Making the decision to quit heroin can be life-changing and can provide an individual with another chance at a drug-free and fulfilling life. However, overcoming heroin addiction isn’t easy. Many people who abuse or are addicted to heroin will have to first go through the withdrawal process to rid the body of the substance. Heroin withdrawal can be unpleasant, especially when done alone. Luckily, we have several drug detox programs in Massachusetts that can help a person successfully complete this process.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Heroin is an incredibly addictive substance that can leave individuals addicted after only a few uses. The more heroin a person uses, the more likely he or she will develop a dependency on the drug. This means that the body requires the substance to function properly and is why many people continue to use heroin despite negative consequences.

When a person decides to quit using this drug, he or she will likely experience a range of heroin withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms will vary from person to person based on a number of personal factors. For example, how long someone abused heroin and the dosage used will impact the severity of withdrawal symptoms experienced.

The following are potential heroin withdrawal symptoms ranging from mild to severe:

  • sweats
  • chills
  • watery eyes
  • muscle aches
  • diarrhea
  • upset stomach/vomiting
  • fatigue
  • difficulty concentrating
  • tremors
  • agitation
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • muscle spasms
  • intense cravings for the drug

While certainly uncomfortable, most heroin withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening. However, complications can arise during the detox process, making it ideal to seek medical treatment when attempting to withdraw from heroin.

How Long is the Heroin Detox Timeline

While everyone will have a different experience, most individuals will go through several phases of heroin withdrawal. Each phase can last several hours or days depending on the severity of a person’s heroin addiction. The more severe a person’s dependence, the longer heroin detox timeline.

The following is a typical heroin detox timeline:

  • Six to 12 hours after the last dose — Many people will begin to experience the withdrawal symptoms of heroin anywhere from six to 12 hours after the last dose is taken. During this time, withdrawal symptoms are usually mild.
  • One to three days after the last dose — Withdrawal symptoms typically peak between 24 to 72 hours after an individual’s last dose of heroin. Symptoms during this time are usually at their worst.
  • One week after the last dose — Most withdrawal symptoms will begin to subside after a week. For individuals who are severely addicted to heroin, symptoms may last up to 10 days.

While the physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal will typically taper off after a week or so, some people may continue to experience mental and emotional withdrawal symptoms for several weeks or months. These symptoms are known as post-acute withdrawal symptoms or PAWS. PAWS can include depression, anxiety, and cravings for the drug.

Treatment For Heroin Addiction

There are a number of treatment options available for individuals looking to overcome heroin addiction. Most people will need to attend a detox program to successfully and safely withdraw from heroin. Some detox programs incorporate medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to assist with the withdrawal process and ease cravings. Common medications used for heroin detoxification include naltrexone, methadone, and buprenorphine.

Once an individual has completely withdrawn from heroin, he or she will likely be recommended to continue on to a formal treatment program. Residential addiction treatment programs are often believed to be the most successful form of treatment.

To learn more about heroin withdrawal or to discuss the addiction treatment programs offered at Vertava Health Massachusetts, contact a treatment specialist today.