The fear of opiate withdrawal symptoms can cause many to postpone participation in detoxification and treatment. Those addicted to opioids may worry about how long opiate withdrawal will last. Hawaii Island Recovery understands how you feel. Throughout the opiate withdrawal process, your body and mind go through several phases as the opiates leave your system. By reaching out to a treatment facility, medical and mental health professionals will guide and support you in establishing sobriety and recovery. Thus, don’t let the fear of how long opiate withdrawal will last stop you from starting a new, healthy life.

Is There a Difference Between Opioids and Opiates?

Simply put, the term opioid describes natural, synthetic, or semi-synthetic substances that attach themselves to the opioid receptor nerve cells in the brain. Some of the opioids prescribed by a doctor include fentanyl and various pain medications – oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, and hydrocodone, to name a few. 


Prescription opioids are considered safe when taken as prescribed and monitored by a doctor. However, because they produce euphoria, sedation, and pain relief, they can be misused. Furthermore, recurrent use can pose concerns for the development of addiction.

On the other hand, opiates are a specific type of opioid that is derived naturally. Doctors prescribe morphine and codeine to help reduce pain or induce sedation (morphine). In the past, doctors used opium for medicinal purposes. Now, scientists use opium to develop codeine and morphine. Moreover, heroin is an illegal type of opiate drug, as it is semi-synthetic and derived from morphine.

Regardless of which type of opioid or opiate a person becomes addicted to, opioids and opiate withdrawal require medical supervision.

Opiate Addiction Treatment
Opiate Addiction Treatment

The opioid epidemic is still a growing problem throughout the US. Thankfully, opiate addiction treatment offers a way out.

More info

What Are the Types of Opioids?

There are two types of opioids: long-acting and short-acting opioids. Long-acting opioids include opiates that remain in the bloodstream for an extended amount of time. Two examples of extended or long-acting opioids are morphine and oxycodone. Long-acting opioids are most often prescribed for people with ongoing pain, such as cancer patients. However, these opioids come with an increased risk of complications and abuse.

Your doctor will supervise and adjust the amount, dosage, and duration based on your well-being and level of pain. Because your body can build a tolerance to an opiate, medical professionals will watch for opiate withdrawal. Further, doctors prescribe short-acting opioids for short-term use to reduce moderate to severe pain after an injury or surgery.

Do Opiates Affect the Body?

When opiates attach to non-nerve receptor cells, they produce side effects that affect your physical and mental well-being. For instance, ingesting opiates can slow breathing, potentially leading to respiratory distress or loss of consciousness. Over time, chronic abuse can lead to upper respiratory infections, pneumonia, or respiratory failure. 

Additionally, prescription opioids can contain chemicals that can cause damage to the liver. Further, when opiates are injected, they are often mixed with chemicals that block blood vessels and cause liver damage, infection, or Hepatitis C. The digestive system is also affected by opiate use. Continued use of opiates can cause a disorder called Narcotic Bowel Syndrome (NBS). Side effects of NBS include nausea, constipation, abdominal pain, bloating, and possibly gastrointestinal bleeding. Lastly, the long-term use of opiates can affect the heart’s rhythmic pace. People injecting opiates can increase their risk of infectious endocarditis.

When you enter Hawaii Island Recovery‘s medical detox program to detox from opiates, we reduce your harm from opiate withdrawal. Our medical director is Board Certified in Addiction and Internal Medicine.

What Does Opiate Withdrawal Feel Like?

The severity of your opiate withdrawal depends on how long you used opiates, the dosage, and how abruptly you are coming off them. Your symptoms may range from mild to severe based on factors such as your:

  • Family history of addiction
  • Living environment
  • Extent and duration of opiate use
  • Health, including medical conditions and mental health disorders

Opiate withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Aching muscles
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach pain

To reduce your risk of adverse opiate withdrawal symptoms, your medical team will monitor your symptoms during detoxification and treatment.

Medical Detox for Alcohol

How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last?

Opiate withdrawal can last one or more weeks, depending on your opiate abuse history. The following timeline is an example of what you can expect:

6-12 or 30 Hours

Your initial symptoms could occur 6-12 hours after your last dose – if you were taking short-acting opiates. On the other hand, if you took long-lasting opiates, you may not begin to feel withdrawal symptoms until about 30 hours after your last dose. Some initial symptoms you may experience include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Runny nose
  • Excessive yawning
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Sweating
  • Hypertension
  • Fever
Opiate Addiction Treatment
Opiate Addiction Treatment

The opioid epidemic is still a growing problem throughout the US. Thankfully, opiate addiction treatment offers a way out.

More info

72 Hours

Your symptoms will be most intense 72 hours after your last dose. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Cravings for opiates
  • Stomach pain
  • Depression

However, psychological cravings and symptoms often last longer than a week. Those working to overcome opiate dependence or opiate addiction will need to participate in a center for alcohol and drug treatment following detoxification for the best chance at securing lasting healing, recovery, and sobriety. Further, psychological care from mental health professionals can benefit you.

Opiate withdrawal symptoms vary because of the length and type of opiates. Long-acting and short-acting opiates produce various symptoms. Before you try to stop using opiates, consider your safety and well-being. Opiate withdrawal is dangerous if you attempt to do it on your own, as the symptoms of opiate withdrawal can be severe and require medical assistance. Seek the help of a medically supervised detox treatment center. Hawaii Island Recovery’s team includes licensed medical professionals who understand what you’re going through. We focus on your physical and mental needs as you detox and enter treatment. You can achieve a successful recovery. Call Hawaii Island Recovery today at (866) 390-5070 to learn more about our programs and services.