How Long Does Withdrawal From Opioids Last?

How Long Do Suboxone Withdrawals Last?

How Long Does Withdrawal From Opioids Last?

Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) are increasingly utilized to combat the opioid crisis.

The growing awareness of their use and effectiveness in addiction maintenance treatment has turned them into an important component to combat the alarming rate of opioid-related overdose and deaths.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), nearly 50,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose in 2019. 

MOUDs are used in different treatment stages and are usually complemented with behavioral therapies and counseling sessions to provide a more whole-person approach to treatment. And one of the medications utilized in opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment is Suboxone. 

Suboxone is a prescription medication that contains buprenorphine and naloxone as its primary ingredients.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), buprenorphine is a partial opioid that blocks opioid receptors and decreases cravings.

And the second active ingredient, naloxone, helps counteract the effects of opioids and minimize the risk of misuse. In addition, both compounds work together to eliminate the symptoms of withdrawal associated with OUD. 

Suboxone in Opioid Use Disorder Treatment 

Buprenorphine and naloxone are opioid-based medications that aren’t as addictive as heroin or prescription painkillers. Instead, Suboxone tricks the brain into thinking it’s getting the opioids it craves, and in turn, satisfying the physical dependence on opioids. This feature aids in the successful management of opioid withdrawal symptoms during recovery.

Suboxone for OUD treatment is generally prescribed during the onset of acute opioid withdrawals to prevent the risk of precipitated withdrawals (the sudden occurrence of intense withdrawal symptoms).

The duration of Suboxone treatment is determined by the specific needs and requirements of each individual. Suboxone maintenance programs provide a long-term treatment option for opioid use disorder.

The half-life of the opioid being misused determines when Suboxone treatment begins. For example, OxyContin and heroin have a short half-life and leave the body in a couple of hours. Suboxone is therefore prescribed at least 12 hours after the last dose of short-acting opiates and at least 24 hours after the last dose of long-acting opioids.

Suboxone is used in MOUD treatment to help people wean off opioids and avoid inpatient detoxification. Suboxone’s key advantages are as follows:

  • Decrease in opioid cravings
  • Suppression of opioid withdrawal symptoms
  • Decrease in relapse rates
  • Low risk of misuse

While Suboxone is an effective MOUD treatment, its prolonged use can lead to the development of dependence.

In addition, Suboxone, as a partial opioid medication, can cause similar withdrawal symptoms to other opioids during abrupt cessation.

Hence, individuals in Suboxone treatment are gradually tapered off the medication towards the end of their treatment to reduce the risk of Suboxone withdrawals. 

Suboxone Withdrawal Symptoms

Suboxone, all opioids, can cause physical dependence when used for a prolonged period, even when taken as prescribed. Although the buprenorphine in Suboxone does not activate opioid receptors to the same extent as most potent opioid medications, it still blocks them to reduce cravings for other opioids.

And as a result, cause withdrawal symptoms during abrupt cessation of Suboxone. This reaction is caused by the sudden absence of the medication, inducing a chemical imbalance in the body and triggering distressing effects. However, Suboxone withdrawal is relatively less intense than other opioid withdrawals.


Suboxone withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Stomach cramps or diarrhea 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Tremors or twitching 
  • Muscles aches and pains 
  • Sweating 
  • Chills 
  • Anxiety 
  • Dilated pupils
  • Headache
  • Restlessness 
  • Runny nose 

Individuals on Suboxone treatment should seek the advice of their treatment provider before quitting the medication. As abrupt cessation of Suboxone could lead to opioid withdrawal symptoms and increase the chances of a relapse.

Suboxone Withdrawal Timeline 

Suboxone is a long-acting opioid with a half-life of 24-60 hours. Hence, symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal do not set in as quickly as other opioids, and withdrawals generally last longer. Certain factors determine the duration of Suboxone withdrawal, including if the medication is gradually tapered down or quit cold turkey. 

Suboxone withdrawal generally follows the following timeline:

Day 1-3: Withdrawal symptoms may begin within 6-12 hours since the last Suboxone dose. Early symptoms include anxiety, fatigue, and general discomfort. Suboxone withdrawals may then peak within the first 72 hours and include symptoms such as fever, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Days 4-7: Symptoms begin to reduce in intensity and gradually subside within this period. Most of the symptoms subside by the end of the first week. However, individuals may begin to experience some of the psychological symptoms of Suboxone withdrawal, such as anxiety and irritability during this period. 

Weeks 2-4: During this period, individuals are more susceptible to psychological withdrawal symptoms such as depression. Symptoms such as anxiety and cravings can also continue long after the acute withdrawal phase. 

Months: Depression and cravings are ly to persist after a month. In some cases, opioid cravings can appear years after an individual has stopped using the medication. Therefore, improving relapse prevention skills is crucial to stop individuals from using the medication again. 

