Heroin detox symptoms

Symptoms of heroin detox include body and muscle aches, vomiting, and mood disorders such as anxiety or depression. More on what to expect during detox and how to treat heroin detox symptoms here.

minute read

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.

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
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.


Leave a Reply to Lydia @ Addiction Blog Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I have read and agree to the conditions outlined in the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

  1. I’ve been using for months now an it’s hard.. Especially when you don’t have the money to buy.. An the withdrawls start immediately…Would you please read my message an help me.. I don’t want to be on drugs all my life an I have no one to help me..Im tired of living life like this.. I can’t afford nothing I want except drugs.. An i want more out of life than that.. Please would you please help me

    1. Hi Ursula. Call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant who can help you find the best rehab for you.

  2. This is a real fucking problem I’m going through all of this shot right now fuck this I don’t know what’ to do you lose all lost my wife my cars home it’ go is on and on

    I’m going through all of this shit right now all I no make money buy shit go sleep do it all over again same s*** can’t do it no more I no what all you are going through and prayer and stay away from the bad Crowd and all get better I fell like I was a bigger man at 15 and now 32 I fell like a fucking kid

  3. Im in process of heroin detox the doctor gave me tramadol nap-10 and multivitamins.during the firt four days the im quite fine but as it decreases the dose after that the withdrawal is unbearable again and consult the doctor for it but the advice is not so comfortable(YOU DESERVE IT) I ask the doctor to extend the treatment like for the first four days he simply says i dont give medication to get high which leads me to sniff just a few again…so im a little worried what am i suppose to do?

    1. Hi Robert. You may need a rehab treatment. Call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant.

  4. I really need to know what to do my sister has been laying in bed for two days now. Her boyfriend and myself have tried to get her to go to the Dr or somewhere! She says she has a migraine and body is hurting she yells when we turn a light on or try to talk to her! She has said she has been clean for a couple months now off her ion. He has asked me to take her to ER she has a Warrent for her arrest and don’t wanna go I don’t know what to do. How can I help I can’t force her what do I do she needs help?

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

  5. I’m am on day 2 the sweating and shivers are the worst my body hurts and I have no energy I had 4 Suboxone and there all gone! We have to beat this disease it is consuming so many lives it killed my only brother my only friend. I am tired of living like this and giving the dam dealer all my money we can do this we just have to know it’s gonna get better and were gonna feel better when this is over.Good Luck to all my friends with the disease and we can do it!! God bless all the junkies including myself were good people we just have a problem and it’s called ADDITION….

    1. Hi DONE. Call 1-888-503-1835 for a toll-free and confidential marijuana helpline available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. You will be greeted by a professional and understanding consultant who will assist you in understanding the types of marijuana addiction treatments available to you.

  6. Well it been 7 days and omg I going crazy with body pain and my legs are killing me and I went into hospital to detox but blood pressure was low and couldn’t get meds so it has been so hard and the pain in my body is so bad it makeing me really think the only way to even get though this is to use this is so disaponting really I tried to do all right things and now wait for a intreatment and the wait omg how can anyone get though this death looks good compare to this shit

    1. Hi Marie. Heroin withdrawal symptoms may be severe and hard to overcome… but you must keep up! Stay strong, and if you need any help call the helpline you see on the website to speak with a trusted treatment consultant.

  7. I am on day 5 of being clean.. Snorted large amounts for 3 years.. don’t know why I didn’t stop sooner. In an outpatient rehab. The Meds help a lot. The first night was the worst. If you are reading this.. I get it. It’s scary to think about stopping, but i am doing it and so can you. Pray, and got will get you through it. You will feel much better after!

  8. 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


    1. 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.

  10. 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?

  11. 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??

I am ready to call
i Who Answers?