Detox from heroin

Detox from heroin can be assisted by anesthesia, buprenorphine, clonidine, or opiate replacement therapies. A review of heroin detox protocol here.

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Ready for heroin detox?

Are you using heroin and want to take the steps to quit heroin and recover for good? If so, you may want to go through a clinical detox process.  Signs of heroin withdrawal may not be life threatening, but can be VERY uncomfortable.

So how to treat heroin withdrawal and what happens exactly when you detox from heroin?  Heroin symptoms: how long?  And can you detox from heroin at home? We review here, and invite your questions about heroin detox at the end.

Detox from heroin symptoms

Detoxing from heroin will be uncomfortable. Your body goes through a lot of stress while heroin leaves the central nervous system. Below are some acute heroin detox symptoms you may experience during withdrawal. While experiencing heroin detox, expect to feel some symptoms for a while. It can take a long time for your body to repair itself. Detox from heroin symptoms include:

  • abdominal cramps
  • diarrhea
  • diluted pupils
  • disturbed sleep
  • drug cravings
  • chills
  • cold sweats
  • constipation
  • fever
  • nausea
  • pain and cramps throughout the body
  • priapism
  • seating
  • tearing
  • vomiting

Keep in mind that another detox from heroin symptom includes altered mood. You may go through depression and have a difficult time sleeping and/or regulating your sleep patterns as you get off heroin.

Detoxing from heroin time

How long does it take to detox from heroin? It depends upon the treatment method that you choose. Rapid detox happens over the course of a few hours while medication maintenance can last for several weeks or months after your loast dose of heroin. However, be advised that it does take a long time to fully detox from Heroin. You can get the opiate out of the body fairly quickly, but your body will take a great deal longer to heal from chronic heroin use. Acute heroin detox can be followed by protracted withdrawal symptoms which require a longer time for normal body function and regulation to return. While detoxing from heroin time is lengthy, you can do a lot to treat your withdrawal symptoms using complementary treatments. For example, acupuncture, acupressure and staple therapy have been said to relieve heroinwithdrawal symptoms temporarily. Whichever therapy you choose, taking the time to fully detox from heroin cankeep you from abusing heroin again.

Heroin detox treatment

Heroin detox treatment is a process during which you rid your body of opiates. The point is to clear the central nervous system’s opioid receptors so that your body can begin to repair itself. A few of the most well-known and clinically used heroin detox treatments include:

Anesthesia assisted heroin detox treatment – During this procedure, you are put under general anesthesia for about 6 hours and treated with medications like naloxone and clonidine to clear out the opiate receptors in the brain and central nervous system. Other non-opiate medication can also be used simultaneously to treat withdrawal symptoms. Also known as “rapid opiate detox”, the process takes about 3-4 days, after which you are referred to relapse prevention therapy. While ultra-rapid detox has been popular over the last 15 years, researchers are finding that this treatment does not provide any added benefit for detoxing from heroin; patients still exhibit painful detox symptoms after initial treatment with anesthesia. You will continue along with naloxone maintenance after initial dosing.

Buprenorphine assisted heroin detox treatment – During this type of heroin detox treatment, you will be medicated on buprenorphine to help address cravings for heroin. Buprenorphine works by occupying opioid receptors in the brain without inducing a high. As an opioid partial agonist, buprenorphine’s agonist effects increase linearly with increasing doses. At moderate doses, effects reach a plateau and no longer continue to increase with further increases in dose — the “ceiling effect.” Thus, buprenorphine carries a lower risk of abuse, addiction, and side effects compared to full opioid agonists like heroin. While on buprenorphine during heroin detox treatment, withdrawal symptoms do not occur. You may be asked to continue twice weekly with behavioral therapy while using this method of heroin detox treatment.

Clonidine assisted heroin detox treatment – Clonidine is helpful during heroin detox treatment because it blocks the adrenergic discharge produced by withdrawal. Clonidine can thus reduce symptoms of heroin withdrawal during detox by 50-75%. other medications may be used to help address heroin withdrawal and maintenance of pharmaceutical treatments continues alongside psychotherapy during detox.

Opiate substitution therapy – During this heroin detox treatment, different opiates are used to help disrupt physical dependency on heroin in the body. Methadone maintenance is a popular program used during heroin detox. Seeking out long term inpatient or outpatient treatment is common, although some view methadone maintenance as exchanging one drug addiction for another. Still, positive outcomes have been exhibited in heroin addicts using opiate substitution therapies. Follow up therapy after initial detox is always recommended for heroin addicts.

Self-detox from heroin

Can or should you detox from heroin by yourself? It’s possible. In fact, regular heroin users usually go through their own detox process every now and then. They do this because they run down on supplies or aren’t going to be able to get heroin right away. Addicts also manage withdrawal symptoms by reducing doses; you won’t get high but you also won’t feel withdrawal symptoms that comes with quitting heroin totally.

