How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last?

Opiates are drugs that are taken in order to treat any sort of pain. There are different kinds of opiates or opioids that include –

  • Vicodin (acetaminophen and hydrocodone)
  • Codeine
  • Methadone
  • Oxycontin (oxycodone)
  • Heroin
  • Morphine sulfate
  • Dilaudid (hydromorphone).

Opiates or opioids are largely used across the globe and as per the reports of National Institute of Drug Abuse, 36 million people all over the world, use opiates or opioids for treating pains. Though these are very effective in treating pain; but with continuous or prolonged usage, a physical dependency and addiction may be caused to the consumers.

When these opiate drugs are consumed for more than a few weeks or after a heavy usage, when they are abruptly stopped being taken or are cut back on its dosage, there is a serious withdrawal faced by the consumers.

How long the opiate withdrawal symptoms would last, depends on the dosage as well as the term for which the drug has been taken. The longer the opioids have been consumed, the longer will be the withdrawal. The dependency also varies from one drug to another.

How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last?

How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last?

Opiates are chemical compositions that act as anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and pain-reducers. The body produces some natural opiates that perform these tasks and thus, general or mild pain, depression and anxiety are controlled. To help these naturally occurring opiates work, there are some opiate receptors in the body, especially in the spinal cord, brain as well as the gastrointestinal tract. However, the body does not produce enough opiates to reduce severe pains like what is caused by a broken bone. Neither does it produce excessive amount of opiates that can cause overdose.

When external opiates, which actually mimic the naturally occurring opiates, are consumed, they are attached to these receptors and they start exerting their effects. Over time and after prolonged usage, the body becomes desensitized to the opiate effect. The previous or usual amount of opiate is not enough in that case. To achieve the same amount of effect, more opiate drugs are needed.

This high dosage or consumption of opiate changes the function of the nerve receptors. There is a sort of dependency on the receptors that the drugs develop in order to function. When you stop taking these drugs after a span of usage, you will experience the body’s dependency on the opiates. How long the opiate withdrawal symptoms will last, depends on a number of factors –

  • Type of opiate
  • How long you have been taking it
  • Dose of opiate.

Short Acting Opiates & Its Withdrawal Symptom Duration:

There are some opiates that are short acting. Their effect lasts for a shorter period of time once you take the dose and the withdrawal will also last for a shorter period of time, in comparison with the longer acting opiates. These opiates include –

  • Vicodin
  • Morphine
  • Heroin.

Withdrawal symptoms of short acting opiates would occur six to eight hours after the last dose of the opiate drug. For the first three days of this period, the condition will worsen.

Long Acting Opiates & Its Withdrawal Symptom Duration:

These opiates start their withdrawal symptoms after 30 hours of taking the last dose. These are the early withdrawal symptoms for the long acting opiates. However, there are some opiates that have late withdrawal symptoms that start after 72 hours of the last dose. Gradually these withdrawal symptoms lessen in their intensity and finally subside, within seven days. These include –

  • Oxycontin
  • Methadone.

What needs to be mentioned here is that though the physical symptoms of opiate withdrawal subside within a week or so, the psychological symptoms take quite some time to subside. Opiate withdrawal symptoms like depression or opiate cravings etc. can last for about a month. They need psychological support to be cured completely.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 2, 2021

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