How to Overcome Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

The Importance of Seeking Help for Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

Opiate withdrawal is something that is feared by many people, even those who have the desire to quit abusing these substances. Because opiate withdrawal symptoms are known to be intense, both mentally and physically, there are people who avoid seeking help so that they don’t have to experience the difficult stages of withdrawal. Although the detox process may be intimidating to someone who is addicted, it’s important to remember that the benefits of living a happy, healthy, drug-free life far exceed the discomfort that comes with opiate withdrawal symptoms.

How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last?

One of the first questions addicts will ask upon admission to an inpatient rehab facility is, “How long does opiate withdrawal last?” The length of time can vary, but can usually last up to a week or more. Generally, opiate withdrawal symptoms can start appearing as early as 8 hours after the last use.

Depending on the substance and what the body is used to, the initial stage of withdrawal can begin within hours. For example, in a less controlled substance, such as heroin, the initial withdrawal stage may begin faster and harsher than it would with prescription medication. Methadone, a drug often used to aid in opiate withdrawal symptoms, can also be addicting and bring upon withdrawal symptoms within 30 hours.

Symptoms gradually become more intense and usually begin to peak within 48-72 hours. However, remember that stages of opiate withdrawal and side effects vary among users. Some of the most common opiate withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Muscle and body pain
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Mood swings
  • Cravings

Although painful and uncomfortable, the initial stages of withdrawal are necessary, since breaking dependence is the first step to recovery. This is why seeking help at an inpatient rehab facility for detox is recommended. Physicians often prescribe opioid-blocking medications, such as Methadone or Suboxone, as a form of medication-assisted treatment.

Because it can be dangerous to abruptly stop taking an opiate substance, medications may be prescribed to help properly stop cravings and also block the effects of any other opiates for up to 24 hours. Medication-assisted treatment is beneficial to the recovering addict because it eases the pain and discomfort felt with opiate withdrawal symptoms and prevents cravings. Medication used simultaneously with intense psychological counseling is usually a very effective form of treatment.

Following Through After Detox

Overcoming mental side effects from opiate withdrawal, such as anxiety, panics, or depression, can be treated during both inpatient and outpatient programs. With the right follow-up counseling, individuals have a better chance at achieving stable recovery. Completing detox is just the beginning; counseling sessions and participating in relapse prevention programs afterward is important to continue during inpatient rehab and also on an outpatient basis.

Answering the question “How long does opiate withdrawal last?” can be difficult to answer directly, since it varies. Some withdrawal symptoms can last up to a week or more. Anyone wanting to stop opiate substance abuse is encouraged to seek professional help as soon as possible to get the proper care.

Drug addiction specialists and medical professionals will assist you through the hardest physical and mental stages of withdrawal. Additionally, they will help strengthen the skills necessary to return to everyday life after inpatient rehab, so that returning to work, school, parenthood, and other responsibilities can be an easy transition. For more information on opiate withdrawal and our drug addiction rehab programs, contact WhiteSands Treatment today.


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.