Wednesday November 22nd 2017

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Safe detox treatments for heroin

Heroin use changes the way the brain functions in such a way that it creates tolerance and dependence to the drug. It is considered one of the most dangerous drugs not only because it’s highly addictive, but also because abusing heroin can have serious effects. Of heroin’s long-term health consequences, some can be fatal.

Treating heroin addiction is a long term process starting always with a period of detoxification, also known as heroin withdrawal. While knowing what to expect is not a pre-requisite for undergoing detox, it can really help. So, what happens during detox from heroin and how can you get through it safely? We review here. Then, we invite your questions about heroin detox treatments at the end.

What is heroin detox in the first place?

During any detox, the body gets rid of drug toxins which have accumulated and altered its normal chemistry. A user will experience a number of predicable symptoms. These symptoms manifest because when heroin (a depressant) is no longer available, it takes a few days for the brain to stop sending “speed up” signals to the other body systems. Once the body reaches a chemical homeostasis, these symptoms resolve and detox is finished.

Heroin detox: What to expect ?

The first symptoms of a heroin detox  start within 12 hours after the last dose. During this stage a person can expect to experience:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • muscle pains
  • insomnia
  • profuse sweating and tearing
  • running nose

You will probably also feel anxious and agitated. The duration of detox symptoms is expected to be about 3-7 days, peaking at about the third day after the last use.

Surviving the first three days of heroin detox is a big success. What follows in the next 2-3 days won’t be easy either, but the worst is behind. Shivering, abdominal cramping, vomiting, goose bumps are common symptoms during these days. It is crucial to work on boosting the immune system by eating right and staying hydrated. Anxious behavior and nausea may still persist, but it’s manageable. Healthy food and positive thoughts are a must if one is determined to beat this addiction.

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How bad does heroin detox get? What treatments are there?

While the symptoms of heroin withdrawal can be quite agonizing,they are rarely life threatening. The intensity of detox will vary by person and by use patterns in the past. So, can or should you detox from heroin at home?

Given the severity of the withdrawal symptoms, it is highly recommended that an addict considering detox seeks medical supervision. A medical professional will monitor the symptoms and assist in case complications occur. They will also be able to give medications that could lessen the intensity of the symptoms, thus making the whole process less traumatic and bearable.

The most commonly used medications for heroin detox treatment include methadone and buprenorphine. Other medications that could ease the symptoms and/or accelerate the detox process are clonidine and naloxone. The best thing about being medically supervised when under detox is preventing relapse, which is likely to happen when the symptoms are peaking.

Rapid heroin detox treatment

Q: Is rapid heroin detox safe?
A: It’s not clear, as state and federal licensing vary on this treatment method.

While it is possible to rapidly detox from heroin, it is generally not recommended. Methods are not yet standardized or regulated. What is rapid opiate detox, exactly?

One method involves using naltrexone in conjunction with anesthesia or sedation, antiemetic ondansetron, antidiarrheal octreotide, and clonidine and benzodiazepines. There is another method for rapid detox using naloxone in conjunction with acupuncture and electrical stimulation which increases endorphin and lessens the symptoms.

Both methods require follow up rehab to help prevent relapses, which are very likely. It is important to note that rapid detox is more costly and dangerous and can be achieved with medical assistance and supervision only. If you consider rapid detox, contact the nearest detox clinic and request further information.

How to detox from heroin safely

The safest way to detox from heroin is by seeking medical help. Under supervision, doctors and nurses can help prevent severe withdrawal symptoms, as opposed to cold turkey detox method when the symptoms are much more intense and the likelihood for relapsing much bigger. As explained above, the symptoms can be relieved with medications, which is why seeking medical supervision and assistance during this stage is highly recommended.

With the help of a medical professional, you’ll also receive emotional support. More and more detox clinics incorporate psychological support as a part of a clinical detox.  The turmoil can be much more bearable and the success rate higher. Even if one considers detoxing from heroin alone, consultation with a medical professional prior to commencing is a must.

Last but not least, detox is a successful beginning only if combined with behavioral rehab treatment. Having support and staying persistent during this stage is crucial if one is determined to stay away from heroin for good. So, be sure that any time in detox is followed by an outpatient or inpatient psycho-social treatments for addiction. You need to get to the reasons WHY YOU USE to prevent yourself from slipping back into using dope as a coping mechanism.

Heroin detox treatment questions

Do you have additional questions about heroin detox treatments? Please share your questions and/or experiences with successful (or not) heroin detox and we’ll try to respond to you personally and promptly.

Reference sources: NCBI: Fast detoxification of heroin addicts by acupuncture and electrical stimulation (AES) in combination with naloxone.
NIH: Drug Facts on Heroin
NIDA Research Reports: What are treatments for heroin addiction?
Medline Plus: Opiate Withdrawal
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: Acute treatment for addiction

Photo credit: Ars Electronica

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18 Responses to “Safe detox treatments for heroin
9:03 pm March 2nd, 2017

Last dose of heroin 36 hours ago taking suboxone 8 mg but its not helping why not

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
7:28 pm March 10th, 2017

Hi Bob. I suggest that you call a toll-free Heroin Helpline on 1-888-988-7934 to get in touch with trusted and confidential helpline professionals available 24/7.

