Random header image... Refresh for more!

How to Deal With Post-Withdrawal Depression

Although I would classify acute-withdrawal as the worst part of opiate detox, the post-withdrawal depression is a close second…it’s HORRIBLE! I remember every time my main “kick” was over, and as soon as I thought I was in the clear, I would get slammed with the worst depression ever. It was bad enough to make me want to go back to the drugs.

In my previous post I write about PAWS and the symptoms associated with it, one of which being depression. I wanted to dedicate an entire post to just this subject, because it’s been the reason for many a relapse episodes for me. It’s so hard to struggle with 7-14 days of hardcore withdrawal only to feel like an empty, unhappy soul once all the physical stuff is over. It’s like you’ve just went through the battle of your life, and right when you’re starting to feel regular again, you’re thrown right back in, but in a completely different way. It can be very discouraging.

Throughout the years I learned a few things that helped me get through the depression which was at times suicidal. But a word of caution before I continue; Suicidal-depression is no joke. It’s a darkness that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, and to this day I’m amazed at how I made it through some of the bouts that I did. I urge you get help immediately if you or a loved one is seriously contemplating suicide. For some it’s just a fleeting thought, but for others it’s the real deal. Don’t risk it.

Levels of depression can vary from person to person, but I’ve noticed that I’ve been able to fight off any level with just a few simple things.

#1: Get Yourself Around Some People. 
I can’t stress this enough. Don’t EVER stay by yourself when dealing with depression. That is why 12-step programs work for some folks, it’s because you have somewhere to go when you’re feeling down. It’s amazing how other people’s positive energy can rub off on you in a miraculous way. I’ve had many a times when I’ve been ready to either call it quits (in life), or jump ship and go back to popping pills, but before I start whaling in my sorrows, I call a few of my most outrageous buddies and we go do something loud, fun and crazy (without drugs). Before I know it, I’m wondering what the hell I was all down for. This single act alone can be enough to pull you out of the madness, but the hardest part is actually doing it.  When we’re depressed, all we want to do is lock ourselves in a dark room so we can feel sorry for ourselves. It’s masochistic in a way, yet the best prescription for being in the shitter, is the one thing we do not want to do. Force yourself! Your life may depend on it.

#2: Exercise.
I know I talk about this quite a bit, but only because it works. Exercise releases endorphins that are very similar to the drugs we’re trying to get clean from, so when you get a nice run or weight routine going, you’ll feel much better. There have been times when I’ve worked out three times in one day just to power through some God awful depression. Mix that with a good night out with some friends, and I guarantee you’ll be a different person by the time your head hits that pillow.

#3: Pray or Meditate.
This can be one of the most powerful tools in battling depression, but I’ve found that for me it’s also the most difficult. It is so hard for me to kneel and pray when I feel like crap. I’ve tried to make myself do it, but I’ve noticed that I’ll give up rather quickly. It’s much easier for me to force myself into calling a few friends to hang out, then to pray all by myself. But the funny thing is that when I do go out with my buddies, and then I come back home, I find myself very grateful and thanking God for the rest of the night. If you’re religious/spiritual, you can always call your friends and pray or meditate together. 

#4: Get Professional Help.
I’ve personally never been to a therapist for my depression. My close friends and relatives are all the therapy I need to get out of my slump, but I understand that those kinds of relationships might be scarce for some of you. So, I don’t see anything wrong with having a therapist to talk to when you’re down. Although I do recommend you find the right one. It might take you a few tries, but there will always be a professional out there that matches your personality. 

A Note about Antidepressants.
I’m very reluctant to suggest that you obtain any antidepressant drugs to deal with your depression. I think that most antidepressants can do much more harm than good. I’ve heard many stories about individuals who commit suicide because they were on some sort of antidepressants, and because of their substance abusing past, they end up mixing their prescription with alcohol or some other drug. That’s just a recipe for disaster. However, I am a big advocate of doing what works best for you. So, please do your own research if you or your Doctor decide that you should get on some pills. BE CAREFUL.    

I hope this post helps any of you dealing with post-withdrawal depression right now. I’d also love to hear your ways of dealing with it as well.


