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Heroin detox symptoms

Are you considering getting off heroin?

Whether you have been using heroin regularly or occasionally, getting off heroin will be good for you. Apart from its addictive properties, heroin may give rise to numerous blood borne diseases and further complicate your life.  However, when opiate metabolites exit the system, the individual usually experiences withdrawal symptoms, the intensity of which will vary among users. So, what can you expect?

Typically, heroin withdrawal symptoms start to occur between 6 and 12 hours after the last use, peaking within 1 to 3 days, and gradually subside over the following couple of days. Some cases lead to post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), which can persist for weeks and months after cessation.

In this article, we review the most commonly experienced acute and protracted withdrawal symptoms of heroin detox and the possible side effect. At the end, we welcome your feedback, shared experience and additional questions regarding symptoms from heroin detox. We try to answer all legitimate questions with a personal and prompt response.

Symptoms of heroin detox

When people physically dependent on heroin quit taking the drug, their body needs some time to adjust to the absence of heroin. As a result, certain symptoms occur. The most commonly experienced acute withdrawal symptoms during heroin detox include:

  • abdominal pain
  • anxiety
  • body and muscle ache
  • chills
  • constipation
  • cravings
  • depression
  • diarrhea
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • nausea
  • profuse sweating
  • running nose
  • tearing
  • vomiting

In some cases, acute heroin detox is followed by prolonged withdrawal symptoms, or, Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). PAWS can make the whole withdrawal process more lengthy and potentially uncomfortable. In fact, this syndrome can last for weeks, months or even years after quitting heroin and should be adequately addressed. The most common protracted symptoms following heroin detox are:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • insomnia
  • irritability

While these symptoms do not cause physical pain and, as such, are bearable, they still require proper treatment. After all, recovery from heroin dependence is a long-term process. People serious about addiction recovery need to be constantly wary of people and situations that could trigger relapse.

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Heroin detox side effects

Medical complications associated with heroin withdrawal can occur and should be quickly identified and treated. However, these complications are seldom life-threatening. Heroin detox side effects can include:

  1. Anxiety disorders, especially those involving panic anxiety, also might show increased intensity during heroin withdrawal.
  2. Any condition involving pain is likely to worsen during withdrawal because of a reduced pain threshold and the lack of analgesia (pain relief) afforded by heroin use. This phenomenon is particularly common with dental pain and chronic back pain.
  3. Fever may be present and typically will respond to the detoxification process. However, other causes of fever should be evaluated, particularly with intravenous users, because HIV infection, viral hepatitis, abscesses, infected injection sites, and pneumonia occur commonly in this population and always require medical attention.
  4. Severe gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea can lead to dehydration or electrolyte imbalance (rare).
  5. Underlying cardiac illness could be made worse by increased blood pressure, increased pulse, and/or sweating that is characteristic of heroin withdrawal.

Treatment for heroin detox symptoms

To start heroin detox, a person has to be determined to give up on heroin and prepared to endure the physical symptoms that will occur during this process. In any case, medical assistance offers humane assistance during detox, as symptoms can get pretty tough and side effects can trigger relapse. Medications which can address common heroin detox side effects include:

  • benzodiazepines
  • buprenorphine
  • methadone
  • clonidine

The administration of medications is only one reason to consider a medical detox clinic during heroin withdrawal. Medical professionals are able to monitor the intensity of the symptoms, assist and give medications if certain complications arise. For example, most individuals can be treated with oral fluids, especially fluids containing electrolytes, and some might require intravenous therapies. Having to go through this painful stage alone is likely to cause a relapse in case the intensity of the symptoms become unbearable.

However, if you decide to detox from heroin at home, make sure you consult a physician to get approval first. Together, you can talk about whether going cold turkey or a gradual decrease of the dose is better suited for you. Each person require a custom detox program, depending on the level of dependency, duration of use, medical history, etc. Oftentimes abrupt stopping of heroin use is not what doctors would recommend, as severe cravings are likely to make one think that reaching for heroin is the best solution to stop the pain and possibly overdose as a result of the pain. Finally, the support from close and sober people is essential throughout the whole process, so make sure you have these people around you during this time.

Questions about heroin detox

Do you perhaps have experience with detoxing from heroin? If yes, feel free to share your experience, or ask additional questions in the comments section below. Write to us and we will try to get back to you as soon as possible with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: SAMHSA: Physical Detoxification Services for Withdrawal From Specific Substances
NIH: Drug Facts on Heroin
Medline Plus: Opiate withdrawal
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Acute detox and treatment
NCBI: British Medical Journal: Opiate withdrawal: Inpatient versus outpatient programmes

Photo credit: joolie

Leave a Reply

6 Responses to “Heroin detox symptoms
Kev
10:58 am October 9th, 2014

I did heroin on Friday and had a urine test on Monday. It came up faint on the instant with ussually means you passed but my urine was very brownish because I was dehydrated and my po said to come back 3 hours later to do a lab send out. My question is if I passed the instant with a faint line at 10 am with dehydrated urine will I pass the lab test at 130??? With 3+ extra hours and more hydrated urine??

Alan
1:42 am July 5th, 2016

I have been off heroin for 10 days after a 5 year snort habit I feel ok,but I have leg pain,I am always tired and am having trouble sleeping, this is very frustration, is this normal?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:24 pm July 13th, 2016

Hi Alan. Yes, all things that you mentioned are heroin withdrawal symptoms. You may find useful information here:
http://addictionblog.org/tag/heroin-withdrawal/

Also, if you have any questions about your treatment options, call the number you see on the website to speak with a trusted treatment consultant.

Heroin Junkie
12:06 pm September 7th, 2016

HOW CAN AN ADDICT GET INPATIENT REQUIRED PROFESSIONAL HELP WITHOUT NO INSURANCE? I HAVE STATE INSURANCE BUT THERES NOT ONE PLACE THAT WILL ACCEPT THIS INSURANCE IN THE STATE OF WISCONSIN! THAT WILL LEAD TO EVEN MORE USE BECAUSE OF FEELING HELPLESS! I JUST FEEL LIKE THE ONLY HOPE LEFT IS TO DO ONE BIG SHOT TO TAKE CARE OF ALL THE HEART ACHE N END IT ALL! SEE U IN HELL! THIS WILL BE THE END OF A ADDICT THAT CRIED OUT FOR HELP!!!!

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
4:10 pm September 15th, 2016

Hi Heroin Junkie. If you have questions about addiction treatment and your options, immediate assistance is available. Call our free hotline to speak with a trusted treatment consultant.

Chris
12:49 am September 24th, 2016

I have bean off crack cocaine for 3 days after 2years every single day off using crack of 60 to 120 everyday does it get easer I’ve bean OK though the 3 days so far

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