How Long Does Suboxone Withdrawal Last?  

Suboxone withdrawals generally occur within 24 hours of the last dose, peak within 72 hours, and last for approximately a month. The physical symptoms subside within about a week, while the psychological symptoms such as depression and cravings can linger for longer. However, the severity and duration of Suboxone withdrawal may vary from person to person factors such as:

  • The duration of Suboxone use
  • The dosage of Suboxone taken 
  • Opioid dependence and tolerance

One strategy to lessen the severity of withdrawal symptoms is to taper off Suboxone gradually. If you wish to stop using Suboxone, consult your healthcare practitioner first.

How to Manage Suboxone Withdrawal?

Tapering down Suboxone doses under the guidance of a treatment provider is generally the recommended method to quit Suboxone treatment without experiencing significant withdrawal symptoms.

Since the body has been accustomed to functioning with Suboxone over a long period, utilizing a tapering program can help the body gradually adjust to functioning without Suboxone and minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms. 

Some people may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms even during a tapering program. During such instances, medical treatment at a Suboxone detox facility is recommended. 

In addition to utilizing a tapering down program or medication-assisted detox program, people can also follow these simple day-to-day habits to manage Suboxone withdrawal: 

  • Maintaining a healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Staying hydrated
  • Engaging in social activity or new hobbies
  • Making time to relax 

Although the risk of withdrawal when using Suboxone as a MOUD treatment is a cause for concern, it’s still an effective treatment choice for helping people with OUD achieve and maintain long-term sobriety.

If you are seeking help with your loved one’s addiction, contact us today or complete our quick contact form below, to speak with an addiction treatment specialist.

If you need help with your substance use disorder, we are here to help you build your confidence and momentum towards the future you want. We provide treatment services for adults with alcohol, opioid, and other substance use disorders. We are currently located in Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, and Washington.


Opioid Withdrawal Timeline And Detox

How Long Does Withdrawal From Opioids Last?

Opioids, also known as opiates, are powerful drugs commonly prescribed to treat major pain or chronic pain. These drugs can be effective for short-term use, but are also highly-addictive and often abused for their effects.

Taking an opioid for more than a few weeks can lead to drug tolerance and dependence. This requires a person to take higher doses to feel the same effects and can lead to uncomfortable physical and psychological symptoms when attempting to reduce or stop using opioids. This is known as withdrawal.

Opioid (opiate) withdrawal is an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous process that can last between one and three weeks, depending on the type of opioid used. People who abuse or are addicted to opioids can experience more intense withdrawal symptoms and are at high risk for relapsing to avoid or relieve severe symptoms.

Opioid abuse treatment at Vertava Health Ohio includes a full program of treatment services that begins with medical detoxification (detox). To learn more about opioid withdrawal and effective treatments for withdrawal, continue reading below.

What Is Opioid Detox?

Opioid detoxification (detox) is a necessary process for people who have become physically dependent on a drug. With opioids, this can occur in as little as a few weeks. Detox involves allowing a drug to fully process through a person’s system and leave the body. This can trigger physical and psychological symptoms referred to as drug withdrawal.

Detoxification services are commonly required in instances where someone has been abusing or become psychologically addicted to a drug. Abuse of a drug refers to taking a drug in any way other than prescribed or directed by a doctor.

This includes:

  • taking higher doses
  • taking it more often than prescribed
  • crushing and snorting pills
  • wearing an excessive number of opioid patches
  • mixing opioids with alcohol or non-prescribed drugs

Opioid withdrawal can cause a number of symptoms from mild to severe throughout the body. The types of symptoms experienced during withdrawal can vary from person to person and may require medical attention.

How Long Does Opioid Withdrawal Last?

Opioid withdrawal can last anywhere between a few days to a few weeks depending on the type of opioid(s) a person has been taking, as well as other personal and biological factors.

Factors that can affect the length of the withdrawal process include:

  • type of opioid
  • duration of drug use
  • age
  • method of use (e.g. swallowing, snorting, injecting)
  • dosage
  • frequency of use
  • previous history of drug or alcohol withdrawal

The timeline for opioid withdrawal can vary depending on the type of opioid used. Short-acting opioids, such as heroin or morphine, have shorter withdrawal periods that typically last no longer than a week.

Longer-acting opioids methadone can cause withdrawal symptoms that begin later and last up to three weeks. Unless prescribed in an extended-release form, most prescription opioids roughly follow a short-acting opioid timeline.

Opioid (Opiate) Abuse Withdrawal Timeline And Symptoms

Symptoms of withdrawal from short-acting opioids can begin within 6 to 12 hours after a person’s last dose. For longer-acting opioids such as methadone, this can take up to 30 hours, with anxiety and agitation being some of the most common initial symptoms.

