While painkiller abuse isn’t new, the opioid epidemic puts a new light on the problem. Moreover, overdoses claim the lives of tens of thousands each year. What can help is recognizing painkiller withdrawal symptoms when you see them.

What Are Painkiller Withdrawal Symptoms?painkiller withdrawal symptoms during detox

It’s important that you understand not everyone gets every potential symptom of withdrawal. In fact, think of it like someone with the flu. Most flu sufferers get a fever, body aches, and a sore throat, but not everyone vomits or gets headaches.
For example, some of the possible symptoms you might see include:

  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Dilated pupils
  • Poor appetite
  • Nausea
  • Quick temper
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sweating

Some of the symptoms you can’t usually see, but a person might complain about, are muscle aches, cold flashes, and diarrhea. Someone in withdrawal also experiences intense drug cravings, but probably won’t announce that fact openly.

If you see one or two of these symptoms, don’t assume it’s the same as recognizing painkiller withdrawal symptoms. However, the thing you should watch for is a large number of these symptoms showing up all at once.


Of course, recognizing painkiller withdrawal symptoms is only the first step. Someone experiencing withdrawal can act in unpredictable or irrational ways in a bid to find more painkillers. If they find more drugs, they might accidentally overdose as they try to end the withdrawal.

What you really face is two different problems. Specifically, there is the withdrawal itself and also the underlying addiction. Both problems require professional help. Furthermore, a detox program can help someone get through withdrawal. Medical professionals can provide medications that ease the symptoms.

Knowing help is out there is only part of the solution. In fact, your friend must want the help. You can’t force them into any rehab program, but you can attempt an intervention. The first step is a one-on-one conversation.

As far as possible, avoid arguments. Just express your concerns about their drug use, the benefits of getting help, and your willingness to support their recovery. If they recognize the problem and want to stop, that conversation can help them decide. However, don’t lose hope if they deny the problem or reject your offer of help.

The next step is a group intervention. You can organize this intervention on your own, but it’s a tricky business. Focus on the benefits of getting help and your willingness to support their recovery.

You can also get help from a professional interventionist. Specifically, these are experts on staging and managing an intervention. They take the lead during the process.

Using a professional has advantages. If a neutral person leads the discussion, it can feel less like an attack. Moreover, the professional can also help people prepare statements. That goes a long way toward avoiding off-topic anger.

Discussions about how a person’s drug use hurt others happen during and after rehab. For example, most rehab programs encourage participants to join a 12-step program.

Addiction Treatment

The substance abuse programs at rehab clinics offer the best chance of getting the addiction under control. There are rehab programs specifically designed for treating addiction to prescription painkillers. They use a number of therapies that help people understand what drives their addiction and better coping mechanism.

For example, some of those therapies include:

Managing Withdrawal At Crest View Recovery Center

Crest View Recovery Center offers a prescription drug abuse treatment program. We work with a partner detox center so you can transition seamlessly from detox into rehab. Moreover, we welcome men and women into our program.

If someone in your life abuses prescription drugs, you can help them. In fact, talk with them about getting help from a quality drug rehab center. For more information about rehab programs, contact Crest View Recovery Center at 866.327.2505.

Article Reviewed by Patrice Wishon, LCSW, LCAS, CCS

Patrice Wishon, LCSW, LCAS, CCSPatrice has over 30 years experience working in social work and mental health/substance abuse counseling. She received her Master’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and has worked in a variety of settings, including community-based outpatient, hospital and classroom settings. Patrice specializes in substance abuse treatment, trauma and women’s issues.