Learning library
Opioid treatment information
How Long Does Opioid Withdrawal Last?

How Long Does Opioid Withdrawal Last?

Withdrawal symptoms can make it difficult to stop using opioids. So, how long does opioid withdrawal last? Learn some answers here.

Giving up opioids can be difficult, because the withdrawal symptoms that occur when a person tries to stop using can be incredibly uncomfortable. People often wonder, “How long does opioid withdrawal last?” because they want to know that there is an end in sight, and that they can get through opioid detox. Here, learn about signs of opioid withdrawal, how long opioid withdrawal lasts, and how you can get medication assisted treatment for opioid use to make the process more manageable. 

What Are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of prescription medications that are made either from the opium poppy plant, or from chemicals in a lab. Opioid drugs relax the body, and they are used to relieve pain. Unfortunately, the relaxing effects of opioids can make people feel high, so they may misuse them, which can ultimately lead to addiction.

As a class of drugs, opioids are chemicals that act on the body's opioid receptors. When these receptors are activated, pain is reduced. Some people may use the term “narcotic” to refer to drugs under the opioid category. 

What’s The Difference Between Opioids And Opiates

When people talk about opioid misuse, they may use the terms “opioids” and “opiates” interchangeably, but there are actually differences between the two. The term “opiates” refers specifically to naturally-occurring opioid drugs, including heroin, morphine, and codeine.

On the other hand, the term “opioids” is all encompassing and can refer to natural opioids, as well as synthetic or man-made drugs, such as pain medications like hydrocodone or oxycodone. If a person wanted to be completely technical, they would refer to heroin and other natural drugs using the term “opiates” and refer to the man-made medications as “opioids,” but it has become commonplace to refer to any medication under this category as “opioids.”

What Are The Common Types Of Opioids?

In addition to the illegal, highly addictive drug heroin, the following prescription medications fall under the opioid class of drugs:

  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Methadone
  • Tramadol
  • Fentanyl
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Oxymorphone 
Book with Confidant

Book with a vetted Confidant Health provider

Book appointment

Why Are Opioids Addictive?

Opioid drugs are addictive because they create a relaxing effect, which leads people to feel high. They also cause a release of the feel-good chemical dopamine in the body, which reinforces the use of the drugs. This may lead some people to repeatedly misuse opioids to achieve this effect. Over time, with continued opioid misuse, a person is likely to develop a tolerance, which means they will need larger quantities of drugs to receive the same desired effects.

As a person develops a tolerance for opioids, they may also become dependent on the drugs, meaning that the body does not function the same without them. When a person is dependent on opioids, they will experience painful withdrawal symptoms when not using the drugs. These symptoms make it extremely difficult to stop using opioids, and are part of the reason that it is difficult to recover from opioid addiction.

Repeated misuse of opioid drugs causes changes in the brain that lead to compulsive drug-seeking, even when drug misuse causes consequences. This is what ultimately results in addiction. 

Effects Of Opioids

While opioids do have legitimate medical uses and can be effective for relieving pain, long term use and misuse can have a negative effect on the body. Some of the short-term effects of opioid use are as follows:

  • Slower breathing, which increases risk of overdose
  • Constipation
  • Confusion
  • Nausea 
  • Drowsiness

Long-term use of opioids can lead to other health consequences, including constipation, fractures, sleep-disordered breathing, and hormonal problems. People who misuse heroin may experience additional health problems with ongoing use, including:

  • Collapsed veins from injecting the drug
  • Damaged nasal tissue from snorting
  • Infection in the valves and lining of the heart
  • Abscesses on the skin
  • Long problems like pneumonia
  • Kidney and liver disease
  • Sexual problems
  • Increased risk of depression and personality disorders 

Risk Factors For Opioid Addiction

There are numerous risk factors that increase a person’s likelihood of developing an opioid addiction. Research has shown that people with mental health conditions like depression are more likely to develop an addiction to prescription opioids.Other risk factors include being younger in age, having a history of substance misuse, and living in a family or social environment that promotes substance misuse. 

Beyond these specific risk factors for opioid addiction, people who misuse these medications by taking more than prescribed by a doctor are at increased risk of addiction. Taking prescription pills by snorting or injecting can also increase the risk of addiction. Using these drugs over the long term, even when prescribed by a doctor, also increases the risk of addiction.