The timeline for opioid withdrawal and detox can be split up into three general stages:

  • early withdrawal
  • peak withdrawal
  • late (protracted) withdrawal

Early Withdrawal

Early opioid withdrawal symptoms often begin anywhere between 6 to 12 hours after a person’s last dose. These can be uncomfortable but easily manageable with support from medical professionals or other sources of support.

Early withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • nausea
  • fever
  • anxiety
  • sweating
  • yawning
  • muscle aches
  • eyes tearing up
  • runny nose
  • insomnia (trouble sleeping)

Additional symptoms such as hot or cold flashes, difficulty concentrating, and mood swings can also occur during this time.

Peak Withdrawal

Opioid withdrawal symptoms typically reach their peak between 48 and 36 hours after a person’s last dose. This is often the most uncomfortable stage of the withdrawal process. To avoid or relieve these symptoms, people are at high risk for relapsing back into their drug use.

Late withdrawal symptoms during this peak period may include:

  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhea
  • dilated pupils (large pupils)
  • nausea and vomiting
  • goosebumps
  • depression
  • drug cravings

Late Withdrawal

Following the peak period of opioid withdrawal, symptoms will generally begin to reduce in severity. Certain dangers, however, may still remain for people overcoming severe or long-term opioid dependence and require medical monitoring.

Most withdrawal symptoms for short-acting opioids disappear within a week. Some symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and drug cravings may still linger for some time. Withdrawal symptoms of longer-acting opioids, such as methadone, can last up to three weeks.

Mental and psychological symptoms that persist beyond the initial withdrawal period may be treated with certain medicines and through behavioral counseling. This type of treatment, known as medication-assisted therapy (MAT), is the most effective treatment for overcoming opioid dependence and preventing relapse.

Is Opioid Withdrawal Dangerous?

While the dangers of opioid withdrawal can vary depending on the severity of a person’s dependence, it is important to understand the potential health risks of detoxing from opioids without medical support.

For some, the experience of opioid withdrawal can be relatively mild and easily treated with medicine, hydration, and rest. In severe cases, however, opioid withdrawal can become dangerous and even life-threatening. This is most ly among people without access to efficient medical support, such as people who are imprisoned or homeless.

The primary dangers of opioid withdrawal are the combined consequences of diarrhea and vomiting, which can lead to severe dehydration. This can also cause elevated blood sodium levels, risking serious heart problems. In severe cases, people undergoing intense withdrawal can experience hypoxia (lack of oxygen reaching the brain), heart failure, or death.

These potential dangers of opioid withdrawal are preventable, and treatable within a medical setting. Due to the dangers detailed above, it is not recommended that people who have been abusing opioids attempt to detox on their own.

What Treatments Are There For Opioid Withdrawal?

There are two primary options for opioid detox: inpatient (medical) and outpatient detox. The most helpful and most effective option for people who have been struggling with opioid abuse is to enter an inpatient setting for medical detox.

Outpatient detox for opioid withdrawal is typically only recommended for people with mild opioid dependence who have not been abusing the drug. On an outpatient basis, patients can develop a tapering schedule with their doctor their current dosage. This offers a more manageable withdrawal process for working professionals, caregivers, or others with important obligations.

Although withdrawing from opioids on an outpatient basis may sound more preferable, this is not an option that is generally suitable for people who have been abusing opioids. Opioid abuse and addiction can lead to stronger dependence within the body, as well as a psychological addiction. This can make an opioid withdrawal a much more challenging process to manage without medical support.

Medically Supervised Detox

Medically supervised detox (medical detox) is provided in some hospital settings and most drug addiction treatment centers. This involves 24-hour monitoring under the supervision of medical professionals who can observe patients for health concerns and provide support.

Within medical detox, people can receive medications to ease withdrawal symptoms, nutrition, and fluids to prevent dehydration. Undergoing medically supervised detox also decreases the risk for relapse by separating a person from external triggers present in a home environment.

Through detox, patients are able to rid opioids from their bodies, but this alone is not enough to address the underlying causes of an opioid problem. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the most effective treatment for opioid abuse involves a combination of counseling and medicine.

Begin Your Recovery At Vertava Health Ohio

At Vertava Health Ohio rehab facility, we offer a full and integrative opioid abuse treatment program that begins with medically-supervised detox, followed by a seamless transition into our addiction treatment program.

Opioid abuse is an epidemic that devastates the lives of individuals and their loved ones across the nation every day.

Our opioid treatment program incorporates both traditional and holistic treatments designed to address all physical, emotional, and psychological needs.

This includes the use of medications for cravings, counseling, as well as art and wilderness therapies to help people explore their inner motivations for healing.

Don’t wait to seek help. Learn more about our opioid detox and addiction treatment programs at Vertava Health Ohio by contacting us today.


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