuse and Addiction

Opioid addiction is not easy to beat, especially when an individual attempts to do so on their own. Thankfully, professional medical detox programs are available to help individuals navigate the difficulties associated with opioid withdrawal. If you or a loved one would like to begin a new way of life, contact the Suboxone Treatment Clinic in Palm Beach to get started.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/opioids
  2. https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/opioid-crisis-statistics/index.html
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm