When a patient suddenly stops the use of opioids, withdrawal symptoms set in. Opiate addiction withdrawal symptoms are often unbearable and fatal if the patient is unsupervised. However, with supervised opiate detox, the patient has access to medical personnel. Also, the patient is in a controlled environment with low chances of relapsing.

Although opioid dependence is known by the withdrawal symptoms, it’s common to see patients be in denial. Often, patients refuse to get detoxed because they’re unsure of how long it lasts. While there isn’t a specific timeline for opiate detox, it can last for about seven days. Typically, the opiate detox timeline begins from the last eight to thirty days after the last dose.

Before enrolling in a medical detox program, it’s essential to know what to expect during detox. Likewise, knowing how long the detox process will take can strengthen your decision to become sober. Thankfully, this article gives insight into the opiate detox timeline and its determining factors.

Opiate Detox: Definition and symptoms

Opiates which are sometimes referred to as opioids, are extracted from poppy seeds to treat chronic pain. Also, laboratory scientists create synthetic opioids with similar effects but having a different chemical structure.

For example, one common synthetic opioid which is commonly abused is heroin (diacetylmorphine). In comparison, natural poppy seeds contain opiates like codeine and morphine.

When a person consumes opiates in high doses, it causes a euphoria which is addictive. Although the consumption of opiates is oral, addicts prefer to inject the liquid into their bloodstream. Intravenous administration of opiates has a more substantial effect, giving them the best pleasure. The downsides of intravenous administration include overdose, infections and often death.

People suffering from opioid use disorder begin their treatment with detoxification. Simply put, opiate detox is a medically controlled and supervised withdrawal from opioids. However, opiate detox isn’t the only treatment for opioid addiction, as it’s common for patients to relapse after detox. To get the best from opiate detox, patients are advised to enrol in rehab.

There’s no single detox approach that’s guaranteed to work for every patient. For example, chronic heroin users, receive methadone which is a synthetic opioid. Also, they can either receive methadone intravenously or orally. Afterwards, the drug is tapered to reduce dependence on heroin.

Additionally, doctors give patients with opioid use disorder an antihypertensive drug known as clonidine. Clonidine helps to alleviate painful withdrawal symptoms and shorten the timeline.

Opiate detox symptoms

Depending on your level of withdrawal from opiate addiction, your symptoms vary. Likewise, several factors determine how long your withdrawal symptoms will last. One factor that determines opiate detox symptoms is the type of drug the patient abused. Also, the tolerance patients build during their addiction can determine the symptoms they get during opiate detox.

Owing to the factors above, patients experience opiate detox differently. Typically, early opiate detox symptoms set in after about 24 hours after your last dose. Here are common opiate detox symptoms.

  • Anxiety
  • Eyes tearing up, otherwise known as lacrimation
  • Yawning
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches
  • Excessive sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Runny nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Blurry vision
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Skin bumps

Related Article: Opiate Withdrawal and Symptoms: How Bad Is It?

How Long Does Opioid Detox Take?

The opioid detox timeline begins as soon as withdrawal symptoms kick in. However, the timeline can depend on the opioids abused by the patient. While some patients experience withdrawal symptoms as early as eight hours, others experience it much later. On average, the opiate detox timeline begins about 24 hours after the last dose.

Furthermore, if the addiction is relatively new or the opioid dependence isn’t severe, the timeline is shorter. However, this isn’t the same with heavy opioid users. Heavy opioid users experience more withdrawal symptoms which can last for about a month. In rare cases, opiate detox symptoms last longer than a month.

Additionally, patients that consume short-acting opioids such as hydromorphone experience withdrawal symptoms after 8 to 24 hours.  Likewise, after 24 hours of your last dose of morphine and oxycodone, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms. The peak of their withdrawal is on the third day, after which it reduces. It may take up to a week before symptoms fade entirely.

Contrastingly, controlled release and extended-release opioids, which are long-acting, have a different timeline. Their opiate detox Withdrawal symptoms start as late as three days after you last consume them. Also, the peak on the fourth or third day and can last for about two weeks. After the two weeks mark, the symptoms begin to fade.

Psychological symptoms may continue after weeks in both cases mandating patients to get further help. Also, doctors often recommend outpatient or inpatient rehab for further treatment. Patients can choose to opt for the most suitable treatment option.

Opiate Detox Timeline

Opiate detox has a timeline with some withdrawal symptoms unique to it. The symptoms last for about seven days after consuming the last dose. Here is the timeline for opiate detox.

Opiate detox day 1


The first day starts counting eight to twenty-four hours after the patient last consumed the opioid. On the first day, withdrawal begins for opioids like fentanyl, codeine and heroin. Typical symptoms patients experience on the first-day include,

  • Cravings,
  • Inability to sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Aggression
  • Muscle pains
  • Anxiety
  • Irritation

Opiate detox day 2

Patients with oxycodone addiction begin to get withdrawal symptoms on this day. After two days of consuming oxycodone last, patients experience day one symptom in addition to some symptoms. The additional symptoms are,

  • Panic attacks
  • Runny nose
  • Perspiration
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach pains

Opiate Detox day 3

The third day happens to be the day short-acting opioid withdrawal symptoms peaks. For patients, this peak period can be hazardous. Hence it’s essential they enrol in a medical opioid detox program. Also, patients get more withdrawal symptoms in addition to the first two days. The extra symptoms may include,

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Opiate Detox day 4

For long-acting opioid users, the fourth day comes with excruciating pain and discomfort. Patients that consume long-acting opioids begin to experience withdrawal symptoms at their peak.

