What is Opioid Withdrawal?

People suffering from an addiction to opiates experience sudden opioid withdrawal when they stop using the drug.

Professionals should monitor opioid withdrawal as it can become dangerous if not handled properly, or with care.

Withdrawal can happen whether a person is addicted to opiates for just a few months or has been all their lifetime.

Opioid withdrawal is a painful process marked by intense physical symptoms.

It can last days or even weeks as the body detoxes from opioids remaining in its system.

Though opioid withdrawal is a strenuous process, it is essential to detox the body for recovery from opioid addiction to begin.

According to the CDC, the most common opioids used in the United States that cause withdrawal include heroin, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and fentanyl.

Each one of these substances is highly addictive and able to cause harm to users.

It is possible to recover from addiction to any one of these drugs, but relapse is common if patients do not receive proper care.

Expert doctors offer opioid withdrawal treatment at rehabilitation centers that focus on aiding patients with their recovery.

Capable physicians who have studied opioid abuse and can work well under pressure are available to treat withdrawal.

Patients receive the necessary medications to make the symptoms of withdrawal more manageable to overcome.

Patients experiencing withdrawal also commonly receive group counseling or individual therapy.

These treatments work to lessen the chance of relapse and continued drug use.

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Understanding Opioid Withdrawal

Opioids are common and potent drugs. In America, there is an opioid epidemic, with thousands of people forming addictions every year. Their relatively simple attainability and euphoria-producing effects make them a substance that causes addiction quickly. Addiction to opioids begins when a person continues to use for a prolonged period.

As the opioid user continues to increase the number of drugs they take, the body becomes dependent on the drug for function. Processes in the brain change so that they need the drug to work properly.

Behavior begins to change, with addicts being likely to spend time alone and experience mood swings. Use of the drug becomes compulsive and challenging to prevent.

Opioid addiction is not easily maintained but is also incredibly difficult to stop. Many opioid addicts desperately wish they could stop using the drug but feel as if it is impossible. Withdrawal occurs when a person stops opioid use after addiction develops. The promise of withdrawal symptoms is one reason opioid users dread stopping their use. Withdrawal is seldom an easy process because of its intense and severe physical symptoms.

Though opioid withdrawal is distressing, detoxification is an essential step if you want to recover from addiction. For recovery to begin, all remnants of the addictive drug must be out of the body’s system. Withdrawal is arguably one of the most challenging components of recovery but can be made less traumatic through medication use.

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Effects of Opioid Abuse and Withdrawal

Both opioid abuse and opioid withdrawal can cause painful and sometimes even dangerous effects. Opioid abuse causes health risks such as higher chances of cancer, lung disease, mental illness, hepatitis, or heart disease (NIDA). There is also the ongoing risk of overdose, resulting in permanent damage to the body or even death. Opioid abuse needs medical attention because of the life-changing effects on the mind and body.

Effects and symptoms of withdrawal occur after opioid use ends. Opiate withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the type of opioid used, the person experiencing them, and how long it has been since drug use ended. MedlinePlus lists the following as opiate withdrawal symptoms:

  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Aching of muscles
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Loose stool
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea and vomiting

While the pain experienced alongside withdrawal is acute, it is not typically life-threatening. When overseen by professionals, withdrawal is simply a difficult but necessary part of recovery from opioid abuse. However, physicians do not recommend going through withdrawal on your own.

It is not common, but symptoms can become dangerous if not properly monitored. There is a risk of aspiration if vomit gets into the respiratory system. Diarrhea and throwing up can cause dehydration and chemical disturbances in the body.

One of the most common risks after withdrawal without a physician present is relapse. The presence of a physician ensures that withdrawal occurs as safely and comfortably as possible.

Opioid Withdrawal Effects Pathfinders Recovery Center - A group of individuals in residential rehab for opioid withdrawal and detox is discussing topics to assist them on their paths toward recovery from opioids.

Mental Illness and Opioid Withdrawal

Opioid addiction often occurs alongside mental illness. People who acquire mental illness are more likely to suffer from addiction and vice versa. Just like a mental health issue can cause opioid addiction to be more challenging to overcome, it can also make withdrawal more difficult.

The presence of mental illness increases the risk of relapse after opioid withdrawal and during recovery. Thus, mental illness should be diagnosed or reported during treatment for opioid addiction. If mental health issues are recognized and treated alongside addiction, the risk for relapse is lower.

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Treatment for Opioid Withdrawal

Physicians treat opiate withdrawal symptoms through the use of medication and behavioral therapy. Opioid withdrawal treatment should happen at a hospital or certified rehabilitation center where the patient has capable staff present.

Opioid withdrawal treatment usually involves medication that both relieves symptoms of withdrawal and quickens detoxification of the body. MedlinePlus reports the following as effective medications used to lessen the effects of opiate withdrawal:

  • Methadone relieves symptoms of withdrawal and assists with detoxification. The dose is typically decreased slowly over time after primary usage is over.
  • Buprenorphine relieves withdrawal and shortens detox as well. It also assists with long-term maintenance and recovery.
  • Clonidine reduces withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, muscle pains, cramping, and agitation.

Physicians introduce therapy to patients after opiate withdrawal symptoms have calmed down. It is an astonishing technique aimed at teaching patients how to positively and effectively cope with drug cravings and mental health issues that have resulted from addiction. Recovering addicts learn types of behavioral therapy such as CBT. Patients also attend support groups to establish a sense of camaraderie with other recovering addicts.

Opioid Withdrawal Effects Pathfinders Recovery Center - A young woman is discussing her negative opioid withdrawal experience and how she wants to detox in a medically-supervised environment to make the withdrawal process safer and more comfortable.

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Payment for Treatment

Figuring out how to pay for treatment during withdrawal sometimes seems like just another hoop to jump through.

Treatment is an expensive but necessary part of recovery.

We want to make it as simple as possible to figure out how to finance your recovery.

That is why we offer free insurance verification, so you know whether your treatment is covered.

Though we can’t help with your recovery funding, we promise to do our best to make it as easy as possible for you.

If you or someone your loved one suffers from an addiction to opioids, you must take action now to prevent further harm.

Our expert team is available and ready to help you.

We understand how difficult addiction, withdrawal, and accessing treatment is.

Our number one goal is to have you succeed in your recovery journey.

Withdrawal from opiates can seem too painful to get past, but our dedication is to provide you with a chance at recovery and a better life.

What you do with that chance is up to you. Remember that recovery is possible.


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