Heroin Withdrawal – What to Expect
Heroin withdrawal timeline. What’s going on in your brain? What’s going on in your body What’s going on in your spirit?
As an opioid drug derived from morphine, heroin is highly addictive…but if you’re reading this, you already know that.
Once your body has developed a physical dependency to heroin (or any opioid or opiate, like pain pills, oxycodone, oxycontin or vicodin) you will experience withdrawal symptoms once you stop.
It’s important to know what to expect during opiate detox. When you’re aware of what the normal symptoms of heroin withdrawal are, you’ll be more mentally prepared for this big step toward recovery.
At the end of this article, we’re providing a free opiate detox book for you to download. It is readable on all mobile devices and you are welcome to send it to anyone who it may help.
Whether you or someone you love is going through heroin withdrawal, it’s a good resource to have on hand.
If you or a loved one is facing heroin withdrawal, these are most likely the types of questions you’re facing. Heroin is part of a class of drugs called opiates, which are close relatives of opium. Other drugs fall into this class, including codeine and morphine. Synthetic drugs, called opioids, share the same types of withdrawal symptoms and timeline.
Heroin Withdrawal Can Be Different for Everyone
Your body’s dependency on heroin determines the severity and duration of your heroin withdrawal. Factors like how long you used it, how much you took every time and how you used it will play a role in your withdrawal timeline.
Why is this?
Heroin suppresses many of the central nervous system functions, such as respiration, heart rate, temperature regulation and blood pressure. At the same time, it binds itself to opioid receptors in your brain, resulting in increased pleasure. As you use heroin, those opioid receptors provide you with a rush of pleasure. When you take the heroin away, the opposite occurs.
Over time, your brain can come to rely on heroin for pleasure and the actual chemical structure can change. Individuals who have used heroin only once or twice may experience only mild or moderate withdrawal symptoms while those who have used the opioid for months or years may experience severe withdrawal symptoms as a result.
Mild Withdrawal Symptoms
Typical mild withdrawal symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Abdominal cramps
- Aches in the muscles and bones
Moderate Withdrawal Symptoms
Typical moderate withdrawal symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
Severe Withdrawal Symptoms
Typical severe withdrawal symptoms include:
- Muscle spasms
- Rapid heart rate
- Drug cravings
- Impaired respiration
Onset of Heroin Withdrawal
As a short-acting opioid, heroin acts fast. Once used, it takes effect quickly. Once you quit, however, it leaves your bloodstream quickly as well. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA,) heroin withdrawal symptoms typically begin within six to 12 hours after your last exposure, although some individuals don’t begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms until 16 hours after.
Heroin Withdrawal: Day 1 to 2
These days are often the most difficult to get through for those going through withdrawal. The most noticeable withdrawal symptoms are muscle aches and pain, some of which may be severe. Other symptoms, like loss of appetite, anxiety, insomnia, vomiting and diarrhea may be present.
Heroin Withdrawal: Day 3 to 5
You’ll likely continue to experience vomiting, shivers and abdominal cramping during this time, but much of the muscle and bone discomfort should have passed. It’s important to eat healthy meals during these days, even though you may not feel like it. Your body is trying to recover and needs a proper diet to boost the immune system.
Heroin Withdrawal: Day 6 and Beyond
Most of the symptoms will have dissipated by this time, though you may still experience anxiety, nausea and the obsession to use.
Getting Through Heroin Withdrawal
There are many ways to make heroin withdrawal more tolerable and a bit easier. Some individuals who have been using for years might benefit from medical detox, which helps ease the symptoms experienced during withdrawal while a medical professional monitors respiration, heart rate and blood pressure. This type of detox typically takes up to 10 days.
If you decide to handle heroin detox on your own, some ways to ease the withdrawal symptoms include:
- Drinking plenty of fluids
- Exercise for increased blood flow
- Alternating cold and hot showers
- Soaking in a warm bath
- Diverting your attention with music or television
- Getting outside in the sun
One of the best ways to make the heroin withdrawal process easier is to have plenty of support nearby. Medical detox or detox in a professional medical setting is always advised.
Detox is the first step to a life lived in recovery. We do recommend addiction treatment in order to gain the tools necessary to live free from drugs.
If you are ready to start the recovery process in your own life, give us a call today. We can help you every step of the way, from detox to inpatient treatment and sober living.
Download the book: Opiate Detox – What Will I Go Through & How Long Will it Last?
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article are in no way meant to take the place of a consultation with your physician. It is not advised to detox from any drug or alcohol alone. It is advised to seek professional medical assistance whenever