3:42 pm April 13th, 2017

I don’t have insurance so been detoxing at home I’m on day 3 an feeling like I’m only getting worse , what am I to do or go if I do need help cus the hospital where I am sent me on my way out the door .. Been taking saboxen from off the streets bug it doesn’t even feel like it’s working

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
3:34 pm April 14th, 2017

Hi Denyce. Call a toll-free Heroin Helpline on 1-888-988-7934 to get in touch with trusted and confidential helpline professionals available 24/7.

9:39 pm April 16th, 2017

How long do I need to wait after my last heroin dose to take suboxen….It’s been 22 hours

2:51 pm April 20th, 2017

Hi Jesman. I have to say that starting suboxone on your own is not safe at all. Doctors usually assess you before giving you a dose due to the risk of precipitated withdrawal. You can read more about when it’s safe to start suboxone, here:

raj sivsaran
9:59 am April 19th, 2017

Hi. I’m presently on my detox phase now going for the 3rd week clean from smoking black tarr heroin(capetowns best and somewhat potent!!!!!) I’ve been smoking for last 5 years. I am detoxing at home or on my own. The 1st week was bad. I used methadone which I find is excellent and use zopiclone as a calmative and for sleeping. Can u advise for a person smoking heroin for 5 years what would the minimum detox period with medication be? I’m now 18 days super clean, and back to work. I take 4ml methadone in the mrng and 4 at nite but now down to 2ml and still feel or get turkey symptoms eg sniffy/blocked nose, lower back pains and rls(restless legs syndrome) how much more time do I need to be on meth in order to completely manage on my own without medication. I’ve noticed that zopiclone also helps with other symptoms like anxiety, paranoia, etc. I’ve been on zopiclone for last 10 yrs due to depression and honestly cannot do wth ths tab. Its more like my Happy pill” and cannot, physically do wthout it. Is zopiclone wth methadone a good combination? Pls adv ise. And thank u for your website. Raj.

11:05 am April 19th, 2017

Hello Raj. So glad to hear that you’re thinking about quitting black tar. Seriously, good for you. In terms of detox, I’d suggest that you seek the help of r professional medical clinic. Do you have access to them in Cape Town?

6:10 pm May 16th, 2017

I’ve bee n trying on my own for 4 days to kick
Been trying to find a doc that does saboxone to no out of oppcences.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
11:59 am May 22nd, 2017

Hi Bruce. For assistance in finding the perfect treatment facilities for heroin addiction, call our no-cost Heroin Helpline as soon as possible at 1-888-988-7934. You will speak to a sympathetic, well-trained individual who can help you find a reliable recovery program that will meet your treatment needs.

4:15 pm June 14th, 2017

I’ve been using herion for about 6m and I’m ready to stop but dint know how it seems like I can stop on my own but I’m not to aware of the withdrawal I need to know are there home remedis available in stead of medication or detox ckenic I would rather be at home with remedies then medication no one knows I use.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
11:55 am June 27th, 2017

Hi Geri. Call a toll-free Heroin Helpline on 1-888-988-7934 to get in touch with trusted and confidential helpline professionals available 24/7. You will speak to a sympathetic, well-trained individual who can help you find a reliable recovery program that will meet your treatment needs.

6:36 pm June 21st, 2017

I have been using heroin for 3 years I want to stop I was with drawling from it AMD I threw up black stuff what is that from

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
2:56 pm June 23rd, 2017

Hi Wendy. Call a toll-free Heroin Helpline on 1-888-988-7934 to get in touch with trusted and confidential helpline professionals available 24/7. You will speak to a sympathetic, well-trained individual who can help you find a reliable recovery program that will meet your treatment needs.

10:56 pm July 15th, 2017

I have not had any heroin in three days I am finding it very hard I have cried myself to sleep I am now starting to feel a bit better I had 1o mils of method one which did help me but now I am all itchy and feel like it has back ? I have been smoking ctoon this is abouty twentieth attempt to stop altogether I have only went nine days without it since January I know I can do it it’s more mentally I can’t go but good thing is all the dealers are getting busted in my town and my dealer stopped so that’s a plus and now my neighbour refuses to get any fr me he is on a script i am ready to freak out at him

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:18 pm July 20th, 2017

Hi Kaz. Call a toll-free Heroin Helpline on 1-888-988-7934 to get in touch with trusted and confidential helpline professionals available 24/7.

12:25 am August 20th, 2017

On my 5th day detoxing at home, appetite coming back little by little fatigue is the worst 0 energy hard to stand up and just walk this is the toughest part for me so far trying to stay hydrated and eat correctly.. need to get back to work my question is how long will this fatigue last

1:21 am November 7th, 2017

Yea soboxine wont really help if u doing the real deal herione injecting I have been thru it two three times bout to number 4 think I’d learn but best way to do it I think with any opiate only if u have a spin an can say no! Slowly taking less and less I’ve done an does work just have to be serious bout it an want better things for ur self an do u really wanna be remembered as a heroine user I think not an not me so that’s what I’m doing as we speak!

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