About 50,000 people in the US died from opioid-involved overdoses in the span of a single year. Opioids include prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids. The misuse and addiction of opioids cost the country $78.5 billion in expenses every year.
Realizing you need help is only the first step. Before you can fully start your rehabilitation, you’ll need to detox. Unfortunately, heroin withdrawal can seem like a grueling process.
Here’s what to expect from heroin withdrawal. Learning what to expect can help you maintain realistic expectations. You can complete the detox process and start your road to rehabilitation.
Keep reading to learn about withdrawal from heroin today.
Before we dive into the symptoms of heroin withdrawal, it helps to understand the withdrawal process as a whole.
After taking opioids like heroin for an extended period of time, your body can become desensitized to the drug’s effects. Your body will need more of the drug over time to feel any impact. This could increase your risk of an accidental drug overdose.
Over time, the way nerve receptors in your brain work can change. These receptors can become dependent on heroin to function properly.
If you feel physically sick after you stop using heroin for a period of time, it could indicate you’ve developed a dependence. Your body will start experiencing heroin withdrawal as a result.
Some people remain dependent on heroin in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
In other cases, however, people don’t realize they’ve developed a heroin addiction. They might confuse their withdrawal from heroin as flu symptoms.
If you think you’re experiencing withdrawal symptoms, it’s important to seek help right away. Otherwise, withdrawal symptoms could impact your overall health.
Some people end up using heroin again simply to end their withdrawal symptoms.
Instead, you can complete the withdrawal process in a safe setting under medical supervision to ensure your health and safety.
How Long Will It Last?
Usually, your heroin withdrawal symptoms will start around six to 12 hours after your last dose. Symptoms can peak within 1 to 3 days.
Your symptoms should subside after a week. However, some people experience weeks or months of withdrawal symptoms. If this occurs, it could indicate post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
Again, it can help to complete your withdrawal from heroin under medical supervision to ensure your safety.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
About 30% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them. Meanwhile, as many as 12% develop an opioid use disorder. About 6% of the people who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
If you stop using heroin after prolonged use, you could start to experience withdrawal symptoms. Here’s what to expect from heroin withdrawal.
It’s important to note that everyone’s experience is a little different. Here are some of the most common symptoms people experience.
Most people who start the withdrawal process experience a strong desire for more heroin. Cravings are common for many people undergoing the withdrawal process.
One of the reasons many people develop a craving is to end their withdrawal symptoms.
Detoxing in a safe, medically-controlled environment could help. You’ll remain in a drug-free environment, ensuring you don’t relapse.
You could develop a fever after you stop using heroin. Fever is usually the body’s means of fighting off illness or infection. When your body goes through withdrawal, that’s not the case.
You can take steps to control your fever.
If your fever doesn’t come down with treatment, it could indicate a serious medical illness. For example, you could have HIV, diabetes, or a heart problem. Seeking medical attention is important before the problem develops further.
Aches and Pains
Heroin works by blocking the body’s pain pathways. During the withdrawal process, you can experience a rebound effect.
You could start to feel aches and pains. Your body could become more sensitive to pain, too.
You could develop a dysphoric mood as part of the withdrawal process, which can include feelings of:
While you’re coming off the drug, you could experience long-suppressed feelings related to previous abuse or trauma, too. It helps to have emotional support while completing your heroin withdrawal.
These feelings will become less intense once you complete the withdrawal stage. If these feelings don’t pass, consult a doctor for further treatment.
You might experience an overproduction of bodily fluids during your withdrawal from heroin, too. For example, your body could produce sweat and tears. You might develop a runny nose as well.
These symptoms indicate your body is trying to bring itself back into a state of homeostasis, or balance, again.
You could develop diarrhea or frequent bowel movements too. Usually, diarrhea is accompanied by stomach pain. Spasms to the digestive system can occur as well.
You might experience restlessness as a part of your withdrawal process. Restlessness is often accompanied by insomnia and anxiety. You could start to feel agitated, especially if you’re not getting enough sleep.
Going to rehab for heroin abuse could help manage your symptoms.
Vomiting and Nausea
Vomiting and nausea are common withdrawal symptoms as well. You might lose your appetite during the withdrawal process, too.
If you experience these symptoms, make sure to stay hydrated.
Remember, you don’t have to complete your heroin withdrawal alone. Instead, consider seeking rehab for heroin abuse. Finding a specialty facility can ensure you’ll get the help you need.
You can complete your withdrawal in a safe environment under medical supervision.
After the withdrawal process, you could experience strong drug cravings for as long as six months. You can reduce your risk of relapse by seeking long-term treatment. For example, you might consider cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Contingency management could help you recover from heroin addiction, too.
You can speak with a professional at a rehab facility to determine the best course of action based on your needs.
Heroin Withdrawal: Preparing Yourself for the Road Ahead
Heroin withdrawal doesn’t have to feel like the end of the world. Learning what to expect from heroin withdrawal can prepare you for the road ahead. You can get the help you need from a professional team before you start the process, too.
Remember, you’re not going through this alone.
Reach out today for help.