How Long Does Drug Withdrawal Last

Knowing how long does drug withdrawal last can take the fear out of entering rehab

Is fear of withdrawal symptoms keeping you from seeking help for opiate addiction? One of the most common concerns that individuals suffering from opiate abuse share is a fear of withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can occur anytime individuals stop ingesting a drug or substance to which they have become physically or psychologically dependent. The answer to the question of “How long does drug withdrawal last,” depends on a number of factors, particularly the severity of the addiction, the length of time the drug was abused, and the amount of drugs that were involved. Once you know what withdrawal symptoms you will experience and approximately how long you will have to endure them, entering rehab becomes less frightening and sobriety becomes a much more achievable goal.

What happens during drug withdrawal

Anytime an individual regularly uses a drug or certain substances, they can become physically dependent on the substance. A person’s body adapts to regular exposure to the drug, and changes the way it functions. With opiates, that involves producing less dopamine, a substance that regulates moods and certain physical functions. When opiate abuse stops, the body adjusts to the loss by producing physical symptoms that can range from annoying to life-threatening. This physical dependence can lead to psychological addiction, as addicts experience intense cravings for the drug to relive the pain and discomfort of withdrawal symptoms.

Factors that affect how long drug withdrawal lasts

While there are certain guidelines on approximately how long opiate withdrawal symptoms will last, the withdrawal experience that each addicted individual encounters can differ significantly. That is because no two paths to addiction are the same. The duration and severity of the withdrawal symptoms an addicted individual will experience depends on the following factors:

  • The specific opiate involved
  • Duration of the addiction- how long the individual has been addicted to the drug
  • Severity of the addiction – the amount of drug that was ingested
  • Manner of ingestion – whether the drug was smoked, snorted, orally ingested, or injected
  • Co-occurring addictions – whether any other substances were involved in the drug addiction, such as alcohol and drug abuse

How long drug withdrawal lasts

While drug withdrawal timelines differ according to the above factors, the progression of opiate withdrawal stages and symptoms follow a similar course whether individuals are abusing prescription opiates such as oxycontin or illegal opiates such as heroin. An indepth look at the opiate withdrawal symptoms timeline provides a guide to the course of withdrawal that can be expected as individuals stop taking any type of opiate or opioid drug.

Stages of withdrawal symptoms

The three stages of opiate withdrawal include early withdrawal, when the onset of symptoms first begins; peak withdrawal, when the physical symptoms of withdrawal are the most intense; and post-acute withdrawal, when psychological symptoms present the greatest challenge. Medication and supportive therapies can help make these symptoms more manageable.

  • Early stage – The first symptoms of opiate withdrawal typically begin within eight to sixteen hours of the last use, but may take as long as thirty hours to occur depending on the opiate involved. Symptoms are initially mild but rapidly increase in severity
  • Peak stage – Approximately 36 hours after onset of symptoms, opiate withdrawal symptoms increase dramatically. Individuals typically experience the elevated symptoms of the peak stage for two to four days. Medication can be used to make symptoms more manageable
  • Post-acute or long-term – After seven to ten days, the physical symptoms of opiate withdrawal taper off, and psychological cravings set in that can last a lifetime. Relapse prevention strategies and medication may be necessary to manage symptoms on a long-term basis.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.