Heroin Detox and Withdrawal Timeline
As with any opioid, heroin is highly addictive and powerful, making it difficult for anyone to stop using even when they want to do so. Consistent use causes a physical and mental dependency, so when someone stops using, they develop withdrawal symptoms. The best way to get through the initial recovery process is with the help of a heroin detox center.
What to Expect When Quitting Heroin
The body can easily develop a heroin addiction and once it is removed, it does not know how to function without it, which causes heroin withdrawals. Because it is a fast-acting opiate, it leaves the body quickly and physical symptoms can appear just hours after the last dose. When quitting heroin, expect to go through very uncomfortable heroin symptoms for about a week. But with the help of a medical detox, the withdrawal process can be much easier and safer, increasing the chances of completing a detox from heroin.
Severity and duration of heroin withdrawal and detox will be worse the longer someone used heroin, how they abused it, and how much was taken each time. Someone with co-occurring disorders such as depression or anxiety, may have more intense heroin withdrawals.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
Not every person will experience the same symptoms when withdrawing from heroin and can last about a week. The symptoms can be very unpleasant and even serious, including:
- Abdominal pain
- Muscle aches and spasms
- Agitation and nervousness
- Cravings for heroin
- Impaired respiration
- Rapid heart rate
Heroin withdrawals aren’t generally considered life-threatening on their own, but some of the medical and psychological symptoms may become life-threatening. For example, depression may lead someone to consider suicide. Heroin should never be stopped suddenly without medical supervision, like at an addiction treatment center.
The Stages of Heroin Detox
Heroin takes effect rapidly but also leaves the bloodstream quickly. Medical detox and withdrawal timeline often begins before heroin completely leaves the system and takes about 5 to 7 days to complete. For those who are more heavily dependent on heroin, it may last up to 10 days. The withdrawal and detox stages typically follow this timeline:
- 6 – 12 hours from last dose: withdrawal symptoms start
- 1 – 3 days from last dose: withdrawal symptoms reach their peak in intensity and frequency
- 1 – 2 weeks from last dose: withdrawal symptoms begin to ease up
Some people can still experience heroin withdrawal symptoms for weeks, months or even years.
Medications Used in Heroin Detox
During a medical detox, a person’s vitals are monitored around the clock and clinicians can use medication assisted treatment to ease withdrawal symptoms. These medications can make opiate withdrawal much more comfortable, ease cravings, and increase chances of completing the detox process. Some of the medications used include:
- Methadone. A slow-acting, low-strength opiate which is used to taper someone off heroin and prevent withdrawal symptoms.
- Naltrexone. A drug that blocks heroin from binding to opiate receptors in the brain, reducing cravings.
- Buprenorphine. One of the most common drugs used in medical detox for heroin, it reduces cravings and physical symptoms like muscle aches and vomiting.
What Happens After Heroin Detox?
Drug and alcohol detox is just the beginning of addiction treatment. Even though the drugs are out of someone’s system, some of the underlying issues, co-occurring disorders, and long-term cravings are still there. It is important to enroll into a heroine rehab program, which can be either inpatient treatment or outpatient substance abuse treatment programs. Recovery centers can help break behaviors and triggers that contribute to addiction and help teach better coping mechanisms to avoid a relapse. You can expect to participate in therapies such as dual diagnosis treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, and 12step programs in heroin rehab.
At DayBreak Treatment Solutions, we offer comprehensive care for those struggling with all types of drug addiction. Our medication assisted treatment detox program helps patients wean themselves off of heroin addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin addiction, our team can help. If you would like to learn more about our drug and alcohol detox and rehab program, please give us a call today at (844) 695-0083.