What Makes Opioid Addiction Dangerous?

Opioid misuse and addiction is dangerous, because long term use and misuse of these drugs can cause health problems. Opioid drugs can also cause breathing problems, especially in high doses, which increases the risk of overdose. In 2020, 68,630 people died from opioid overdoses This is a substantial increase from 21,088 deaths in 2010. 

It’s also important to consider that when opioids are purchased illegally on the streets, they may be laced with other substances. For instance, heroin may be adulterated with starch, sugar, or powdered milk, which can clog blood vessels and cause permanent damage to the lungs, kidneys, liver, and brain. Sharing needles when injecting heroin can also lead to diseases like HIV. 

What Is Opioid Withdrawal?

Opioid withdrawal describes the side effects that people experience when they have become addicted to opioids and they stop using the drugs. If the body is dependent upon opioids, it will become accustomed to the presence of the drugs and will not function the same without them. This leads to unpleasant symptoms as the body attempts to function without opioids. 

What Are The Signs Of Opioid Withdrawal?

Signs of opioid withdrawal can lead to discomfort and make it difficult to stop using these drugs, but opioid withdrawal side effects typically are not life-threatening. So, what does withdrawal from oxycodone or other opioid drugs feel like? Some of the symptoms below can be expected. 

Moderate Symptoms

Moderate symptoms of opioid withdrawal can include:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Pupil dilation
  • Watery eyes
  • Yawning
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Teeth chattering
  • General feelings of malaise 

Severe Symptoms 

The more severe symptoms of opioid withdrawal can be incredibly uncomfortable and unpleasant, making it challenging to stop using opioids without professional intervention. These symptoms are as follows:

  • Pain and tension in the muscles and bones
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Chills and goosebumps
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, like stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting
  • Racing heart and high blood pressure
  • Feelings of weakness
  • Teeth chattering
  • Loss of motivation and general dissatisfaction with life 


How Long Does Opioid Withdrawal Last? 

The opioid withdrawal timeline can vary, based upon the type of opioids you have been using. Some opioids are short-lasting, meaning their effects wear off sooner, whereas longer-acting opioids stay in the system for longer and do not immediately cause withdrawal symptoms when a person stops using them.

Heroin and fentanyl are both short-acting opioids. When you stop using one of these short-acting opioids, withdrawal symptoms generally begin within 12 hours, peak around 36 to 72 hours, and last for 7 to 10 days. For longer-acting opioid drugs like methadone, withdrawal side effects may not appear for 30 hours, and they peak within 72 to 96 hours. With longer-acting drugs, withdrawal symptoms can last for two weeks, and potentially longer. 

Request an Enrollment Call

Our team will call you to answer any questions you have or to help you schedule an appointment.

Request an enrollment call

How To Deal With Opioid Withdrawal 

People who would like to stop using opioid drugs often wonder how to avoid withdrawal symptoms. The truth is that if you attempt to withdraw from opioids on your own, without any formal treatment, you will likely experience uncomfortable withdrawal side effects, which may even lead you to return to using opioids. The best way to manage withdrawal from opioids is to seek professional treatment to help you throughout the process.

Opioid Withdrawal Treatment 

If you’re seeking treatment for opioid misuse, detox is often the first step in the treatment process. Some people may be able to attempt an at-home detox from opiates, but the reality is that withdrawal symptoms are usually so uncomfortable that people are more successful when they seek professional intervention. In some cases, withdrawal can be severe, and it’s important to have medical support to prevent complications. 


A professional detox program can make opioid withdrawal more manageable. Doctors and medical staff at a detox center will monitor your opioid withdrawal symptoms and provide support and medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. 


Medications are used in the treatment of opioid withdrawal to reduce symptoms and drug cravings and make patients more comfortable as their bodies undergo opioid detox. Two medications commonly used in opioid withdrawal include methadone and buprenorphine. These medications are typically started in higher doses, which are tapered off over time as withdrawal symptoms subside.

People may be given a daily maintenance dose of buprenorphine or methadone after they have undergone detox, as a part of medication assisted treatment for opioid use. In this type of treatment, people take medications on an ongoing basis, while participating in counseling and other services, to manage drug cravings and help them stay in recovery. 

