Heroin withdrawal side effects

Expected withdrawal side effects from heroin can include diarrhea, cramps, sweating, and restlessness. However, heroin can also provoke serious adverse side effects in those with overall poor health. More heroin withdrawal side effects here.

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Heroin is a schedule I narcotic, an illegal substance which is not meant for general consumption. While heroin can produce states of profound euphoria, it also has some of the worst withdrawal side effects upon cessation, made worse when you go cold turkey off heroin.

But, what are withdrawal from heroin side effects? What can you expect to experience in terms of detox from heroin symptoms and how long will side effects persist? More here on what to expect with heroin withdrawal side effects. Plus, a section at the end for any questions you may have.

Withdrawal effects of heroin

When you have taken heroin for a period of weeks to months, your body develops a dependency to the drug. What this means is that your central nervous system has adapted to the presence of heroin and the body cannot function or be normal without it. And when you stop taking heroin, you experience withdrawal.


Withdrawal is the process of your body regaining homeostasis after a period of drug dependence. It’s why you experience discomfort and pain. It also accounts for side effects that occur when you stop taking heroin.

You will go through withdrawal if you have decreased your doses of heroin substantially or if you have decided to quit heroin all together. Onset of heroin withdrawal occurs after about a few hours when heroin has left the system, around the time of your next expected dose.

Effects of heroin withdrawal

You can expect heroin to affect your physical and mental health during withdrawal. Side effects can be both physical and mentally exhausting as well as painful. Expected side effects during heroin withdrawal include the following:

  • abdominal cramps
  • cold sweats, chills
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • diluted pupils
  • disturbed sleep
  • depression
  • drug cravings
  • excessive yawning
  • fever
  • nausea
  • pain and cramps the body
  • priapism (persistent and painful penis erection)
  • restlessness
  • sweating
  • tearing
  • vomiting

Side effects of heroin withdrawal

Because heroin can cause extensive changes to your body, when you withdraw you can expect extreme discomfort. However, medications can be prescribed to help ease and shorten the withdrawal process. During heroin withdrawal treatment, doctors either order replacement therapies or medications which address symptoms directly. The most common medications doctors use to treat heroin addiction include either/or methadone, burprenorphine, and clonidine. It is also recommended that you seek out STD testing from either your doctor or third party testing company, since you could have been exposed to an STD through the sharing of needles. Common medications used to treat the side effects of heroin detox include:

1. Buprenorphine

2. Clonidine

3. Methadone

Heroin withdrawal side effects

Heroin withdrawal side effects can impact your ability to quit heroin. Not only are you have to take care of the physical withdrawal side effects, you are having to battle drug cravings and triggers that make you want to start taking heroin again. Withdrawal from heroin is not hopeless, however. Supporting side effects by easing their severity helps to insure your ability to quit.

If you’re worried about the side effects you’ll experience because of withdrawal, detox clinics or addiction treatment facilities are knowledgeable in treating you withdrawal side effects. in these facilities you are under 24-7 surveillance, which can increase your chances of maintained abstinence. You don’t have to be alone in your withdrawal process.

If you still have questions regarding the side effects of heroin withdrawal please ask in the comments section below. We will get back to your questions as quickly as we can.

Reference Sources: State of NY Department of Health: Burprenorphine for Heroin Withdrawal
NCBI: Incarceration and opioid withdrawal: The experiences of methadone patients and out-of-treatment heroin users
NCBI: Heroin Withdrawal
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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