In addition, they experience all symptoms from opiate detox day one to day three. They have other withdrawal symptoms like,

  • Cramps
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Shivering

Opiate detox day 5

Long-acting opioid users are still experiencing the peak of their withdrawal symptoms. Their symptoms include those from the first day to the fourth.

Opiate Detox day 6

Similar to the 4th and 5th days, the withdrawal symptoms are yet to subside. At this point, things are crucial as patients may decide to relapse to end the pain. They still experience all the symptoms from day one to day four.

Opiate detox day 7

The end of the week is when the symptoms gradually begin to subside. Patients that made it this far are set on a path of recovery. Although symptoms are reduced, patients are likely to experience,

  • Depression
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability


After the first week, the danger is passed. However, patients are still on the verge of relapse because they’re no longer under medical supervision. Hence, it’s essential to take more steps to ensure you’re sober.

After the first seven days of opiate detox, patients are likely to experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome. It can last for several weeks and months. Also, it’s the stage where patients no longer experience physical withdrawal symptoms but psychological symptoms.

Furthermore, psychological symptoms may come and go and span into months. At this point, patients need all the support they can get as their mental health is affected. Some post-acute withdrawal symptoms include,

  • Mood swings
  • Panic attacks or anxiety
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Irritability
  • Easily stressed

Additionally, patients at this stage need to seek help to address issues that instigated opioid addiction. For instance, the factors that cause patients to abuse opioids can include anxiety, severe pains, trauma or depression. Here are some options that can help patients stay sober

  • Support from family and friends
  • The use of psychotherapy
  • The use of medications to treat opioid addiction
  • Enrolling in an opioid addiction support group
  • Treating of underlying health conditions

Factors Influencing Timeline for Opiate Detox

Several factors cause opioid withdrawal timeline to vary amongst patients. For example, some patients experience more symptoms than others. Also, it’s common to find patients staying longer in a detox centre than other patients. One factor affecting how long opiate detox takes the opioid route of administration.

Additionally, patients who don’t get enough care during detox can experience withdrawal symptoms for a more extended period. Here are the factors affecting the opiate detox timeline.

  • How severe the addiction is
  • How regularly the patient consumes the opioid
  • The patient’s tolerance level
  • Type of opioid (long-acting or short-acting)
  • Route of administering the opioid
  • Patients medical history
  • Level of care received
  • Patients general health
  • The mental health state of the patient
  • Former opioid use
  • Polysubstance abuse

Importance of Supervised Opioid Detox

It’s not uncommon to find patients avoid opiate detox because of the pain accompanied by withdrawal. However, withdrawal symptoms shouldn’t deter you from being sober and living a healthy life. With medical supervision during opiate detox, you get the best treatment. Also, remember that your recovery process begins with removing every trace of opiate in your system.

Going cold turkey has profound health implications and isn’t advisable. The best way to detox from opiates is to be under medical supervision. There are medical personnel that can help in case of emergencies. Also, they can administer the right drugs to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

Here are some benefits of medically supervised opiate detox.

It helps to uncover and treat co-occurring diseases or disorders

A large number of patients with opiate addiction also have underlying medical and mental health illnesses. Sadly, most of them are unaware of their co-occurring conditions because the addiction masks the symptoms.

For instance, a person addicted to heroin may not feel the pain associated with stomach ulcers. Thankfully, during the opioid detox process, underlying conditions are brought to light.

It saves lives

Opioid addiction has adverse effects on the human brain and body. During opiate addiction detox, doctors detect any medical emergencies and attend to them swiftly. Although most medical emergencies are a result of opiate addiction, some are due to the detox process.

Not wanting to detox under medical supervision can be very dangerous. For instance, some patients experience tremors while detoxing. In more severe cases of brain damage, patients can have seizures which can lead to death.

Although Life-threatening detox is related to alcohol use disorder, going cold turkey on opioid addiction is equally harmful. Also, whether or not a patient has underlying medical conditions, complications are likely to occur.

Opiate detox is the first step in the treatment

To successfully treat opiate addiction, patients have to undergo opiate detox. Detoxing is the first stage because your boat needs to be rid of the harmful toxins. After detoxing, analyzing problematic behaviour patterns is easy.

Also, it’ll be almost impossible for patients to be sober and learn a healthy way of living their lives without detoxing. Often, inpatient and outpatient rehab programs offer detox first to patients before CBT or other treatments.

Related Article: How Do You Neutralize Drugs in Your Body?

To Sum It Up

Opioid use disorder can pose serious health challenges that can be fatal if patients don’t get immediate care. Once a patient is exposed to opioid use, things can escalate very quickly. Also, the body easily becomes dependent on the drug to function with continuous consumption. Nipping the addiction in the bud can prevent a severe addiction and further damage to the body.

However, doing it alone can be difficult as willpower isn’t enough to quit opioid addiction. When the addiction gets overwhelming, it’s essential you get medical opiate detox. Although the withdrawal phase isn’t pleasant, opiate detox can save you from getting worse. Thankfully, this article explains all you need to know about opiate detox and the timeline.

Addiction can steal your happiness, cause you to be irritable and, in the process, lose your loved ones. Don’t let opioid addiction win the fight. Instead, enrol in an opioid addiction treatment centre to get help. Here at Medical Detox Ontario, we can give you the help you deserve. Get in touch with us today!

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