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Stages of Opioid Detox and Withdrawal

What Is Opioid Withdrawal

Opioids are powerful prescription painkillers that are often prescribed after serious injuries, surgeries, or serious medical conditions to help patients mitigate the severity of the levels of pain felt. While opioids have created a significant impact on how the medical industry can support patients with serious medical complications, the downside of these medications that was not foreseen was the highly addictive components that have led numerous patients to a life of dependency and addiction

As your use of opioids progresses, your body will become more physically reliant on the substances to function normally. Should you stop using opioids abruptly, “going cold turkey”, you put your body at risk of producing uncomfortable and unpleasant side effects known as withdrawal symptoms. Depending on your history with opioids such as the length of the time you have used them, the dose you were taking, and the rate at which you would consume opioids will affect the level of withdrawal symptoms you feel. The higher frequency and rate of use will create a chance for more significant and severe symptoms to present themself as you remove the toxins of opioids from your body. 

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Each person going through opioid withdrawal will experience different withdrawal symptoms depending on your personal history with opioids. Symptoms can range from mild to severe with the possibility of some becoming life-threatening if you are not being monitored by medical professionals within a controlled setting in a residential detox facility. 

Opioid withdrawal symptoms can appear within patients in the following ways:

  • Insomnia/difficulties with regular sleep patterns 
  • Stomach/abdominal cramps 
  • Muscle and joint pains 
  • Anxiety 
  • Depression 
  • Nausea 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Spasms in the muscles 
  • Body tremors/ uncontrollable shaking 
  • Vomiting 
  • Excessive sweating 
  • Elevated and fluctuating blood pressure levels 
  • Increased heart rate 

Opioid Detox and Withdrawal Timeline

As you go through your opioid detox program, your withdrawal symptoms will progress through stages throughout your detox. While each person will experience each stage slightly differently from others, this is a timeline of how most patients will work through the various stages of opioid detox in 4 common stages. 


  • Typically this will begin 3 or 4 hours after your last dose of opioids.
  • A key component of this stage is an increase in anxiety levels or fear when patients begin to think of the upcoming opioid withdrawal process 
  • Typically during this stage, patients experience strong drug cravings and or exhibit drug seeking behavior 

Early Acute 

  • This stage usually occurs 8-10 hours after your last dose used. 
  • Restlessness and anxiety become increasingly present within patients 
  • The onset of flu like symptoms can occur such as nausea, vomiting, sweating, or stomach aches or pains 

Fully Developed Acute 

  • Patients will see this occur within 1-3 days 
  • During this time, patients experience the height of their opioid withdrawal symptoms 
  • Patients will experience symptoms such as body tremors, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle aches/spasms, and elevated blood pressure 
  • During this time, patients will have the strongest drug cravings throughout their opioid detox process 

PAWS- Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome 

  • This stage will occur after 24 months post final dose 
  • During this stage, all acute symptoms will be completed 
  • Patients will often feel symptoms such as intense drug cravings, excessive mood swings, anxiety/depression, vivid and unpleasant drug dreams, and insomnia. 
  • Patients are susceptible to environmental triggers that may lead to relapse behavior 

What Medications Are Used in Opioid Detox?

During your opioid detox program, our team of nurses and physicians will provide you with a detox plan that will have you safely remove the use of opioids from your regular consumption. For most opioids, if you abruptly quit, it can create unpleasant and severe withdrawal symptoms. That is why you will be instructed to slowly taper off drugs under the careful supervision of our expert staff. In order to support a safe detox, patients will often be prescribed medications to assist in mitigating the severity of symptoms felt. Patients can be offered the following medications to assist in the detox process. 

  • Clonidine- Works to reduce withdrawal symptoms and lessen feelings of anxiety. Clonidine doesn’t produce euphoric feelings, therefore, runs little to no risk of patients becoming addicted to it. 
  • Methadone- Works as a long term option for patients to taper themselves off of opioids and decrease withdrawal symptoms 
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone)- Works to lessen withdrawal symptoms and decrease the patients opioid cravings significantly 

Opioid Rehab After Detox

Removing the toxic chemicals of opioids from your body and regular consumption is the first piece of the recovery puzzle. An effective opioid treatment plan will help patients gain an understanding of what has led and impacted their opioid use. Often, patients have deep-rooted pains and traumas that have affected their ability to remain sober and have you seeking forms of escape through the use of drugs. Through comprehensive measures of therapy, you will learn the skills and tools to keep your sobriety at the forefront of your mind and priorities. 

Opioid Detox at The Healing Place

The Healing Place views our patients as the dynamic individuals they are and provide our patients with a method of detox that values your intrinsic worth by methods of healing your body, mind, and soul. Detox is more than just stopping your use of drugs. It requires methods of healing that go beyond physical healing. Our expert team provides our patients with a well-rounded approach to detox that will have you feeling revitalized and ready for your new life in recovery. Contact The Healing Place today to learn more about the exceptional detox program offered to patients struggling with opioid addiction at 1-844-524-6873. 

(844) 762-3755