It has become harder for people to get their hands on painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin without a prescription. Those who are addicted to these opiates are turning to heroin, a cheaper alternative that is easier to obtain. In fact, half of people with heroin addiction used opiates first. This makes it important to know and recognize the signs of heroin withdrawal to get help.
What Is Heroin Withdrawal?
As an opiate itself, heroin is a very addictive drug. Chronic use can lead to physical dependence. Over time, users come to tolerate its effects. This means that they must have more heroin more often to achieve the same feeling.
When heroin users don’t get enough of the drug or stop using it, they start to have withdrawal symptoms. The symptoms are the result of the body reacting to the changes in the brain that the heroin caused. Without it, the brain doesn’t know how to function normally.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
Heroin suppresses the central nervous system, which affects blood pressure, breathing, heart rate and temperature balance. It also affects the chemical balance in the brain that triggers pleasure. Due to these changes, people experience a range of symptoms during the stages of heroin withdrawal.
The mild symptoms include abdominal pain, chills, muscle and bone aches, and nausea. Some people also have a runny nose, sweat more than usual, have excessive tearing and yawn a lot.
The moderate symptoms of heroin withdrawal include agitation, diarrhea, fatigue, goose bumps and restlessness. Other common symptoms are tremors, trouble concentrating and vomiting.
As withdrawal progresses, the symptoms get worse. Some of these are anxiety, depression, cravings and hypertension. Impaired breathing, insomnia, muscle spasms and rapid heart rate are other severe symptoms.
The intensity of these symptoms depends on how long patients used heroin and how much of the drug they took each time. Although withdrawal from heroin isn’t considered life-threatening, some of the symptoms could cause complications that are. This is why it’s so important for people with heroin addiction to get detox help.
How Long Does Heroin Withdrawal Last?
The duration of heroin withdrawal also depends on how long and how much patients were using. However, there’s a timeline that occurs for the majority of cases.
The symptoms can start as fast as six hours after they last used heroin. In the first day, pain starts to develop, usually in the muscles. This intensifies through the next day. The addicted person may also have other mild symptoms.
In the third through fifth days, they deal with moderate symptoms of withdrawal. For the sixth and seventh days, they may go through severe symptoms. However, withdrawal could last up to 10 days for heavy heroin users.
Unfortunately, some people go through post-acute withdrawal syndrome. This means that their symptoms continue for months because of the neurological changes that heroin caused. These symptoms may include anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritation and tiredness.
Heroin Withdrawal Treatment
Medical detox is the safest way for people who want to recover from heroin addiction to manage their withdrawal symptoms. The doctors watch for both physical and psychological symptoms to reduce the risk of relapse and self-harm.
During this time, they use medications and therapy to help the brain and body recover. Detox medications suppress the symptoms until the process is over. However, they don’t treat the root cause. This is the goal of therapy and aftercare.
Even after therapy, people who are addicted to heroin must continue practicing abstinence. They need a support system to help them along the way. Some people choose to continue therapy to prevent relapse.
Get Help at First Step® Detox
Anyone in or around Fort Lauderdale who needs detox can get help at First Step® Detox. Our staff can handle detox for
We have 20 beds and two facilities in the area. Our staff uses a 12-step philosophy, but we tailor that to meet each guest’s needs.
Don’t allow heroin to control you any longer. Put an end to addiction by visiting our quality detox center. Call 800-EZ-DETOX [800-393-3869] for more information.