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Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms + Timeline

Opiate withdrawal refers to stopping or tapering down from a substance derived from the opium poppy plant (e.g. narcotic opioid alkaloids). Some major psychoactive opiates include substances like codeine, morphine, and thebaine. Many people consider semi-synthetic drugs like heroin, hydrocodone and oxycodone to be opiates, but they are not direct opiates, rather they are derived from opiates (e.g. opioids). People use these drugs for a variety of conditions, but most commonly they are used to provide pain relief.

These drugs are also used to achieve a recreational “high” by other individuals. The fact that these drugs make people feel less pain and stimulate the reward centers of the brain make them addicting. Most people also feel physically relaxed and no discomfort while they take this class of drugs. It is also believed that some people self-medicate with painkillers to block emotional pain associated with depression and anxiety. Others simply run out of opiates and/or cannot afford to get their prescriptions refilled. In any event, most people that take opiates will eventually want to (or be forced to) withdraw from them.

The withdrawal process can be very debilitating, but physical symptoms typically subside between 7 and 10 days of withdrawal. During the withdrawal process, the body tries to function without stimulation from the opiate drug that has been constantly supplied. When it doesn’t receive the same amount of the drug or none of the drug, it reacts powerfully with an array of physical and psychological symptoms as it attempts to restore normative homeostatic functioning.

Factors that influence opiate withdrawal

There are many different factors that are thought to play a role in determining the severity of opiate withdrawal. Since everyone is in a different situation, it is impossible to know exactly how long the psychological symptoms and/or post-acute withdrawal symptoms will last. Additionally the severity of the physical symptoms that are experienced may be significantly worse for one person than another.

1. Time Span

How long have you been using opiates? Someone that has been using opiates to function for years is going to have more difficulties coping without them than someone who used opiates for a month or two. There are people that have been using high doses of opiates daily for years as a means to continue functioning with chronic pain. Someone who has been functioning on opiates for years (or decades) is going to have a significantly more challenging time quitting than someone who took these for a month or two.

2. Drug / Dosage / Tolerance

The type of opiate that you were taking can play a big role in determining how addictive it is. For example, someone that is injecting heroin may not only become addicted to the drug, they may also become addicted to the ritual. Therefore certain drugs may be more addictive than others based on many factors.

The dosage of the drug that you have been taking as well as whether you have built up a tolerance is also going to influence your withdrawal. If you have developed a tolerance to a high dose of an opiate, you may want to consider tapering off of them so that the physical symptoms aren’t too unbearable.

3. Addiction

Whether a person is psychologically addicted to taking an opiate can have a big influence on how well they deal with withdrawal symptoms. Someone who has used opiates as a crutch to help them make it through difficult aspects of life is going to have a much tougher time getting through the withdrawal process.

Additionally someone that has been taking opiates to deal with chronic pain may have an even tougher time coming off of them because their body’s endorphin supply and natural ability to fight pain has been depleted by painkiller usage. Someone who is seriously addicted will likely need to either: go to rehab and/or work with a psychiatrist (possibly for opiate replacement therapy).

4. Cold turkey vs. Tapering vs. Replacement therapy

There is really no “best” way to quit taking opiates. It is always recommended to taper down (i.e. wean yourself off the drug) over an extended period of time in order to minimize withdrawal symptoms. People that drop down to nothing after taking a high dose every single day for a long-term may experience powerful and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms. The tapering process can be relatively simple – just cut down your medication by about 25% every few days or every week until you are down to nothing.

However, if you discuss things with your doctor and it’s alright to quit “cold turkey,” just know that some people think cold turkey is the best way to go. By quitting cold turkey you face the pain head on and will have tough symptoms for about a week, but they will go away. Most people that are serious about kicking their habit quit, deal with the symptoms, an don’t look back.

A third option which many people take advantage of is that of replacement therapy. The idea behind replacement therapy is to go on something like Suboxone or Methadone (e.g. a less powerful opiate) to get off of the opiate that you were addicted to. The problem associated with replacement therapy is that many people become severely addicted to the drugs that they were prescribed for replacement. Realize that if you want to be “drug free,” sooner or later you will have to face the pain.

5. Individual Physiology

Why do some people have an easy time coming off of opiates while others can barely function? The answer has to do with individual physiology. Everyone has a different degree of social support, a different environment, and a unique nervous system. One person may have healthier habits and more mental toughness to cope with difficult withdrawal symptoms.

Other people may simply not be affected as severely as another person because they had a lower tolerance. Realize that your withdrawal process is going to be somewhat unique to you. The physical symptoms may be similar to that of other people, but your psychological healing will be a unique process – especially if you experience PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms).

Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms: List Of Possibilities

Below are a list of the symptoms that you may experience when you stop taking opiates. These will vary in severity depending on how long you have been on them, the dose, and whether you withdrew cold turkey. You may experience a few of the symptoms, most of them, or all of them. Most of the severe physical symptoms last a little bit over a week before they clear up.

