Heroin Withdrawal & Detox

Heroin is a highly addictive, volatile drug, that has changed the course of thousands of lives since its creation in the late 1890s. Since its Schedule 1 classification in the 1900s, heroin use, and thus heroin withdrawal and overdose, has been on the rise. In 2016, nealy 948,000 people admitted to having used heroin in the past year. And nearly 4.1% out of 15,000 overall drug overdose related deaths, being connected back to heroin use. As a result, the U.S. has met this ongoing opioid epidemic with great care, with the overall desire to help people regain their lives. Individuals who suffer from a heroin addiction are encouraged to undergo the uncomfortable process of heroin withdrawal in a professional facility, working through heroin detox medically, and professionally, to help ensure a greater recovery success rate.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Heroin use, in both long and short-term settings, can cause you to develop a tolerance to the drug, which can lead to you using more of the drug, to achieve your desired effect from use, and eventually fall into a pattern of dependence and addiction. When you enter into a system of addiction, you also enter into a game of risk. You, or your loved one, could experience uncomfortable heroin withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop using heroin, or go without using for an extended amount of time. You will most certainly have to undergo heroin detox symptoms when beginning your recovery journey, but there are medications available to you that can lessen the effects of heroin withdrawal syndrome. Otherwise, typically heroin withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening in their nature, but can be very uncomfortable, and can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Muscle aches
  • Bone aches
  • Mood swings
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning
  • Abdominal (stomach) cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

How Long Does Heroin Withdrawal Last?

So, how long does heroin withdrawal last, when do symptoms begin to appear, and how long does heroin withdrawal last when you quit cold turkey? Heroin has an incredibly short action time. So, of course this affects how long heroin withdrawal is. What this means is that not only does heroin take very little time to affect the brain, and produce a high, it also means that the drug does not last very long in the body, as it has an incredibly short half-life, of 30 minutes (at the longest).

Heroin withdrawal symptoms can begin appearing anywhere from 8 to 12 hours after your last does, and typically heroin withdrawal symptoms can last 7 to 10 days, sometimes longer. Quitting heroin use cold turkey, instead of slowly tapering off use, is not advised as it can result in an individual experiencing withdrawal symptoms at their worst, which can cause relapse in individuals trying to escape the pain. Otherwise, withdrawal symptoms typically occur following the same timeline as they would in a heroin detox, and typically last for the same length of time.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

Like most other types of substance abuse withdrawals, there is a timeline of heroin withdrawal. A heroin detox timeline basically lists which symptoms may occur at which stages. Typically, withdrawal symptoms begin anywhere from 8 to 12 hours after the last dose / use, but symptoms can come in different stages. In the early stages of the heroin withdrawal timeline, these symptoms may occur:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle aches
  • Bone aches
  • Increased tearing
  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

Symptoms that occur in later stages of the heroin withdrawal timeline, anywhere from 24 to 30 hours after the last dose include:

  • Abdominal (stomach) cramping
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Goosebumps
  • Dilated pupils

Heroin Withdrawal Medications

Heroin withdrawal is tough. It can be uncomfortable, and feel long and drawn out. So, in order to ensure more individuals make it through heroin withdrawal, help in the form of FDA approved medications has been developed, in order to lessen the severity of the withdrawal symptoms experienced. Heroin detox medications, or heroin withdrawal medications, include:

Heroin withdrawal should not be treated with just the use of medication. Withdrawal and detox are only the first steps towards substance abuse recovery, and as such, there should be physical methodologies like counselling and therapy that are included with medication use, to help treat a person suffering from a heroin addiction. Remember, addiction is a chronic disease of the mind, so both the mind and the body must be treated when working to counteract heroin’s hold and effects on a person.

Methadone

Methadone and heroin can be quite similar. Like heroin, methadone possesses the capability of reducing pain, and is in a class of medications known as opiate (narcotic) analgesics. Methadone is a synthetic opioid agonist, that works by changing the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain, and tricking the mind into believing it is receiving an opioid (like heroin) to staunch its cravings, and eliminate some withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. Heroin detox with methadone is not unusual, but must be done in a treatment program and center. Heroin detox, using methadone, requires a patient to take the medication every 8 to 12 hours in tablet form, with a medical professional present for supervision.

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine and heroin are also somewhat alike, with heroin being an opioid derived from morphine, and buprenorphine being classified as a partial opioid. Buprenorphine, as a heroin detox drug, works similarly like methadone, by tricking the mind into believing it is receiving its drug of choice, and helping to either eliminate certain withdrawal symptoms, or alleviating them, working as a ceiling to help prevent overdose. Buprenorphine must be prescribed by your doctor, and is taken once daily in the form of a dissolving pill. This medication is long-acting, but should be used with great care, as it can cause its own varying side effects.

Naltrexone

Naltrexone and heroin are also well known together. Naltrexone for heroin addiction treatment comes in the form of a tablet, and is taken orally either at home or on facility grounds with medical supervision. The medication works to block the effects of heroin, by attaching itself to opioid receptors in the brain. This medication’s use is on the rise, as the drug helps individuals remain abstinent, reduces drug cravings and other withdrawal symptoms, but is also not habit forming itself. Naltrexone does come with some side effects itself, but these are normally very short in duration and a mild experience. Naltrexone for heroin addiction can be taken once daily, once every other day, or once every three days, with or without food.

Clonidine

Clonidine tablets, combined with other types of medication, are extended-release, swallowable tablets, typically used to treat high blood pressure and other painful conditions. But, clonidine for heroin withdrawal works to reduce the hyperactivity experienced in the brain, that induces more severe withdrawal effects, making the symptoms overall more tolerable, as clonidine attaches to the autorecepts in the brain. Clonidine is not an opioid, but does carry the potential for causing its own side effects, and a slight potential for overdose. Just like the medications listed above, clonidine for opioid withdrawal must be recommended by your doctor, and taken as directed, to ensure safety, accuracy, and best effects with use.

