One of the hardest parts of recovering from an addiction is going through the steps of detoxification. For a serious addiction like heroin abuse, the process can be especially painful and difficult to get through.
It is crucial for anyone looking to quit their heroin addiction to find a safe and comfortable detoxification center or rehab facility that will help them through the process of withdrawal. One thing that can reduce some of the fear and anxiety associated with detoxification is to understand how the process works and what you will be going through when you enter a detox facility.
Being prepared and informed beforehand can take away some of the fear of the unknown that could make it harder to detoxify from a heroin addiction.
Symptoms Of Heroin Withdrawal
As soon as a person stops taking heroin their body can begin to initiate withdrawal within a few hours of their last use. Heroin addicts are most likely familiar with the very early stages of withdrawal including intense cravings for more of the drug as the level of opiates in their brain begins to fall rapidly.
After the initial cravings are not satiated, the more severe withdrawal symptoms begin to set in. The symptoms themselves can vary depending on how long a person has been addicted and how much they use on a regular basis. The type of heroin you have been using can also affect the withdrawal process as a stronger or purer form of the drug will elicit more intense symptoms during detox.
Generally, however, the detox process will involve flu-like symptoms such as upset stomach, nausea and vomiting, sweat and chills, raised body temperature, insomnia and restlessness, body aches and pains, tremors and anxiety. Every patient in a detox center will display different symptoms but they are safe from any serious health risks while staying in a facility.
Treating Withdrawal Symptoms
Withdrawal can begin within about 6 hours of abstaining from heroin with symptoms increasing in severity until they peak after 2 or 3 days. The symptoms will then gradually subside over the course of the remainder of the week.
This is the typical pattern for withdrawal but in some extreme cases people can experience symptoms lasting up to weeks or months if they have post acute withdrawal syndrome. Eventually though, the symptoms will end and most of the feelings of depression or anxiety as well as physical sickness should be gone.
While the withdrawal process is relatively short, it can be difficult and painful for addicts to experience. The use of medications or even a synthetic opiate can help alleviate some of the symptoms and prevent too much pain and anxiety.
A synthetic opiate can be helpful for addicts that have been using heroin for so long that their body cannot normally produce a normal amount of dopamine to make it through the day. Addicts can take synthetic opiates and then taper off the drugs to eventually become fully sober.
What To Expect From Detox
Heroin withdrawal can be an unpleasant process but for most people it only lasts about 3 to 5 days. An addict that enters a detox facility can expect to experience many uncomfortable symptoms but can have access to medications that will help prevent them from being too painful. There are also alternative means for opioid detoxification that can be used as an alternative to other, standard detox treatments.
During detox, an addict will have to fight intense cravings but in a facility there will be no access to the drug and they can prevent themselves from relapse. The goal of detox is to rid the body of toxic drugs so that an addict can start to eliminate their physical dependency. Detox is only the first step in recovering from a heroin addiction but it is an important one that can save a person's life.