  • Agitation: Withdrawing from opiates can make people very agitated. They no longer have their drug to stay calm and the physiology is chaotic because the person is trying to function without the drug.
  • Anxiety: Some people report severe anxiety when they first stop using opiates. This has to do with the fact that most opiates help induce a feeling of calmness. When a person stops using them, it is common for them to feel anxious, nervous, and panic.
  • Concentration problems: Due to the array of symptoms that you may experience, these can take away from a person’s ability to concentrate. You may experience clouded thinking and poor cognitive function until the withdrawal starts to clear up.
  • Craving: Many people report strong cravings for the drug when they first quit. These cravings usually become easier to deal with as more time passes. Even when you make it through the difficult physical withdrawal symptoms, the psychological cravings may persist for a long period.
  • Crying spells: Not only will your eyes probably water, but you may become so depressed that you cry. The withdrawal process is very intense especially in the first few days. If you breakdown and start crying, just realize that things will improve.
  • Depression: Many people report pretty severe depression when they come off of opiates. This depression can last much longer than the actual physical withdrawal process. If you have been abusing opiates for a long term, it can take your body a long time to restore natural production of neurotransmitters and endorphins.
  • Diarrhea: Since being on opiates tends to make people constipated, many people report the exact opposite when they come off of them. For this reason, it may be helpful to keep some Imodium on hand so that you can deal with the stomach aches and constant bowel movements.
  • Dilated pupils: When people use opiates, their pupils tend to contract and become very small – almost like little pinpoints. When they stop using, their pupils retract and can look very dilated.
  • Dizziness: Most people report that they feel dizzy when they first stop. This is a result of physical withdrawal that can feel uncomfortable, but it will eventually subside.
  • Fatigue: You may feel extremely tired, lethargic, and fatigued throughout the day. In fact you may have a difficult time doing something as simple as getting out of bed. Work with your fatigue to get as much accomplished as possible, but recognize that your body needs some rest as it recovers.
  • Goose bumps: You may notice that you have goose bumps all over your skin. This is a very common symptom that most people have when they come off of opiates.
  • Headaches: It is common to experience pretty severe headaches when you stop taking opiates. These headaches may range from being constant and mild to severe, painful migraines. Do what you can to suck it up and realize that the pain will clear.
  • Heart palpitations: Many people notice changes in their heart beat when they stop opiates. They may notice palpitations and/or an increased heart rate. Do your best not to freak out and realize that it is your body trying to cope without the drug. Normative functioning will be restored.
  • High blood pressure: Opiates tend to lower blood pressure by depressing activity in the central nervous system. When you stop taking them, your blood pressure may shoot up for a temporary period of time as your body attempts to fix itself. Doctors may prescribe Clonidine to help target the blood pressure and anxiety symptoms upon withdrawal.
  • Hot flashes: It is common to experience hot flashes when you stop taking an opiate. These are usually caused in hormonal fluctuations and our body trying to reset itself.
  • Insomnia: Although some people report severe fatigue, tiredness, and sleepiness, insomnia can easily strike during withdrawal. If you feel as though you cannot fall asleep, focus on trying to relax and just get sleep when you can. Eventually your sleep cycle will be restored.
  • Irritability: Most people will experience feelings of irritability and mood swings when they quit opiates. Any drug that has an influence on our mood can result in us experiencing the opposite when we withdraw from it.
  • Itchiness: It may feel as though your skin is crawling with itchiness during the withdrawal. This shouldn’t last for an extended period of time.
  • Memory problems: It may be pretty frustrating that your short term memory seems a little bit off during withdrawal. You may have difficulties with memory retrieval – this is due to the fact that you are experiencing an overwhelming amount of symptoms. Don’t freak out about your memory not working correctly, it will work normally again.
  • Muscle aches: Opiates do a great job at treating muscle pain and other aches. If you are someone who was taking them for chronic pain management, you may notice that the pain comes back worse than before. Individuals that were taking opiates for alternative uses still report aches when they stop usage.
  • Nausea: Many people report feeling extremely nauseated when they stop an opiate. This may lead to vomiting if it gets severe.
  • Panic attacks: Some people experience anxiety to the point of causing panic attacks when they stop opiates. If you are experiencing panic attacks, do your best to focus on doing what you can do to calm down and relax. If deemed necessary, you could get medication to help you through this process.
  • Paranoia: This isn’t necessarily a “common” symptom, but one that some individuals exhibit. Usually feelings of paranoia will last only a couple days following usage of the drug and then stop.
  • Runny nose: This may feel worse than having a cold, but your nose is likely to run. Be prepared for a constant runny nose by having plenty of tissues around.
  • Suicidal thoughts: My guess is that many people experience suicidal thoughts when they come off of opiates. This has to do with the fact that most opiates actually elevate and stabilize mood. When a person withdraws from them, they may feel suicidal. If you feel this way, make a promise to yourself that you will not harm yourself and/or talk to someone else about it. Some people end up acting on their present emotion because they don’t think that the painful feelings will ever go away – despite the fact that they will.
  • Sweating: You may sweat profusely throughout the day and/or during sleep (i.e. night sweats). The sweating may feel uncomfortable, but just keep in mind that it’s from the withdrawal – it will eventually subside.
  • Vomiting: Some people end up experiencing extreme nausea and actually vomit. With all the symptoms the person experiences, they may conclude that the withdrawal process feels “flu-like.” If you have an upset stomach, do your best to soothe it.
  • Watery eyes: In addition to having a runny nose, your eyes may water. Just recognize that it is your body’s way of responding to sober functioning.
  • Yawning: Many people report excessive yawning when they quit opiates. If you are constantly yawning, just recognize that this is part of the withdrawal process.

