Withdrawal symptoms from opioid painkillers include cravings, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, according to WebMD. Additional withdrawal symptoms include agitation, severe negative moods, body aches and large pupils.
Opioid withdrawal can last between several hours and several weeks, depending on the length of time the drugs were used and the intensity of their use during that time, according to WebMD. While the physical symptoms represent a significant portion of the negative effects of withdrawal, the psychological effects are pronouncedly agonizing, leading many withdrawal sufferers to go to great lengths to obtain more drugs.
Treatments for opioid withdrawal include the use of methadone as a replacement drug, according to WebMD. This treatment eliminates withdrawal symptoms by using carefully selected doses of methadone that activate the same opioid receptors as other painkillers without producing the same euphoric feeling that leads users to relapse. Over time, the dose of methadone is slowly lowered until the sufferer no longer experiences withdrawal symptoms. Methadone treatment is the most effective treatment known for dependence on opioid painkillers. Other treatments include buprenorphine, which also activates opioid receptors in the brain to reduce craving, and clonidine, which reduces some of the effects of withdrawal but does not control craving.