Heroin addiction accounts for over ten thousand overdose fatalities a year by the American Society of Addiction Medicine’s latest count, setting itself apart as not only the most abused, lethal opioid (by far), but also as one of the most destructive drugs in the world. Getting help for a heroin addict, such as at one of our opioid addiction programs in Tennessee, is vital to preserving their health, but many abusers shy away from the thought of painful detox. Recovery isn’t pleasant, but it’s better than the alternative; learning more about the symptoms of heroin detox can help recovering addicts prepare themselves for the process.
The Effects of Acute Heroin Withdrawal and Detox
Heroin acts faster than most opiates, making it a popular choice for abusers who seek instant gratification, and it leaves the bloodstream just as quickly. While this results in a much shorter withdrawal period (lasting anywhere from five to ten days in total) the symptoms experienced during that time can be more severe than with other opiates. You can’t die from detox, but many former heroin addicts can attest that you might wish you were dead instead.
- Physiological symptoms during opioid detox are much like the flu and include excessive sweating, fever, muscle spasms, insomnia, nausea, severe aches, and various gastrointestinal issues.
- Psychological symptoms can be even worse than physical side effects. Debilitating depression, anxiety, mood swings, loss of pleasure, and other mental health issues are present in over 40 percent of heroin addicts and can persist well after detox ends.
Some physicians will prescribe opioid replacement therapy (otherwise known as Medication-Assisted Treatment) during detox, substituting heroin for safer, milder opioids like Suboxone or Naloxone to help minimize symptoms through a tapering detox method. This can make withdrawal easier to go through but will prolong treatment and can’t get rid of the pain altogether.
In the days, weeks, and months after heroin leaves the body, patients will experience Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptom as their body recovers from the lingering damage that heroin causes. The severity, duration, and type of symptoms experienced vary greatly based on the individual. Inpatient treatment, self-help techniques, and cognitive behavioral therapy can help recovering addicts live a better life and eventually get over these symptoms altogether.
- Relapse is always a concern while suffering from Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptom. Between cravings, persistent mental issues, and lingering physiological effects like insomnia, many addicts aren’t able to handle the stress and resort to extreme measures. Formerly detoxed abusers might return to heroin or become addicted to a different opiate altogether, such as Methadone or Buprenorphine, especially if they underwent opioid replacement therapy.
How To Start Heroin Detox
The process of heroin recovery is a long and painful one no matter what treatment plan you decide upon, but the best programs will minimize your discomfort while maximizing your odds of successful, permanent recovery. For heroin users, a 30-day alternative residential treatment program at Discovery Place’s alternative treatment center in Burns, Tennessee can be a comfortable, effective alternative to traditional detox clinics and 12-step programs. If you’re struggling with heroin addiction but want to improve, contact us at 1-800-725-0922 at any time of day to take the first step of the rest of your life.