Man wondering, "How long does precipitated withdrawal last?"
By BrightView
Author Rhonda Roper, LCSW, LISW
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Rhonda Roper, LCSW, LISW

Rhonda serves as BrightView Health’s Vice President of Quality Operations. Prior to joining BrightView in 2020, Rhonda has over 18 years’... read more

Published: October 20, 2023
Updated: October 25, 2023

Opioid use disorder affects millions of Americans. However, with the help of medication for addiction treatment (MAT) and medications created to reverse an overdose, many lives have been saved and changed for the better. Remember that these medications do not come without risks. In fact, the incidence of precipitated withdrawal can be frightening if you do not know what to expect. Fortunately, being aware of the symptoms and treatment for precipitated withdrawal can help prepare you for this situation.

If you experience adverse side effects such as precipitated withdrawal in response to taking medication to reverse an overdose or as part of your MAT, you can reach out to BrightView for help. Our BrightView team is highly qualified to administer medication to help you get through the initial stages of recovery. Are you ready to make a positive change in your life? If so, contact us online or call us any time of day or night at 888.501.9865 to get treatment for precipitated withdrawal.

What Is Precipitated Withdrawal?

Precipitated withdrawal refers to a set of withdrawal symptoms that are suddenly induced by medication for addiction treatment or by attempts to reverse an overdose. What differentiates precipitated withdrawal from spontaneous withdrawal? The fact that it’s caused by the administration of medication rather than a lack of the drug in the system.

Several factors can impact whether a person will experience precipitated withdrawal. Firstly, the type of medication used for treatment plays a role. Opioid antagonists like naloxone or partial agonists like buprenorphine are more likely to cause precipitated withdrawal compared to other medications.

Moreover, the dosage of opioids used also influences the likelihood of experiencing precipitated withdrawal. Individuals who are taking high doses of opioids are at a higher risk of experiencing these withdrawal symptoms when medication is administered.

The type of opioid used is another important factor to consider. Long-acting opioids, which stay in the system for a longer duration, can increase the risk of precipitated withdrawal if medication is given while the drug is still present in the system.

Lastly, the timing of the last dose of opioids is crucial. The shorter the abstinence period since the last opioid dose, the more likely an individual is to experience precipitated withdrawal when medication is introduced.

Considering these factors can help healthcare professionals make informed decisions when administering medication for addiction treatment. At the same time, they can also minimize the risk of precipitated withdrawal for patients.

How Long Does Precipitated Withdrawal Last?

Have you been prescribed naloxone to treat potential overdose or are considering medication for addiction treatment for opioid use disorder? If so, you may be concerned about precipitated withdrawal. Learning about the symptoms associated with precipitated withdrawal and how long it lasts can help you know what to expect so that you can feel more at ease. During this experience, you may encounter the symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Chills

These symptoms will come on rapidly and can last anywhere from just a few hours to several days. The length of precipitated withdrawal is based on:

  • Your opioid use history – This includes the factors mentioned above, including the type of opioid, potency of opioid dosage, and the abstinence period, as well as the length of opioid usage. These factors contribute to both the likelihood of and the length of precipitated withdrawal.
  • Your overall health – How healthy you are in general plays an important role in how well you recover from illness, injury, and withdrawal.

How to Treat Precipitated Withdrawal

While the symptoms of precipitated withdrawal can be uncomfortable, it’s possible to manage them with proper treatment. Ironically, buprenorphine can effectively alleviate precipitated withdrawal symptoms, even if it was the catalyst of your symptoms. If you find that the discomfort is unbearable and you are tempted to take opioids to relieve it, you have several options:

  • Speak with your doctor about getting a prescription for buprenorphine.
  • Reach out to your opioid addiction treatment center for a dose of buprenorphine.
  • If you cannot get a dose of buprenorphine from your doctor or addiction treatment center within a reasonable time, you can visit your local emergency room for medications to treat your symptoms.

You can help reduce your risk of precipitated withdrawal if you allow a long enough waiting period after your last dose of opioids:

  • Short-acting opioids, such as heroin, oxycodone, Percocet, and Vicodin – Wait at least 12 to 24 hours.
  • Long-acting opioids, such as methadone and Oxycontin – Wait at least 24 to 48 hours.

Rely on BrightView for Safe, Reliable Treatment for Precipitated Withdrawal

If you feel as though you can’t face precipitated withdrawal, remember that you’re never alone on this challenging journey. You can find the support you need around the clock at BrightView. We are always here to help around the clock and can typically get you in within four hours. Our BrightView team understands that the idea of going through withdrawal prevents many people from getting the addiction treatment they need and deserve. So, we ensure that our patients are as safe and comfortable as possible throughout the entire withdrawal stage.

If you are experiencing unbearable symptoms of precipitated withdrawal, our experienced BrightView team is ready to help. Our comprehensive care for addiction helps people get back on the right track and leave substance use behind. Through the use of Medication for Addiction Treatment, our patients can get through the difficult initial stage of recovery. Need more information about why BrightView should be your addiction treatment provider? Then call us now at 888.501.9865 or reach out to us online today.