heroin withdrawal

Heroin Withdrawal

Overview of Heroin

Heroin is an illegal opioid drug derived from morphine, a substance that comes from the seed pod in the opium poppy plant. It is usually found in Southeast or Southwest Asia, Columbia and Mexico. Because of the intense feelings it causes in the body, it can be extremely addictive to use heroin, even after using it one time.

“The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relieversheroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare.”

Symptoms of Heroin Use

  • Euphoria
  • Upset stomach and vomiting
  • A dry mouth
  • Itching
  • Warm, flushed skin
  • Switching in and out of drowsiness (often referred to as being “on the nod”)
  • A fuzzy brain
  • Arms and legs that feel heavy

Heroin Withdrawal

Everyone is affected by a heroin withdrawal in a different way, but most people will agree that it causes the body to go into a “shocked” state and uncomfortable signs and symptoms will arise, quickly after the last dose taken.

Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Muscle aches

Duration of Withdrawal

The time frame that heroin withdrawal will last depends on many factors including:

  1. The length of time the user has used heroin
  2. Underlying medical or mental health problems
  3. The method by which they took heroin
  4. How frequently they used heroin
  5. The amount of heroin they took each time

Withdrawal of Heroin Timeline

Everyone will experience withdrawal from a specific drug in different ways, depending on many factors including the type of drug, how often it has been used and the person’s medical history. Below are some general guidelines on the timeline of what a person’s withdrawal will look like:

Days 1-2

Symptoms of withdrawal can happen as quickly as within 6 hours of the last dose taken. Typically, the first day will begin with muscle aches and pains and will become more intense over the course of 48 hours. Other symptoms during this period can include anxiety, depression, shaking, diarrhea, and panic attacks.

Days 3-5

By days 3-5 the symptoms will be in full swing, and people can experience many uncomfortable side effects. Some of these symptoms include sweating, shivers, nausea/vomiting and abdominal cramping.

Days 6-7

This stage usually is when “acute withdrawal” ends and symptoms begin to taper off. Although, most people going through withdrawal will feel tired and worn down, the other symptoms will begin to fade and get better.

Post-Acute Symptoms

Due to the neurological changes that heroin has on the brain, symptoms of withdrawal may continue to happen infrequently for months after the “acute” withdrawal phase. Some common symptoms that may be long-lasting are anxiety, fatigue, depression, insomnia, irritability, and depression.

Detoxing from Heroin

Many people find it a challenge to overcome a heroin addiction because the withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable and extreme. A heroin detoxification or detox can make someone feel so uncomfortable to the point that they believe they are dying. People who have been through the process report the same experiences: aches, pains (especially in the legs), extreme flu-like symptoms, stomach cramps, extreme craving to use heroin, sweating, excessive mucous production (runny nose), depression, diarrhea, low blood pressure and irritability. 

Heroin Overdose

A dangerous and sometimes life-threatening consequence of using heroin is overdose. Because of the different chemicals, amount of chemicals and type of heroin being used, it can be difficult to know exactly what a person is putting in their body. This puts them at a higher risk for overdose, than for someone who knows what they are getting.

“A large dose of heroin depresses heart rate and breathing to such an extent that a user cannot survive without medical help. Naloxone (e.g., Narcan®) is an opioid receptor antagonist medication that can eliminate all signs of opioid intoxication to reverse an opioid overdose.”

Naloxone was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2014 in the form of a hand-held auto injector that provides the person with a single dose in the muscle or arm which gives them more time to get the medical attention necessary to help them through the drug reversal period.

Addiction to Heroin

Heroin produces a highly addictive, calming effect in the body which makes it very difficult to quit using, for some people even after trying the drug only once. Addiction can occur quite rapidly, along with painful withdrawal symptoms that occur when someone tries to stop using, making it even more of a challenge to quit.

“The number of people meeting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV) criteria for dependence or heroin use disorder increased dramatically from 214,000 in 2002 to 626,000 in 2016.”

The increase of cases of heroin use disorder is quite alarming, making it pertinent to get help right away for an addiction problem with heroin. Seeking out Inland Detox to manage your heroin addiction treatment will allow you to begin to address the underlying causes of addiction through counseling, helping you to begin the recovery process and start your sobriety on the right foot.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

There are many treatment protocols that have been proven to be successful in treating a heroin dependency or addiction in patients. The most commonly used treatment methods are behavioral therapies and medications that help manage the withdrawal symptoms and ease the discomfort of discontinued use.

“Although behavioral and pharmacologic treatments can be extremely useful when utilized alone, research shows that for many people, integrating both types of treatments is the most effective approach.”

The best approach to take when treating someone for heroin use is to ensure that an evaluation and/or assessment is done to determine the best mode of treatment for the individual person. Every case and situation is different and the mode of treatment needs to be adjusted for each person.

Heroin Treatment at Inland Detox

Inland Detox is proud to be home to Southern California’s premier heroin detox program. Our services are the best first step towards lasting sobriety – with heavy emphasis on accurate assessment, stabilization, treatment planning, and client comfort, those who participate in residential treatment have begun the process of changing their lives forever.

Treating a heroin addiction can be a challenging thing to do on your own, which is why it’s important to get help from professional treatment staff to ensure the safest outcome when you become sober. The staff at Inland Detox are highly trained, compassionate and understanding of the necessary support needed to help you through detox, withdrawal and potentially moving on to a treatment center.

If you or a loved one are suffering from the disease of addiction, residential treatment could be right for you. Please dial (888) 739-8296 to speak with one of Inland Detox’s compassionate staff members, available 24/7. Help is just a phone call away.