Heroin is a powerful opioid that the body can quickly become dependent on. When addiction develops it can be difficult to overcome, but it is possible. The first step for treatment of heroin addiction is making it through withdrawal.
Withdrawal is one of the most difficult parts of the recovery process. It involves a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms that can be mild or severe. These heroin withdrawal symptoms can also vary from person to person and will change throughout the heroin withdrawal timeline.
Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms during a heroin detox include:
- chills and sweating
- bone and muscle aches
- muscle spasms
- tearing eyes and runny nose
- abdominal cramping
- nausea and vomiting
- trouble concentrating
- rapid heart rate
- impaired breathing
- intense drug cravings
The Heroin Withdrawal Timeline
How long heroin withdrawal lasts as well as the symptoms themselves depend on a variety of factors, so the heroin withdrawal timeline will be different for everyone. Generally, heroin withdrawal lasts anywhere from a few days to a week for acute withdrawal, but some psychological symptoms could linger for months. Some symptoms may also come and go throughout the heroin withdrawal duration.
While it can take several days to detox from heroin, symptoms of withdrawal may begin as soon as six hours after the last dose. These symptoms typically include muscle aches and pain, tremors, diarrhea, insomnia, anxiety, poor concentration, and drug cravings.
Symptoms intensity typically peaks within the first three days of the heroin withdrawal timeline. During this phase, symptoms from the first 24 hours will often grow in severity, and new symptoms such as irritability, fatigue, stomach aches, nausea, and vomiting will arise.
After three days, physical symptoms especially will start to wane until they gradually subside. By the end of the week, the acute phase of heroin withdrawal is mostly over, but psychological symptoms may still remain.
One Week to Several Months
Especially if someone was a long-time user of heroin, the heroin withdrawal timeline may be longer as some psychological symptoms persist. During this time, someone may still struggle with insomnia and experience anxiety, irritability, or depression. If these symptoms do not go away or get worse, co-occurring disorder treatment may be necessary.
Even if the majority of your symptoms only last a week, trying to detox from heroin at home can be overwhelming. Because of the severity of the cravings and the associated symptoms, many people will relapse during withdrawal if they don’t have the proper support.
What Causes Heroin Withdrawal?
When you use heroin in large amounts and/or on a regular basis, your body adapts to its presence. Heroin binds to opioid receptors in the brain and over time, your body will stop producing its own opioid chemicals at normal levels. When you’re no longer using heroin, your body will react to its absence, which causes you to experience withdrawal symptoms.
What Factors Impact How Long Heroin Withdrawal Lasts?
Each person going through heroin withdrawal will have a unique experience. While some people may be temporarily uncomfortable, others may have lasting and severe symptoms.
Some factors that can impact how long heroin withdrawal lasts include:
- the severity of the addiction
- length of time using heroin
- past opioid dependence
- polysubstance abuse
- overall health
Making it Through Heroin Withdrawal
Regardless of how long you’ve been using the drug or your tolerance, getting off heroin is uncomfortable and difficult. Instead of spending time trying to wean off heroin on your own, it may be better to get professional help.
Our medical detox center in Mississippi provides patients with a safe and supportive environment for the heroin detox timeline. The purpose of our program is not only to support you physically throughout the entire length of heroin withdrawal but also to provide compassionate care and guidance to reduce the risk of relapse.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a heroin addiction, the time is now to get help. Contact us today at Vertava Health Mississippi, formerly Turning Point, to get more information or to get started.