Opioid Withdrawal & Detox

person passed out on floor next to pile of opioid pills

Opioid-containing medications are commonly used to treat moderate to severe pain, but their pleasurable side effects can lead to misuse and addiction. Lately, more attention is being paid to these medications because of the opioid epidemic in the United States. Opioids are the largest class of drugs associated with misuse and overdose deaths involving prescription medications.

Many opioid medications exist to treat pain. These medications can be broadly divided into two categories:

  • Short-acting opioids: including Short-acting opioids include hydrocodone and immediate-release oxycodone
  • Long-acting opioids: including Morphine controlled-release tablets (MS Contin) and oxycodone controlled-release (OxyContin)

For people who struggle with addictions to these and other opioids, enrolling in an opioid detox program can be the first step toward healing. Opioid detox is a crucial time in a person’s recovery. In a medical detox program, people can detox and go through withdrawal with the guidance and care of a medical team.

Opioid Withdrawal

When someone who regularly uses a drug like an opioid decides to take less of it or stop completely, they enter a process called withdrawal. Though it can be an uncomfortable time, it’s the first step toward recovery. The right support system is critical during this period.

Physical dependence is generally a precursor to opioid withdrawal. Dependence is not the same as addiction, but it can lead to it. The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a condition that is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behaviors and continued drug use despite painful consequences.

Dependence occurs when a person’s body needs a drug or other substance to function normally. Physical dependence can develop a few days after regularly taking opioid-based medications. At this point, stopping or decreasing use can lead to potential withdrawal symptoms.

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Opioid withdrawal symptoms are similar for both long-acting and short-acting opioids. These symptoms can include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Heart pounding
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Lacrimation (tear production)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle tension
  • Muscle twitching
  • Pupillary dilation
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Yawning

A person who’s going through withdrawal may not have all of these symptoms, and they may last for a period ranging from days to weeks. The symptoms may come as a cluster or be experienced separately. Withdrawal is a difficult but critical experience for anyone who wants to begin recovery, and it is important to remember that this phase is only temporary.

Opioid Detox Timeline

Depending on certain factors, people can have widely different responses when opioids are removed from the body. By studying the experiences of people who have gone through this process, we are able to estimate how long certain aspects will take. However, it is important to realize that these are only estimates.

There are a few key factors that can alter a person’s opioid withdrawal timeline, such as the method of consumption and which opioid they’ve been taking. Snorting, smoking or injecting opioids usually causes the drug to enter the bloodstream faster than if they were swallowed. These routes of administration speed up the effects but can cause the withdrawal process to be longer and more intense.

After taking long-acting opioids, withdrawal symptoms typically begin after approximately 30 hours. Short-acting opioid withdrawal begins after about 12 hours.

Many people have described the 36 to 72 hour period as especially difficult, due to the strength of the withdrawal symptoms. After 72 hours, the symptoms begin to improve as the body gradually gets used to functioning without opioids. Improvement continues until most or all symptoms are resolved. This process can take about five to 14 days, but in some cases, it can take months.

It’s been reported that noticeable improvements in these symptoms occur after four to seven days, especially when people are recovering with the help of medical care.

Finding an Opioid Detox Center in Washington & Oregon

While it can be a physically and mentally draining process, opioid detox is often the first step on the path to recovery. To find an opioid detox center in Washington, several resources can help, including:

  • The Recovery Village Ridgefield Detox Center
    The Recovery Village Ridgefield Detox Center

    5114 NE 94th Ave
    Vancouver, WA 98662
    (360) 719-1480

If you or anyone you know is seeking support as they begin the recovery process, our friendly and highly trained staff members are only a phone call or message away. The Recovery Village Ridgefield has opioid detox centers close to both Vancouver, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. Contact us today and begin a life free from drug addiction.

Kosten TR, Baxter BE. “Effective Management of Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms: A Gateway to Opioid Dependence Treatment.” American Journal on Addictions, January 31, 2019. Accessed: February 21, 2019.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Prescription Opioids.” August 29, 2017. Accessed February 21, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “The Science of Drug Use and Addiction: The Basics.” July 2018. Accessed May 9, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). “Commonly Abused Drugs Chart.” July 2018. Accessed May 9, 2019.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. “Behavioral Health Treatment Locator Map.” (n.d.) Accessed May 2019.