Wednesday July 30th 2014

How to withdraw from heroin

Withdrawal or detoxing from heroin can be an extremely uncomfortable. While rarely dangerous, strong physical and psychological need is often present during heroin withdrawal.  And the first signs of heroin withdrawal may compel further use.

But if you want to permanently get off heroin or help heroin addiction, you will need to address withdrawal symptoms to increase chances of staying clean. So, what are ways you can help treat heroin withdrawal? What medications do doctors prescribe? And what is the safest way to withdraw from heroin? We review here and invite your questions about how to withdraw from heroin at the end.

When do you withdraw from heroin?

You start to withdraw from heroin minutes to hours after you miss the next expected dose. Because heroin is highly addictive, your body can become dependent on heroin within a couple of weeks of daily use. So when you decide to stop taking heroin all together, you will feel symptoms of heroin withdrawal shortly after it has worn off in the body. If you have also developed a high tolerance to heroin, the initial high will not last as long in the body and if you are not always increasing heroin dosage, you will feel the effects of withdrawal shortly after the drug’s effects wear off.

How long to withdraw from heroin?

The length of time it takes to withdraw from heroin from varies by person. Every user is different and will go through withdrawal in their own time. But in general, heroin withdrawal peaks about 42 – 72 hours after last dose and can last with extreme severity for up to a week. Symptoms of heroin withdrawal will begin to even out in a few weeks.

Heroin alters and damages opiate receptors in the brain to the extent that many people who come off heroin have a difficult time feeling pleasure. So, you may continue to have pain and discomfort, disruptions in sleep, depression, and/or anxiety for several weeks afterward.  Problems regulating mood may also last a long time and affect one’s ability to address addiction or to completely withdraw. The body also takes a long time to heal and it may be several months, possibly years before your body repairs itself fully. Protracted withdrawal syndrome is especially present during heroin addiction treatment.

Can I withdraw from heroin at home?

Yes, you can withdraw from heroin at home. But doctors recommend that any withdrawal from heroin be MEDICALLY SUPERVISED. This is to prevent complications and to increase your chances of quitting for good. Withdrawing from heroin is risky on your own. Why? Because withdrawal symptoms may tempt you to use again just to feel relief.

Many heroin users go on drug holidays out of necessity. That is, they can’t get their hand on it or can’t afford it. Many have reported actually reducing the amount of heroin they use so they can maintain a level of heroin in the system without feeling withdrawal symptoms. Other users have actually gotten their hands on Methadone in anticipation of withdrawal. The bottom line is: if you wish to no longer continue using heroin, it would probably be safer to withdraw in a clinical setting.

Withdraw from heroin symptoms

Coming off the euphoria of heroin can trigger feelings of depression and anxiety. You may feel jittery and unable to relax. Many people relapse very quickly because of how uncomfortable and painful withdrawal from heroin can be. The symptoms you may experience can be lengthy and vast. So what withdraw from heroin symptoms can you expect? Symptoms can include:

  • akathsisa (inner restlessness)
  • cold sweats, chills
  • constipation
  • excessive yawning
  • fever
  • malaise
  • nausea
  • pain and cramps the body
  • priapism
  • sweating
  • tearing
  • vomiting

How to ease withdrawal symptoms from heroin

Pharmacological medications that are available to help with withdrawal consist of buprenorphine, clonidine, naloxone, and methadone. Each of these medications has been used in clinical setting to help the process of withdrawal and manage symptoms. There are also remedies lying around your house you can use to help treat the aches and pains of withdrawal. NSAIDs, hot water baths/showers/bottles, and massage can address acute symptoms. It would also be helpful if you sought out a counselor or a support group to help support your psyche while you are withdrawing to help keep you strong. Seeking out a detox clinic or a rehab facility so you can focus on withdrawal and support the withdrawal process can also help.

There has been a lot more research invested in discovering whether or not acupuncture is a good alternative in helping to ease heroin withdrawal symptoms. Acupuncture is the use of inserting needles into certain meridians along the body. Acupuncture helps to repair damaged neural pathways. It can also help with symptoms of craving, stress, and anxiety. While not as effective in the first three days of withdrawal, these treatments have been found more effective than some opiate medications in the 4-10 days acute heroin withdrawal. The natural dietary supplement “NAC” has also been used to support the immune system and helps with depression.

How to withdraw from heroin safely

The best way to withdraw from heroin safely is to be medically monitored through the process. An inpatient stay at a detox clinic helps you in more ways that one. You can manage withdrawal symptoms,make sure that there are no complications during withdrawal, and receive emotional support from staff. Furthermore, detox clinics usually recommend follow up treatment to address the underlying pscyho-emotional issues behind heroin use.

The best way to withdraw from heroin

The best way to withdraw from heroin would be to use multiple sources of help and support while withdrawal is occurring. That is, pharmacological and behavioral treatments can address not only the physical symptoms of withdrawal but the psychological ones that manifest when you stop taking heroin.

How to deal with withdrawal from heroin questions

Withdrawal can be frustrating and complicated. Do you still have question about heroin withdrawal? Please ask any questions you may have and we will get back to you personally and promptly.

Reference Sources :OASAS: New Medications for cocaine dependence 
NCBI: Chinese Herbal Medicine in treating Heroin Withdrawal
NCBI: Strategies to avoid opiate withdrawal

Leave a Reply

One Response to “How to withdraw from heroin
Mark Willenbring, MD
7:59 pm February 19th, 2013

The best way to withdraw from heroin is with Suboxone. And then stay on it! Simply withdrawing leads to relapse > 90% of the time.