According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 10 million Americans abuse opioids yearly. While this doesn’t mean that they all suffer from an addiction to opioids, many find themselves unable to stop taking the drug due to its highly addictive properties. 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse notes that more than 65,000 Americans die each year for reasons relating to opioid use. When a person struggles with opioid addiction, it can be challenging to recognize the problem and find the help they need to detox and return to a sober lifestyle. 

This guide examines the opioid withdrawal timeline and other pertinent information concerning opioid addiction:

What Is Opioid Addiction?

Opioids are a class of drugs created from a poppy plant that offers pain relief but are highly addictive. A physician prescribes this type of drug after an accident or severe injury. The most commonly prescribed opiates include:

• Morphine
• Codeine
• Fentanyl
• Hydromorphone
• Hydrocodone 
• Oxycodone 
• Oxymorphone

While the use of opioids for pain management in the immediate aftermath of an injury is expected, some patients begin abusing the opiate because of the euphoria the drug produces. The person quickly becomes addicted to opioids. 

Addiction to opioids can change a person’s life and put them at risk. They need to seek medical attention and detox. 

Signs of Opioid Abuse

When a person suffers from opioid abuse or wants to decide if a friend or loved one is, they need to understand the signs of opioid abuse. It’s important to distinguish between a person using opiates correctly for medical reasons and someone struggling with addiction. Some of the warning signs of addiction include:

• Lying about their usage
• Issues with family and friends
• Stealing to get money for drugs
• Missing work and school
• Legal troubles due to the use of opiates
• Visiting multiple doctors and hospitals to get a prescription
• Buying drugs off the internet or without a prescription

Someone who shows one or more signs is usually struggling with opiate addiction and needs immediate help. 

Long-Term Effects of Opioid Abuse

There are serious long-term effects that make it essential that someone struggling with opioid addiction needs to seek treatment immediately. While a person might worry about withdrawal symptoms and the process of detox, it’s a better option than facing the long-term effects of opiate abuse. These effects can include:

• Increased risk of several medical conditions, such as

• Infections
• Heart disease
• Sleeping disorders
• Fractures and bone density loss

• Problems with constipation or diarrhea
• Likelihood of an overdose
• Accidental death

While withdrawing from opioids might seem frightening, the long-term effects on a person’s health outweigh the challenges of detox. How long does opiate withdrawal last?

Timeline of Opioid Withdrawal

Most people who decide to take the first step and detox from opioid addiction want a better understanding of the opioid withdrawal timeline. While there are withdrawal symptoms, it takes many patients a couple of years to fully recover from opioid addiction, and they must guard against relapse for the rest of their lives. 

The amount of time and types of symptoms a person withdrawing from opioid usage experiences is similar for most people. However, each individual’s detox process is unique, and the patient can’t set their watch by the timeline. Here’s a look at the standard expectation of opioid withdrawal symptoms:

Initial Stage of Opioid Withdrawal

The initial stage of opioid withdrawal is the period when the person stops taking the drug and begins to crave it. This stage occurs over a few hours if the person is physically dependent on the substance. Cravings begin when the drugs already in their system reach their half-life. 

For example, if a drug takes six hours to leave a person’s body completely, its half-life is three hours. In this initial stage, the cravings begin in earnest. Many people can handle the cravings or distract themselves from using opioids without assistance from a medical professional or an emotional support group. 

In many cases, it is best to seek support at a facility that offers supervised opioid detox. Professional treatment programs can monitor people’s withdrawal process and help control physical symptoms.

Peak Stage of Opioid Withdrawal

After a person stops using opioids, the peak stage can arrive between 12 and 72 hours after the last time they took their drug of choice. Since some opioids have a time-release feature, it takes longer for the peak stage to arrive. This stage can last up to a week. 

Symptoms to expect include:

• Intense cravings
• Rapid heart rate
• Moodiness
• Depressions
• Anxiety
• Hopelessness
• Sweating
• Inability to sleep
• Symptoms similar to the flu

Some patients might need a medical professional to monitor their overall well-being at this stage. Some people might need medication to offset the seriousness of some of these withdrawal symptoms. As the days go by, the withdrawal symptoms will begin to ease. 

Final Stage of Opioid Withdrawal

The final stage of opioid withdrawal begins around a week after the last time the person took an opioid. Most people notice a gradual reduction in symptoms. This stage can last months and years, with the person facing the occasional craving for the drug. 

Recovery from dependence on opioids is a lifelong process and continues after the withdrawal symptoms fade. This is why it’s essential that the person seek therapy, a support group, and build a network of friends and family to help them stay sober. 

Withdrawing from opioids can take around a week to 10 days for the worst symptoms to pass, but staying sober and drug-free is a lifelong commitment. 

Find a Recovery Center to Help Ease Opioid Withdrawal

When a person realizes that they’re struggling with opioid use disorder and learns more about how long opiate withdrawal lasts, their next step is to find a detox and rehabilitation center that can help them begin the process of opioid withdrawal. There are many treatment centers available that offer detox from opioids. The choice of detox facility is essential. 

At New Method Wellness, we provide care and compassion to help someone struggling with addiction start their journey to a sober lifestyle. Our staff provides outstanding care at each stage of recovery. Contact us today!