1 Pen South { 09.25.11 at 4:59 pm }

Anybody: I took 120 to150 mg of
vicodin for about 4 years. Prior to that had a “modest ” habit of maybe 20 mg. for about 10 years. i have been completely off vicodin for three months, and feel no craving for it, but am NOT NORMAL. Brain fog, apathy, depression….wondering if it is posible I have done permanent brain damage. Has anyone done this much, and gotten back to normal? If so, how long????? Thanks.

2 unkewl { 10.03.11 at 10:06 am }

Iv taken 60-120 morphine for the past year either every day or ever other day. Just got over the acute withdrawal and I have to say I think most people are tricked into feeling like shit after thats over from doctors and this crap all over the net. What they wont tell you is all it takes is acceptance of the real reason you took the drug and the realization that it altered your mind during those times. I have no paws , no lack of energy , no depression. Although I guess it could be just a “things effect each person differently”. Either way strength your mind and accept the reasons why you used and why you want to quit and your good to go. If you dont want to use opiates you wont crave them.

3 Fallen { 10.07.11 at 9:28 am }

I’m on day 9 off subutex and today it hit. Like you, this is exactly what led me to relapse. I can’t relapse. I’m pregnant. Yet feeling this way is torture.

I’m going to try your suggestions and pray it works. I’ve been crying all day. I feel so dead inside and have no motivation.

How long will this last???

4 Jenny { 01.19.12 at 7:37 am }

Hi there – so glad I found this site. I’ve been using 20-30 of 10mg viks for past 3 yrs and need so badly to quit. To compound this, I’m recuperating from a broken leg. This wkend will be picking up my last script for #90 and want to start a taper but don’t know if I have the willpower to go thru with it. Pls help. I have a wonderful husband, kids, great house, great life, but hate being saddled with this addiction.

5 Jenny { 01.19.12 at 7:40 am }

Pls help — trying to kick a 3 yr addiction to vicodin. Have been taking about 300mg/d, have been running through them at this level for the past yr and a half. I’m going to pick up #90 this weekend and want to start a taper but afraid I won’t have the willpower to go thru with this. I work in healthcare so the shame factor is severe and feel like I can’t turn to anyone. I have a great husband, great kids, but they have no idea. I feel like I’m living a lie, but so afraid of the alternative.

6 hadenough { 01.20.12 at 1:26 pm }

Jenny, 1st in order for the taper to work, You have to really I mean Really want to quit. I have been where you are and am currently taking 3-4 a day. It’s been Hard as hell but I just keep telling myself if I ever want to see my grand kids That I cant give in. I started by only taking a couple when I was starting to feel sick. But only then. I have lumbar issues that started all this crap years ago. But I have decided to try and deal with the pain. and I’m scheduled for knee surgery in 2 weeks that has me nervous as hell. Every time you get the urge to take some, get on this site and read. That seemed to help sometimes. If you can make the taper work it has to be better than C/T because for most they feel hell for a few days. but tapering is really hard when you have a full Rx sitting there. Good luck and stay strong.

7 Kitty Mom { 01.22.12 at 4:31 am }

Jenny, Welcome to the site and I pray that you overcome your addiction. I applaud those that try to taper because I think it takes more guts and willpower than I could ever muster up. As long as their were pills, I would gobble them up. So, I but the ole bullet and went Cold Turkey. That way, the really bad hell only lasted about 4 days except for the sleeping – that did not return for a couple of weeks. When I was on the pills, I had withdrawal every single day and had to take my doses closer and closer until I knew I was going to kill myself if I did not stop. So, if I can do it, you can too. Whatever way you decide, I wish you the very best and hope and pray that you conquer this. This site is testimony that it can and has been done. Get on your knees if you have to and pray and take each day or minute at a time until you realize that you are through it and alive and start feeling once again.
I have been clean now 16 months and have friends on here that are a year ahead of me and some coming up behind me. If you need our help we are here.
Love and Hope

8 bill { 01.30.12 at 2:38 pm }

hi,i am 44 yrs old and had been taking 20 to 25 vicoden a day,they where 10-325.my script was for 84 pills a week,i was out in three days.i also got some from another doc 750-750,150 a month and yes i am still alive.ive been clean for one week,my gut still hurts,and my deppression is bad.i almost have to remimber what it feels like to feel again,its truly awful to go threw this but i will survive.i had been on these for a yearand i hope no one has to feel the way i do.

