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Medically Reviewed

Opioid Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms, and Treatment

- 8 sections

Medically Verified: July 4, 2024

Medical Reviewer:

Sahil Talwar, PA-C, MBA


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Opioid use disorder is a serious condition that causes you to be unable to control your opioid abuse. Long-term use of opioids leads to dependency and addiction, which puts you at risk of experiencing a life-threatening overdose. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), opioids were responsible for 81,806 overdose deaths in 2022.[1]

Another risk of opioid addiction is experiencing withdrawal. When you suddenly stop taking opioids while you are dependent on them, you will experience symptoms like muscle aches, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in heart rate, and more. Depending on what type of opioid you are addicted to, your withdrawal symptoms can last up to 10 to 20 days.[2]

Thankfully, medical detox centers can help you overcome opiate withdrawal with a combination of care from medical professionals, FDA-approved medications to lessen symptoms, and mental health support. Knowing the symptoms, timeline, and treatment associated with opioid withdrawal can motivate you to seek the help you need.

What you will learn:

  • What are the symptoms of opioid withdrawal
  • How long does opioid withdrawal last
  • How the timeline is different for short and long-acting opioids
  • How a detox center will help you overcome opioid withdrawal

Understanding Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

There are many different opioid drugs out there that will lead to dependency and withdrawal if you abuse them long-term. You might become addicted to prescription opioids like hydrocodone, oxycodone, or morphine. You could develop an addiction to illegal opioid drugs, like heroin or illegally manufactured fentanyl (IMF).

No matter what type of opioid you are addicted to, the withdrawal symptoms will be similar. The mental and physical symptoms of opioid withdrawal may include:[3]

  • Muscle aches
  • Teary eyes and runny nose
  • Frequent yawning
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety and irritability
  • Cravings to use opioids
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Dilated pupils and blurry vision
  • Rapid heart rate and high blood pressure

While the symptoms of opioid withdrawal are usually not life-threatening, you should always seek help from a medical detox center. Attending detox reduces the risk of relapsing during the withdrawal period of recovery.

What is the Timeline for Opioid Withdrawal?

The timeline for opioid withdrawal depends on whether you were abusing short or long-acting opioids. For example, short-acting opioids include substances like hydrocodone or morphine. Long-acting opioids include fentanyl patches, methadone, or extended-release oxycodone.

If you were using a short-acting opioid, withdrawal begins within 24 hours and lasts between 4 to 10 days. On the other hand, long-acting opioid withdrawal can take up to 48 hours to cause symptoms and last for 10 to 20 days.[2]

The general timeline for opioid withdrawal involves three stages, including:

Early Stage

For short-acting opioids, your withdrawal symptoms will arise within 8 to 24 hours of your last dose. Long-acting opioids might not cause withdrawal symptoms until 24 to 48 hours after your last dose.

The early symptoms of opioid withdrawal are usually mild and include:

  • Anxiety
  • Strong urges or cravings to consume opioids
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Slight physical symptoms like body aches or stuffy nose

While these symptoms might not seem severe, you must be receiving detox care. The cravings associated with opioid withdrawal can be intense, putting you at a significant risk of relapsing.

Peak Stage

During the peak stage of opioid withdrawal, your symptoms will be at their most severe. For short-acting opioids, this usually occurs within 24 to 48 hours. Long-acting opioids might cause peak symptoms to begin within 2 to 4 days.

Symptoms of peak opioid withdrawal may include:

  • Changes in mood
  • Severe anxiety or depression
  • Strong cravings for opioids
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle aches and abdominal pains
  • Rapid heart rate and changes in blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Cold sweats
  • Flu-like symptoms

Thankfully, opioid detox programs can prescribe FDA-approved medications like methadone or buprenorphine to manage withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, you will receive counseling to help you overcome the root causes of your substance use disorder.

Late Stage

Late-stage opioid withdrawal is when your symptoms will slowly begin to subside. For short-acting opioids, this could occur anytime between 4 to 10 days, while long-acting opioids can cause symptoms for 10 to 20 days.

Most of your physical symptoms will resolve during this time, leaving you to continue working through feelings of anxiety, depression, insomnia, and cravings for opioids. If you are in a detox program, the medications you are prescribed will help you stay sober by lessening your cravings and other psychological symptoms.

How Do Detox Programs Treat Opioid Withdrawal?

Most detox centers use FDA-approved medications to taper you off of opioids over a time period based on your specific needs. The most common medications used to treat opioid withdrawal include Suboxone, methadone, clonidine, and Lucemyra. While each of these medications might work differently, they all trick the brain into thinking it’s gotten the opioids it craves, lessening your physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal.

In addition to medication, your vital signs will be monitored consistently. This allows medical professionals to intervene immediately if something is off. For example, if your blood pressure is too high, you will be given medications to correct it.

Lastly, you will have 24/7 access to mental health professionals during detox. You can work through any feelings of anxiety and depression while receiving tips for overcoming triggers and cravings that can lead to a relapse.

Get Connected to a Top-Rated Opioid Detox Center

If you or a loved one suffers from opioid addiction, it’s time to seek professional help. At Charlotte Detox Center, we offer a medically assisted detox program that keeps you safe and comfortable throughout the process.

Contact us today to learn more about how to begin our opioid detox program.


  1. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA): Drug Overdose Death Rates 
  2. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Withdrawal Management
  3. Medline Plus: Opiate and opioid withdrawal