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How Long Does Hydrocodone Withdrawal Last?

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Mar 22, 2024 • 8 cited sources

Hydrocodone withdrawal will last for a different amount of time for every person who undergoes the process. 

For most people, acute symptoms resolve in about a week or two, but chronic symptoms can persist.[1] You can largely avoid the discomfort of hydrocodone withdrawal through the use of Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT), such as Suboxone.

For specifics on what to expect in your experience with hydrocodone withdrawal, speak to your doctor. 

What Is Hydrocodone Withdrawal?

Hydrocodone withdrawal describes the process of stopping the use of hydrocodone completely in favor of beginning a new life in recovery. 

For many people, the first step is to lower their current daily dose of hydrocodone with the goal of ultimately switching to a medication like Suboxone that will allow them to stop taking the drug completely. If the person is taking a high dose of hydrocodone every day in order to maintain an opioid use disorder (OUD), it may take longer to get to the point that they are able to switch over to Suboxone. 

From there, they may choose to continue the tapering process until they are completely free of all medications or they may choose to get on a maintenance dose of Suboxone and stay there for months or years. There isn’t a reason to stop taking Suboxone if it is helping you to maintain your recovery.

Throughout this process, it is possible to experience withdrawal symptoms, even though the goal is to minimize these as much as possible. It is not uncommon for people to experience mild withdrawal symptoms after every dose reduction. However, once the switch is made to Suboxone, those withdrawal symptoms will usually decrease significantly.[2]

If the withdrawal symptoms become severe, speak to the prescribing doctor. They will likely alter the dose or the tapering schedule in order to minimize the symptoms as much as possible.

Duration of Hydrocodone Withdrawal

Hydrocodone withdrawal may last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months or even years, depending on the individual’s situation, co-occurring medical issues and goals for recovery. Acute symptoms resolve sooner, but milder symptoms can persist for quite a while.

In order to get a more personalized response to the question of the duration of hydrocodone withdrawal, speak with a doctor who is familiar with your opioid misuse history, OUD treatment history and goals for the future.

Timeline of Withdrawal Symptoms

If you opt to go “cold turkey” and abruptly stop all use of hydrocodone, withdrawal symptoms will be more severe. The timeline for most people will likely look like the following:

  • First 3 days: Physical withdrawal symptoms begin and slowly build. They usually include sweating, headaches, insomnia, stomach cramping and diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, agitation, and bone and muscle aches. 
  • Days 3-5: Physical withdrawal symptoms usually peak and plateau.
  • Days 5-8: Physical withdrawal symptoms begin to fade but some may remain. Mental and emotional withdrawal symptoms—like anxiety, depression and cravings—may continue and potentially worsen. 
  • Days 9-30: Mental and emotional symptoms may remain, and cravings may continue. 

It should be noted that this type of detox process is not recommended by the FDA or the medical community. However, this information serves as a baseline for understanding how long hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms may last.[3] 

Factors Influencing Duration of Withdrawal

Typically, when hydrocodone withdrawal is supervised and monitored by a medical professional, the withdrawal symptoms are never overwhelming because they are managed with medications. 

When medications like Suboxone are introduced, the patient and doctor can work together to determine how induction will occur. For some people, especially those who have had multiple attempts at treatment and struggle with repeated relapse, long-term treatment (potentially lifelong) with Suboxone is the best option. 

Other factors that can impact how quickly hydrocodone withdrawal occurs include the following:[4]

  • Rate of individual metabolism
  • Co-occurring medical conditions that may impact the experience of withdrawal symptoms 
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions that may impact the rate at which it feels comfortable to go through withdrawal 
  • The ability to find alternate means of pain management when that is part of the patient’s experience

Symptoms of Hydrocodone Withdrawal

If hydrocodone withdrawal is not managed, it’s normal to experience symptoms, some of which can be intense.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms

Initial symptoms of withdrawal may include the following:[5]

  • Sweating
  • Runny nose
  • Yawning
  • Anxiety and agitation
  • Tearing eyes
  • Insomnia

Later withdrawal symptoms may include the following:[6]

  • Stomach cramps and diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps 

Severity of Symptoms

Just as with the length of time hydrocodone withdrawal will take, the specific symptoms experienced will be different. Some people will experience all withdrawal symptoms intensely, while most people will experience some symptoms more intensely than others. 