Rare symptoms: It should be noted that people also experience other, rarer symptoms as a result of opiate withdrawal. These include: cardiac arrhythmias, dehydration, seizures, strokes. If you are concerned that you might experience any of these symptoms, consult a medical professional.

Note: Most symptoms are pretty painful and can be extremely debilitating within the first three days of withdrawal. However, most people find that within a week they are feeling much better.

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline: How to Manage Symptoms

There is no set duration for the withdrawal process – especially regarding PAWS (Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome). For some individuals, the post-acute psychological withdrawal symptoms may linger for an extended period of time (e.g. months or years). For most hardcore addicts, it can take many months of being drug free to fully overcome the psychological aspects of the addiction.

A majority of people will have severe physical withdrawal symptoms that will be debilitating for up to 10 days. For shorter-acting opiates most physical withdrawal symptoms are overcome in as quick as 7 days (one week). For longer-acting opiates, the physical symptoms may be present for up to 10 days. Most people will notice that these symptoms become more manageable after a few days.

Many people withdraw, but then fall back into the trap of using opiates. The best way to help yourself stay off of these drugs is with professional help and personal will to overcome this battle. If you are experiencing severe anxiety, a doctor may prescribe you with clonidine to help ease these symptoms. If you are experiencing diarrhea, you may want to take some Imodium. Additionally if you were addicted to opiates for years and need some sort of additional support, you may want to consider Suboxone (Buprenorphine).

Suboxone has been proven to ease symptoms of withdrawal by working as a partial-opioid agonist. Other people have success using Methadone – work with your doctor to find a solution for yourself. In the meantime, allow your body to begin the healing process. Make sure you are engaging in as many healthy activities as possible during your recovery process.

Examples of things you can do for yourself include: physical exercise, eat healthy, socialize with family, see a therapist or support group, engage in online support group (forum) chat. Your physiology has to get used to functioning without the constant supply of an opiate and will be readjusting. The readjustment process can take a long time for many people, but it’s a battle.

Once you gain some positive momentum after being off of all opiates, you will start to see the light. Realize that the process of coming off of opiates is painful (psychologically and physically) and difficult. Most people have a lot of depression and struggles when they first quit, so try to take things one day at a time. Focus on what you can do right now (i.e. this exact moment) to ensure the fastest possible recovery.

Eventually sober days will turn into sober weeks, and sober weeks will turn into sober months. Bad days will start to turn into slightly better days, and eventually, you’ll have a good day. This single good day will be a sign that you are recovering and starting to regain your happiness and livelihood. If you keep doing your best and trying, you will make a full recovery in your withdrawal from opiates.

It should be noted that some people end up withdrawing, weathering the storm of symptoms and recover relatively quick within the first 10 days or so. For others, they have difficulties controlling their cravings to use the drug. Feel free to share your experience if you have withdrawn from an opiate successfully, are in the withdrawal process, or are planning on withdrawing.

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{ 138 comments… add one }
  • gail December 25, 2017, 3:12 pm

    My boyfriend is on day 8 of withdrawal after 4 years of snorting heroin 20 bags a day. He is on 8 mg of Suboxone to ease withdrawal symptoms but has been extremely nasty and withdrawn. He will not talk to me and keeps himself in a room by himself just sleeping or staring at the ceiling. He’s eaten almost nothing in 8 days.

    I’ve read many advice columns that he should get some exercise and keep busy but he won’t do anything. I’m fairly knowledgeable and understand the depression paws and the physiological changes he’s going through, but I wonder when I can expect to get my loving boyfriend back? I’ve never used anything so I can’t truly comprehend what he’s going through. Today is Christmas and we all have nice gifts for him in addition to our encouragement and support, but he won’t come to Christmas. Is there anything I can do to help him?

  • Dee Dee November 29, 2017, 8:51 pm

    I’ve been on some sort of opiate for 15+ for debilitating back and leg pain. I want to detox from the narcotic pain killers but every time I’ve done so. I’ve had severe anxiety heart palpitations and back pain without ceasing for up to 6 months so I end up back where I started taking opiates. I want to speak to my pain doc about weaning but I’m nervous he won’t be able to help and I’ll be left to withdraw on my own. Any suggestions?

