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How to Detox from Heroin

According to a 2020 survey, approximately 902,000 individuals aged 12 and older used heroin in the previous year. Learn how to detox below.

In the United States, a large population has been affected by heroin addiction. Heroin abuse can impose serious threats on your physical and mental health. Heroin is considered an illicit opioid drug extracted from morphine. Morphine is an opium that occurs in the poppy plant.

According to a survey made in the year 2020, approximately 902,000 individuals aged 12 and older used heroin in the previous year. There is excessive use of heroin reported in the US. 

When people use heroin, they become dependent on it. Daily use develops tolerance against the drug. Substance abuse can cause substance use disorder which further causes mental health problems.

Key Takeaways

Heroin is an addictive drug. Its addiction can impose serious health problems. In this post, you will learn:

  • Heroin is an addictive opioid that leads to substance use disorder.
  • Various rehab centers offer detox from heroin to beat addiction.
  • In residential treatment, prescription medications help to treat withdrawal symptoms.

Seek professional help from The Haven Detox-New England. Call us at (844) 933-4145 to learn more about our treatment programs and service charges.


Heroin is a Schedule I restricted substance, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration. That means that heroin is highly addictive and has no known medical benefits. It also carries a great risk of addiction.

Some believe that the drug is the most addictive. Heroin is a drug that is classified as an opioid and is made from chemicals found in poppies.

Although there are various ways to utilize the medicine, most people administer it through injection. People who become addicted to heroin get trapped in a never-ending cycle.

Even when someone wishes to stop using, withdrawal symptoms might be so bad that they force them to start using again.

The severity of withdrawal symptoms is influenced by a person’s metabolism, genetics, weight, how much heroin they use, how they use it, and whether they use heroin in combination with other drugs. This loop may seem unending and daunting.

How Heroin Affects the Body

The drug heroin is a CNS depressant. That means it impairs respiration and decreases a person’s brain function. The person’s heartbeat may become erratic, and their blood pressure and body temperature drop. The person may enter a coma.

The drug naloxone can be administered to counteract the effects of heroin. You do not need to be a doctor to administer naloxone. Family members and friends can save lives by having a dose of naloxone ready. 

Heroin is an opioid. Opioids are highly addictive substances that cause serious physiological changes in the body and brain. These changes alter the behavior of an individual.

As a result of heroin’s chemical resemblance to the body’s endogenous opioids, it attaches to the brain’s opioid receptors and activates certain cells (neurons).

As opposed to endogenous or naturally occurring opioids, heroin activates opioid receptors differently. This results in distinctive signals being delivered to the brain and brainstem, regulating fundamental functions like breathing, heart rate, and sleeping.

Heroin Detox

If an individual is going through heroin addiction, the first step in treatment is detoxification. Detox clears the body of any drugs and addictive substances. For heroin addiction treatment, medically-supervised detox is recommended by doctors.

Detox is a supervised withdrawal that involves monitoring, medication, and other treatment interventions. During detox, medical professionals help in lessen the discomfort of withdrawal signs.

Methadone, or buprenorphine, is often recommended for treating heroin withdrawal. They are used to control opioid use disorder.

These drugs are opioid agonists. That means they bind to the same brain receptors as heroin. They function like heroin without producing the pleasure associated with illicit opioid usage.

Methadone and buprenorphine assist in reducing cravings for heroin and other opioids. They also help to ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse or a return to opioid use.

Heroin Withdrawal

When an individual stops using heroin, then they experience withdrawal symptoms. This is because your brain starts depending on heroin. When someone tries to reduce or stop using heroin, they experience withdrawal symptoms. This is a sign of dependency.

Although withdrawal symptoms are normally not fatal, they are painful, making it challenging for many people to stop using heroin.

Some factors decide how long an individual’s withdrawal symptoms will show up. These factors include; your dosage of heroin, how long you have been using, genetics, and more.

The gastrointestinal signs brought on by heroin withdrawal can result in dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

The withdrawal symptoms of heroin are severe and induce cravings for more drugs. A person who is used to heroin when trying to quit will experience withdrawal symptoms.

What is the duration of the withdrawal process? It depends on the individual’s short-term response. The earliest signs of withdrawal in frequent users may appear 12 to 24 hours after they stop using the drug.

Even earlier withdrawal symptoms may occur in other persons. Someone going through withdrawal can experience the following symptoms in the initial stages:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Jitters
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Nervousness
  • Muscle aches
  • Cravings
  • Vomiting
  • Runny nose
  • Spams
  • Watery eyes

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

There is a typical timeline associated with every drug withdrawal.

