What are the symptoms of opioid medication withdrawal?

Travis M. Hendry, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
If opioid medication (strong medications that affect the way your brain handles pain signals) is stopped suddenly, you can have withdrawal symptoms. These can include cramps, diarrhea, body aches, increased pain, restlessness, yawning, runny nose, goose bumps, fast heartbeat, and sweating. These symptoms are uncomfortable, but in most cases they are not dangerous.
Someone who is going through opioid withdrawal will experience a terrible feeling of pain, joint aches, the worst flu of his or her life, runny nose, sweating, jitteriness, anxiousness, diarrhea, goose bumps and anxiety. The thing to remember, though, is that there aren’t many deaths that occur from withdrawal from opioids. Though it looks and feels dramatic, it is unlike alcohol withdrawal, which can actually be fatal. It just tends to feel like it could be.

A Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale (COWS) is sometimes used when observing people on medication for maintenance. Doctors want to see that a person is in some sort of withdrawal state before starting him or her on maintenance therapy. 
Howard J. Shaffer, PhD
Addiction Medicine
Opioids (powerful painkilling drugs) are notorious for producing withdrawal symptoms that include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, cold flashes with goose bumps, and involuntary leg movements. These symptoms usually subside within a week, but some people continue to experience sleep problems and irritability for months.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.