Understanding Withdrawal: Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms to Expect

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There’s an opioid crisis in the United States. On average, 128 people lose their lives every single day in this country due to an opioid overdose. 

However, there is hope. With the right treatment plan, you can overcome opioid addiction and start living a healthier, happier life.

In order to find success in recovery, it’s important to understand what to expect during the process. This includes preparing yourself for the opioid withdrawal symptoms you might face. Fortunately, this guide is here to help. 

Continue reading to learn about common opioid withdrawal symptoms so you know what to expect as you begin your journey to recovery. 

Withdrawal Symptoms in the First 24 Hours

Because opioids are so addictive, your body will almost immediately begin to notice if you’re not keeping up with your regular dosing schedule. This means that you can expect to experience some symptoms of withdrawal within the first 24 hours. 

Restlessness and Anxiety

Shortly after you stop taking opioids, you may start to notice you’re feeling more anxious than usual. This can lead to feelings of restlessness, making it hard for you to sit still. 

You may also have trouble sleeping in the first 24 hours of withdrawal.

Muscle Aches

Another common early symptom of opioid withdrawal is achy muscles. It might start as just a few annoying aches and pains, but it can quickly become more severe. 

This response is what makes it so difficult to overcome opioid addiction. However, when you’re in the moment, try to remember that the pain won’t last forever. 

Runny Nose

In the first few hours after you stop taking opioids, you may also notice your nose is runny. This can be accompanied by watery eyes as well. 

While it can be uncomfortable and a bit of an annoyance, it shouldn’t last too long. 

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms in the First Three Days

Once you’ve made it through the first 24 hours, you should feel very proud of yourself for taking the first step to recovery.

Symptoms over the next 48 hours can be even more intense, so try to remember your end goal and use that as motivation during the hardest parts of withdrawal.

Stomach Pains

It’s not uncommon to experience severe stomach pains in the first 72 hours of opioid withdrawal. This can be in the form of nausea and vomiting. Or, you might experience abdominal cramping and diarrhea. 

You can lay a heating pad across your stomach to help provide some relief. 

Blurry Vision

It can be very scary when your vision starts to blur, causing you to feel disoriented. This is a common opioid withdrawal symptom and it can be accompanied by dilated pupils as well. 

You may also notice that you feel cold, with goosebumps appearing all over your skin. 

Increased Heart Rate

Another common opioid withdrawal symptom is a rapid heartbeat. This can continue to make you feel anxious and like it’s hard to calm down. 

Your blood pressure will likely increase during this time as well. 

How Long Do Symptoms Usually Last?

Everyone’s journey to recovery is different. However, after the first 72 hours, withdrawal symptoms generally start to improve. And, within a week, you should notice a significant decrease in all of the symptoms listed above. 

Symptoms and the length of time they last vary based on the following factors:

  • The type of opioid you take and how long it lasts in your system
  • The severity of your addiction
  • The frequency of your opioid use
  • Your overall health and wellness

Because of the severity of the withdrawal symptoms and the recovery needed to break the addiction, doctors are becoming more hesitant to prescribe opioids to their patients. 

In fact, between 2006 and 2017, there was a 19% reduction in annual opioid prescription rates. 

Keep in mind that while most symptoms subside by the end of the first week, an opioid recovery period is generally viewed as six months of complete abstinence from the substance. 

During those six months, you may experience some symptoms of withdrawal as you continue to work towards recovery. 

Treatments for Opioid Withdrawal

While many people try to go through opioid withdrawal alone, you’ll have a much better chance of success when working with a treatment program

This puts you in a controlled environment and gives you access to a team of professionals dedicated to helping people break the cycle of opioid addiction. 

During the withdrawal period, you can take light pain medicine, like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin to help manage your symptoms. You can also take some medication to help ease stomach issues and diarrhea. 

When going through the withdrawal period, it’s recommended that you get as much rest as possible and drink plenty of fluids so you don’t become dehydrated. 

Treating More Severe Symptoms

For those going through extremely severe withdrawal, other medications may aid in recovery. For example, clonidine helps reduce the symptoms we listed above, making the process more bearable. 

An opioid blocker may also help in some cases. 

Sometimes, methadone can help during maintenance therapy. While it’s considered a powerful opioid itself, it can aid in easing withdrawal symptoms, but only when used in a controlled manner and under the guidance of a professional. 

Working with a primary care physician in conjunction with an addiction specialist can help you manage withdrawal symptoms and decrease your chances of relapsing. 

Begin the Road to Recovery Today

Are you or a loved one currently battling opioid addiction? It can be scary taking the first step to recovery but having an understanding of opioid withdrawal symptoms and what to expect during the withdrawal period can help. 

When you’re ready to start your journey, the Oasis Recovery team is here to help, with a unique approach to recovery that has helped many people facing addiction. 

Truly, hope is possible. 

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you on your journey to a healthier and happier life.