In this article, I’m going to answer the question How long does opiate withdrawal last cold turkey? I see a lot of other websites giving information on this subject that is DEAD WRONG. One of the biggest addiction blogs there is, who I shall leave anonymous, wrote an article answering the question “How long does opiate withdrawal last cold turkey,” and I became angry while reading it.
The author, who was even a medical doctor, said: “The worst day of opiate withdrawal is Day 1, and after that, it starts getting easier.”
What a crock of sh*t!!!
I was angry not because they didn’t know what they were talking about, but because they were spreading misinformation with very negative consequences.
Table of Contents
- 1 Knowing is “Half the Battle” But Only if it’s Knowing the “Truth”
- 2 Opiate Addiction 101
- 3 How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last Cold Turkey When Coming Off Short-Acting Opioids?
- 4 How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last Cold Turkey When Coming Off Long-Acting Opioids?
- 5 Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
- 6 How Long Does PAWS Last After a Cold Turkey Opiate Withdrawal?
- 7 How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last Cold Turkey? – Final Thoughts
Knowing is “Half the Battle” But Only if it’s Knowing the “Truth”
Imagine reading that article if you just got off opiates and now learned that after Day 1 the symptoms would be less and less as time went on, only to find out from firsthand experience that Day 2 is actually worse, and the symptoms of opiate withdrawal PEAK in severity on Days 3-4 when coming off short-acting opiates.
It would totally suck to read from a doctor’s article “the worst would be over after Day 1 of cold turkey opiate withdrawal” — and plan accordingly — only to realize that your withdrawal symptoms were getting worse every day and not easier to handle.
Thus, the purpose of my article is to shed the light of the truth on the answer to the common question:
How long does opiate withdrawal last cold turkey?
The following fact-driven summary on how long opiate withdrawal lasts cold turkey will also show the different timelines of a cold turkey withdrawal from short-acting opioids and a cold turkey withdrawal from long-acting opioids.
Depending on what types of opioid drug(s) you’re taking, how long you’ve been taking them, and what dosage you’re on, plus a variety of other factors, there will be different timelines for how long opiate withdrawal lasts when going cold turkey off these drugs.
I’m going to answer the following questions on how long opiate withdrawal lasts cold turkey:
- How long does opiate withdrawal last cold turkey when coming off hydrocodone?
- How long does opiate withdrawal last cold turkey when coming off oxycodone?
- How long does opiate withdrawal last cold turkey when coming off Suboxone?
- How long does opiate withdrawal last cold turkey when coming off methadone?
- How long does opiate withdrawal last cold turkey when coming off heroin?
- How long does opiate withdrawal last cold turkey when coming off tramadol?
Additionally, I’ll cover the timelines for other drugs such as morphine sulfate extended-release, codeine, and more. By the end of this article, regardless of what opioid drug(s) you’re taking, you’ll know how long opiate withdrawal lasts cold turkey when coming off it.
However, before we dive into these different timelines, I believe it’s important to first provide you with some basic knowledge of why stopping opiates cold turkey leads to opiate withdrawal.
Opiate Addiction 101
Opiates are drugs that are derived from the opium poppy plant. Opioids are synthetic or natural drugs that do not originate from the opium poppy plant, however, they still bind to the same opioid receptors in the brain and body that opiates bind to, resulting in the same types of effects.
Despite all of the associated negative aspects (addiction, overdose, crime, etc.), prescription opiates still have a positive intent. They are commonly prescribed for the treatment of moderate to severe pain.
These drugs, along with heroin, attach to specific proteins called opioid receptors, which are located on nerve cells in the brain, spinal cord, GI tract, and other organs.
Once these drugs attach to the opioid receptors, their effects come on, which include, but are not limited to:
- Pain Relief
As human beings, we already have an endogenous painkilling system that is capable of producing pain relief, sedation, and euphoria.
For example, imagine a man who has just run five miles along the beach.
As a result of this intense physical exertion, his body naturally produces its own opioid chemicals, known as endorphins and enkephalins, thus reducing pain, and promoting euphoria naturally (“runners high”).
Tolerance and Dependence
We already produce natural opioid chemicals (endorphins/enkephalins) in the precise amounts our bodies were designed to handle. The problem arises when an individual has been using an opioid drug for a period of time.
