Skip to content

24/7 Addiction & Mental Health Hotline

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Effective Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms and Addiction Treatment Options

Opioid Withdrawal 

Opioid withdrawal symptoms are a life-threatening condition resulting from opioid dependence. Opioids are a group of drugs used to manage severe pain, including morphine, heroin, oxycontin, codeine, methadone, and hydromorphone. Opioids are sometimes abused, as they can assist with mental relaxation and pain relief and can produce a sense of euphoria. In 2019, nearly 50,000 people in the United States died from opioid-involved overdoses [1]. The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national opioid crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
Anyone going through opioid withdrawal symptoms should be checked for depression and other mental illnesses. Treating these disorders can reduce the risk of relapse.

Chronic opioid use can lead to the development of potentially incapacitating dependence. In addition, people who are dependent on opioids can experience unpleasant and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when they stop using them. Many people describe it as having bad flu, fever and sweating, nausea and vomiting, muscle aches and pain, and insomnia [2].

Abuse of heroin and prescription opioids is a long-time concern in the United States. The chemical makeup of an opioid such as heroin is the same as that of pain relievers, and both can be very addictive and cause deadly opioid overdoses.

Opioids vs. opiates

While you may hear people use these words interchangeably, they do mean different things.

Opiates are opioids that come from nature (specifically from the opium poppy plant), like heroin, morphine, and codeine.

Opioids refer to all opiates, as well as any opioids that are made with a combination of natural and chemical substances (semisynthetic) or from just chemicals (synthetic).

How long does opioid withdrawal last?

When someone stops taking an opioid drug suddenly, the first symptoms of withdrawal can appear within hours. Withdrawal from short-acting opioids like heroin can start within six to 12 hours of the last use and can continue for four to 10 days.

How long opioid withdrawal lasts depends on the type of opioid you are taking. Longer-acting opioids like fentanyl and methadone take longer to leave the body, so withdrawal symptoms usually don’t emerge until 12 to 48 hours after last use. Withdrawal from these opioids also lasts anywhere from 10 to 20 days.

For short-acting opioids like heroin or oxycodone, withdrawal may last 3 to 5 days. Ways to treat mild opioid withdrawal include increased water and vitamin intake, while more severe withdrawal may require opioid use disorder medication and opioid detox treatment.

For many people, withdrawal is the most challenging barrier to recovery because all its unpleasant symptoms make sufferers believe the only way to stop the pain is to use it again. Therefore, understanding the fundamentals of opioid withdrawal is a crucial step in preparing for treatment and long-term recovery.

What are the symptoms of opioid withdrawal? 

Withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the type of drug, frequency of use, severity of dependence, and overall health.

Symptoms of withdrawal can begin six to 30 hours after the last use of the drug and can last anywhere from five to 10 days, depending on the type of opioid. Symptoms can include:

Early symptoms (within 24 hours of stopping the drug):

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Restless legs
  • Eyes tearing (lacrimation)
  • Excessive sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent yawning

Later symptoms:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Higher blood pressure

Acute Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms 

In acute opioid withdrawal, the person who stopped using opioids will go through the symptoms that they’ve undoubtedly already experienced in trying to detox on their own or if they weren’t able to obtain a supply of heroin or pain pills. Most people cannot get beyond the symptoms, and they use their drug of choice again before their body can complete detox. Abrupt discontinuation of opioids can result in acute opioid withdrawal. Symptoms of opioid withdrawal are often managed in the inpatient setting. 

Acute opioid withdrawal symptoms can last for anywhere from a few days up to a few weeks, depending on the type of drug that was used, the method of use, the frequency of use, the length of time the drug was used, and various other factors. 

The onset of symptoms will generally take place within 24 hours of the last dose although it could take up to 48 hours for the symptoms to begin. As the time progresses without the use of opioids, the timeline of opioid withdrawal symptoms will gradually peak and then begin to retract allowing the user some relief. Unfortunately, this could take up to four weeks depending on the type of drug that was used.

Symptoms include:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Joint pain
  • Twitching
  • Mild nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms Fever

A fever can be a withdrawal symptom among people who have been addicted to various substances, or even after a period of intense substance use. Fever symptoms may range from mild to severe. Withdrawing from opioids, the body is very likely to overheat and you will find yourself with a fever. In addition to sweating, shaking, and vomiting, a high fever is why many people equate opiate withdrawals to having the flu.

Fevers, lots of sweating, hot and cold flushes and chills, goosebumps, extreme nausea, total insomnia, vomiting, loose bowels, cramping, aching bones, severe pain (everywhere), restless legs, suicidal ideation, agitation, anxiety, paranoia, and depression are all part of opioid withdrawals. Though these symptoms are common and ‘the norm’, please do not hesitate to seek medical attention if you’re really worried.

opioid withdrawal symptoms
Opioid withdrawal can be very hard and dangerous without professional help. Treatment most often involves medicines, counseling, and support.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms Hypothermia 

What is hypothermia? Hypothermia develops when the body temperature drops below 35°C. s a medical emergency that occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce heat, causing a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is around 98.6 F (37 C). Hypothermia occurs as your body temperature falls below 95 F (35 C). When your body temperature drops, your heart, nervous system, and other organs can’t work normally. Left untreated, hypothermia can lead to complete failure of your heart and respiratory system and eventually to death.

