A person that has used opioid drugs to the point of physical dependence will experience withdrawal symptoms when the drugs are no longer affecting the system.
These withdrawal symptoms include psychological/emotional responses and physical reactions to the absence of a drug.
The duration and intensity of opioid withdrawal symptoms depend on variables such as:
- how long a person has used opioid drugs
- whether they are tapering off or going cold turkey
- their overall health
Signs Of Opioid Withdrawal
Early symptoms of withdrawal typically occur within the first 12-24 hours after the last dose of opioid.
People that take long-acting opioids like fentanyl or extended-release morphine or OxyContin may not experience withdrawal symptoms after a longer period of time.
These early signs of opioid withdrawal include symptoms like:
- runny nose
- teary eyes
- muscle aches
- frequent yawning
- excessive sweating
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Effects Of Opioid Withdrawal
When a person with opioid dependency does not take opioids after initial signs of withdrawal, they may begin to experience very unpleasant symptoms.
Later symptoms, which can be more intense, can require some medical attention.
Opioid withdrawal effects can last between seven and 14 days, depending on the type of opioid used. The most intense effects of opioid withdrawal typically occur within the first three days of withdrawals.
The effects of opioid withdrawal include:
- abdominal cramping
- nausea and vomiting
- dilated pupils
- blurred vision
- rapid heartbeat
- high blood pressure
Risks Of Opioid Withdrawal
In general, opioid withdrawals are uncomfortable and emotionally draining. For a person trying to detox from opioids, the biggest risk associated with withdrawals is relapsing back into drug use.
However, in some circumstances, the physical effects of withdrawal can take an extreme toll on a person’s body.
Major risks associated with withdrawal that may require medical attention and hospitalization include:
Dehydration and hyponatremia (elevated sodium levels) from loss of fluids due to sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea. Can result in heart and kidney problems.
Inhaling vomit (while rare) can occur during extreme cases of opioid withdrawal, resulting in death.
Getting Help For Opioid Addiction
If you or a loved one struggles with opioid use, don’t wait to get help. Inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities can provide the structure and support to safely detox and build a life without drugs.
Medical interventions that include drugs like methadone or buprenorphine can be beneficial for a person looking to stop opioid use without extreme withdrawals.
Call our helpline today for more information on the right treatment options for your needs. Opioid abuse and dependence don’t have to run your life. Get started on a better path today.
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- Addiction Science & Clinical Practice — Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus — Opioid Addiction
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) – Drug Facts: Prescription Opioids
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA – Heroin Research Report
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Opioids