Opioid Withdrawal: 9 Steps to Take During Recovery Process

Opioid withdrawal is a condition that results from drug (opioid) dependence. You may suffer from opioid withdrawal syndrome when you discontinue taking drugs used for pain management, usually following an injury or surgery. Common opioids include medications, such as oxycodone, heroin, methadone, morphine, and codeine. These drugs relieve pain and provide mental relaxation. Persistent usage of opioid drugs can lead to life-threatening conditions in users. 

sad woman sitting by the window

If you have become addicted to opioids, you may feel frightened, perplexed, and uncertain about how to control your dependence. Even when you try to quit or reduce dosage, you may experience various withdrawal symptoms leading to relapse. 

Symptoms of Opioid Withdrawal 

Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable. They can leave individuals worried about managing the symptoms, and the triggers may even drive users to do whatever it takes to ease the pain. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Hypertension (High BP)
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Bone and muscle pain
  • Leg movements (Involuntary)
  • Shivering
  • Fast breathing

The timeline of opioid withdrawal may vary from days to several weeks. It depends on how long the opioids were taken, which type was used, and if any other drugs were consumed along with them. However, medically managed treatments and some other ways can facilitate the process, adding safety and comfort. Have a look at a few steps you can take during your journey to addiction recovery. 

1- Get Professional Help

Quitting opioids alone is extremely difficult, especially in extreme cases. Choosing the right treatment option is the primary step to rehabilitation. Consider finding an addiction treatment center near you. From detox to the recovery stage, medically controlled opioid treatment helps cope with all the challenges of detox and withdrawal.

You will find knowledgeable and compassionate professional staff, and depending on the severity of your opioid dependence and needs, they create a unique personalized treatment plan. The overall target of treatment is to restore your life and physical health back to normal.

2- Clear Your Drug Cabinet

You have no idea how quickly dependence on a substance can develop. Once you have decided to quit, it is recommended to dispose of the drugs, either flush them or throw them away. As long as you see the medicines in your cabinet, they can trigger your cravings.

If you know someone from your family or friends who suffered from withdrawal symptoms and is currently in the recovery stage, it is recommended to keep your medication away from them. One of the major sources of drugs is said to be the family cabinet. When doctors over-prescribe drugs, regular usage can easily lead to addiction.    

3- Stay Hydrated

Dehydration is common when a human body is in the recovery stage from addiction. It occurs when you lose the body fluids more than you take them via drinking. If you are in recovery from opioid abuse, you may not feel thirsty, however, your body needs large amounts of fluids to help you heal. Going without water will only delay your recovery process.

Often, your needs are mistaken for hunger and thirst. So drink plenty of liquids and keep your body hydrated to avoid relapse and boost recovery. Opt for fluids that contain electrolytes, such as coconut water. 

4- Pay Attention to Your Sleep Schedule

Getting enough sleep is one of the essential elements to healing and physical, mental, and emotional health. When you rest properly, you are more focused and control your cravings. Going to sleep and waking up regularly at the same time is the best way to develop a healthy schedule of sleep.

Try to get at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep. You should avoid eating, watching television, and using your mobile phone before going to bed, rather try to engage in relaxation activities to unwind at night.   

5- Seek Emotional Support

Suffering from a condition like addiction is never easy. Even when you’ve committed to quitting, you may feel embarrassed, miserable, and panicked. Make sure to talk to your loved ones whoever you are comfortable with, about your recovery process. Tell them that you will be experiencing a hard time, and need their love and support. Studies suggest that people with a supportive and sober network have more chances of recovering than others. A good friend/partner will never let you fall, no matter what. 

6- Exercise Regularly

Exercise helps your brain produce a group of hormones called endorphins that positively rejuvenate your chemical balance. It also relieves stress and anxiety, aiding in good sleep and improved mood. Research shows that gentle exercise minimizes relapse and irresistible drug cravings, thus supporting recovery.

Engaging in physical activity such as your favorite outdoor sport and simply walking or running to a park can enhance physical health. Moreover, exercise helps improve mental health and provides stability during recovery. 

7- Healthy Food Intake

Diet plays an important role in curing your mind and body. If you have consumed high amounts of opioids, you may be deficient in some vital nutrients. Eating foods that are high in proteins, essential minerals, and vitamins is necessary for restoring the healthy body and brain functioning.

You may need to incorporate vitamin supplements into your diet to replenish dissipated ones during your addiction.  

8- Distract Yourself

Many people find it harder to fill the time they used to spend on either buying drugs or consuming them. So when you stop using drugs, boredom might kick in if you don’t have activities to fill that time.

Finding activities and exploring your new interests that can take your mind off the past can help. Reading your favorite book, watching a comedy movie, exploring nature, painting your favorite character, or just simply meeting your friends and loved ones can work.   

9- Consider Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques can stimulate blood circulation and help reduce stress and muscle pain. Methods like mindfulness help individuals become more focused on the present moment. Mindfulness is believed to be an effective medicine without side effects.

Studies suggest that it can help people minimize physical pain, stress, and even depression – which can be experienced on the road to recovery.  


Withdrawal from opioids can be dangerous and can become a serious threat to life in some conditions. The individual works hard to prevent addiction relapses. Once they back out from opioid addiction, the recovery may take time; however, it is not impossible.

Taking essential steps like exploring treatment options, incorporating a healthy diet, getting exercise daily, and sticking to an organized sleep schedule can help boost the recovery process. 

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