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Withdrawal and detox from heroin

Heroin is an extremely difficult drug to quit completely. The process of detox is different from person-to-person but most heroin detox programs offer customized withdrawal timelines for every patient. Even though heroin is a relatively fast acting drug and it dissipates out of the body in a fairly quick fashion it generally takes at least 5 to 7 days for the body to completely filter out the drug entirely through the proper detox format. Detox can on occasion take up to 10 days for an individual to go through and going through the detox is particularly rough. In order to detox from heroin in a safe manner it’s highly recommended that an individual go in for proper medically assisted detox. Medical assistance can work at mitigating some of the major health concerns associated with heroin detox as well as provide assistance with managing a recovery plan later on into the withdrawal process.

The earliest signs of heroin withdrawal:

Undergoing detox and withdrawal can be one of the most difficult stages that happens early on in stopping heroin use. When a person decreases their heroin use or completely stopped using heroin this can often lead to an uncomfortable process of detox. Detox symptoms are some of the first signs of withdrawal and these symptoms can vary in their intensity depending on the amount of time that a person has been taking heroin as well as the size of their previous doses of heroin.

The earliest signs of withdrawal and detoxification can occur within just 24 hours of a person’s last dose. Some of the earliest signs of heroin withdrawal can include:

Withdrawal and detox from heroin
  • Runny nose
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to stop sweating
  • Ongoing restlessness
  • Tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Mood Swings
  • Problems with concentration
  • Muscle spasms and muscle aches

After these initial symptoms are handled a number of secondary and intensive symbols can begin to appear in the second stage of withdrawal:

  • High blood pressure
  • Difficulty controlling heartrate
  • Hyperactivity
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Vomiting/nausea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Paranoia

And more.

The secondary symptoms of withdrawal can often be some of the most difficult to deal with and it will take the body time to adjust to living without heroin. These secondary symptoms often occur within 72 hours of a person stopping heroin and they can last for 3 to 4 days. Generally these severe symptoms begin to taper off over the course of a week and a person can begin to resume their normal functions again. Many psychological factors and mild physical factors can continue well after a week however.

The basic heroin withdrawal timeline:

While every heroin user experiences different types of withdrawal symptoms there are some basic withdrawal timelines that have been used in the past for treating heroin withdrawal. It’s difficult to know what to expect but by following the withdrawal timeline based off of symptoms it is possible for treatment professionals to create a personalized treatment plan that can lessen the symptoms of withdrawal as well as reduce the chances for potential relapse. It’s important to note that many people will experience major withdrawal symptoms for at least one week. Chronic users may continue to experience withdrawal for up to 3 to 4 weeks after heroin use. Even after the initial detox withdrawal symptoms begin to subside it’s extremely important that a person have access to a support network or a plan for preventing relapse in the future.

Here is an outline of basic withdrawal timelines for many experiencing heroin withdrawal:

The first phase: The vast majority of heroin users will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms in the first 24 hours and this is classified as the first phase of recognized withdrawal. Relapse is very likely to occur in this first stage which lasts between one to three days as many people find it difficult to deal with the symptoms of withdrawal without medical intervention. The basic symptoms in phase 1 can include:

  • Headaches
  • Aggression
  • Mood swings
  • Muscle pain
  • Sweating
  • Panic Attack
  • Stomach issues
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia

And more

The second phase: during the second phase which occurs between 3 to 5 days after a person has stopped their heroin use most of the main and intense symptoms of heroin withdrawal will have subsided. Generally the worst symptoms of withdrawal will peak at 72 hours after a person has stopped their use of heroin. During the second phase however many people begin to feel some of these symptoms:

  • Ongoing shivers
  • Fatigue
  • Lessening muscle aches
  • Stomach cramping
  • Diarrhea

And more

Every individual will detox from heroin in a different way but most withdrawal symptoms will begin to lessen after five days. For some heroin users that have been regularly taking large doses of heroin or regularly consuming heroin on a daily basis it is possible that these symptoms may take longer than one week to subside. Mild symptoms can also continue to linger for up to a month after a person quits heroin. The overall goal for anyone in the recovery phase is to continue the path of recovery. Use tools like exercise as well as healthy eating and programs to work at getting through recovery and preventing the chance for relapse. With medical assistance as possible for patients to use certain medications to taper off the use of heroin to reduce withdrawal symptoms as well as prevent the chance for a number of medical issues to occur during the withdrawal phase. Working with a medical team is often a far healthier choice than attempting to quit heroin completely cold turkey.

Is it possible to die from heroin withdrawal?

In some cases withdrawal symptoms from heroin can be so severe and dangerous to an individual that they can be placed into a situation where their body can begin to experience severe symptoms of withdrawal. If the signs of withdrawal are not properly monitored by medical professionals this can often lead to extensive harm for the user or greater risks of health effects from the detox process. It’s generally advised for individuals who have been consuming heroin regularly to seek withdrawal treatment with the help of a facility.

Heroin withdrawal medications:

With the help of a medical facility it is possible to lessen the symptoms of withdrawal. Undergoing medical withdrawal with the help of detoxification under a medical staff can be extremely important to preventing major health problems along the way. Various medications can be used to lessen heroin withdrawal symptoms and to lessen the chances for potential relapse. Some of the top medications which are used to treat heroin addiction can include:

  • Buprenorphine: This drug is also known as Suboxone and this is a medication that can lower withdrawal symptoms while allowing an individual to slowly taper off of their need for opioids. Suboxone also contains an item which makes it very difficult to manipulate or abuse which makes it an ideal option for use from heroin addicts.
  • Methadone: methadone can be used to slowly taper off the use of opioids and has been commonly used in addictions treatment for years. The only drawback to methadone is that it can be manipulated and abused and it requires a special addictions counselor in order to prescribe it.
  • Naloxone: This is a medication that can temporarily stop the effects of heroin use as well as prevent an overdose. This is a medication that is commonly used by first responders to allow for a chance to treat the patient before the signs and symptoms of a heroin overdose takeover.


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