Heroin Addiction Withdrawal

This informative article provides a comprehensive guide to understanding, treating, and recovering from heroin addiction withdrawal.
Heroin Addiction Withdrawal

Heroin Addiction Withdrawal

This informative article provides a comprehensive guide to understanding, treating, and recovering from heroin addiction withdrawal.

Table of Contents

Understanding Heroin Addiction

Shakes, cold sweats, vomiting, restlessness, and an overwhelming desire to return to heroin abuse are the stark realities of heroin addiction withdrawal. Left untreated, many people struggle to overcome this first stage of abstinence. But there is hope. Several heroin withdrawal treatments exist, and they can make the process of recovery much more manageable.

According to recent survey data, approximately 438,000 people struggle with a heroin use disorder each year in the United States. This disorder affects both the mind and body and can be challenging to break free from without help and support. Repeated heroin use can create lasting changes in the brain’s reward network, leading to intense drug cravings and a loss of interest in activities outside substance use.1

What Causes Heroin Addiction?

There is no single cause of heroin addiction, but there are several risk factors that are associated with heroin use disorder, including:

  • A genetic predisposition for addiction
  • Using other drugs, such as prescription opioids or cocaine
  • A mental health disorder diagnosis
  • Aggressive behavior in early childhood

Scope of Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction affects people of all ages, genders, and social statuses. Since heroin is such a highly addictive drug, many people develop dependence quickly after their first use. A survey found that 80% of people who used heroin misused prescription opioids first. In contrast, another analysis indicated that one-third of people who entered treatment for opioid use disorder reported heroin being the first opioid they tried.2
Thus, it is clear that the causes of heroin addiction are circumstantial, varying from person to person.

Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

Determining whether somebody has a substance use disorder is a relatively straightforward process, as there is a simple checklist for heroin addiction symptoms. These include:
  • Using heroin in larger amounts or more often than intended
  • Repeated but unsuccessful attempts to stop or reduce heroin use
  • Spending a significant amount of time using, obtaining, or seeking heroin
  • Experiencing cravings to use heroin
  • Inability to fulfill obligations at work, home, or school due to heroin use
  • Continued heroin use despite experiencing health, occupational, or social consequences
  • Giving up on other activities or roles because of heroin use
  • Using heroin when it is dangerous to do so, such as while driving
  • Developing a tolerance to heroin
  • Heroin addiction withdrawal symptoms when heroin use is suddenly stopped

Diagnosis of Heroin Dependency

Meeting just two of these criteria can result in a diagnosis of heroin use disorder. The dangers of heroin abuse are severe, with the most extreme side effect being death. In 2020, the number of deaths caused by heroin overdose in the United States was 13,165.3

Heroin Addiction Withdrawal

Heroin addiction withdrawal is possibly one of the worst side effects of addiction. The symptoms of heroin withdrawal can appear in less than a day after the last use and remain for up to two weeks. Heroin addiction withdrawal symptoms are key drivers in preventing individuals from achieving recovery. These symptoms present a deeply uncomfortable barrier to sobriety, but people can overcome them.

What Is Heroin Addiction Withdrawal?

At a basic level, heroin addiction withdrawal is a rebound effect from chronic drug use. Heroin is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that can create intense euphoria, relaxation, respiratory depression, and a lowered heart rate.
When people use heroin repeatedly, the mind and body adjust to this new state by increasing baseline central nervous system activity, creating a new “normal.” That way, even if a large amount of heroin is consumed, the body will still be able to function.
When heroin use suddenly stops, the CNS becomes overactive and can create several different heroin withdrawal symptoms.

Heroin Addiction Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal from heroin creates the opposite set of symptoms that recreational use produces. As a result, instead of feeling euphoria, people feel depressed. Rather than feeling relaxed, people feel anxious and restless. Heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate all increase, and a person experiencing heroin withdrawal will often experience intense, flu-like symptoms.
During heroin detox, people may experience several heroin withdrawal symptoms, such as:
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Sweating
  • Shakes
  • Fatigue
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
The severity of these symptoms may change depending on how much heroin a person has used before beginning heroin detox.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

The complete heroin withdrawal timeline is usually between ten and fourteen days. The withdrawal symptoms of heroin addiction usually start less than twenty-four hours after the last dose and increase in severity for three days. Days three and four are typically the hardest, but symptoms will begin to subside over the next week. After fourteen days, most physical heroin withdrawal symptoms will have resolved.

Heroin Addiction Withdrawal Medication

Fortunately, there is an effective treatment for heroin addiction and withdrawal. Attending a medically supervised detox center can provide most people with targeted medications that drastically reduce or eliminate the devastating effects of heroin withdrawal. Research has shown pharmacological treatment of opioid use disorders, such as heroin addiction, to be a well-established form of treatment, as it helps with therapy retention and higher recovery success rates.4

Two primary medications are used for heroin withdrawal: buprenorphine (also sold under the brand name Suboxone) and methadone. These two medications target the same regions in the brain as heroin but to a much lesser degree. As such, they can drastically reduce withdrawal symptoms without creating intense euphoria or future drug cravings.

Heroin Addiction Withdrawal

Treatment for Heroin Addiction in Massillon, Ohio

If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin use, starting heroin addiction treatment is the best choice to begin a safe and successful recovery. Substance use disorders are highly treatable, and the professionals at Arrow Passage Recovery are equipped with the necessary tools to help you throughout your recovery process.

Arrow Passage Heroin Addiction Treatment Programs

At Arrow Passage Recovery, we understand that everyone’s needs and situations are different. That’s why we offer a variety of options for our heroin addiction treatment program, such as medical detox, inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient programs, various therapies, and extensive aftercare support. Personalized treatment plans allow clients to receive the care that best suits them.

Our experience has shown us that anyone can recover from heroin addiction, provided they get the care they need from compassionate and understanding professionals. Don’t hesitate to seek treatment any longer. Call our facility today at 1 (855) 790-7389 and speak to one of our representatives about starting treatment and getting the help you deserve.