After prolonged use of opioid drugs, the production of endogenous opioids is inhibited, which accounts in part for the withdrawal syndrome that results from the immediate cessation of the drug.
The continuous use of opioids overrides our natural ability to produce endorphins and enkephalins.
The brain comes to rely on the drugs to create these neurotransmitters.
When a person stops using the opioid drug, the brain doesn’t start creating these endogenous opioids right away. It short-circuits, leading to withdrawal symptoms, and deteriorating psychological function.
Whether an individual is abusing opioids or even taking them as prescribed by a physician, the continued use quickly leads to tolerance. Tolerance is a state of adaptation in which exposure to a drug induces changes that result in a decrease of the drug’s effects over time.
If an individual continues using opioids after a tolerance has been established, they will eventually develop a physiological dependence.
Dependence develops when the neurons adapt to the repeated drug exposure and only function normally in the presence of the drug.
Opiate Withdrawal Syndrome
When a dependent individual abruptly stops taking opioids (leading opioid-blood concentration to fall below the required level), the now opioid-tolerant central nervous system (CNS) goes haywire. With no inhibitive stimulation to satisfy receptors, the pathways of the CNS fire signals strenuously, performing at a level much higher than pre-dependence levels.
Now the locus coeruleus responds by triggering the autonomic fight or flight response. What results is known as the opioid withdrawal syndrome, and it’s one of the most horrific experiences an individual could even go through.
Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Now that you have a good overview of how the whole process starts, we can now review the physical, mental, and emotional opiate withdrawal symptoms that result from the abrupt cessation of opioid drugs.
Please note that these opiate withdrawal symptoms can also result from lowering your dosage too quickly on an opiate taper. Tapering is lowering your dosage systemically over a predetermined time frame, which significantly reduces the shock to your body that a cold turkey detox creates.
Physical opiate withdrawal symptoms include:
Mental/Emotional opiate withdrawal symptoms include:
- Panic Attacks
- Social Anxiety
- Anhedonia (Inability to Feel Pleasure)
- Suicidal Thoughts
- Inability to Relax
- Lack of Motivation
As you can see, there are plenty of opiate withdrawal symptoms that can afflict you while lowering your dosage too fast, or coming off opioids cold turkey. The really awful aspect of opiate withdrawal is that you get hit with a ton of different physical and psychological opiate withdrawal symptoms.
If it were just one or the other, it wouldn’t be near as horrific of an experience.
But alas this isn’t the case.
Opiate withdrawal symptoms are both physical and psychological, and most of the time these symptoms are very severe.
Now let’s move on to the next section, where you’ll learn about the opiate withdrawal timeline.
How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last Cold Turkey When Coming Off Short-Acting Opioids?
How long does opiate withdrawal last cold turkey when coming off short-acting opioids? The main element which determines when your opiate withdrawal symptoms will start, when they will peak, and when they will finally subside, is the type of opioid drug you’ve been taking.
For instance, if you’ve been using short-acting opiates like oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, heroin, or other short-acting opiates, the cold turkey opiate withdrawal will typically begin around the 12-hour mark.
Here is a list of the short-acting opioids:
- Buprenorphine Injection
- Fentanyl Tablet
- Fentanyl Injection
- Fentanyl Nasal Spray
- Fentanyl Powder
- Fentanyl Sublingual Spray
- Fentanyl Sublingual Tablet
- Fentanyl Transmucosal System
- Sufentanil Injection
- Sufentanil Powder
So 12 hours after your last dose of a short-acting opioid, the mild withdrawal symptoms will begin to arise. But many people think the first day is the worst, and then it starts to get better and better day by day.
This is a common misconception. The accurate opiate withdrawal timeline from a cold turkey detox from short-acting opioids is listed below.
Here is a brief overview of how long opiate withdrawal lasts cold turkey when coming off short-acting opioids:
- Day 1 – Unpleasant cold turkey opiate withdrawal symptoms that make it difficult to get through the day.
- Day 2 – A significant increase in the severity of cold turkey withdrawal symptoms.
- Days 3-4 – The cold turkey withdrawal symptoms peak and are the most severe during these final two days.
- Day 5 – The acute withdrawal phase is technically over, and the opiate withdrawal symptoms become much less severe, though you still feel them a lot.
How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last Cold Turkey When Coming Off Long-Acting Opioids?