9 Fragile Loser { 02.19.12 at 5:28 pm }

I feel almost guilty for taking up space posting on this site. I just spent the last week going through vicodin withdrawls. I was taking appox 50 mg a day for 6 months. I loved it but I knew in order to be a whole healthy person I had to stop. I’ve told my family that I have the flu. I knew it wasn’t going to be super easy. I am broken. I am so sad and depressed. I feel like my heart is broken. I can’t be around anyone. I tried yesterday and being around people made me so sad. How long does this last? I’ve always been strong and positive. I have a big heart and am there for people but don’t have anyone that I trust to be there for me. I am really lonely right now. I am looking at my life right now and am really down about where I am and where I should be. I could go on and on. HOW LONG DOES THE DISPAIR LAST?? PLEASE HELP!

10 jon p. { 02.27.12 at 8:56 pm }

I have been addicted for the past 7 years. The most I have taken in one day was 42 10-325mg norcos and that was 2 weeks prior to this post. I immediately stopped for 2 days and couldn’t take it. I have access to over 1,000 pills a month from different sources so I relapsed for 4 days and stopped again. I am on day 5 of being clean and don’t feel as bad because I have been taking Centrum multi-mineral/multi-vitamin supplements also potassium as well. I’ve been ok but still craving the vics periodically throughout the day. How do you keep your mind off of it? Its all I talk about!

11 Chris { 02.29.12 at 12:37 am }

I can only speak from what I have experienced. I used about 90mg of oxy a day off and on for about 4 years. I have made the decision to get clean and have moved away from all of my connections. I tried to get clean many times but could not stay away. When people talk about getting sick they usually mean 2 things, the physical (pain, stomach cramps, heartburn, fatigue) then insomnia for a few nights.. After about 5 days that stops and you forgot what life was like before this came into your life. I feel like I will always be left with a void. My brain reminds me every 30 secs. More than sex and I am a male. I have many other priorities but I cannot keep my mind off it. It is the right thing to do, however you are forever changed and have to live with that. I am going through a divorce, deciding to stop using and dealing with a death in the family. I feel there is no hope, but every morning I wake up and run my ass off and if not anything else my sleep is slowly coming back. To talk about the original message I want to say I have been smoking pot, taking xanax and drinking occasionally. I don’t abuse any of these drugs and get little satisfaction, but I found they are a good replacement when having the urge to use. I use pot when I am alone. I take xanax to help sleep and alcohol to get me out there and meet new people. I reach out for drugs, but when I find them I run b/c I realize how far I have come even though it doesn’t seem like much. I wish everybody the best of luck with dealing with this. Pain killers have been controlled by the wrong hangs for so long that we the people suffer…. But that’s a totally different issue.


12 Jenny { 03.01.12 at 9:44 am }

Hi Chris, you don’t say how long you’ve been clean, but man, pls give yourself a break. Kicking opiates is enough to knock you on your a*s all by itself, but a divorce and death on top of that? As for the benzos and alcohol, if that’s what it takes in the short term to keep you off the oxys, then you have to do what you have to do. Like you, neither of these have been my drug of choice and don’t feel tempted really to “run” with one or the other. Vicodin, however is a whole ‘nuther story! Just be smart and safe about it and keep in mind that w/d’ from benzos sometimes worse and dangerous depending on your use. If you want to come over to the “about” page, there is a lot of support over there. Lots of people with long clean time, and short clean time (like me). One of the girls over there recommends repeating the mantra “no pills for today/no pills for today” whenever that obsessive beast starts lurking outside of the reptilian part of our brains that crave anything that makes us feel good and function. Glad you’re here and hope you keep posting.