In sum, you can take care of and treat heroin withdrawal symptoms alone if you wish. Self-managed care can help ease discomfort. But while there are ways you can detox from heroin by using methadone or home remedies, it may be better to seek medical help. If you want to increase your chances of staying clean and avoid relapse, it would be better to detox in a clinic or to do so in a rehab facility, or be in contact with an outpatient program that can help after the initial detox procedure. Plus, clinical detox can help provide you with medications that can make the detox process from heroin much more humane.

Detox heroin questions

Do you still have questions about heroin detox? Do you have experience detoxing from heroin? If so please ask any questions or share any experience you may have with heroin detox. We would love to hear from you. And we will answer any questions you may have personally and promptly.

Reference Sources: SAMHSA: About Buprenorphine Therapy
Oregon State Protocol for Opiate Withdrawal
National Institute of Drug Abuse: Ultra Rapid Opiate Detox
NCBI: Outpatient Heroin Detoxification with Acupuncture and Staplepuncture  
Drug abuse: Heroin 
NCBI: Acupuncture and Heroin Detoxification
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. My son is on the methadone program been for at least 5 yrs. If you ask me his drug problems have become worst since he has been on Methadone. He has been to 3 different methadone clinics and they are all the same. He goes in gets dosed once a month drug tested. No counseling no consequences for doing drugs while on the methadone. He is on 45 mg’s still using herion and expereincing the “high” I thought methadone was supposed to block herion high. Please tell me what is wrong with the clinics. He has learned what other drugs to use with methadone to get high from going to these so called clinics. The addicts talk at the clinics telling him how to get around not feeling high while on methadone. Please help me understand what good is Methadone treatment for addicts.

    1. Hi Marty. Methadone helps with craving with opioids such as heroin. Have your son requested for counseling sessions? Maybe, he needs a long-term rehab program where he will live there, and learn how to live a drug-free life. I suggest that you call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant who can help your son find a rehab just for his needs.

  2. I want to get off heroine so bad dyfs took my kids an all I tried to do it cold turkey no way! No one will help me and u have to wait months to get into a methadone program. How long do I have to wait to reunite my family I want this more than anything an no one cares I rather die then feel this way!

  3. My boyfriend went got detox its been a month now he started back with the shaking in the sweating when the house us cold do it mean he back on drugs is my question n how would I know if he is back on it thanks

    1. Hi Keisha. He may experience post acute withdrawal symptoms from heroin. Those are prolonged withdrawal symptoms that may last for months. If you have any questions, call a toll-free Heroin Helpline on 1-888-988-7934 to get in touch with trusted and confidential helpline professionals available 24/7.

  4. As family trying to help a family member get off heroin how can we best cope with him begging someone to come get him from
    the treatment center he is in currently. I am his dads girlfriend and I can see more clearly than him that he is being manipulated by his son. We have sent him $300 in the last two weeks that he has been in treatment and he was given another $100 when he left to go there. He hasn’t paid rent which will be required, according to the director hasn’t made much of an effort to get a job…also a requirement. Where can we turn to figure out the best way to help him without enabling him?

  5. Opiates, like heroin enter your blood stream easily and can accumulate in the fat tissue. This means your system holds on to the drug longer, but it doesn’t mean it will show up on drug tests.

  6. My daughter just told me she has been snorting heroine, I’m of course not happy with this, she had been asking me for money alot lately and now I know why. She asked me last night for 100.00 dollars so she could go buy some Suboxen so she could got off this crap, I gave it to her but she wouldn’t text me a picture of them, I have the distinct notion it was spent on buying more H.

  7. Good day
    We have a family friend Saturday he became shaky en sweaty Sunday we took him to Doctor he admitted he is using Heroine they gave him Subutex – Buprenorphine Sunday he was getting cold fever and throwing up and sleeping ect Monday he was still sore body pains ect but said he is feeling little bit better? Is this oky? he still sweating a lot he only have one pill left for 2morrow? is there any thing we can try and do from our side he doesn’t want to go home and say he want to come clean… Please help!!!!

    1. Hello Amy. It’s best to seek help from an addiction or health professional. They can either help you or refer you to someone who can put you on opiate substitution medications such as methadone, naloxone, and buprenorphine. If you think you can go without opiate substitution treatment then I’d suggest a medication that helps reduces the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms include – clonidine. Also, antidepressants may be prescribed during or after detox.

    1. Hi Detiya. Yes, it is. Your body can become dependent on a drug no matter the route of administration. While detoxing, as heroin leaves your system it will produce withdrawal symptoms.

  8. I don’t believe ID should be necessary or required for drug rehab. Confidentiality is important in order for patients not to have fear to look for drug treatment.

  9. Hi Bobby. It’s not a withdrawal symptom. Believe it or not, many foods that we eat cannot be digested by our digestive system. More specifically, we don’t have the enzymes to digest foods that contain a high amount of dietary fibers. These foods include corn, peanuts, peas, carrots, cereals, and beans.

  10. I have been taking a lot of sh*ts. It’s not even funny no more, and at times it will be sh*tting fluids with pieces of corn. Is that part of heroin withdrawal?

  11. will drinking alot of water and sweating help detox heroin quiker or would it be the same if you did not do any of these too and if yes how fast will the process be?

