How Long do Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

Opioid withdrawal symptoms can vary in duration and intensity depending on several factors, including the type of opioid used, the duration and level of opioid use, individual physiology, and the presence of any co-occurring medical or mental health conditions. Withdrawal from opioids is a challenging and uncomfortable process, but it is an essential step towards recovery from opioid dependence.

Typically, opioid withdrawal can be categorized into acute withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).

  1. Acute Withdrawal:
    • Acute withdrawal symptoms often begin within hours to a day after the last opioid use.
    • These symptoms are intense and usually peak within 1-3 days.
    • Common acute withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, agitation, insomnia, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive sweating, and dilated pupils.
  2. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS):
    • After the acute phase, some individuals may experience a more protracted withdrawal phase known as PAWS.
    • PAWS can last for weeks or months and involve milder, but persistent, symptoms like low energy, mood swings, anxiety, irritability, poor concentration, and disturbed sleep.

The acute withdrawal phase typically lasts about a week or two, but individual experiences can vary widely. Some symptoms may resolve sooner, while others may persist or worsen before improving. The severity and duration of withdrawal can also depend on the specific opioid involved, with shorter-acting opioids leading to more intense but shorter-lived withdrawal symptoms.

It’s important to note that opioid withdrawal can be challenging to endure alone. Seeking medical assistance and support from healthcare professionals, addiction specialists, or support groups can greatly help manage the symptoms and provide guidance throughout the withdrawal process.

If you or someone you know is experiencing opioid withdrawal or struggling with opioid addiction, it’s crucial to seek help from a healthcare provider or addiction specialist to create a tailored treatment plan that may include medical detoxification, medication-assisted treatment, counseling, and ongoing support.

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