Recovering from a heroin addiction can be very difficult, but one way to ease yourself through it is to go through a heroin detox. The process of a heroin detox is to rid the body of heroin and all the toxic cutting agents and associated compounds. This is known as detoxification. As heroin leaves the body, it will leave you with very unpleasant drug withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal is one aspect of addiction that keeps many from getting help. It is a huge fear that many addicts have. Millions of people have successfully been able to overcome heroin addiction through heroin detox.
In fact, withdrawal and detox do not have to be a horrible experience. Rather, you can participate in an inpatient detox and treatment, which can help you to get through the experience much more easily.
An Overview of Heroin Withdrawal
Heroin is an opioid drug that is extremely addictive. Heroin street names for detox include “getting off the horse”. Recovery from heroin use is known to provide improvements in life and flu-like symptoms. As the body rebounds from heroin use, detox allows you to use medications and support in order to minimize these symptoms and get through the process. It is an essential step in getting sober from heroin use. Learning about it can get you closer to overall health and save your life.
What is Heroin Withdrawal?
Withdrawal symptoms usually between four to 24 hours after the last dose has been taken. The severity of withdrawal will depend on a few factors, such as how long the individual used heroin, as well as the amount used, and method of heroin use.
If you have wondered how long does it take to detox from heroin, it is different for every person. Despite this, the side effects of a heroin comedown are usually similar. Heroin withdrawal symptoms are often described as a severe flu. Common symptoms might include:
- Mood changes, like agitation and anxiety
- Increased body secretions (runny nose, teary eyes, and sweaty skin)
- Stomach problems (nausea, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea, and loss of appetite)
- Muscle problems (aches, twitching, shivering)
Heroin Withdrawal Timeline
When it comes to heroin, the withdrawal timeline begins within the first 24 hours. They will then peak within 36 to 72 hours, but last seven to 10 days in total. If you have used heroin chronically, your withdrawal symptoms can last longer, up to three or four weeks. Although withdrawal is necessary when it comes to heroin addiction, it is essential it is done in a safe way.
What to Expect During Heroin Detox
Coming off heroin can be painful, but there are many heroin detox options that aid in kicking heroin. There are also comfort medications used in heroin detox. These help to keep users safe while going through the process. You might wonder, can you die from heroin withdrawals? It is possible, and a medically supervised detox for heroin is the best way to avoid a fatal withdrawal.
Quitting Heroin Cold Turkey
Quitting cold turkey is never recommended. It is dangerous and painful. Going through a medically-supervised detox with withdrawal medications, as well as support and counseling is a better option. It is a lot safer and easier to get through.
This is because quitting heroin “cold-turkey” means suddenly stopping all use. It brings on the onset of symptoms quickly and the feeling is extremely painful. During withdrawal, you will have extremely high cravings and it can easily lead to relapse. Most of the time self-tapering heroin use does not work. Should you relapse during recovery, it can lead to a possible overdose much more easily.
Tapering Off Heroin
By tapering off heroin you can decrease your tolerance slowly. This also decreases your dependence over time. Eventually taking less and less of the drug will allow the body to correct itself and then heal. Keeping your withdrawal symptoms down will also allow your body to recover. This is why replacement therapy is used. The environment you are in, and what you put in your body will make a huge difference in your recovery.
Risks of Heroin Home Detox
The risks of heroin home detox are huge. Instead, it is essential that you do not do it alone, and go through a true medically assisted heroin detox. There are many places you can go in order to make your detox safe and comfortable. Using support can help you get the best chance at long-term recovery.
Rapid Heroin Detox
When heroin enters the body, it leaves fairly quickly. This can even be as quickly as within 30 minutes. The half life of heroin is three minutes, which means that half of the drug will leave your system within three minutes of using it. In many people, it will leave the body in 15 minutes. This is why heroin can be such a painful detox.
Heroin Detox Medications
Opioid replacement therapy, also known as medication assisted therapy involves using long-acting opioid medication rather than short acting. This is usually helpful in keeping drug cravings as well as any symptoms of withdrawal down. It also avoids a high. These can eventually be tapered off until you are no longer using a substance of any kind.
There are two opioids that are FDA-approved to treat heroin withdrawal:
- Buprenorphine: Buprenorphine is known to have better side effects than methadone. There is one specific buprenorphine product used during opioid detox, called Suboxone. This also contains naloxone. This medication blocks opioid receptor sites to prevent any attempts at abuse.
Other medications may also be used during heroin detox to help with specific symptoms. These might include sedatives, like benzodiazepines, as well as clonidine, which helps reduce some withdrawal symptoms.
Heroin Withdrawal Deaths
Withdrawing from heroin is known as being safer than alcohol withdrawal, but there are chances for it to be fatal. Those who die from heroin withdrawal, typically are from complications such as vomiting and diarrhea. This is why going through medical detox is a lot safer. Rather than allow the body to become rapidly dehydrated, and dangerously high levels of sodium to accumulate in the blood, you can avoid heart failure. In some situations, heroin detox deaths occur because they are withdrawing on their own, such as in jail. These deaths are usually preventable by having supervision in a detox facility.
When it comes to professional heroin detox, it usually relates to a medically-supervised withdrawal from heroin. This must be done as part of a larger overall program. Recovering from heroin addiction is not simple, but a detox can provide the groundwork needed. For example, there are many underlying causes of addiction to heroin. The mental devastation from addiction alone can be huge, and addressing this at the start gives you a better chance of recovery.
Heroin is not a simple addiction, therefore it is recommended that it should be an inpatient process. Although it is impossible to go through outpatient detox, it is usually not as successful. This leads to the ability to relapse a lot more easily.
Inpatient Detox Programs
An inpatient heroin detox program involves a program where you live at a detox facility. There will be counseling, medically assisted programs, and also plenty of support. One study showed that that inpatient detox is the most effective way of recovery.
The main difference between inpatient and outpatient detox programs is where you live. Outpatient care can work, but it is not as recommended as compared to those with a serious addiction. If you are suffering from long-term abuse or any health complications, it is better to go through an inpatient detox.
Inpatient detox typically goes anywhere from a few days, to months. After detox, it is common to transfer to an inpatient facility. Factors that influence the length of detox will include the length of abuse, the amount of heroin that was consumed, as well as the severity of withdrawal symptoms, and any co-occurring disorders.
Dual Diagnosis and Co-Occurring Disorders
When someone suffers from both a substance abuse disorder as well as a mental illness, it is called a dual diagnosis. About 50% of people with addictions also suffer from mental health disorders. These might include depression or anxiety, which can make finding the right heroin detox facilities can be difficult. Recognizing and treating mental health disorders allows you the best chance at success in recovery. It is recognized as an essential step to recovering as someone with a mental illness.
Getting Help Through Heroin Detox
If you are struggling with heroin addiction and want to get help, there is a way out. Heroin detox can help you slowly withdraw from the drug, and avoid serious symptoms. There is no need to withdraw in a painful manner by quitting cold turkey. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.