Heroin Detox

Heroin detox occurs during heroin withdrawal, and continues after withdrawal has been completed. Depending on the patient, whether or not medication was used, and which type of medication was used, individuals may not be able to begin their inpatient or outpatient rehab program, until heroin detox has been completed. Heroin detox can be very unpleasant, as it is the process of slowly ridding the body of the presence of the illicit substance, that will bring uncomfortable withdrawal effects with it. However, if you want to recover from a heroin addiction, heroin detox is 100% necessary. So, here is how to detox from heroin:

  1. First, you must begin the withdrawal process. Typical heroin withdrawal can begin anywhere from 8 to 12 hours after the drug’s last use.
  2. Second, you must complete the heroin detox process, which can be aided by medication use (as mentioned above). The heroin withdrawal and detox process can take anywhere from 7 to 10 days.
  3. Third, after detox, while you are waiting to begin your next step in treatment, you must remain abstinent from heroin use. The biggest, most dangerous complication associated with heroin detox, is when an individual uses heroin again after completing a successful detoxification. Many of the medications used during the detox period prevent an individual from getting high from heroin use, which can lead to an individual inadvertently overdosing in an attempt to overrun the medications in their system.

The withdrawal and detoxification process can be hard, unpleasant, and painful. But, it is a necessary step to begin the journey to recovery. You cannot recover from heroin abuse if you do not undergo heroin withdrawal and detox. Heroin detox can simply be defined as the process of ridding the body of the influence of the opioid drug slowly, over the course of 1 to 2 weeks, with the assistance of medication and counselling, to help an individual begin a more intensive drug recovery program.

Dangers of Detoxing From Heroin at Home

A common search thread you can find online is “how to detox from heroin at home”. Let it be made clear here that detoxing off heroin at home, or quitting heroin cold turkey, without the use of professional help or guidance, is never recommended. It is possible to complete heroin detox at home, but normally even these at home practices are supervised and assisted in part, by medical professionals and medication. Detoxing off heroin at home, especially without any kind of support system, may sound appealing to some, as they may view this type of detoxification to be private, quiet, and more personable. But, to detox from heroin successfully, it is important to have a solid support system, to aid the individual through the more tense and unpleasant moments of the withdrawal process.

Detoxing off heroin with professional help can ensure an individual’s safety, going so far as to provide aid if withdrawal symptoms become too severe, or lead to life-threatening situations or circumstances. Heroin detox at home, removes an individual from this professional help, and in the case of an emergency, can have life-threatening consequences. Detoxing off heroin at home can also enable an individual to continue or fall back into old habits of use much more easily, as they have become complacent with their surroundings, or are triggered by continuously stressful events within the home, to use. Again, heroin detox at home can be successful, but it is not recommended.

Can You Die from Heroin Withdrawal?

So, can you die from heroin withdrawal? Or, can heroin withdrawal kill you? Generally, heroin withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant, painful, and uncomfortable. And although heroin withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe, typically withdrawal symptoms cannot kill you. It is important to note though, that just because heroin withdrawal symptoms themselves may not kill you, complications that can arise, as a result of experiencing heroin withdrawal symptoms, can have life-threatening consequences.

Tapering Off Heroin

What is a heroin taper? Tapering off heroin is the cumulative phase of heroin withdrawal, detox, and working slowly off of heroin detox medications. Many heroin detox medications are partial opioids themselves, and so –to be safe and ensure abstinence and patient care– patients are generally treated by weaning off heroin, instead of quitting use of the drug, and detox medications, all at once.

Tapering off heroin usually means that once a medication is introduced, the opioid(s) in use are slowly managed to lower levels week by week. Meaning medication doses are evaluated and re-evaluated on a constant basis, to ensure a client is working, at their own pace, to safely rid their body of the influence of opioids. Medication levels are managed, and administered week by week, until the patient is successfully opioid free. Weaning off heroin should be supervised by a medical professional, to ensure safety, consistency, and proper execution.

Finding a Heroin Detox Center

Finding a heroin detox center is the first step in how to detox from heroin. Heroin withdrawal treatment is just as important as other substance abuse programs, and most drug rehabilitation programs offer heroin withdrawal treatment options as well. But that doesn’t make the decision to break the cycle of heroin use any easier. Heroin withdrawal treatment will be hard, but it is worth undergoing so that you can live a healthier and happier life.

The key component to finding a good heroin withdrawal treatment center, is making sure the center will work with you, and meet your specific needs. Almost all facilities will work to help you cultivate a personalized treatment plan, but not every facility will offer the same types of treatment, so it is important to know what you want and need from a heroin detox center, and do your research before enrolling. Keep in mind, it is better that you find a detox center that is farther from home than closer. You want to break old habits and lifestyle choices, and not have the opportunity to slip back into old habits, just because it’s hard to separate from the way you used to live life in a specific home or town.

Our Heroin Detox Center in Florida

If you are looking for options for heroin detox in Florida, look no further than Saint John’s Recovery Place. Here at SJRP, heroin withdrawal treatment is one of our specialties. We work to provide you with a quality heroin detox program, dedicated to meeting your specific goals and needs. At SJRP we make use of many different types of therapies, including:

Here at Saint John’s Recovery Place, we want to be there to support you through your most difficult times, and continue to be your support system, even when you are well into your recovery journey. Want to know more? Call SJRP today at 833-397-3422.

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