The Signs of Heroin Withdrawal and How to Safely Detox

heroin, are responsible for four out of five deadly drug overdoses in Europe, while 18% of all hospital ER admissions in the U.S. are a result of opiate and heroin abuse.

Unfortunately, the opioid epidemic is raging across the country. When people who’ve been addicted to opiates exhaust their supply before getting treatment, they will often turn to more deadly street heroin. Without treatment, heroin addiction only leads to one place – overdose.

Many people who find themselves locked in the struggle of heroin addiction want to quit. But heroin withdrawals are incredibly painful and distressing and can be dangerous if someone doesn’t have access to round-the-clock medical care. Fortunately, there are medical detox and rehab facilities that can offer heroin addicts relief from these symptoms while they safely withdrawal from heroin.

What is the withdrawal process in drug addiction?

When someone becomes addicted to drugs, including heroin, their brain and body become used to functioning with the drug in their system. Not only do people crave the euphoria or high that a drug produces, but their body also needs the drug to function. Without the drug, the body and brain go into a sort of shock while they attempt to come back to baseline levels of sober functioning. This is the process of drug withdrawal.

Some withdrawal symptoms are more severe than others, and some drugs can even cause withdrawal symptoms that are potentially deadly. Also, quitting a drug cold-turkey can make withdrawal symptoms incredibly intense. Physical symptoms can start in as little as a few hours after the last use, while emotional or psychological symptoms can last weeks or even months.

When someone attempts to quit on their own, they’re usually hopeful and determined to get off drugs or alcohol. But painful and intense withdrawal symptoms can prevent them from achieving detox and sobriety. If someone is quitting at home, in an environment where it’s all too easy for them to get drugs, then their chances of retaking drugs and relapsing are increased once the inevitable withdrawal symptoms intensify.

Heroin Withdrawal & Detox

What are the symptoms of heroin withdrawal?

Physical heroin withdrawal symptoms start within twelve hours of cessation. Withdrawals from heroin are similar to prescription or synthetic opioids. However, heroin leaves the user’s body much more quickly than prescription opioids, so withdrawal symptoms for heroin will happen more rapidly.

The most intense, painful physical discomfort lasts about one week. Heroin withdrawals are often described as feeling like a bad case of the flu. Physical withdrawal symptoms tend to peak on the third day after cessation. The most common physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Dilated pupils
  • Stomach cramps
  • Muscle aches

How long does heroin withdrawal last?

The duration of heroin withdrawals is influenced by different factors, including how long someone has been addicted, how much of the drug they’ve abused, and if they’re also addicted to any other substances. It’s critical to note that long term heroin abuse can cause permanent changes in the brain, which can influence a person’s mood. People who quit heroin after years of abuse can experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms, including generalized anxiety disorders and clinical depression. They may also undergo permanent changes in sleep habits, leading to increased rates of insomnia.

The first few days after cessation, patients usually experience a combination of muscle aches, stomach problems, anxiety, and sleep issues. By the end of the third or fourth day after cessation, patients will experience more intense physical problems, such as vomiting, cramping, and diarrhea. At the end of the first week after cessation, most users will start to feel better, but they will continue to feel fatigued and worn down for a few more days.

For those who’ve struggled with long term heroin abuse, they may continue to experience physical withdrawal symptoms intermittently for several months after cessation. They may also struggle with long-lasting anxiety, insomnia, or depressive symptoms thanks to neurological changes in the brain.

Why should someone get professional help for heroin detox?

Painful, acute physical withdrawal symptoms from heroin withdrawal significantly increase the chances of a person relapsing. Feeling sick, tired, run down, and in pain can cause even the most determined person to reach for just tiny bit of heroin for relief. But that short-term relief starts them back down the road to full-blown addiction. By attending a medical detox center, patients are away from drug supplies. They’re also in an environment that is designed to help them through the withdrawal process. A medical detox center can give patients access to nonaddictive medication that will lessen the severity of withdrawals.

Methadone can help patients taper off heroin and prevent severe withdrawal symptoms, while Buprenorphine and Naltrexone can reduce cravings and block opioid receptors, decreasing the risk of relapse.

Why is it so dangerous for someone to quit heroin alone?

Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are incredibly common symptoms during the acute withdrawal phase from heroin. These conditions can cause someone to become severely dehydrated. Also, patients are at risk of choking and asphyxiating on their vomit. It’s never a good idea to attempt to quit heroin alone. It’s a risk to someone’s health, life, and their chances of achieving sobriety safely and successfully.

Where should someone go to get treatment for heroin addiction?

Patients should look for a licensed medical detox and inpatient rehab facility for heroin addiction treatment. While detox is the first step to sober living, it’s critical that patients attend a rehab center for several months after detox. During rehab, patients are given additional tools and resources to fight addiction and maintain sobriety. Rehab centers enable patients to receive ongoing therapy sessions and provide them with access to lifesaving drugs that can prevent cravings and block opioid receptors in the brain.

If you or someone you love is struggling with heroin addiction, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a drug counselor today and explore your addiction treatment options. At Mission Harbor, we have experienced technicians on hand to address any concern or inquiry you may have. Call now to save your loved ones from overdose and death.

The facilities at Mission Harbor are staffed with trained experts to best assist patients with their mental health issues. We are capable of dealing with any and all cases with a licensed staff, equipment, and approved techniques. Our mission is to help those who want to help themselves, and we support your decision in seeking help.

Get Help Now

Alcohol addiction is extremely difficult to overcome on your own.. Seek specialized help and let professionals guide you in your recovery.