The Opiate Withdrawal Timeline and How to Shorten It

Opiate dependence is characterized by fentanyl withdrawal symptoms that set in when opioid use suddenly stops. The opiate withdrawal timeline depends on several factors. The type of opioid and body chemistry impacts the length and severity of withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal from opiates can be excruciatingly painful and uncomfortable, making it difficult to begin the journey toward sobriety. Interventions such as medical detox help reduce the opiate withdrawal timeline.

After detox, a medication-assisted treatment program (MAT) can assist with lasting sobriety as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Reducing the opiate withdrawal timeline can be the first step in successful treatment for opiate addiction.

The Opiate Withdrawal Timeline
Depending on the type of opiate abused, including heroin, short-acting prescription opiates, or long-acting prescription opiates, the opiate withdrawal timeline typically starts between eight and 30 hours after the last dose and lasts between four and 10 days. For some people, the opiate withdrawal timeline will be shorter, while for others, it can last as long as a month or more.

Factors Affecting the Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

The opiate withdrawal timeline is affected by factors such as:

The amount of opiates in your system at the time of detox.
The length and severity of the dependence.
The general state of physical and mental health.
Genetics and biology.
Whether you opt for medical detox or withdraw on your own.

The opiate withdrawal timeline can vary based upon the type of opiate from which a person is withdrawing. Withdrawal from heroin, which is a short-acting opiate, tends to begin within eight to 12 hours of the last dose of the drug. Withdrawal symptoms reach their peak within 36 to 72 hours and then decline significantly after about five days. 1

Withdrawal from a short-acting opiate, such as oxycodone, begins later, within 24 to 36 hours following the last dose. Symptoms peak in about 4 to 6 days and can persist for several weeks.

More mild withdrawal symptoms, such as fatigue, a depressed or irritable mood, and sleep disturbances can continue for months after opiate use ceases. Reducing the opiate withdrawal symptoms can therefore play a critical role in maintaining lasting sobriety.