  • Chris March 24, 2017, 4:21 pm

    I was using around 200mg of oxycodone a day for about 3 months. I had been an on and off user from when I was a teenager, never had any issues before this. Depression and unresolved relationship issues were building and pills help with coping. I woke up one day and decided I didn’t want to be a drug addict and went cold turkey.

    I was so sick and did’t have any support so I was forced to relapse so that I could continue to function (e.g. go to work, get out of bed, eat, etc.). I tried again a week later and had the same results. Thanks to Google I found about about tapering and lowered my dosage by 10 mg a day. With a low dose of Clonazepam, lots of ibuprofen and Imodium I was clean in about 2 weeks.

    BUT the real issue came after I was totally clean. I suffered from depression and severe mood swings for about 6-8 months. Basically I could end up crying at any point and it happened every day. Anyone had similar experiences?

  • Kaddict March 23, 2017, 3:52 pm

    Hey guys, I’m on Day 5, well kinda. I had a 3-day relapse from Thursday-Saturday last week and before that I was clean for a week. But anyway, trying hard everyday to be strong. Right now my symptoms are watery eyes, extreme fatigue, mild anxiety, frequent yawning and sweaty palms. Other than that I’m feeling ok. Besides the mind games.

    I’m gonna get back to the gym this weekend after my work week is over. I don’t want to push myself because I’m on my feet for 8 hours a day at my job (every minute feels like eternity) and I feel like adding a work out at this point would be a mistake. BUT, I feel happy and not numb anymore. I’m laughing more, feeling more excited to interact with people and also have an urge to make new friends and go out and be social – something I struggled with for the past 6-8 years on pain meds.

    For me, I tried Subs to get through and was prescribed 2 – 8mg strips a day. And taking the recommended dose made me so tired I could barely function. I slept through the day and night. Eventually I took them all and went back to pills. Suboxone didn’t work for me. To me it was just another crutch and I was switching one addiction for another.

    So, for me cold turkey is the only way I’m going to ever get off this crap. I know a million people have said this, and as much as the physical symptoms suck, the mind games are worse. Your brain becomes the enemy. Every day you have to figure out a way to not cave in to something every nerve ending, every urge, every other thought in your brain is begging you to do – take a pill and make the suffering stop.

    But if getting sober was easy, everyone could do it. I’m lucky, I feel like because I’m relatively young and have no pain I need to manage, I have an advantage when it come to recovering more quickly. Maybe that’s not an actually a thing, but I’m able to work while in withdraw and fake having energy when I feel like every second I’m on the verge of falling asleep.

    I just wanted to say to anyone going through it, stay strong. I like to read other people’s experiences because when I read someone who was successful at getting clean, it reaffirms that I’m making the right choice (plus my bank account is thanking me). You can do it! And hopefully I can too. Pray for me. I committed to 7 days clean and will go from there. ✌🏼

  • Alana February 14, 2017, 2:47 am

    Typical story here… I’m on day 5 coming off an 80mg a day percocet habit for a little over a year. I too was terrified of withdrawals. And this isn’t my first rodeo. I keep doing this to myself! I will say though that the drug clonidine is a god send, along with Valium. No chills or cold sweats.

    I’d wake up in the night with kicking legs but after taking a clonidine they would diminish in 20 minutes. I only slept a few hours at a time, no appetite, and absolutely zero energy on day one. I stopped the clonidine and now I get minor chills and hot flashes maybe twice a day.

    Sleep is difficult. But I couldn’t do it without clonidine. Don’t do methadone, it’s just another opiate to get addicted to and most people NEVER come off of it. I feel like I’m almost out of the woods. And a supplement called 5-HTP helps tremendously with depression.

  • Jennifer February 13, 2017, 8:00 pm

    I’m on day 12 of quitting cold turkey after 8 years of being on 180 Dilaudid 8 and a 100 mcg patch every 2 days a month for chronic pain. It’s a very uncomfortable thing to go through. I ended up having to go by ambulance and being thrown into the hospital on day 4-7 to keep my heart rate from dropping into the low 30’s. The only thing that is bothering me now is the zombie feeling of not wanting to move! Oh and the constant stomach cramping. I have refused anything to help me feel better in fear of further addiction… I just want my energy back! Good luck to everyone!

  • Ricky January 31, 2017, 11:42 pm

    I want to share my story. I had 3 major surgeries on my shoulder in 2012,13,14. And was on a lot of high doses of oxy. I’m 26 now and was 23 when I really started abusing oxy. At first I took it as needed and then I met the love of my life. Who also had a history of drug abuse. Together we started snorting oxy.

    At first it started off causal and something to do for fun then it progressed to a daily thing. At the time I didn’t realize how it was ruining my life. Back then I thought everything was amazing. I was 23 had a good job, smoking hot girl friend. Things were good. We would snort oxy and get super high and then cuddle and love on another and the feeling was amazing.

    I never knew what withdrawals are until after a few months of abusing oxy we ran out. We felt terrible lasted 3 days and then I got another script and the addiction restarted. This lasted for 2 years. For both of us. Until we decided to quit she moved back to another state where she was from for work and as a way to stay away from the oxy.

