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How to Stop Chills From Opiate Withdrawal

Peter Manza, PhD profile image
Reviewed By Peter Manza, PhD • Updated Nov 29, 2023 • 4 cited sources

Both pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic strategies can stop the chills from opiate or opioid withdrawal.

Chills, fever and cold sweats are common in people who abruptly stop taking opioids and are going through withdrawal. Some people are so uncomfortable during withdrawal that they return to drug use to relieve the chills and other distressing symptoms. 

For this reason, it is important to address the symptoms of withdrawal, including cold sweats, to help prevent people from returning to opioid use.

Quick Answer

The best way to quit opioids or opiates and stop the chills and cold sweats is to receive professional detox treatment. Medical detox services can relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings and increase your comfort during this process.

How to Get Rid of Opioid Withdrawal Chills

Regardless of which opiate or opioid you are withdrawing from—Norco, Vicodin, Percocet, fentanyl, heroin or otherwise—you will likely feel like you have the flu. This includes fever, cold sweats, and chills. 

There are many ways to ease opiate withdrawal chills, both at home and in professional treatment settings. And these strategies include prescription and over-the-counter medications as well as non-pharmacologic interventions.

Withdrawal Medications to Ease Your Chills 

Opioid withdrawal syndrome is rarely life-threatening but it can be extremely uncomfortable.[2] If you develop severe symptoms, including chills, your team can help you feel better with withdrawal medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, Suboxone and more.

1. Methadone

One of the oldest medications used to treat opioid use disorder available, methadone can soothe overly excited brain cells and ease your withdrawal symptoms, including fever and cold sweats.[2]

Some people stay on methadone for life while others choose to slowly wean off the medication, depending on what their needs are and their treatment goals. 

2. Buprenorphine and Suboxone

A partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine can latch onto opioid receptors used by drugs like heroin and prescription painkillers. Instead of feeling high, you’ll feel calm and normal and, if done correctly, should have minimal withdrawal symptoms and cravings for other opioids.

If you are at home and unable to or unwilling to go in person to the doctor or hospital, you can receive Suboxone online through Bicycle Health. Most patients are able to get Suboxone the same day they meet with their provider. 

Your chills may stop, and you may not feel drug cravings. Some people stay on buprenorphine medications like Suboxone for months, years, or even indefinitely to keep relapse risks as low as possible. 

3. Clonidine 

Clonidine has no opioid medication in it and thus it is not considered the best or most effective treatment for chills associated with opioid withdrawal; however, it can be a helpful medication to use in addition to Suboxone or Methadone, to help decrease chills. [3]

Once you feel better and your withdrawal progresses, you’ll usually stop taking clonidine. It is usually used short-term on a limited basis for acute withdrawal symptoms such as chills. Methadone and Suboxone, in contrast, can be used more long term to prevent withdrawal and cravings and prevent relapse. 

OTC Medications to Treat Fever and Cold Sweats

Other ways to treat fever, cold sweats and chills at home include OTC medications, such as:

  • Ibuprofen
  • Acetaminophen
  • Naproxen
  • Aspirin

All of these OTC medications work as fever-reducers and pain-relievers and may be able to ease withdrawal chills as well as headaches, muscle aches and joint pain.

Other Tips to Make Your Chills Stop 

Opiate withdrawal is a natural process, and it’s the beginning of your new and sober life. But your chills are uncomfortable, and you want them to stop. What can you do?

As you move through withdrawal, consider these tips:

  • Stay calm: Your thoughts impact your health. The more worried, anxious, and upset you feel, the faster your heart races and the worse your chills get. Breathe as slowly as you can. Focus on your heartbeat or your breath. This can help to keep you present and more relaxed.
  • Hydrate: Perspiration, vomiting, and diarrhea can leave you dehydrated and more prone to chills. Drink at least eight cups of fluids each day.[4]
  • Dress in layers: Put on a sweater or coat when you feel cold, and take it back off when you’re too warm.
  • Sponge your body: Sponging your face and body with lukewarm water can help reduce a fever.
  • Rest: Get plenty of rest so your body can move through opioid withdrawal more efficiently and get rid of the chills.

If your chills worsen as your withdrawal progresses, talk openly and often with your treatment team. You may need a medication adjustment to stay comfortable and on track.

Why Do You Get Chills From Opiate Withdrawal?

Continued opioid misuse can lead to physiological dependence, which means your brain and body have grown accustomed to the presence of the drug and now need it to function. When you abruptly stop taking an opioid like heroin or prescription painkillers, you’ll experience distressing withdrawal symptoms, including chills and cold sweats.

While the opioid withdrawal process is complex, researchers think sudden drug cessation leads to a condition called “adenylyl cyclase superactivation-based central excitation.”[1] As part of this process, enzymes that control the widening and contraction of your blood vessels are altered.[2] As your tissues are flooded and then deprived of blood, you experience tremors and chills.

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. The Neurobiology of Opioid Dependence: Implications for Treatment. Addiction Science and Clinical Practice. July 2002. Accessed June 2022.
  2. Opioid Withdrawal. StatPearls. March 2022. Accessed June 2022.
  3. Opiate Withdrawal Using Clonidine. JAMA. January 1980. Accessed June 2022. 
  4. Withdrawal Management. Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. 2009. Accessed June 2022.

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