Heroin Withdrawal Timeline, Symptoms and Detox

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline Symptoms And Detox - Fight Addiction Now

What to Expect from Heroin Withdrawals and Detox

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 15,000 people died of overdoses related to heroin in 2016. In the United States, there are 467,000 people who are regular users of heroin, and an estimated 600,000-plus people need treatment for addiction to heroin.

During a one-year period (2014-15) the overdose death rate from heroin use rose by more than 20 period from the previous cycle. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, it’s crucial that you get help. Here is what to expect in a withdrawal timeline from heroin.

What Is Withdrawal?

Although no two people will have identical experiences on their journey to sobriety, knowing that what you are going through is a normal part of the process can help you get through it and to the other side.

Addiction happens when the body and the brain become so accustomed to the presence of a substance that they rely on the substance to feel normal. There are physical and psychological reactions to the removal of something that the body believes it needs for survival.

Withdrawal refers to the symptoms experienced when the body is deprived of something that it has come to depend on. Each experience with heroin withdrawal symptoms is as unique as the person experiencing it. However, there are some general similarities and feelings you can expect when you go through the process.

What to Expect from Heroin Withdrawal

Heroin affects the central nervous system. It suppresses certain functions related to heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and the regulation of the body’s temperature. It also causes the brain to increase the production of chemicals that allow people to experience pleasure.

When the drug that is responsible for the body and brain behaving in a certain way is removed, it can have a devastating impact on the body. The severity of the symptoms experienced depends on how long the person has been using the drug, how much they have been using and their body’s unique reaction to the cessation of use.

Common symptoms of heroin withdrawal may initially include:

  • Mood swings, irritability, and/or aggression
  • Restlessness and insomnia
  • Uncontrollable yawning
  • Excessive sweating
  • A runny nose or excessive tears
  • Dehydration
  • Muscle spasms, aches and/or chills
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Abdominal pain

Beyond the initial detoxification of the body, there are long-term symptoms that people may experience as they are going through their recovery process. These may include anxiety, depression, paranoia, high blood pressure, hyperactivity and cravings.

Some people feel that this period of time is the most difficult part of the recovery process. It’s important to keep in mind that the symptoms of withdrawal are temporary.

The Average Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

Break The Silence Get Help Quote - FANHow long is heroin withdrawal? How long does heroin withdrawal last? These are common questions from the people addicted and those who love them.

The process of withdrawal is a gradual progression of detoxification. It won’t start all at once or stop all at once. When the drug use is first stopped, symptoms may begin within a few hours or, for some people, it may take as long as 24 hours for the withdrawal symptoms to begin.

During the first few days, the most acute symptoms begin to subside and decrease gradually through the second half of the week.

Because heroin is a short-acting opioid, effects are brought on quickly when the drug is used. This also means that it rids itself from the bloodstream rapidly.

This is good news. It means that, for most people, the worst of the withdrawal symptoms during recovery from heroin addiction last approximately a week. Some people may get through the worst of it more quickly, and some people may take a bit longer.

An average heroin withdrawal timeline may include the onset of symptoms within six to 12 hours of the final dose of heroin, with symptoms peaking in the first three days and subsiding by the end of the first week.

The Detoxification Process

When someone stops using the drug all at once, sometimes referred to as “going cold turkey,” the withdrawal symptoms will be the most severe. This can actually be dangerous, because the brain and nervous system have become dependent on the drug.

Stopping it all at once can cause the body to go into shock. Some people experience:

  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Convulsions
  • Dehydration

With such severe withdrawal symptoms, the risk of relapse is very high. It’s common to overdose when relapsing because people often relapse by using the same amount of the drug they used before stopping.

How to Ensure Safe Detoxification

The safest way to detoxify the body from heroin addiction is in a facility that specializes in drug rehabilitation. Not only is it safer in the short term as the body goes through the most severe symptoms of detoxification, but research has shown that detoxification that’s medically assisted has the highest rate of success.

Medically assisted detoxification addresses the physical aspects of safe withdrawal along with the behavioral and psychological issues related to detoxification. A worthwhile program will also include therapies to address the issues that may have been a factor in the initial addiction.

A detoxification process that’s medically assisted can lessen the pain by using sedation and supervision while the body is going through the cleansing process. There are medications approved to use for heroin addiction withdrawal:

  • Naltrexone
  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone/Subutex)

These are commonly used to curb the discomfort of removing heroin from the system.

Throughout the detoxification process, the treatment team will medically monitor the patient. This means the staff will monitor their heart rate and blood pressure along with their body temperature and respiration. This allows for any medical interventions necessary before a situation becomes life threatening.

Long-Term Success

Medical detoxification offers the best chance for long-term recovery from heroin addiction because it addresses the physical, psychological and behavioral components of the addiction.

At Fight Addiction Now, we want you to know that recovery is possible, and we can guide you there. Overcoming heroin addiction without medical supervision is dangerous, and it’s not realistic to try to do it on your own. Arm yourself with the right tools and the right support system, and you will be well on your way to a new life.

See Our Heroin Addiction Fact Sheet

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