Opiate Withdrawal Timeline Guide

Opiate Withdrawal Timeline Guide

The opiate family of drugs derive from the poppy plant. Example drugs belonging to the opiate family include:

These drugs are often taken as a painkiller. Drugs such as heroin are commonly taken as ‘street drugs’ in order to get ‘high’.

Opiates stimulate the brain’s reward centre. Over time users develop a powerful physical dependency on these drugs. Many addicts take opiates in order to block out emotional pain.

If you or a loved one is dependent on opiates you may be considering a rehab programme. During rehab a process known as ‘detoxification’ (or just ‘detox’) takes place. During detox, a number of painful withdrawal symptoms arise. In this post, we outline milestones clients experience during an opiate detox.

The duration and intensity of opiate detox varies from client to client. Factors such as clients’ age and duration of opiate use impact the length of time required to complete detox. Older addicts with a long opiate abuse history typically endure a longer and more painful detox period than their younger less experienced counterparts.

The type of opiate also affects the duration of detox. In this post, we focus on heroin detox.


First 48 hours (Day 1 – 2)

Heroin addicts experience a peak in withdrawal symptoms during the initial 48 hours after heroin was last consumed. Users notice symptoms after around the eight-hour mark since the drug was last consumed. Users experience mild discomfort in the form of muscle pain. After around sixteen hours have passed users experience a range of discomforting withdrawal symptoms including insomnia, diarrhoea, panic attack and anxiety. Around the twenty four hour mark into detox addicts experience what is known as the ‘acute’ period of detoxification. Addicts feel a powerful sense of anxiety. Any attempt to fall asleep is met with failure. Addicts experience severe diarrhoea and hot and cold flushes.

Drugs such as Suboxone or Subutex are taken to reduce discomforting withdrawal symptoms during this phase of detoxification.


72 hours – 120 hours (Day 3 – 5)

Addicts reaching the seventy two hour mark should know the worst withdrawal symptoms have now passed. So congratulations! However, withdrawal symptoms have yet to fully resolve. Addicts are advised to eat plenty of nutritious food and drink lots of water. Diarrhoea and anxiety are likely to have faded by this point in the detox. However, addicts are likely to still experience stomach pain, shivers and vomiting.

By day five withdrawal symptoms decrease significantly.


144 hours+ (Day 6+)

Once clients reach day six the ‘acute’ detox phase has passed. The remaining withdrawal symptoms include loss of appetite and mild insomnia. Some addicts may experience nausea. Mild withdrawal symptoms remain for up to several weeks.


About Us

Cassiobury Court is a drug rehab centre located in North London. We offer a comprehensive 28-day heroin rehab programme as well as a rapid opiate detox programme.