What to Expect During Heroin Detox

doctor talking to patient with clipboard about diagnosis or heroin detox

Part of overcoming heroin addiction is undergoing heroin detox. Heroin detox can be a challenging and uncomfortable process as the body adjusts to being without the drug. Learning more about what to expect during heroin detox prepares people to start their recovery journeys.  

The Importance of Heroin Detox

Heroin detox is a crucial first step in the process of overcoming addiction. During detox, the body clears itself of toxins from heroin use and begins to function without the drug. This can be a physically and emotionally challenging time as withdrawal symptoms occur. 

However, detox is vital for starting a clean slate in recovery and restoring physical health. It also sets the foundation for continued treatment and therapy to address the underlying issues related to addiction. Committing to heroin detox shows dedication to breaking free from addiction and reclaiming control over one’s life.

What to Expect during Heroin Detox: Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

The heroin withdrawal timeline varies from person to person, as the effects of heroin abuse vary. It depends on the frequency of use, dosage taken, and duration of use. It generally follows a similar pattern. Withdrawal symptoms typically start within the first 6 to 12 hours after the last dose of heroin. The withdrawal symptoms tend to peak in intensity sometime between days 1 to 3.  

However, some people may not peak until between days 4 and 7. After withdrawal symptoms peak, they gradually start to decrease over the next week or so. Although, psychological withdrawal symptoms can persist for several more weeks, months, or longer. 

Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

Acute withdrawal symptoms from heroin can be severe and challenging to endure. These symptoms typically peak within the first 1 to 3 days after stopping heroin use and often include:

  • Intense drug cravings
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Rapid heartbeat or increased blood pressure
  • Sweating and chills
  • Anxiety, restlessness, and irritability
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Insomnia or disturbed sleep patterns 

Protracted Withdrawal

Protracted withdrawal is the prolonged period of withdrawal symptoms that can persist for weeks, months, or even longer after the initial acute withdrawal phase. It is also called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). These symptoms may come and go in waves, making recovery more challenging.

Some common protracted withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin addiction include:

  • Persistent cravings for the drug
  • Mood swings, depression, and anxiety
  • Insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating or memory problems 
  • Irritability and emotional sensitivity

However, with continued treatment and support, these symptoms do eventually subside.

General Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

General heroin withdrawal symptoms can vary in intensity and duration but typically include a combination of physical and psychological effects.

Some common heroin withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Intense drug cravings
  • Flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches, sweating, and chills
  • Gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Anxiety, restlessness, irritability
  • Disturbed sleep patterns or insomnia
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Mood swings, depression, or emotional instability

Signs Someone Needs Heroin Detox

Recognizing the signs that someone needs heroin detox is crucial in getting them the help they need. The most recognizable sign someone is using heroin is when they have drug paraphernalia, like pipes, needles, and burnt spoons. Another telltale sign is the presence of needle marks on their arms or in between their fingers and toes. 

Heroin users will also attempt to hide their use by wearing long sleeves, even in hot weather, to cover up track marks. Other signs that could indicate heroin use include:

  • Asking to borrow money
  • Lying about their whereabouts
  • Sleeping excessively
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Stealing from loved ones
  • A lack of personal hygiene
  • Losing interest in hobbies and activities once enjoyed
  • Financial problems
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Slurred speech 

Why At-Home Heroin Detox Isn’t Advised

At-home heroin detox is not advised due to the potential risks and challenges associated with withdrawal from heroin. Heroin withdrawal can be intense, uncomfortable, and even life-threatening in some cases. For starters, the sudden discontinuation of heroin can lead to severe medical issues like dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, seizures, and heart problems.

Next, there are the physical and psychological symptoms of heroin withdrawal. These can be overwhelming and difficult to manage without proper medical supervision. Without supervision and monitoring, individuals undergoing at-home detox may be at risk for self-harm and relapse.

There is also no support system at home where the individual can receive counseling and peer support. Most importantly, at-home detox does not address the underlying issues of addiction. Unfortunately, what usually occurs is the person relapses before completing detox. Sadly, when they do, they end up using far more heroin, increasing the risk of overdose and death.

Start Medically Supervised Heroin Detox in Austin, TX Today

When you are ready to get control over your heroin addiction, The Prairie Recovery Center in Austin, Texas is here to help. We offer personalized, comprehensive heroin addiction treatment programs customized to fit your unique needs. Our caring and supportive team is here to help throughout the process so you know what to expect during heroin detox.

Contact us today to begin your recovery journey and start the path to a heroin-free future.