Before beginning buprenorphine, it is important to ensure that enough time has passed since the last use of opioids, because taking the medication too soon can cause withdrawal symptoms to appear. A doctor can help you determine the best time to start buprenorphine. 


When thinking about entering opioid addiction treatment, people often have many questions, such as, “How long does withdrawal from pain pills last?” Find answers to this and similar questions below. 

Can I Quit Opioids Without Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms?

Opioid withdrawal occurs when people develop a dependence on opioid drugs. If you have been taking these medications only for a short period of time and have not developed a dependence, you may not experience symptoms of withdrawal. Talk with your doctor if you are concerned about withdrawal symptoms or would like guidance regarding discontinuing your medication.

If you have been taking opioids on an ongoing basis, or you have been misusing these drugs, you will experience withdrawal symptoms if you are dependent on the opioids and abruptly stop taking them. When you have an opioid dependence, it is unlikely that you will be able to stop using these drugs without experiencing withdrawal symptoms, but seeking professional treatment and taking drug withdrawal medication can make symptoms less severe.

What Opioid Drug Causes The Most Severe Symptoms?

The severity of opioid misuse and withdrawal symptoms will vary based upon the amount of drug you have been using, and how long you have been using opioids. Chronic opioid use is linked with a higher risk of dependence and withdrawal.

All opioid drugs can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms when a person abruptly stops taking them. That being said, people may find that misusing illegal opioids like heroin may lead to the most severe symptoms, because heroin can be laced with other substances. 

When Should I Call For Help With Opioid Withdrawal?

If you have been using opioids, whether illegally or prescribed, and you find that you are using larger amounts than intended, continuing to use even in the face of serious consequences, and experiencing strong drug cravings, you likely have an opioid use disorder and would benefit from reaching out for professional treatment. Only a doctor or addiction professional can diagnose and treat an opioid use disorder. 

If you have an opioid use disorder or are dependent on opioid medications, it’s important to seek medical intervention to help you stop using. In fact, the FDA has warned of serious reactions, like uncontrolled pain, psychological distress, and suicide among people who abpruptly discontinue their opioid medication or reduce their dose.

If you’re taking prescription opioids, a doctor can provide guidance regarding gradually reducing your dose so you can safely taper off the medication. If you’ve been misusing illegal opioids or prescription pain pills purchased off the streets, it’s still important to seek care from a professional detox program to help you manage withdrawal side effects. 

How Long Do Painful Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

The length of opioid withdrawal symptoms can vary based upon the type of opioid drug you have been using. Withdrawal from short-acting opioids like heroin tends to last for 7 to 10 days. Symptoms of withdrawing from longer-acting opioids can last up to 2 weeks or more.

What Are The Symptoms Of Withdrawal From Painkillers?

Painkillers belong to the opioid class of drugs, which means that you can expect opioid withdrawal symptoms, such as sleep disturbances, watery eyes, dilated pupils, anxiety, irritability, yawning, muscle and bone pain, upset stomach,  nausea, chills, goosebumps, and weakness while undergoing withdrawal.

What Does Going Through Withdrawal Mean?

When you go through withdrawal, it means that your body is reacting to detoxing from a drug. Opioid withdrawal means that your body is out of balance, because it was dependent upon opioids and no longer has opioids in the system. As your body adjusts to no longer having opioids, you will experience uncomfortable withdrawal side effects. 

What Medication Is Best For Withdrawal?

Buprenorphine and methadone are often used to treat opioid withdrawal. Your doctor can help you to determine which medication is the best fit for your needs.

Recover From Opioid Misuse With Confidant Health 

If you’re looking for resources for opioid misuse, Confidant Health can help. We offer online medication assisted treatment for opioid use, so you can recover without leaving home. Download our app today, available on both the Apple Store and Google Play Store, to begin receiving virtual medication assisted treatment to keep you committed to your recovery.

This article has been medically reviewed by
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Nurse Practitioner

Erin is a Nurse Practitioner with 8 years of experience in midwifery and women's health. She has spent the past 5 years specializing in the treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders.

Book appointment
Confidant mobile app screens
Get immediate access to the care you need today

Scan the QR code below to download the app.

QR code to download the app
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play