Cannabinoid and opioid drugs produce marked changes in body temperature. Recent findings have extended our knowledge about the thermoregulatory effects of cannabinoids and opioids, particularly as related to delta opioid receptors, endogenous systems, and transient receptor potential (TRP) channels. Although delta-opioid receptors were originally thought to play only a minor role in thermoregulation compared to mu and kappa opioid receptors, their activation has been shown to produce hypothermia in multiple species [3]. 

Opioid Withdrawal Complications

Opioid withdrawal isn’t typically life-threatening. But if you have other health conditions, the effects can lead to serious problems. For example, a higher pulse or blood pressure can cause issues if you have a heart condition.

Other complications of withdrawal include:

Vomiting and diarrhea that leads to dehydration, high blood sodium levels (hypernatremia), and heart failure

  • Bleeding or leaking amniotic fluid in pregnant women
  • Higher risk of overdosing on an opioid after withdrawal because your tolerance is lower. If you start using the opioid again, you’ll need a smaller dose than usual.

Opioid toxicity is primarily mediated via potent µ-receptor agonism resulting in ventilatory depression. However, both overdose and opioid withdrawal can trigger major adverse cardiovascular events resulting from hemodynamic, vascular, and proarrhythmic/electrophysiological consequences.

Opioids exhibit a myriad of cardiovascular complications including hypotension, bradycardia, peripheral vasodilatory flushing, and syncope. By contrast, opioid withdrawal triggers hypertension, tachycardia, stress cardiomyopathy, and potentially ACS.

Opioid Withdrawal Complications

Opioid withdrawal isn’t typically life-threatening. But if you have other health conditions, the effects can lead to serious problems. For example, a higher pulse or blood pressure can cause issues if you have a heart condition.

Other complications of withdrawal include:

Vomiting and diarrhea that leads to dehydration, high blood sodium levels (hypernatremia), and heart failure

  • Bleeding or leaking amniotic fluid in pregnant women
  • Higher risk of overdosing on an opioid after withdrawal because your tolerance is lower. If you start using the opioid again, you’ll need a smaller dose than usual.

Opioid toxicity is primarily mediated via potent µ-receptor agonism resulting in ventilatory depression. However, both overdose and opioid withdrawal can trigger major adverse cardiovascular events resulting from hemodynamic, vascular, and proarrhythmic/electrophysiological consequences.

Opioids exhibit a myriad of cardiovascular complications including hypotension, bradycardia, peripheral vasodilatory flushing, and syncope. By contrast, opioid withdrawal triggers hypertension, tachycardia, stress cardiomyopathy, and potentially ACS.

Opioid Withdrawal and Addiction Treatment

Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be intensely uncomfortable, and, in certain situations, there can be complications that may be dangerous and even life-threatening. The opioid withdrawal timeline varies from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the type of opioid that was used, how long it was used, and any other substances that may have been used in conjunction with opioids as well. Medically managed withdrawal or detoxification ensures the individual remains safe and stays as comfortable as possible.

Detox Treatment

The first step in treatment is detoxification. It will help you navigate the complicated withdrawal process, but it doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to Tramadol abuse. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of withdrawals.

Psychotherapy

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of depression, including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves making changes in both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression. 
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – is a comprehensive mental health and substance abuse treatment program whose ultimate goal is to aid patients in their efforts to build a life worth living. The main goal of DBT is to help a person develop what is referred to as a “clear mind.” 
  • Person-Centered Therapy – is a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Substance abuse and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in a mental health disorder and substance abuse. Dual diagnosis programs treat both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. In this strategy, both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder are treated simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for substance use disorders and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

If you or your loved one is suffering from Opioid withdrawal symptoms and addictions, indeed, help is just a phone call away. Professional opioid addiction treatment is necessary for fast and effective recovery. Contact us today at We Level Up treatment facility. We provide utmost care with doctors and medical staff available 24/7 for life-changing and lasting recovery. We offer an enhanced opportunity to return to a fulfilling and productive life.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
Treatment and rehabilitation from opioid withdrawal do not happen successfully overnight, but it is one of many steps towards permanent recovery.
Sources:

[1] NIDA – https://nida.nih.gov/drug-topics/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis

[2] NCBI – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526012/

[3] NCBI – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21622235/#:~:text=Although%20delta%20opioid%20receptors%20were%20originally%20thought%20to,Endogenous%20opioids%20and%20cannabinoids%20also%20regulate%20body%20temperature.