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Opioid Withdrawal

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What do I need to know about 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.

What are the signs and symptoms of opioid withdrawal?

Withdrawal signs and symptoms may start within 6 to 16 hours after you stop using the opioid. Signs and symptoms include:

How is opioid withdrawal treated?

You may need to stay in a hospital or drug treatment facility while you go through withdrawal so healthcare providers can help you. This depends on how long you have used the opioid and how much you have been taking. Your age and general health are also factors. You may need any of the following to treat opioid withdrawal or manage your symptoms:

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

What can I do to manage withdrawal?

What can I do to prevent withdrawal from a prescription opioid?

The best way to prevent withdrawal is to prevent tolerance. You may need to take a different kind of pain medicine after a surgery or injury. You can also talk to your healthcare provider about ways to manage pain without medicine. If you do need to take an opioid medicine, the following can help prevent withdrawal:

What do I need to know about opioid safety?

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US), or have someone else call if:

When should I call my doctor?

Care Agreement

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. 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.

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Further information

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