Opiate withdrawal refers to stopping or tapering down from a substance derived from the opium poppy plant (e.g. narcotic opioid alkaloids). Some major psychoactive opiates include substances like codeine, morphine, and Thebaine. This is just the beginning in the opiate withdrawal symptoms timeline.
Many people consider semi-synthetic drugs like heroin, hydrocodone and oxycodone to be opiates, but they are not direct opiates, rather they are derived from opiates (e.g. opioids). People use these drugs for a variety of conditions, but most commonly they are used to provide pain relief.
These drugs are also used to achieve a recreational "high" by other individuals. The fact that these drugs make people feel less pain and stimulate the reward centers of the brain make them addicting.
Most people also feel physically relaxed and no discomfort while they take this class of drugs. It is also believed that some people self-medicate with painkillers to block emotional pain associated with depression and anxiety. Others simply run out of opiates and/or cannot afford to get their prescriptions refilled. In any event, most people that take opiates will eventually want to (or be forced to) withdraw from them.
Many wonder how long does drug withdrawal last? Every case is different, every patient has different reactions when it comes to a fixed interval of time, and the withdrawal process can be very debilitating, but - in general terms - the physical symptoms that appeared on the different stages of opiate withdrawal typically subside between 7 and 10 days.
While the opiate withdrawal symptoms timeline develops, the body tries to function without stimulation from the opiate drug that has been constantly supplied. When it doesn't receive the same amount of the drug or none of the drug, it reacts powerfully with an array of physical and psychological symptoms as it attempts to restore normative homeostatic functioning.
Dependency and how long does drug withdrawal last can be directly tied to the length of time taking a particular drug, dosage amount, which drug was taken, how the drug was taken, underlying medical conditions, the co-occurring presence of a mental health issue, and certain biological and environmental factors, such as family history of addiction, previous trauma, or highly stressful and unsupportive surroundings.
An opiate withdrawal symptoms timeline may roughly adhere to these stages, although it can vary from person to person:
These usually start within 6-12 hours for short-acting opiates, and they start within 30 hours for longer-acting ones:
- Tearing up
- Muscle aches
- Trouble falling and staying asleep
- Excessive yawning
- Nose running
- Racing heart
These peak within 72 hours and usually last a week or so:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach cramps
- Drug cravings
Some of the psychological withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioid drugs may continue longer than a week in some cases. There is not a strict certainty on how long does drug withdrawal last, especially regarding PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome).
For some individuals, the post-acute psychological withdrawal symptoms may linger for an extended period of time (e.g. months or years). For most hardcore addicts, it can take many months of being drug free to fully overcome the psychological aspects of the addiction.
Therapy and psychological support provided by a mental health professional as a part of a complete substance abuse treatment program can help during all the stages of opiate withdrawal, decrease the appearance of symptoms and side effects.
Seeking help and support to understand the opiate withdrawal symptoms timeline and knowing what to expect will reduce your risk of relapse, accidental overdose, and complications related to opiate addiction. The overall improvement in physical and mental health is worth the pain and discomfort of withdrawal.
While it is extremely difficult to go through opiate withdrawal, your life of using drugs is actually even more uncomfortable and painful. You can make it through the hardest part and have a reason to stay clean and sober: not having to go through detox from opiates ever again! Don't hesitate anymore, call (512) 687-8799 today to take the first step into recovery.