Heroin addiction is one of the most difficult drug addictions to recover from. This is largely due to the awful withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin detox. Not only are they unpleasant, but they can also be fatal. A medically-assisted detox is the most beneficial and safest way to detox when it comes to battling addiction.
During a medically-assisted detox, a person has around-the-clock observation from trained staff. They are given medications to help ease the effects of withdrawal and make them comfortable. The medical team monitors their health to watch out for potential health issues that can arise. It is not uncommon for someone with heroin addiction to struggle with heart issues and organ failure. To better understand what a person goes through, let’s look at what the withdrawal timeline looks like
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
Heroin withdrawal refers to the collection of physical and psychological symptoms experienced when someone abruptly stops or reduces their use of heroin, a highly addictive opioid drug. The withdrawal process can be extremely challenging and uncomfortable, often driving individuals to continue using heroin to avoid these distressing symptoms. Physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal typically begin within hours or a day after the last use and may include intense cravings, restlessness, insomnia, muscle aches, sweating, and yawning. Additional physical symptoms can manifest as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, dilated pupils, and goosebumps, giving rise to the term “cold turkey.” Psychological symptoms of withdrawal can range from anxiety, irritability, and agitation to depression, mood swings, and difficulties with concentration and focus. These symptoms can be overwhelming, and it is crucial for individuals undergoing heroin withdrawal to seek professional help and support to safely manage the process and increase their chances of successful recovery.
Heroin Withdrawal Timeline
The timeline for heroin withdrawal can vary from person to person, as it depends on factors such as the individual’s usage patterns, the amount of heroin consumed, and their overall health. However, a general timeline can be described:
- Early withdrawal symptoms: Within 6 to 12 hours after the last heroin dose, individuals may start experiencing initial withdrawal symptoms. These early symptoms often include drug cravings, anxiety, restlessness, muscle aches, and insomnia.
- Peak withdrawal: Between 1 to 3 days after the last dose, withdrawal symptoms typically reach their peak intensity. This stage is often marked by symptoms such as abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, goosebumps, dilated pupils, and an increased heart rate.
- Subsiding physical symptoms: After about 5 to 7 days, the physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal start to gradually subside. However, some lingering physical discomfort, such as muscle aches and insomnia, may persist for a couple of weeks or longer.
- Lingering psychological symptoms: Even after the physical symptoms have mostly resolved, individuals may continue to experience psychological symptoms associated with heroin withdrawal. These can include depression, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, and difficulties with concentration. The duration and severity of these symptoms can vary widely and may persist for weeks or months.
It’s important to note that everyone’s experience with heroin withdrawal is unique, and the timeline can be influenced by various factors. Seeking professional help and support from healthcare providers or addiction specialists can provide valuable guidance and assistance throughout the withdrawal process.
What Are The First Three Days Like?
The first three days are an ascent into major discomfort. Within hours, a person experiences nausea and abdominal pain. This is often when a person is likely to seek out more heroin to alleviate their discomfort. Over the next few days they will also experience:
- Physical pain
- Tearing of the eyes
- Runny nose
- Chills and goosebumps
- Excessive sweating
- Yawning and tiredness
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Agitation and restlessness
- Uncontrollable tremors
- Inability to concentrate
- Heart palpitations
This is the time when monitoring of health and medications are the most beneficial. At our facility, our focus is also on holistic methods. We feed each person nutritious meals to help their bodies regain strength and natural functions to fight off the toxins.
After The First Week
After about 3 days, many people will start to feel like their heroin withdrawal symptoms will subside. Medications are often altered following the individual’s needs. This does not mean that symptoms are gone, they are just lessened. At this stage many will feel:
- Bone and muscle pain
- Fatigue and yawning
- Struggle with focus
- Runny nose
The Next Six Months
Many people assume that once someone leaves detoxification that their bodies no longer have symptoms. This is unfortunately untrue when it comes to heroin and some other drugs. It is not uncommon for people with severe heroin addictions to feel symptoms for the next six months. They are not as severe as they are in the beginning and can safely be on their own. Depending on the severity of their continued withdrawal symptoms, they may require medication to help them stay on track with their new substance-free life.
Do Not Detox Alone
While some people can detox at home without the help of a medical team or recovery center, we never recommend it for heroin. There are too many stories of folks dying while trying to stop using heroin. Many cannot get through the first three days without giving up entirely. Anyone suffering from drug addiction needs the support of others to be successful. Trained medical staff at our facility understand what someone is going through and can keep one safe during the process.
Treatment Options For Heroin Addiction
There are many treatment options for anyone struggling with heroin addiction. The most common is to begin treatment with a detoxification process. One can focus on their recovery best when they are not plagued with the poison running through their bodies. Once completed, a person will have a variety of therapies to help them recover successfully. These options include:
- Ongoing pharmaceutical care
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Group therapy
- Individual therapy
- Family therapy
- Support groups
- Yoga therapy
- Art therapy
- Equine therapy
Final Thoughts: Navigating the Journey of Heroin Withdrawal and Detoxification
In conclusion, the journey through heroin withdrawal and detoxification is a challenging but necessary process for those struggling with heroin addiction. Each individual’s timeline may vary, yet it follows a general pattern of initial physical symptoms, followed by longer-lasting post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
Heroin addiction is a potent form of substance use disorder that demands comprehensive attention for successful recovery. The first few days post-detox typically manifest a range of physical symptoms – from nausea to agitation – which gradually subsides over time. However, this is only the first hurdle in the road to recovery.
The post-acute withdrawal phase, often lasting weeks to months, is equally crucial in the journey to sobriety. This phase is characterized by psychological and emotional challenges such as anxiety, depression, and cravings, emphasizing the importance of ongoing support and treatment.
Heroin withdrawal treatment is multi-faceted, often involving both medical interventions and psychological support. Medical professionals can help manage the physical symptoms of withdrawal, while therapists and support groups can provide the emotional resilience needed to navigate post-acute withdrawal symptoms.
In the broader context of drug abuse, the fight against heroin addiction highlights the importance of understanding and addressing the complex interplay between physical dependence, psychological resilience, and societal support throughout the different stages of addiction. Successfully navigating the heroin withdrawal timeline is not just about detoxification; it’s about laying the groundwork for a sustainable, drug-free future.
Remember, overcoming heroin addiction is not a sign of weakness but rather one of strength. With the right support and treatment, recovery is not only possible but within reach. The journey may be tough, but the reward of a healthier and more fulfilling life is worth every struggle. No matter where you are in your journey, remember that help is always available, and it’s never too late to seek it.
Get Help For Heroin Withdrawal
At Nestled Recovery, we have years of experience helping people recover from heroin addiction. Our team is professionally trained and many have their own personal experiences with drug addiction. Our treatment is focused on mindfulness, trauma-informed care, and the eight dimensions of wellness. By using these three key components, we set you up for lifelong success.