Heroin Withdrawal, Detox, Symptoms, Treatment, & Timeline

Heroin has been shown to be the most addictive illicit substance known. It is classified in the opioid class of drugs. It can be smoked, injected or snorted and it is one of the most addictive, most deadly drugs on the street.

Heroin is highly addictive and has become a world-wide epidemic. After just one use, a tolerance develops and the user can become addicted. The amount of heroin overdoses continue to rise. In 2013, about 8200 people died from an overdose of heroin, which is almost double the amount of overdose fatalities in 2010. If you or someone you care about is addicted, it is critical for your health that you take drastic actions to overcome your addiction as quickly as possible. The withdrawal symptoms are difficult, but with proper detox treatment and recovery methods, a dependency on heroin can be conquered.

The Heroin Detox Process

The first stage of conquering an addiction to heroin is detox. Detoxification is the process of ridding your body of toxic/foreign substances. Detox prepares your body, as well as your mind, for the rest of the rehabilitation process. The detoxing phase is one of the most difficult parts of conquering a heroin addiction. During the detox phase you will experience a range of extremely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. During the detox phase many people find the cravings and the pain experienced during withdrawal too much to tolerate, which puts them at a high risk of relapse. Detoxing is much more comfortable and safer with the help of a detox/rehabilitation program. While in a program, you will typically still experience symptoms of withdrawal, but you will have round-the-clock monitoring, support and in most situations, medication and treatment therapies that assists withdrawal pain and discomfort.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When overcoming your addiction to heroin, you will more than likely suffer from a range of painful and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, especially during the detoxing phase. Since it is an opiate, the symptoms will mimic those of other opiates, such as codeine and morphine. The most detrimental symptom when withdrawing is the insatiable craving for the drug. In fact, many people often end up abusing heroin in an attempt to alleviate the extreme symptoms of withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal vary in severity, depending on the regularity of use, your average dose, how long you have been using the drug, and your age and size. The majority of the withdrawal symptoms are not necessarily life threatening, however, they can be painful and debilitating. Along with intense cravings, the typical symptoms you can expect during withdrawal include:

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

When going through withdrawal, the timeline is usually the same for almost everyone. The symptoms of withdrawal typically begin within 6-12 hours after your last dose of heroin. These symptoms will peak in severity in approximately one to three days. The symptoms of withdrawal are very similar to the symptoms of the flu and will typically go away after about 10 days. Without the help of medications, the worst time for the symptoms usually happen three to four days after your last dose of the drug.

Second Phase

The second phase of withdrawal can last approximately two weeks. During the phase, your body will begin to produce and stabilize the natural level of endorphins. During the second phase of withdrawal, you will experience symptoms that include:

Third Phase

The third phase of withdrawal typically lasts from one week to two months. It is also common for some people to completely bypass this phase. Fortunately, once you get through this phase, you will start to feel “normal” again. The symptoms during the third phase are usually more psychological than physical. The symptoms you experience during this phase may include insomnia and restlessness, agitation and anxiety.

Detox Programs

Withdrawing from heroin can be extremely difficult. The ultimate solution is to seek help from a treatment center. There is a range of detox program options to choose from, including inpatient and outpatient programs. There are also various methods of detox available, such as rapid detox or anesthesia-assisted detox (rapid detox).

Detoxing at Home

Although it is highly recommended that detox be done while you are in a supervised environment, you can detox at home. However, it is important to understand that detoxing from heroin at home presents a high risk of giving in to the cravings and depending on your usual dose and length of time using, you may be a risk for health and medical problems during the detox. Should you choose to detox at home, it is essential that you have someone with you until your withdrawal symptoms subside. When detoxing at home, there are a few things you can do to ease the symptoms:

When detoxing at home, there are several herbs you can take to help relieve your pain and uncomfortable symptoms. Some of the herbs to consider during detox include:

It is important to understand that it is possible to rid your body of the heroin, but it requires patience and a dedication to live your life drug-free. Once you have gotten through the detox, it is time to work on your follow-up treatment and recovery. It is also important to keep in mind that your life is going to change in many different ways, good ways, but different. For example, you will no longer be seeking out friends who only have one thing in common with you; the drug. Making the decision to quit using this drug will be beneficial for your health, as well as your lifestyle, but it takes a lot of work and patience.

Sources

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/heroin

http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heroin/index.html

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states/types-treatment-programs

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/buprenorphine-for-drug-dependence

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17367258

https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000140.htm

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/arr

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=201451

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