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Heroin withdrawal treatment: How to treat heroin withdrawal

Heroin withdrawal symptoms will impact your body and mental health. In fact, heroin withdrawal symptoms treatment can be difficult, as withdrawal effects themselves can make it difficult to stay clean. So how can you best treat heroin withdrawal symptoms, even if you are not treating heroin addiction? What treatments are out there and what is heroin withdrawal like? Plus, what can you expect if you are helping heroin addicts get off dope?  We review here and invite your questions about detox from heroin at the end.

Withdrawal from heroin symptoms

Your body goes through a lot when it’s trying to withdraw from heroin. But the severity and intensity of withdrawal from heroin symptoms depend on the level of use and the level of physical dependency for each individual person. Below is a list of symptoms you can experience a few hours after quitting heroin. Some of these symptoms can persist for weeks to months later.

  • abdominal cramps
  • anxiety
  • diarrhea
  • diluted pupils
  • disturbed sleep
  • depression
  • drug cravings
  • chills
  • cold sweats
  • constipation
  • excessive yawning
  • fever
  • insomnia
  • malaise
  • nausea
  • pain and cramps the body
  • priapism
  • restlessness
  • seating
  • tearing
  • vomiting

Effects of withdrawal from heroin

Heroin use can permanently damage the liver or kidneys, as well as affect the brain. Chronic medical issues may also be masked by heroin use. So when you stop using, what effects of withdrawal from heroin can you expect?

First, heroin effects serotonin levels in the brain and your ability to feel pleasure. One effect of withdrawal from heroin is a hard time regulating your emotions and your ability to feel joy. This psycho-emotional effect can make relapse likely because it drives use, regardless of the negative impact heroin may have your health. Many times, heroin users use to regulate pain. During withdrawal, pain can resurface, making physical effects of withdrawal painful. Finally, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms are the result of opiate receptors regulation in the brain. When you decide to stop taking heroin, the body is re-wiring its chemistry to adapt to functioning without heroin. For heavy or long time user, it can take months to years to recover from some of the damage heroin has caused.

How to treat heroin withdrawal symptoms

Several medications exist that can help treat heroin withdrawal symptoms. Typical medications prescribed to treat withdrawal symptoms include:

  1. Buprenorphine
  2. Clonidine
  3. Methadone
  4. Naloxone

Clonidine supports acute withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, and high blood pressure. The others work in different ways to help flush opiate receptors and restores chemical balance to the central nervous system. Methadone is a medicine used to replace heroin as a substitute therapy for its a longer acting medication. It is the most common treatment which is monitored and regulated by a clinician. Naloxone is a drug used to counter the effects of opiate use, and is an opioid agonist. Buprenorphine actually blocks the effects of heroin and occupies the opioid receptors in the brain. Use of buprenorphine helps to ease drug cravings and minimize effects of withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine is less habit forming than methadone.

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You can also treat heroin withdrawal symptoms with over-the-counter drugs which address acute flu-like symptoms that occur. Immodium for diarhhea combined with NSAIDs and heating balms for muscle pain can all help treat heroin withdrawal symptoms from home. Additionally, a psychiatrist can also work with you to address depression and are in the practice of prescribing antidepressant(s) to treat underlying mental health issues. Behavioral therapy can further address drug cravings and help teach ways to avoid relapse through cognitive awareness.

Best way to treat heroin withdrawal

The best way to withdrawal depends on your relationship to heroin. Many people who abuse heroin have their own ways to withdraw when they are running low or when they don’t have access to a steady supply. In this way, you can withdraw from heroin at home to treat symptoms. However, if you don’t want to continually to use heroin, a clinical detox is best.

If you want to quit heroin for good, the best way to treat heroin withdrawal is under medical supervision. You can find a detox clinic or rehab facility to assist you. This way, you are treat heroin withdrawal with a descreased risk of relapse. Under medical supervision your physical and psychological symptoms are being discussed and addressed by a team of staff. In effect, you can treat heroin withdrawal and addiction issues simultaneously.

Heroin withdrawal treatment questions

Still have questions about heroin withdrawal treatment? Would you like to know more? Please ask any questions you may have and we will get back to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: National Institute of Drug Abuse: Long term effects of Heroin abuse
NY Department of Health, Buprenorphine: A New Drug for Treating Heroin Addiction
HHS: Resurgence of Heroin Use
NCBI: Toward an Individual Approach to Methadone Therapy of Heroin Addicts 

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6 Responses to “Heroin withdrawal treatment: How to treat heroin withdrawal
2:55 pm September 23rd, 2014

Does medical (IEHP) COVER the cost of going to a suboxne clinic I’m at my wits end with this drug ;'( I can’t take it no more!!

8:29 am October 2nd, 2014

Hi Sally. Medi-Cal will cover the cost of Suboxone, Subutex (and generic of subutex) but you have to have it through the state, not just the county. At first, you will have to pay the full price for it, and after approximately 2 weeks when Medi-Cal pays, you’ll get a refund. You will need to apply for a tar with your pharmacy, and your doctor will have to supply info for Medi-Cal on why you need the meds.

10:28 am July 6th, 2015

I read that buprenorphine is use to treat the withdrawals from heroin and I can get prescription and have it at home. I don’t have to go to a clinic everyday. Do you know any doctors in Washington D.C. that I can visit?

3:08 pm July 21st, 2015

Hi Mark. No, not any that I can recommend with certainty. You can search for a clinic that provides buprenorphine treatment using the addiction treatment facility locator by SAMHSA: https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/TreatmentLocator/faces/quickSearch.jspx

My name is Amy I'm 35
4:48 am November 3rd, 2015

When will the body pain n legs stop so I can sleep

4:25 pm November 3rd, 2015

Hi again Amy. Heroin withdrawal symptoms that occur as a result of quitting cold-turkey tend to peak about 72 hours after last dose but resolve within 7-10 days. Protracted withdrawal symptoms of PAWS may take a longer period to resolve, as the body needs time to get used to the absence of heroin and fully recover. I’d still advise you to seek medical help for managing the symptoms and then longer-term addiction treatment help to avoid relapse and increase chances of maintaining sobriety.

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