  12. I’ve been able to wean down from a bun a day to just two then did a 3 day sub detox in the past with great results lasting it seems the opposite. I’ve gotten down to just 2-3 bags,waited until 24-36hrs nefore my first dose of subs n seems to get sicker.why idk but it’s killing me.the pain’s as bad as cold turkey n don’t know why.any suggestions like waiting longer to take the subs?

  13. Hi TL. Naltrexone should not be started prior to several (typically 7-10) days of abstinence from opioids. This is due to the risk of acute opioid withdrawal if naltrexone is taken, as naltrexone will displace most opioids from their receptors. Here is an in depth review and insignt into naltrexone treatment:

  14. I have been a user for 18 years, and been in and out of rehab over the years,, but my last detox i done at home, with subutex, and i done it in6 days, they normally do it in 14 days in rehab, but i find it better doing it quickly, as ur gona have uncomfortable days, but i find drinking plenty of water and keeping busy, going for walks ect, your head is going to tell u, that ur to weak to do anything, but if u push through it, and doing it this way, i slept every night, i was eating very well, after the detox u have to find something to do ie, college course, find a job, as u have to change ur lifestyle completly , so good luck to any 1 detoxing, u can get through it, 1 day at a time, and u will start to feel better, NO more waking up sick!!!!!!!!!

  15. Hello Leah. Opiates, like heroin enter your blood stream easily and can accumulate in the fat tissue. This means your system holds on to the drug longer, but it doesn’t mean it will show up on drug tests. Heroin can be detected in the hair follicles for a longer time, many say it is detectable in your hair even after 3 months. Saliva, on the other hand has a short detection time. It’s detectable anywhere from 5-48 hours after the last use, but shouldn’t be present any longer than that. What you can do to speed up the time your body needs to process heroin is drink lots of water and exercise.

  16. I have been a user for 3 years. Smoking not injecting. I’m a currently 3 weeks clean detoxing from home with methadone prescribed. Unfortunately another problem has arisen and I need help and answers. How long does it take to get out of your saliva with a mouth swab. And how long does it take to get out of your hair? Do actual shampoos from head shops work? Some have said yes with marijuana and I wish that is the case, but unfortunately its not. Please if you cam help me with these questions. I detox once in an impatient 5-7 days and relapsed two weeks later followed by 2 1/2 yrs. So please can you help?

  17. The part about anesthesia assisted is wrong. Actually patients are under moderate sedation for usually an hour.

    There is no need for lengthy general anesthesia anymore, that just increase risks. Patients should be inpatient 4 to 5 days for physical stability. Procedures should be done in a hospital.

  18. In response to addiction blog, nothing is given in any jain in NJ or NY except Rikers Island gives methadone. You just suffer. For the other people I don’t believe in no vitamin analog will help anything. How can that possible help your receptor sites having no heroin attached to them anymore. Time is the only cure if you have nothing.
    As far as the rapid detox you will feel like pure hell when you wake up. Weather it is 6 hours or 1 hour. You will suffer for weeks of not sleeping etc. It just basically fast tracks any opiates off your receptor sites. You still suffer the (paws) part of withdrawl and feel terrible after waking up. That post is just a advertisement. It should not be allowed.

  19. Well written article, however I need to address a couple of facts in the Rapid Detox section. There are many Rapid Detox programs out there, but they are nothing like the Waismann Method. Our Doctors have been performing Opiate Detox under anesthesia for more than 14 yrs, while initally patients WERE kept under anesthesia for 6 hours our procedure has evolved over time under the direction of our 2 Board Certified Anesthesiologists to slightly less than 1 hour under sedation. The big difference here is that the procedure is very safe, patients do not require intubation and they recover much quicker. After the detox they are closely monitored in the ICU, and are able to be transferred to our Retreat the following day. Other programs send patients to a hotel, to be cared for by their family members. We have 24 hour staff at our Retreat to care for patients recovering from detox. Waismann in essence breaks the whole over-whelming Opiate Dependence issue into 2 very do-able parts: Physical dependency managed in a medical setting, and Psychological aspects in a nurturing and safe environment. When a patient leaves our program they are not only Opiate-free, they have a good sense of ” what’s next for me.” In my near 7 years of working with Waismann I have had the pleasure of being part of giving the best care available anywhere, and making a huge, lasting difference in patient’s lives.

  20. There is an old therapy that is very effective and will break the craving over about 10 days of treatment with minimal discomfort. It uses a natural product derived from vitamin B-3. Administered by IV on an outpatient basis over about 10 days it also seems to be very effective at restoring cognitive ability – clearing the fog of addiction.

    Hope that helps some of you.

  21. Hi Angelo. Thanks for sharing about your experiences with clonidine during detox. Did anything in particular help you ease symptoms of withdrawal? How did you get through it?

  22. Detoxing with Clonidine is absolutely worthless. It does nothing but lower your blood pressure a whooooole lot. You will suffer like hell. I never seen it help anybody. They gave it in a county jail I frequented and it never helped anyone.

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