An In Depth Look at Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms and the Stages of Opiate Withdrawal

While Opiates can be extremely beneficial for patients suffering from extreme aches and pains, they can also be detrimental to patients who develop an addiction to the substance. All throughout the US currently, we are starting to see a rise in opiate abuse, generally starting with prescription medications, and developing more and more until heroin starts becoming abused instead. While this problem is pervasive in the country’s current culture, there are also numerous people struggling with addiction who are turning to treatment for help. However, this means going through the opiate withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting the drug. This can be extremely scary for struggling addicts who have never gone through treatment or withdrawals before, but with an understanding of the stages of opiate withdrawal, the process becomes far less intimidating.

In this article, we are going to take a detailed look at opiate withdrawal symptoms, the stages of opiate withdrawals, and why opiate withdrawal treatment may be beneficial to your recovery goals.

The Stages of Opiate Withdrawal: Acute Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

The first stage patients will need to learn when learning how to deal with opiate withdrawal symptoms, is the acute withdrawal stage. Generally speaking, acute withdrawal symptoms begin after twelve hours without use of an opiate, and these symptoms peak after three days without opiate use. Acute withdrawal symptoms include: vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, muscle aches and abdominal cramps, mood swings, depression, and trouble sleeping or insomnia. A great way to describe acute withdrawal symptoms, and the first stage of opiate withdrawal, is flu-like, due to its heavy resemblance to a strong flu or similar illness.

When we talk about opiate withdrawal symptoms, acute withdrawal symptoms are what most drug addicts think of. This is largely due to the relatively small amount of clean time that opiate addicts have, and their experience with acute withdrawal symptoms when drugs are running low, or when they cannot afford more. For many, continued opiate abuse is done to stave of acute withdrawal symptoms more-so than to actually get high. Getting help for opiate withdrawals through a medically supervised detox is the best way we can advise patients when considering opioid withdrawal treatment.

The Stages of Opiate Withdrawal: Rebalancing with Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

As we move on from acute withdrawals, we start moving toward the second stage of opiate withdrawal: rebalancing. This is when the body begins to rebalance endorphin levels in order to move back to a normal, or healthy, state. Generally speaking, this stage can last up to two weeks long and is punctuated by leg cramps, dilated pupils, and irregular body temperatures. This stage is when most recovering addicts report feeling chills and goosebumps, and while it is not the most intense stage of withdrawal, it is one that many addicts are trying to deal with on a regular basis. Getting help for opiate withdrawals can be as easy as contacting a detox center in your area, and there are outpatient and inpatient options to help patients with jobs and prior obligations. We highly suggest that recovering addicts look into opioid withdrawal treatment by speaking with a well-regarded detox or treatment center.

The Stages of Opiate Withdrawal: Stage Three

The third, last, and longest stage of opiate withdrawal can last anywhere between one week and two month. It is the least severe stage and is the body’s final purging of the chemical dependency it’s struggled with for so long. This stage’s symptoms include: anxiety or nervousness, excess energy or restlessness, and insomnia or trouble sleeping. This stage is usually experienced after detox is already complete, and while this stage is one of the least severe when it comes to opiate withdrawal symptoms, in many cases it is also enough to send seemingly recovered addicts back to using.

During this final stage of withdrawals, it is important that recovering addicts maintain a healthy recovery plan by going to outpatient groups, twelve step programs, or by simply living a life focused on sobriety. As long as recovering addicts go into opioid withdrawal treatment with a desire to learn and implement new coping skills, then learning how to deal with opiate withdrawals will come almost naturally.

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.