    She was able to taper down and go off and his been clean for 8 months now. A few months ago she gave me an ultimatum saying I had a month to go off or she would leave me. I tried so hard but couldn’t do it. And she left me it’s been 6 months now since she left. And I am finally quitting. My dose was 120mg a day but over the last few months I tapered it to about 45-55mg a day.

    I am on vacation with my family now in another country and wanted to be off before I left. So 4 days before I left I tapered fast. I went from 50mg to 40 then 30 the next days then 20mg and now 0. I’m on day 2 of completely no oxy. I know this isn’t the best way to spend my vacation. But I knew if I didn’t bring any that would be the only way to do it and quit.

    My withdrawals surprisingly haven’t been too bad. Not like before when I went from 120mg to nothing. The first day I was achy and restless and hot and cold little bit of diarrhea. I was able to sleep well actually. Today I woke with mild aches and little bit of hot and cold flashes and some fatigue and low energy and very runny nose and sneezing and mild diarrhea.

    But I’m able to make it it’s not too bad. I’ll be here for 10 more days. I’m hoping when I get back to the states and stay away from oxy at that point I’ll be 12 days sober. It took so long for me to get to this point. But I’m glad I’m doing it. I was so blinded by my addiction that I would rather get high than try and save my relationship.

    I lost the most amazing girl ever because of it the last few days my emotions have been high and I’ve been crying just thinking of everything I’ve been through because of oxy and how I can’t believe it happened to me. And feeling ashamed that I got her addicted to them and remembering everything we went through with this.

    If you guys knew me you would never think this would happen to me. I always hated drugs and never took em and I was a good athlete good student good job. I’m just glad I’m almost through this. Just gotta stay positive. I hope this inspires someone else sorry if it was too long. Best of luck to all :)

  • Rebecca January 31, 2017, 3:20 pm

    I was on 30mg hydro for almost 2 years and escalated to 60-90mg daily. After running out the last time and having nothing left in me to find more ($ and energy), I chose to go to rehab. I now have 60 days and I definitely am so thankful the fear of withdrawal and running out is gone but I DO still wake up with the cold feeling in my bones. Does this ever go away?

  • Leigh January 11, 2017, 4:26 pm

    Hey… Found this add very helpful, so thanks. Tried to kick this addiction a few times and epic fail each time! Gone from heroin 2 weeks ago to 3ml of subutex down to 0.6ml 6days ago, down to nothing 4 days ago. Still feeling pretty crappie but the one thing that this is it!

    I’m finally going to be opiate free. Some of the horror stories online haven’t helped over the past few days but kinda glad I read this one :). The best advice I could give anyone that’s going through withdraws is (to keep on telling yourself ) “I’m one day closer n tomorrow I might not feel so bad.” Anyways that’s all from me :)

  • 4Weeks January 2, 2017, 1:37 am

    Clean for 4 weeks and I still can’t get through the depression!! SAM-e helps, but I hope this ends soon. 8 years of abuse.

  • CJK October 6, 2016, 7:14 pm

    I been on 100mg fentanyl patch and 20mg oxycodone 4 per day. and 5mg valium 2 per day and 800mg gabapentin, 3 times a day for 3 years from a gun shot to the face. Had MANY major surgeries since, over the last 3 years. I weaned myself of the fentanyl patch 9 months ago. I’m still on 20mg oxycodone 3 times a day and still have another surgery coming up in 2 months.

    Today my doctor cut me off cold turkey, because I tried medical marijuana. I can’t believe it. After 3 years, just cut off. Now I’m screwed. It’s going to be super hard for me. Both mentally and physically. It’s back to multiple migraines, chronic pain, insomnia, anxiety. And so on. This is scarier than all that I have so far been through. All the years to finally get my meds and myself right. And now just kicked to the curb.

    How doctors can do this is just so inhumane. So now I go cold turkey until December. Then back to more surgeries. Then pain meds. Then probably cold turkey again. This war on drugs, because of people abusing them. Is now going to take the meds I need away. I don’t abuse them. But I’m most definitely dependent on them now. I don’t no what to do. I don’t want to become a heroin junkie. Or criminal. Just to be normal.

    I was doing fine. I didn’t break laws. Nothing. And for some states, to ok medical marijuana and others not is wrong. Since there are many good benefits from it. I’m still baffled and in a state of shock. I don’t no what I’m to do. I’m venting now. And almost panicking. I really hope someone can help. In knowledge, ideas or prayer. Thanks. CJK

  • Plz help September 10, 2016, 10:04 am

    I have been on suboxone for over three years and was on opiates for six. I made the decision to quit and am two almost three weeks in. All my major symptoms are gone but my hands and feet burn like crazy. Any advice on how to cope?

  • Psiotic August 13, 2016, 9:59 am

    Greetings to everyone still reading here. 42yo male here who had a really nasty accident about 3 years ago (tore every tendon and ligament around left ankle, but didn’t break it) and was put on a pretty stout regiment of pain meds. I was prescribed 30mg oxycodones, with 8mg Dilaudid and taking that together 3 to 4 times a day. I recently tapered off of the D, then took a week tapering down the oxy, and I am now on day 5 of no pain meds.