13 jojobee { 03.15.12 at 3:47 pm }

I have what is called the suicide disease ( look it up, its Trigeminal Neuralgia ) Put on heavy opiates right from the get go. A successful brain surgery and 2 years later, I have chronic mild pain and am now an addict. The w/d is soooo bad. I try to ween off slowly, but I never do. Its too hard. I end up taking the same heavy amount cause I’m addicted. I will have chronic pain probably the rest of my life ( i’m 43 ) but at this point I dont even know how much pain i’m really in. I never get off of them enough to know what my real pain is. Everytime I go to dr., I tell myself I’m going to tell my dr that I want off and to help me. When I am there, I never do it. I panic I couldn’t do without them, so why would I out myself? I tried cold turkey and had the worst 2 days of my life. Chills, stomach ache and cramps and diarrhea. The depression was right away and really , really bad. I mainly remember thinking,,, what is the point? Why am I even here? When I did go out of the house I looked at people going about their day and wondered what gets them thru the day? What is their point to living? Before I started all these pills, what was my thinking about my day? What got me out and about being able to handle day to day life without hating it? I don’t know what to do with myself in my own home. I just stood there, still, not knowing what to do with myself. I don’t remember what I did with myself or what made me happy or who I even am. I was never REALLY suicidal because I knew in the back of my mind it was probably the wd. I just dont think I could do it on my own. I need therapy for sure because, yes I started liking the opiates for the high, but I am very aware I am also using them to numb emotional issues. I have good ins and would love to do 30 days, but I am a single mom and I don’t know what I would do with my kids. I just need to figure it out. My dr. did say if I stay on these pills and abuse them, I would be dead in 10 years from liver failure. I hope I find this site again after I leave here.

14 Paco { 03.31.12 at 10:12 am }

I really want to thank everyone for posting & for all of the encouragement, I am tapering now & preparing myself to quit in a couple days. I have been on heavy pain meds for approx 6 years now & this will be my first and last real effort to quit. I am terribly scared of what life without my pillz will be like but not as scared as what my life will be like if I don’t quit. I believe I’m doing it the right way… I am loading up on supplements and vitamins and benzos to help me get thru the initial wds and have already gone to my Dr. & confessed that I have become dependant on the norcos and dillys that she prescribes me and admitted that I have also been getting pillz off the streets for prob the last 3 years on top of what she already prescribes. Out was a huge step for me tto do this bcuz I CAN’T fail now bcuz theres no way I can afford to buy on the streets unuf to make up for the scripts that I will no longer be getting from her. I had no choice though, I have truly hit rock bottom & even attempted suicide approx a month ago. I do ask ya’ll to please say some prayers for me, I def needs all the help I can get. I know this next month or so will be really rough but I’ve reached the point that I just can’t do the constant emotional yoyo anymore! I really appreciate all of the advice ya’ll have posted & I will be checking back in regularly and documenting my recovery. I really can’t wait to get the old me back, if that is I still can find the old me ! Wish me luck & thanks again 🙂

15 Chris { 04.07.12 at 9:05 pm }

Well…..I was clean for about two months and then relapsed…I thought the depression that I was experiencing was due to quitting the drugs. Such is not the case. The depression is definitely due to the other things in my life that suck right now. I am currently using and it sucks..I was up front with alot of people about what I was going through, but now I am living a lie again bc people think I am clean. Honestly, divorce hurts so bad that quitting has taken a back seat to dealing with these feelings. Truth is I will have to be ready to quit and I am simply dealing with too much crap. I’ll check in periodically. Thanks for looking out Jenny. I am well aware of the evils of benzos and consider them a far worse drug. I have given up the other stuff in the mean time. Take Care.


16 jm { 04.30.12 at 5:46 pm }

your advice has helped me more than anything else. opiate withdraws lead me to a methadone clinic, and… need i say more? when you go from 25mgs to 70mgs in a week and a half its no longer an addiction its a death wish. i quit the clinic about 2 weeks ago cold turkey and ended up in the hospital. im ok now just suffering from the depression and energy loss. its NOT worth losing everything and everyone you love, and this time is the last time for me! stay strong and youll pull through. p.s. taper down if you can. going cold turkey can make the body go into shock if you used alot for a long time.

