Opioids are a large class of legal and illegal drugs. Thanks to drug epidemics of yesteryear, heroin was thought to be the king of the opiates. Currently, however, Americans find themselves addicted to legal opioids.
Prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, codeine, and fentanyl are all dangerously addictive opioids.
In 2015, 2 million Americans above the age of 12 suffered from an opioid addiction. Of those 2 million, over 50,000 of them died as a result of an accidental drug overdose.
If you or someone you know is addicted to opiates, you should seek help immediately. It’s a potentially lethal addiction that can end your life or make it a lot worse.
But to successfully overcome your addiction, you have to understand what you’re getting into. It’s a long, tough road, but this article will walk you through the opiate withdrawal timeline and show you how you can come out the other side a new person.
The Opiate Withdrawal Timeline
Opiate withdrawal is a monstrous process, we won’t lie to you. But the good news is that the worst of it comes just 3 days after you stop taking opiates, and the whole process lasts just about a week or so.
Below, we’ll walk you through the symptoms you can expect in the first and last days of withdrawal.
The First 3 Days
The symptoms of withdrawal come on hard and fast just 6-12 hours after your last dose. This is why these drugs are so viciously addictive. Your physiological dependency on them is so severe.
When the symptoms full kick in, you can expect to experience body aches and pains, excessive sweating, fatigue, diarrhea, a loss of hunger, insomnia, and extreme anxiety accompanied with panic attacks.
During this stage, you have to try to remember that your pain and discomfort is just temporary. Because the symptoms are so severe, many addicts relapse in the first 24-48 hours after their last dose.
You just have to get over the hump.
The Last 4 Days
Once you’ve hit somewhere around the 72-hour mark, you can expect your symptoms to reach their peak and eventually die down. You will still experience the following symptoms, however: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shivers, muscle cramps, depression and drug cravings.
The symptoms should be relatively mild after 3 days, however, and you may be able to begin eating good foods and doing some light exercise again.
Once you’ve you hit the week mark, the worst will most definitely be over. Most of your symptoms should be gone completely and you can begin working to make your recovery last.
How to Make Withdrawal Easier
It’s not recommended that you go through withdrawal alone. The worst of the symptoms can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Below are some steps you can take to make sure you’ll be able to withdraw safely and ease your symptoms.
Get a Withdrawal Buddy
Sometimes it takes a village to get through the withdrawal process, so the more people you have at your side the better. You can enlist the support of friends, family, doctor, or an addiction support group to get you through the worst of your withdrawal.
They’ll be able to give you a shoulder to lean on to work through the feelings of depression and anxiety you’ll experience. They’ll also be able to provide material support by providing you food, water, shelter, and physical assistance should you need to vomit or diarrhea.
Prepare Healthful Foods and Drinks
Opiate withdrawal is like a physiological hurricane, so you should prepare similarly. Before you decide to begin the withdrawal process, you should stock up on healthy, light foods and drinks.
Your appetite will most likely disappear for a while, you when you can you should consume plenty of vegetables like spinach and broccoli and lean meats like chicken and tuna.
Because of the vomiting and diarrhea, dehydration should be your chief concern. You should always keep large bottles of water and electrolyte-packed drinks like Gatorade by your bedside.
Sleep as Much as You Can
It’s recommended that you take as much time as you can away from work throughout your withdrawal. Since one of the symptoms of your withdrawal will be insomnia, it will be hard enough to get sleep, but it’s crucial. Working while you withdraw will only make it harder.
Sleep is a fantastic tool for anxiety relief, which you will experience plenty of throughout your withdrawal. And hey, if you can sleep through as much of your symptoms as possible, it will make the withdrawal process much easier.
Try to Exercise
This probably not something you’ll be able to realistically do in the first couple of days of withdrawal. But when you feel ready, you should really push yourself to get out of bed and get moving.
While it may feel like the last thing you want to do, exercise can actually ease both your physical and mental symptoms. Exercise is known to release endorphins and serotonin, which may help counteract the anxiety and depression you’ll experience.
So even if you feel too weak to hit the gym, just try taking a light stroll around the block, it’ll get you out of your head.
Visit a Detox Center
If you suspect that your addiction is very severe, you might want to look into checking yourself into a detox center. The medical professionals at a detox center will be able more equipped and experienced to handle your symptoms and guide you through the process than your friends and family might.
They can also provide plans for withdrawal, such as slowly weaning you off the drug. And since you’ll be at a specific location during the withdrawal process, you’ll be way less likely to relapse in the first week.
Ready to Kick Your Habit?
Hopefully, this guide to the opiate withdrawal timeline has helped you understand the process a little better. If you or a loved one is addicted to opiates and has more questions about how to best kick their habit, you might want to consider contacting us.
Our team of qualified professionals can help you manage your addiction and change your life for the better.