    HOWEVER, I’m also micro-dosing psilocybin (a.k.a. magic mushrooms). I can’t say this is a route for everyone, but along with natural supplements they are really helping along the mental recovery. I’ve never been a ‘drug’ taker, aside from these pain meds, but always partook in plant medicines through the years.

    I’ve quit a few times over the last 3 years and it was always rough, but this time it’s been far more livable! Definitely won’t be going back down that road again, just not worth it. My biggest complaint thus far is the bowel issues. I had no idea that opiates literally changed how your intestinal track works, but I also had no idea that your digestion system had so many neurons!! Anyway, hope everyone keeps trucking!

  • Melissa August 3, 2016, 10:45 am

    I’m trying to stay clean as I write, I am 23 years old, I’m detoxing (day 16) off heroin, crystal meth, methadone!!! I usually take whatever is in front me. I quite cold turkey and I haven’t slept in days since the start of detoxing, my teeth are falling out, my toenails are falling off, my legs are killing me and I don’t have the patience for this long time pain. All I keep thinking is I want to take a bunch of pills (preferably Xanax) and shoot some dope and just overdose.

    I’m trying really hard to get over this toxic waste of my life!!! I don’t ever wanna go back but at the same time that’s all I think about. I’m waiting for my migraines to subside they hurt so badly that I can say that I would rather die then have all this pain, I don’t know what normal is like but I do know I’m scarred to live normal!

    I write in my journal and that seems to help a little and I’ll always look back at this every time I start to feel weak. I’m trying hard and I hope and pray that I’m strong enough to take this demon on my own. I know I need ( professional) help, I have slept, can’t keep food nor liquid down, my ears hurt my head, legs, I’m so exhausted I just want this pain gone.

    I came to Chicago to get the best treatment plan and I ended up walking out in city (scary) and DANGEROUS one too, drugs make you do stupid things. Good luck. I hope and pray that this journey of mine will end. There’s light somewhere I just haven’t found it.

    • VeronikaL August 4, 2016, 7:01 pm

      Hi Melissa – Congratulations on Day 16 (which is probably either Day 17 or 18 by now), but that is absolutely IMPRESSIVE considering that you went cold turkey. Please be proud of yourself for that. I can completely sympathize with you and feeling like you’d rather die than feel the horrible pains of withdrawal and the mental side effects too.

      I remember feeling the exact same way when I first began my journey of detoxing. I used to pray that this disease killed me. But now that I have been sober almost 1 year, I can completely and confidently say, that LIFE GETS BETTER! I promise you that. I wouldn’t trade 1 day of sobriety for a single pill or any other drug. Sobriety is a lifestyle, and it doesn’t come fast or easy.

      Your brain will tell you it wants drugs for a long time, and it will take a lot of training and work to being able to tolerate those thoughts, but also to dismiss them. And it becomes easier. I don’t know you, but I can see the strength you have by choosing to not only quit drugs, but by doing it cold turkey and making it to 16 days!

      That is absolutely wonderful, and I hope that you can be proud of that and allow yourself to use that strength in continuing your path of sobriety. I wish you the best of luck! Please keep us updated on your journey!

  • Thomas Mercadian July 26, 2016, 11:03 am

    I have been using hydro since 2006. As most, it started off slow, but it was to the point, at the highest, that I was using one 30mg morphine ER, 2 hydro 10mg, one oxy 30mg. As of about 2 months ago, I was down to 3 10’s in the mornings. I am at around 120hrs, or 5 days, without and I am so scared that I will relapse. They are in my immediate vicinity and I haven’t taken them yet. Any words of advice from someone?

    • VeronikaL July 29, 2016, 2:49 pm

      Hi Thomas Mercadian- Thank you for writing in, and Welcome to this awesome community of support! First and foremost- Congratulations on your 5 day mark! That is an awesome accomplishment! Prior to giving you any advice, I’d like to ask you if you are ready to become sober and commit to a life of recovery and sobriety? If that is the case- then you must rid yourself of any temptations (e.g. get rid of the hydro’s).

      I understand that may be hard for you because flushing them down the toilet makes this whole situation even more real, but sobriety is as real as it gets, and it takes a LOT of work. So please, do yourself a favor and flush the pills down the toilet if you are serious about committing to a brand new beautiful life of sobriety. That being said, many people think sobriety simply means not taking anymore pills.

      That is definitely a major role, but sobriety is actually a lifestyle. It’s a commitment to turn your world upside down in the best ways possible. Getting clean off of pills (detoxing) is actually the easiest step of this whole process. (As hard as it is!). It’s what happens after detoxing that you must be willing to put the work in for.

