7 Tips for Getting Through Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN on May 5, 2021
  • middle-aged-man-walking-dog
    You can beat opioid withdrawal.
    Many people use opioid medications to manage pain. But long-term use—or abuse—may make it difficult to stop taking these medications. If you’ve taken opioids for a while, you may experience withdrawal symptoms as you wean off or stop your medication completely. That’s because your body gets used to having opioids in your system, and can react negatively as it acclimates to functioning without. Many of these symptoms are uncomfortable, but they typically aren’t life-threatening. Keeping some simple tips in mind can help you overcome some of the most common opioid withdrawal symptoms.
  • portrait of smiling senior woman
    1. Take it one day at a time.
    Your body needs time to recover from using opioids. Opioid withdrawal is a process, and withdrawal symptoms, such as muscle aches, abdominal cramps, or nausea, may last for several days or weeks before you start to feel better. It’s important to be mindful of the symptoms you’re experiencing and try to manage one thing at a time. Also, remember these symptoms won’t last forever. Eventually, you’ll feel as well, or better, than you did before.
  • portrait of senior African American male sleeping in bed on side
    2. Get plenty of rest.
    The first few days of opioid withdrawal can be the most difficult. During this time, try to get as much rest as you possibly can. You can boost your likelihood of a good night’s sleep by creating a relaxing bedtime routine that helps you stick to a sleep schedule. Be sure where you sleep is cool, dark, and comfortable. Your doctor may also recommend dietary supplements like melatonin, which naturally promotes sleep, to help you get the rest you need.
  • Lady Walking
    3. Exercise if you can.
    In addition to their pain-relieving properties, opioid medications may produce a sense of euphoria. This feeling results from a large release of certain chemicals, called endorphins, inside the brain. When you stop using opioids, this “endorphin rush” usually goes away temporarily. But exercise helps your brain naturally produce more endorphins, boosting your mood and helping you feel better. Even easy, low-impact exercises like yoga or walking can substantially increase endorphin levels in your brain.
  • banana
    4. Eat healthy foods.
    Some opioid withdrawal symptoms, like nausea, may make food unappealing. But it’s important to provide your body with the nutrients it needs to help you achieve your best health. Bland foods, like bananas, apples, or toast, may help relieve upset stomach symptoms while still providing you with essential vitamins and minerals. Greasy, high-fat foods, such as many processed foods, don’t have as many nutrients and may further irritate your stomach lining, making your symptoms worse.
  • glasses-of-water
    5. Drink plenty of water.
    Diarrhea, a common opioid withdrawal symptom that usually occurs later in the process, may result in dehydration if it’s severe or goes on for a long time. It’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration, which can have serious consequences and may actually make your withdrawal symptoms worse. Instead of drinking a lot of water all at once, try keeping a bottle of water with you at all times, taking small sips throughout your day.
  • Male friends
    6. Accept support.
    A strong support system can help make opioid withdrawal a little easier. Having people around who support your decision to stop using opioids helps boost your motivation to follow through with this healthy life change. Friends and family can also assist you if you experience opioid cravings, which is typical among those who have used these medications long-term. Your support group can distract you and keep you focused on the end goal.
  • male-patient-at-doctors-appointment
    7. If necessary, explore detox.
    For some, opioid withdrawal symptoms are too much to handle at home. If you struggle to overcome symptoms, or if you have another serious medical condition, you might consider getting off your medication with the help of medical professionals. Detox facilities offer a safe location where you can stop using opioids under the supervision of a doctor. In these facilities, doctors often prescribe opioid withdrawal medications to help manage side effects and increase your likelihood for success.
Opioid Withdrawal | Opioid Withdrawal Remedies

About The Author

Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN began writing professionally in 2016. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and worked as a registered nurse in multiple specialties, including pharmaceuticals, operating room/surgery, endocrinology, and family practice. With over nine years of clinical practice experience, Sarah has worked with clients including Healthgrades, Mayo Clinic, Aha Media Group, Wolters Kluwer, and UVA Cancer Center.
  1. Opioids. National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids#summary-of-the-issue
  2. Opiate and opioid withdrawal. U.S. National Library of Medicine. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm
  3. Opiate Withdrawal Timelines, Symptoms and Treatment. American Addiction Centers. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/withdrawal-timelines-treatments/opiate
  4. Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
Was this helpful?
Last Review Date: 2021 May 5
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.