Heroin is a powerful drug. Not many other drugs cause the cravings and withdrawals like this powerful opioid – which is what makes stopping so difficult. If you’re ready to quit heroin for good or are thinking about treatment, you’re probably the most curious about the detox process. Will detox hurt? How long does detox take? Can I die during heroin detox?
Detox is scary, but that’s mostly due to not knowing how it works. We want to teach you what it’s like to detox from heroin by discussing physical symptoms, psychological symptoms, and what you can expect from a professional heroin detox. With the right knowledge, you can start your own heroin detox without fear.
What Happens During Heroin Detox and Withdrawal?
Why do you feel so awful when you stop using heroin? Because your body is experiencing drug withdrawal.
When you use heroin, you flood your brain with pleasure chemicals like dopamine that causes the euphoric high. The more you use heroin, the more adjusted your brain becomes to the flood of chemicals. Eventually, you need more heroin to get the same effect, but then the body increases its tolerance again. This cycle continues until you need a shot of heroin to not feel sick and even extreme amounts won’t get you high. Once you need the drug to feel normal you’ve become chemically dependent, your body believes it needs heroin to function.
When you take heroin away, your body panics. It’s used to the flood of chemicals and it’s not getting it anymore. Because your body thinks something has gone wrong it will send distress signals in the form of physical and psychological withdrawal.
Physical Heroin Detox Symptoms
Heroin withdrawal mirrors mild to severe flu symptoms. Users withdrawing from heroin can expect:
- Extreme muscle ache
- Clammy skin
- Muscle spasms
- Abdominal pain
Psychological Detox Symptoms
Heroin does its work on the brain so don’t be surprised when psychological symptoms occur during withdrawal, the typical heroin detox patient experiences psychological symptoms like:
- Inability to focus
- Mood swings
How Long Does Heroin Detox Last?
It can take your body a few days to a few weeks to properly detox from heroin. Most physical symptoms abate after a month, but you could experience psychological withdrawal symptoms for up to two years.
Can You Die from Heroin Detox?
There’s a saying in recovery, “Heroin detox won’t kill you, but it’ll make you wish you were dead.” Heroin detox and withdrawal can cause severe symptoms, but death is not one of them.
The Downfalls of At-Home Heroin Detox
At-home heroin detox usually doesn’t work for one big reason – withdrawal. During home detox you’re likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms without any help. You feel okay during the first few hours, then bad, then worse, until you’re stumbling back to your dealer to relieve the symptoms. Because there’s not much you can do against withdrawal at home, look to professional heroin detox.
The Benefits of Professional Heroin Detox
You have a much better chance at making it through the pains of heroin withdrawal by detoxing at a licensed drug treatment facility. Unlike at-home detox, professional detox has clinically proven tools and methods that keep the patient as safe and as comfortable as possible.
Though access to opioid drug therapy has expanded over the last few years, it’s still very difficult to get FDA-approved opioid medication outside of a treatment facility. At a professional detox, you can access professionally guided drug therapy that calms withdrawal symptoms. Most detox facilities use a partial opioid antagonist like Suboxone to slowly wean your body to avoid extreme discomfort and symptoms.
Unlike normal opioids Suboxone doesn’t give the user the typical euphoria associated with heroin but does drastically reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Doctors will reduce your dose over a period of several days until you’re completely opioid free.
As we learned above extreme flu-like symptoms are the calling card of heroin detox and withdrawal. A professional detox’s drug therapy will help alleviate symptoms, but patients are still likely to experience mild to moderate aches and pains. Detox medical staff provides over the counter cold and flu medication and other non-narcotic medication to help alleviate the physical heroin detox symptoms. It’s much easier to concentrate on your recovery when you’re not bogged down by symptoms.
Medical staff will monitor your progress throughout the detox process. Monitoring includes regularly checking your heart rate, blood pressure, and vitals, as well getting a psychological evaluation on how you’re feeling. Should you experience a health or psychological emergency, you will be assisted immediately. Regular monitoring by a professional staff keeps you as safe as possible.
You’re not out of the woods just because you’re abstaining from heroin. If that were the case no one would relapse. Unfortunately, there’s more to detox than detox, you need follow-up treatment to stay off heroin for good. We recommend inpatient residential treatment for help getting over the humps of heroin addiction or outpatient therapy at the least. Heroin addiction treatment helps with detox but also teaches you the necessary emotional tools and counseling to deal with all parts of your addiction.
Get Heroin Help Detox Today
We know that heroin detox is a scary and painful process, but it’s much easier with the help of medical and addiction professionals. You don’t want to be the next statistic in the ongoing opioid crisis, if you’re ready to stop using heroin call Ohio ARC detox center today.