In the first two days, the individual going through withdrawal experiences the peak of symptoms. The individuals relapse during this peak most often.

If the individual makes it to the third day, then from the third to the fifth day. The symptoms will start to get progressively worse.

The affected individuals will still experience aches, pains, anxiety, and irritability during withdrawal. But the severity of their symptoms will lessen with time.

After a week, most people going through detox will notice a significant decrease in their symptoms. However, they might still struggle with persistent despair, anxiety, or apathy.

After stopping heroin use, some people will experience persistent problems with motivation, mood, cravings, and sensitivity to stress. When this occurs, the individual may be going through post-acute withdrawal symptoms.

Prolonged withdrawal, referred to as post-acute withdrawal symptoms, is a disorder that can last for months or even years.

Although some researchers have recognized it as a withdrawal-related component, it is more likely connected to other psychological problems and is not withdrawal-related. The biological withdrawal process may or may not cause these symptoms.

Since heroin withdrawal symptoms rarely result in death, they are not considered harmful. However, there is a genuine danger of relapsing into the use cycle.

Heroin Withdrawal Medications

The management of heroin withdrawal is successful when you consult a doctor. They recommend the correct medications and treatment for your addiction.

The detox process is performed in a secure environment under medical supervision. This is the first step in getting rid of the addiction.

People addicted to heroin receive full support during the treatment from the medical professionals present at the rehab facility.

Prescription medications are recommended by the medical detox program to ease withdrawal symptoms. 

These medications include:

  • Clonidine
  • Naltrexone
  • Robaxin

When medication is provided to ease withdrawal symptoms, this is called medication-assisted detox. 

Quitting Heroin: Medical Detox Vs. Cold Turkey

The cold-turkey method of detoxification from heroin is not impossible. We are aware that some people may find the concept of using another drug while they are detoxing from heroin to be problematic.

You might reason that it would be better to quit using drugs completely. However, medical detox is far safer than complete abstinence from all substances. An additional advantage is having a doctor on-site to help with the withdrawal treatment procedure.

Additionally, you would be accompanied by someone who has already completed this process and succeeded in finishing it.

Moreover, empirical research demonstrates that compared to the alternatives, medical detoxification under a doctor’s supervision offers the best possibilities for success.

It is better to go for the medical detox at a detox center. These facilities have the right method to treat heroin use. A medically supervised detox is one of the best treatment programs for long-term recovery.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

Detox is a part of the treatment process for addiction and mental health issues in drug addiction treatment programs.

Residential therapy is among the available treatments for heroin addiction treatment. Heroin addiction rehab programs are conducted in a medical setting with an addiction expert.

During residential treatment, therapy is offered to treat the psychological impacts on addicts accepted for the heroin detox program. Treatment centers offer CBT, family therapy, and group therapy to heroin users.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are three things that can help with withdrawal symptoms?

Withdrawal symptoms range from severe to mild. It depends on the amount of drug consumed by an individual and how long a person uses it. There are many ways through which you can manage your withdrawal symptoms:You can attend a medical detox program to deal with the severe symptoms. 
You should exercise regularly. Regular exercise can encourage the release of endorphins in the brain, which will help to restore chemical balance.
Drink a lot of water to keep yourself hydrated. Dehydration is a severe risk during detox.

How does heroin cause a high?

The brain uses heroin as a lipid-soluble “prodrug,” which means that while heroin is inactive on its own, the body metabolizes it into an active form.Heroin is converted into morphine once it crosses the blood-brain barrier. The morphine then attaches to opiate receptors in the brain to cause the high.

What is the success rate of a heroin addict?

As per National Institute on Drug Abuse, the success rate of heroin addicts is between 40 percent to 60 percent. The relapse rate is substantially higher, nearly 80 percent for heroin addicts.As a result, eight out of ten heroin addicts in recovery will relapse at least once and possibly more than once.
The relapse rate does not, however, fully convey the story. Why? Relapse does not mean that someone has failed in their efforts to rehabilitate. All it teaches us is that someone who has overcome addiction may relapse.
Relapse, therefore, does not represent someone’s long-term success. The only information it provides is that they fell and, presumably, got back up.

Treat Heroin Addiction at The Haven Detox-New England

Addiction to heroin or other substances is a problem for millions of Americans. Their personal and professional lives are harmed, and it might cause family members distress. But the great news is addiction is treatable.

The Haven Detox-New England is a rehab facility offering personalized treatment programs for addiction. Our residential treatment helps you overcome a heroin addiction safely and comfortably.

Contact us at (844) 933-4145 to learn more about our treatment programs.