      What many addicts don’t know yet is that in order to be in recovery, they must understand what addiction truly is (believe it or not- addiction isn’t simply about the inability to live without pills). There is a lot of science about the brains of an addicted person and how your brain is neurologically wired and pre-disposed to liking opiates. There is a reason why half the population can take a painkiller and feel absolutely terrible (nauseated, sick, lethargic, etc.) and there is also a reason why us addicts can take a painkiller and feel the BEST we’ve ever felt.

      That distinction has everything to do with our brains and how they are wired. So while yes, stopping the consumption of pills is important, it is equally as important to treat the brain aspect of addiction as well, in order to ensure you have lifelong sobriety. Many ways people do this is by something called “Drug Replacement Therapy”. I have ALWAYS vouched for a medication called Suboxone.

      It has saved my life. (Please read my posts above in regards to ALL information about Suboxone). Other people take a monthly shot called Vivitrol. Although most doctors prefer suboxone over the shot, as the shot does not have the mood stabilizing aspect to it like how suboxone does. In any case- I truly encourage you to talk to your doctor about your options for getting treatment.

      Cutting off pills is simply not enough to ensure long term sobriety. If it were- then no one would be addicted anymore, as it would be very simply to just cut off pills and endure 1 week of withdrawals and then it would be over. It simply doesn’t work that way. I wish you the best of luck! Please let us know how you’re doing!

  • Steve July 22, 2016, 7:22 am

    God I feel so alone right now, my wife is visiting her mom in Pennsylvania and I have a Dog and 3 cats to talk to, probably not the time to go through opiate withdrawal. I wanted to surprise her by being clean and sober when she came home lord she deserves it. I have always been not afraid to cry especially when the nurse came every 4 hours to do an ABG (blood gas analysis, hurts something terrible).

    I could not talk as I was intubated, so when tears rolled down my cheeks my wife and the nurses ask me if I hurt? Good question though! I kept shaking my head as I was sad about what happened to me to me not in any real pain to speak of it until they deep suctioned my lungs, now that hurt. So it is not a question of tolerating the pain, but the spectre of not relaxing and going to sleep.

    I went to bed one night I woke up three weeks later in ICU. So it is the fear more than anything else I think for me. I still now get to almost twilight before I can really sleep. It’s 3:10 AM and I am not in the least bit sleepy. That is real fear and abject terror, I guess since I teach of all things counseling and Psychology I should come to terms better than most!

    Heck I have doctorate in behavioral medicine (Psychology) for Christ sakes I should know I have PTSD but that is the real pain of being in this position. I should know better and still got here. We took the pills for real pain now it’s in our minds and that is the most difficult thing I think I have ever attempted.

  • Steve July 22, 2016, 7:03 am

    The loss of appetite is the most troubling. I have always been a good eater, but the complete loss of appetite is very disturbing. I was in ICU in 2014 for ARDS and was on a respirator. They gave me a lot of Versed, IV Librium I requested when I was awake pain meds every 4 or 5 hours, was in a drug induced coma, lucky to be alive, now I just want a pill how freaking stupid is that.

    That experience gave me a bigger tolerance and they cut me off cold in the hospital and I did not sleep hardly any the last couple of days I was in there. That is when the craving took over and I have not allowed myself to run out in the period since then about two solid years!! Now I have nothing but Ambien and am thankful that I still have them, but now I am trying to not go to the Doctor.

    As I said I tried to taper but was still at one Percocet a day and two Ativan a day when my prescription ran out. I hope to have the willpower to stay away. I never knew this could be so painful just not taking a pill!!!

  • Steve July 22, 2016, 3:44 am

    I am on day 5 I feel horrible, Kratom is helping but I still feel like crap!! I am not eating well as I have no appetite. I did not see this mentioned, but I feel lie food is not appealing. I forced myself to eat a Big Mac which I normally enjoy. Please tell me this will get better. I took for back pain Percocet 2-3 times a day for a couple of years I also took two or three Ativan a day for the same period.

    I guess I did not think these prescriptions were that bad, now my doctor is freaked out by the arrests of docs put in jail for prescribing to people who OD’ed but let me tell you its not the docs fault the guy knows what he is taking but please tell me this gets better. I can’t sleep but I do have access to Ambien which does help and the Kratom which is God sent. Just tell me something!!!!

  • Tina June 24, 2016, 10:01 pm

    I was in a bad car accident in 2014, while in the hospital I was put on morphine. By the time I went home I was taking 180mg of morphine a day, due to our of pocket costs I was switched to methadone after just under a year. I was able to drop down to 30mgs of methadone a day and decided after two years and some change I wanted to come off these meds.

    I have been off the meds since May 12th of this year, but I am in tremendous pain. My right leg is about 80-85% medal from the wreck. My question is how long before I will know what my actual pain level is and what is my body wanting the meds? Or have I reached that point and need to possibly seek out other pain options for control?

  • erika June 19, 2016, 1:48 am

    I went from using a gram of H a day, then to half for several months. I went to court and took 130 mg of liquid methadone. I brought in prescribed 10 mg methadone tablets, 1 mg Ativan, and some percs. I was in county for 10 days. I took 20mg of m for two days, them 10 for 3 days. The next 5 days I only used when I really needed it.

