Pain Killers: Getting off is hard to do...

Archive for February, 2012

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline

If you’re trying to kick your addiction to painkillers or some other opiate, heroin, oxy’s, or whatever, here is the Opiate Withdrawal Timeline you can use to follow your symptoms and gauge your time to physical recovery. The opiate withdrawal timeline is a general timeline and some people may experience a different or longer timeline, depending on how long you have used and especially if you are coming off of either Methadone or Suboxone/Subutex.

Methadone and Suboxone(buprenorphine) both have a half life longer than regular opiates, as they are “Partial” opiates that are used to block opiate receptor cells int he brain. So the withdrawal symptoms will last longer and can be a bit harder or more severe than a regular opiate. The good news is that if you taper down to as low as you can get before jumping off, your withdrawal will be less severe and won’t last as long.

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline – The First Stage

The first part of the Opiate Withdrawal Timeline usually starts within the first 12 hours of your last opiate intake and it is also known as Acute Withdrawal.

  • The first symptoms usually begin within 12 hours of your last opiate intake or use but within 24-36 hours of last opiate use.

  • The initial withdrawal symptoms peak at about day number Three and have been known to last up to 5 days, usually tapering after the 72 hour mark

  • The main symptoms of First Stage Acute Withdrawal are:

  • The first initial symptom many addicted encounter is Sneezing and Runny Nose with Watery Eyes.
  • Irritability and Depression/Extreme Depression

  • Insomnia – Inability to get any sleep

  • Nausea and/or Vomiting

  • Abdominal cramps

  • Diarrhea
  • These Flu-like physical symptoms usually subside after seven to ten days but everyone is different. For some it may be a little longer, for others it will be less. However, the magic number seems to be 72 hours. 72 Hours seems to be the hump everyone needs to get over then it starts gettign better from there on out.

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline – The Second Stage

The second stage of the opiate withdrawal timeline can usually last for about Two Weeks. During this time the natural levels of endorphins, that the brain stopped making and were depleted of during long-term painkiller or opiate use, begin to stabilize during this period and the brain starts to make them again. This part of the opiate withdrawal timeline is critical as many people return to opiate abuse because they want to be happy again. This is due to the depression associated with this stage of withdrawal and the brain not making enough endorphins. If you exercise during this time, it will help the brain produce natural endorphins and normalize.

  • The major symptoms during the second stage are:
  • Insomnia
  • Goose bumps
  • Chills
  • Dilated pupils
  • Leg cramps
  • After the initial first acute withdrawal symptoms, a person may start to feel much better and feel as if they are starting to get their life back.

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline – The Third Stage

This third stage can last the longest but it is usually the least severe stage of the opiate withdrawal timeline. In this stage we experience PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome). It can take anywhere from one week to two months or more.  Some people don’t even experience this stage of the withdrawal and the person feels back to normal and goes on with life as if nothing ever happened. However, if a person does experience this stage, once  finished, they usually feels back to their normal selves again

  • The symptoms of this stage are mainly psychological, including but not limited to:
  • Depression and/or Anxiety (Depending on how long you used/abused opiates for, the brain could take a while to normalize, but have no fear, you will be happy again)
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia

This is the Opiate withdrawal Timeline as seen by many an addict. It helps to have support throughout all stages of withdrawal and recovery. Support in the form of loved ones being understanding. Typically loved ones who have never been addicted or gone through opiate withdrawal will never understand what you are going through, so it may be in your best interest to check out a 12 step program.

Read the real life Opiate Withdrawal Timeline of a recovering addict in this post:

A Week In The Life Of A Recovering Pill Addict


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