Additionally, the severity of symptoms can be significantly impacted by the OUD medications that the person chooses to take under the care of their medical team. 

Managing Hydrocodone Withdrawal

Management of hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms should prioritize safety. While hydrocodone withdrawal is not easy, the good news is that there are a number of medication options that can help ease the experience of withdrawal symptoms and make it easier to undergo the withdrawal process at home on your own. 

Suboxone is often available via telehealth care, making MAT more accessible than ever before. In some cases, additional medications may be prescribed to address particular withdrawal symptoms, such as anti-anxiety medications.

Home Remedies & Self-Care

Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms can be stressful, characterized by both physical and mental health challenges. If you are undergoing the process at home on your own, it is a good idea to take these steps:

  • Make sure you have a safe space where you can stay for a week to 10 days as you move through the early days of recovery.
  • Surround yourself with supportive people who can help to make sure you have what you need to stay hydrated and healthy.
  • Try to rest and relax as much as possible.
  • Avoid stressful situations and people.
  • Keep healthy, simple foods nearby like plain crackers and simple soups.
  • Take care of yourself by getting rest, taking hot baths and doing whatever you need to do to stay as comfortable as possible.
  • Keep the phone nearby, so you can call your doctor or for emergency medical assistance if needed.

Medical Assistance

It is not easy to make it through hydrocodone withdrawal without the support and care of an addiction treatment specialist. With medical support, you can get your questions answered on a personal and timely basis, get medications like Suboxone that will help to ease symptoms and receive care for any acute medical issues that arise.[7]

In some cases, it may be necessary to seek emergency medical care. If that is the case, call 911 for assistance. 

Duration vs. Individual Variability

Remember that even if you are taking the same dose of hydrocodone at the start of detox, have a similar drug use history, and have a similar history of treatment attempts as someone else, you will have your own unique experience with the withdrawal process.[8] 

In short, the length of time that it takes for you to go through hydrocodone withdrawal will be based on your own personal circumstances. 

Key Points

Hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms are usually the most intense in the first week and then slowly ease over time. The specific length of time that it takes to fully be free of hydrocodone withdrawal symptoms will vary from person to person based on a number of factors, including whether or not they opt to take advantage of MAT options like Suboxone. 

It is not recommended that anyone living with OUD attempt to go through withdrawal on their own. Instead, it is safer and more effective to connect with addiction treatment specialists and a doctor who can prescribe medications that will decrease withdrawal symptoms and increase the likelihood of a successful transition into recovery. 

Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD

Peter Manza, PhD received his BA in Psychology and Biology from the University of Rochester and his PhD in Integrative Neuroscience at Stony Brook University. He is currently working as a research scientist in Washington, DC. His research focuses on the role ... Read More

  1. Mansi Shah, Huecker MR. Opioid withdrawal. StatPearls. Published June 4, 2019. Accessed January 25, 2024.
  2. Publishing HH. Treating opiate addiction, Part I: Detoxification and maintenance. Harvard Health Publishing. Published June 27, 2019. Accessed January 25, 2024. 
  3. FDA identifies harm reported from sudden discontinuation of opioid pain medicines and requires label changes to guide prescribers on gradual, individualized tapering. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Published online December 20, 2019. Accessed January 25, 2024. 
  4. Opioid taper decision tool. US Department of Veterans Affairs. Published October 2016. Accessed January 25, 2024. 
  5. Understanding opioid use disorder. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Published 2024. Accessed January 26, 2024. 
  6. Opiate and opioid withdrawal. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Published 2016. Accessed January 26, 2024. 
  7. Shulman M, Wai JM, Nunes EV. Buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder: An overview. CNS Drugs. 2019;33(6):567-580. 
  8. Nuamah JK, Sasangohar F, Erraguntla M, Mehta RK. The past, present and future of opioid withdrawal assessment: a scoping review of scales and technologies. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making. 2019;19(1). 

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