Skip to Content

Opioid Withdrawal


Withdrawal is a response to a sudden lack of opioids in your body. Withdrawal happens when you suddenly decrease or stop taking an opioid you are dependent on. Dependence means you feel you need the opioid to function mentally or physically. This happens after you have used the opioid regularly for a long time. Withdrawal can happen with an illegal opioid such as heroin, or a prescription opioid such as oxycodone or fentanyl.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


  • Methadone or buprenorphine may be given to help decrease symptoms of withdrawal.
  • NSAIDs decrease pain and fever.
  • Blood pressure medicine decreases symptoms of withdrawal, such as nausea, vomiting, muscle tension, and anxiety.
  • Antianxiety medicine decreases anxiety and helps you feel calm and relaxed.
  • Antinausea medicine helps calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.


  • Detoxification is the process of slowly decreasing your dose of opioids. You will also be given medicine to decrease your withdrawal symptoms.
  • Maintenance therapy means your healthcare provider prescribes another type of opioid than you are dependent on.
  • Psychological counseling and support may be needed if you have opioid use disorder. This is a condition that makes you crave the opioid and not be able to stop using it.


Opioid withdrawal may be uncomfortable, but it is not life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2021 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Opioid Withdrawal (Inpatient Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.