    Which was at night because I could not sleep. I still had some pills when I went to state but I did not bring them with me. For the next two weeks my sleep patterns were off and lacking but I did take some naps. I kept positive and meditated and prayed for an easy recovery. It was. I did not have the kicks, or stomach issues. I had night sweats once and briefly. I ate little. No sugar, or caffeinated products. I had been using for 20 years.

    Being locked up helped. No mind games. Best thing was, it was so easy. Switching to methadone for the 5 days worked for me. Ativan for the anxiety and sleep helped on days 5-10. Had I to do it again, I would use Ativan from days 5-20. I have also had good experience with gabapentin, 300 mg. for kicks.

  • Rod R June 13, 2016, 9:14 am

    I have not taken Oxycodone in 6 weeks (as of tomorrow). I tapered down over a couple of months until I could cut the pills no smaller. I got down to one a day of those and after a couple of days of that I just stopped. While I didn’t have terrible withdrawal but after 8 years of Oxycodone my body as definitely unhappy with the decision to stop.

    I was so tired of the pills that I really have had few cravings. I took the pills for significant chronic pain related to 5 spinal surgeries. As expected the pain seemed to dramatically increase. Parts of my body that normally are fine were hurting without the Oxy. Now I am taking ibuprofen to help with the pain.

    I probably had a couple of short periods of my day that I felt passable while taking opioids. I feel much better now. I have no interest in going back to the Oxy. I tried about a year ago to go cold turkey and I still felt terrible on day 12 and gave up. Weaning made it much easier for me.

  • Ghost June 7, 2016, 5:55 pm

    Hello, I have been a user of 10mg (Norco) to 80mg (Oxy) for 5 plus years. I would say about 150mg total a day. I’m on day 8 now and really anxious. I have been sleeping for about 5 hours a night. The first 3 nights I had some Tramadol and that helped me sleep. I always made sure I had some Tramadol around when I couldn’t get my hands on anything.

    I have gone through WD’s too many times and hated the restless legs the most. This time around Passion Flower extract was amazing. It seems to give me energy and keeps me going. The anxiety and tremors is whats killing me. Especially when falling asleep, the jerks, and tossing and turning. But once I actually fall asleep, it’s solid sleep.

    I have been taking melatonin and I think thats whats helping me sleep. After reading these posts I’m going to get some Valerian and Gaba to help with anxiety. Since my body is positively reacting to natural herbs, any recommendations for the anxiety? Today is my first day back at work pill free.

    Mind in overdrive and super clouded. Since this isn’t my first ride, I’ve been open-minded and trying not to stress out. Any calming remedies would also be greatly appreciated. This is my time! Thanks!

    • VeronikaL June 8, 2016, 5:37 pm

      Hi Ghost – Thank you for sharing your story! First and foremost- Congrats on Day 8!!! Such a major accomplishment! I also am proud of you for looking into natural remedies for sleep and restless legs! I do however, want to warn you about Tramadol. When I was actively addicted to Opiates, I used to take Tramadol with my opiates OR when I ran out of my opiates.

      Tramadol has a similar effect of opiates and can become just as addictive, and the withdrawal from tramadol can sometimes even be worse than that of opiates. I strongly urge you to stop taking tramadol (if you haven’t already). As for the anxiety and body jerks, It is a good idea to try the Gaba and Valerian Root… what helped me MAJORLY was hot body soaks. Whether it be in a tub or a jacuzzi, I strongly suggest that you try to soak your body in as hot of water as you can handle.

      This helps relax your muscles and calm the body jerks, which then helps you go to sleep much easier than without the hot water soak. I would say that the hot water soaks helped me more than any herb, vitamin, or over the counter medication I took. The clouded mind and stress; as you already know, takes a while to get back to normal.

      Day 8 is when things start to get marginally better each day. The mental side effects is what you will soon need to focus on next. Depression, cravings, un-easiness, all that stuff is normal too. I suggest you go to some counseling, talk to your physician about options with drug replacement therapies (Suboxone) and see if that could be something you would benefit from, attend meetings, and EXERCISE.

      I’m not talking about running a marathon or bench pressing 300lbs, I’m talking about light walks, brisk jogs, even if it’s just 1 or 2 blocks… the brain chemistry in your brain is WAY off because your brain has been so accustomed to the opiate producing serotonin for you. Now that you are off opiates, your brain is struggling to remember how to produce it for itself the way it once did.

      The more active you are, the more you can get a very light exercise in, the more your brain produces its own serotonin, and that is what makes you feel good. Both exercise and hot water soaks were my savior during this time. About a month into my recovery, I made an appointment with a Suboxone doctor because I was struggling a lot with the cravings and feeling so off-balance.

      I can now add Suboxone to the list of things that saved my life…(along with the exercise and hot water soaks). Drug replacement therapy isn’t for everyone, so I only suggest you do your own research and talk to your physician if that is something of interest to you. Please keep us updated on your journey, and congratulations on all your hard work and progress! One day at a time!!

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