If you’ve been taking long-acting opiates such as morphine extended-release, or long-acting opioids such as methadone, Suboxone, Subutex, Probuphine, or Zubsolv, the acute withdrawal starts much later than the 12-hour mark.
Due to the long-acting and long half-life effect of these drugs, you’ll typically start to experience cold turkey opioid withdrawal symptoms around 30 hours after your last dose. Instead of the process taking 4 days, typically the cold turkey withdrawal lasts 7-10 days or even longer.
I’ve had several clients at the methadone clinic I used to work at tell me they went to jail and had to come off methadone cold turkey with no medicine to help.
Many of them stated they went through cold turkey opioid withdrawal for a month or longer.
With these long-acting opioids, if you come off them cold turkey at a high dose after you’ve been taking them for a long time, withdrawal could last at least a week and more likely for 2-3 weeks or longer. That’s why it’s VERY important to taper off these drugs to avoid such awful cold turkey withdrawal symptoms.
Here is a list of long-acting opioids:
- Buprenorphine Film
- Buprenorphine Transdermal
- Fentanyl Transdermal System
- Hydrocodone Extended-Release
- Levorphanol Powder
- Levorphanol Tablet
- Methadone Injection
- Methadone Oral-Dolophine
- Methadone Oral-Methadose
- Methadone Powder
- Morphine Controlled-Release
- Morphine Extended-Release
- Oxycodone Extended-Release
- Oxymorphone Extended-Release
- Tapentadol Extended-Release
- Tramadol Extended-Release
With short-acting opioids, the cold turkey opiate withdrawal timeline is very straightforward. But with the long-acting opioids, there is a lot more room for variations in the timeline.
I would HATE to go through a cold turkey opiate withdrawal coming off methadone or buprenorphine, as I’ve heard some horror stories from many individuals that have gone through this. Plus, if the acute opiate withdrawal phase isn’t bad enough, then you have to go through Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) right after!!!
It’s no wonder why so many people either stay on opioids or get off the drugs, only to start using them again shortly after to stop the post-acute symptoms that can take months or years to get rid of.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
Many opiate users have successfully managed to get past the acute cold turkey opiate withdrawal phase, only to realize that the struggle was far from being over. Though the symptoms, duration, and severity vary, an estimated 90% of all opiate abusers experience PAWS to some degree after the acute withdrawal is over.
To accurately and simply define PAWS, let’s break down the meaning of each individual word:
- Post – “After”
- Acute – “Very serious or dangerous; requiring serious attention or action”
- Withdrawal – “The discontinuance of administration or use of a drug”
- Syndrome – “A group of symptoms”
Simply put, PAWS is a group of symptoms that occur after an individual has gone through the cold turkey opiate withdrawal phase induced by the discontinuation of drugs.
In his popular book, Staying Sober: A Guide for Relapse Prevention, Terence Gorski states the following:
Post-acute withdrawal is a group of symptoms of addictive disease that occur as a result of abstinence from addictive chemicals. In the alcoholic/addict these symptoms appear seven to fourteen days into abstinence, after stabilization from the acute withdrawal. Post-acute withdrawal is a bio/psycho/social syndrome. It results from a combination of damage to the nervous system caused by alcohol or drugs and the psychosocial stress of coping with life without drugs or alcohol.”
How Long Does PAWS Last After a Cold Turkey Opiate Withdrawal?
PAWS can last anywhere from a few weeks to several years. In fact, there is even a possibility that PAWS can continue for the rest of an individual’s life after quitting opiates. Unfortunately, there is really no way to determine how long it will last.
Luckily, things like supplementation, nutrition, and exercise can help you reduce the severity and duration of post-acute withdrawal symptoms. Click here to check out my holistic PAWS treatment plan that will help you get better FAST.
How Long Does Opiate Withdrawal Last Cold Turkey? – Final Thoughts
If you clicked on this article because you wanted to know the answer to the question “How long does opiate withdrawal last cold turkey?”…I hope you got value from this information. Cold turkey opiate withdrawal can be horrific, but luckily there are many things you can do to reduce your symptoms severity and duration from home.
Click here now to view The Ultimate Opiate Recovery System, which will teach you how to get off opiates and opioids in the most painless way possible.
You may also enjoy reading about the best supplements for opiate withdrawal, and the best medications for opiate withdrawal, as these articles can provide you with plenty of free information that can help you get off opioids with ease.
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