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Opium Withdrawal Timeline – What to Expect

For anyone who uses opiates on a regular basis, opiate withdrawal becomes an everyday part of life that grows increasingly worse for as long as a person continues to use. For people wanting to stop taking opiates altogether, the opiate withdrawal timeline maps out what symptoms to expect, when to expect them and how long they will last.

Within any given year, as much as nine percent of U. S. population abuses opiates, according to the U. S. National Library of Medicine. Opiate drugs include both legal prescription pain medications like Demerol and illegal drugs like heroin.

While each person’s body chemistry may respond differently to withdrawal, the opiate withdrawal timeline provides a baseline gauge on how withdrawal symptoms unfold when detoxing. Three main stages make up the opiate withdrawal timeline with each one bringing less intense, though still uncomfortable effects along the way.

Opiate Withdrawal

opiate withdrawal

While everyone withdraws in a different way, most people can expect the worst to be over within a week.

The symptoms experienced from withdrawal account for why so many opiate addicts continue to use drugs. According to the Medical College of Wisconsin, opiates gradually disrupt normal chemical processes in the brain. With repeated use, opiate withdrawal symptoms occur more often as brain chemical levels skew further out of balance.

The opiate withdrawal timeline only applies in cases when a person maintains abstinence throughout; otherwise, drug cravings and withdrawal effects resume in full force. As the body’s physical dependence on opiate effects accounts for why withdrawal develops, the more severe the dependency the more intense the symptoms will be.

Stage One

Some opiates produce short-acting effects that drive users to use more often. Other opiates produce longer-acting effects, so the body’s dependency develops more slowly, which makes for a less severe addiction. Stage one along the opiate withdrawal timeline produces the most intense symptoms, though the type of drug and frequency of use can also influence symptom severity.

Withdrawal symptoms typically start within 12 to 36 hours of the last use. Stage one takes place during the first five to seven days on the opium withdrawal timeline.

Symptoms to expect include:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Stomach cramps
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Stage Two

Brain chemical imbalances account for much of the discomfort a person experiences along the opiate withdrawal timeline. Over time, these imbalances inevitably affect a person’s overall emotional state.

Ongoing bouts of extreme depression will likely persist throughout this stage of withdrawal. For these reasons, stage two poses the highest risk of relapse due to the severity of depression feelings experienced.

Stage two withdrawal effects can last for as long as two weeks. Symptoms commonly experienced include:

  • Chills
  • Sweats
  • Problems sleeping
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Leg cramps

Stage Three

Stage three along the opiate withdrawal timeline brings on milder symptoms compared to the first two stages. Unfortunately, stage three can last as long as two months when coming off a long-term opiate addiction.

Symptoms to expect include:

  • Fidgetiness, restlessness
  • Bouts of anxiety
  • Bouts of depression
  • Problems sleeping

For long-term users, emotional instability can persist for months or even years after their last drug use.

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