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About Heroin Detox
Heroin detox is an inevitable first step in addiction treatment. Heroin is a highly addictive substance that impacts the brains reward system, increasing the user’s tolerance to the drug’s effects over time. Heroin withdrawal is highly uncomfortable. The desire to avoid withdrawal symptoms feeds into the compulsive drug-seeking behaviors that are consistent with heroin abuse and addiction. To successfully recover from heroin addiction, a person must rid their body of heroin and its metabolites. This process of clearing a substance from the body is called detoxification or detox.
Heroin detox is not easy. However, with the right support and care, it is the first step in achieving success, health and happiness in long-term recovery. Understanding the symptoms and duration of heroin withdrawal and detox can help prepare you for a successful first step toward long-term recovery.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
Heroin is highly addictive. Due to its powerful withdrawal symptoms, those who are dependent on heroin should detox in a medical environment.
Heroin withdrawal symptoms may only last a week or so, but the symptoms can be serious and include:
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle spasms
- Cravings for drugs
Heroin may be a cheaper alternative to powerful and addictive drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin.
According to the CDC, in 2018, nearly 15,000 people died from a drug overdose involving heroin in the United States, a rate of almost 5 deaths for every 100,000 Americans. However, also in 2018, heroin-involved overdose death rates showed a decline, decreasing 4.1% from 2017 to 2018. Even though decreases were seen in 2018, the number of heroin involved deaths was still more than 7 times higher in 2018 than in 1999. Nearly a third of all opioid deaths involved heroin.
Heroin Withdrawal Timeline
Heroin is a short-acting opioid, this means that it take effect rapidly but also leave the bloodstream quickly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that heroin withdrawal symptoms start within 6-12 hours of the last dose, peak in 2-3 days, and last 5-10 days in total.
Symptoms may begin as soon as 6 hours after the last dose. Pain will start to develop in the first day, typically muscle aches. These will intensify over the first 48 hours. Other symptoms during this period include anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, shaking and diarrhea.
By the third or fourth day, withdrawal is in full swing. Symptoms during this time often include abdominal cramping, sweating, shivers and nausea/vomiting.
A week is typically the end of what’s known as acute withdrawal. During this time, the common muscle aches and nausea will taper off. Physically, former users will start to feel more normal though still worn down and tired.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
Symptoms of withdrawal may continue inconsistently for months after acute withdrawal. These are caused by the neurological changes from heroin use. Common long-lasting symptoms include anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia and irritability.
Managing Symptoms in a Detox Facility
Supervised detox is always recommended to overcome heroin addiction. It is the crucial first-step to long-term recovery. New Outlook Detox medical professionals will watch for psychological withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and depression. Self-harm and relapse are possible during withdrawal.
Inpatient detox involves 24-hour attention from medical professionals. Increasing the odds of recovery from moderate-to-severe heroin addiction.