17 Chris { 05.21.12 at 10:03 pm }

Update…. Been clean for awhile and now tapering down on suboxone. I haven’t felt this good since before I started using. I am exercising everyday and have most of may daily motivation back. I hope to be off the subs in a few weeks as I was on a nasty H binge. I don’t want to go back to drugs and I think I will be able to stay away this time. There is just so much else to do with my life. When I lived in dallas they had NA meetings every night and all I can find is one every week where I live. I want to get into counseling but I am so broke I can’ afford it. I had a great counselor back home and hopefully she will help me out when I get back. For everybody else, suboxone totally changed my life. The depression and anxiety is gone and I have more energy than I thought possible. Now to just kick cigarettes. But that is the least of my problems. Best of luck to everybody.


18 joey mitchell { 08.13.12 at 10:16 am }

have to cut back from 5 10mg vicodin to 2 10mg hope i can do this

19 wesley { 08.19.12 at 4:34 pm }

Hello, i am 10 1/2 months clean. My memory has improved, but my anxiety which is being very fearful about life is still there. My depression is still there as well…. shouldn’t this be over by now? I was snorting oxies and smoked them 4 times before i started to feel bad withdrawls. I quit… the wrong way, and was puking and had anxiety for weeks and months.. my anxiety and depression is nothing like it was then, it’s more so exhausting..

20 kristie { 09.07.12 at 4:58 am }

I am so glad I found this site because there were some people on here that said “it DOES get better” … I have been struggling with addiction my whole life (since age 12, now im 32)… I was in a car accident this past january (2012) and was prescribed percocets. I immediately started abusing them. When my Rx ran out i went to the streets to find more and I could only find dilaudids but they were much better and I started to snort those. When I decided to quit because I was way out of hand, I went through the physical detox but it was the severe depression that got to me and I started using again. I stayed on them daily for 3 months because I just didn’t want to go through the depression again. I am now going to try to quit again (just had my last 3 pills this morning) and I am sooooo scared. I know I am going to go through the physical w/d but I am more scared of the depression. I have to make it through! I have a good job, nice house and 2 sweet little dogs that depend on me. I have a really supportive family but they are not aware that I have relapsed again and I don’t want to disappoint them. I am just glad to hear that it gets better because I was scared that I permenantly damaged the chemistry of my brain. I am so glad that I am not alone too. Please pray for me.

21 Claudia { 11.15.12 at 12:13 am }

Hi all.
I hope someone can offer insight. How soon does the depression kick in after stopping Vicodin? I stopped today. My dosage consisted of -half of one to one 5-500mg almost everyday to every couple of days for 7 months. I want to stop because i have been taking it consistently (everyday) Anyways I didn’t take it today and I am feeling suicidal. I don’t have any of the physical w/d just the depression. Is this possible? I am already on antidepressants and anxiety meds for bipolar disorder. Is it the Vicodin ? What should I do? Sorry for being lame. Thanks to all for reading and responding.

22 Jayne { 11.18.12 at 4:42 am }

I work in psychiatry and your comment about antidepressants causing many people to commit suicide is one that I find hard to believe. You said you have heard many “stories” regarding this, and that users end up mixing antidepressants with alcohol and other drugs. Did you verify any of these stories? It would not be the antidepressant that would be responsible for ones death. They can be life saving medications, treating the underlying depression, and by doing that , taking the need away to self medicate with street drugs .

23 Big dawg { 02.20.13 at 11:07 am }

I was taking 3 oxy 10 mg a day and what ever I could get my hands on ! I would snort the 15 and 30mgs when I could get them!! However I weened myself down for about a month and the last week I took very small amonts of subutex like 2 mgs lasted the whol week and I’ve been off them for 4 months and I still have depreson and anxiety and I just recently got most of my energy back

24 Very Burdened { 06.22.13 at 8:13 am }

Every post that I have read on this site sounds just like my husband. My soulmate id battling a 180 pil s a month hydrocodone addiction. It has cost many jobs and family heartache. Right now he is experiencing the headache and depression issues. He currently is on Cymbalta and I am worried about what this will do to his depression. Today will be the first day that he TRIES to take just one pill spit in half two times today. He cannot do what he does for living and keep taking a narcotic pain killer. He is miserable, I am too. Is there any detox drinks or foods that can help the liver detox? How long does Hydrocodone traces stay in your urine? Trying to help him and me. Anyone that could response would be greatly appreciated! Please Pray for him and me.

Leave a Comment