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How to Detox from Heroin Safely

Heroin Addiction - Resurgence - An image of heroin and a needle, which can potentially lead to a need for Heroin addiction treatment.

What Is Heroin Withdrawal?

Heroin impacts the reward system of the brain, enhancing the users’ tolerance to the effects of the drug over time.

Users eventually require higher doses to reach or maintain the same “high” as before. When a heroin addict stops using, heroin withdrawal symptoms set in.

Individuals battling heroin addiction often stay on the drug to avoid the painful symptoms of withdrawal. Heroin abuse produces similar effects to painkillers like hydrocodone and oxycodone, only stronger.

Statistics demonstrate that 80% of deadly drug overdoses in Europe are a result of heroin addiction, while 18% of all ER admissions across hospitals in the United States are due to opiate and heroin abuse.

Unfortunately, the opioid pandemic is widespread, mirroring the challenges many face with various dependencies, such as figuring out how to wean off Zoloft. When individuals addicted to opiates deplete their supplies before securing treatment, they often resort to the more deadly street heroin. Absent appropriate heroin withdrawal treatment, heroin addiction typically culminates in one tragic outcome – overdose.

Many ensnared in the throes of heroin addiction aspire to quit. However, the symptoms of heroin withdrawal are generally severe, excruciating, and distressing, potentially turning fatal without proper 24/7 medical oversight.

Thankfully, rehab facilities and medical detox centers are available, offering respite from the associated symptoms as individuals safely withdraw and detox from heroin. In need of specialized heroin withdrawal treatment programs? Reach out to Emerald Isle today to explore our suite of support options tailored to heroin withdrawal.

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Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Heroin withdrawal differs from person to person. The duration of use, how it was abused and the amount taken each time are all contributing factors to how dependent the brain and entire body are to the compound. Therefore, withdrawal factors like severity and duration will differ as well. People with histories of prior opioid withdrawal or mental illness may experience a more intense withdrawal.

Heroin suppresses some functions of the CNS, including blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and respiration regulation. It binds to opioid receptors, encouraging the production of chemicals in the brain which is responsible for pleasure feelings. So, when heroin is abused, a rush of pleasure is experienced. The effects are the reverse of the intoxicating effects during heroin withdrawal – instead of euphoria, sedation, and reduced heart rate. The individual may experience anxiety, low mood, rapid heart rate, etc.

Users start experiencing withdrawal between hours 6 and 12 of their last heroin dose. Heroin withdrawal may be similar to those of prescription opioids. Because it leaves the user’s system quicker than painkillers do, withdrawal symptoms come about more quickly.

Heroin withdrawal often feels like horrible flu. The most severe pain and discomfort last a week, with withdrawal symptoms intensifying during the second or third day.

Some heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

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Mild withdrawal symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Tearing
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Runny nose
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Muscle and bone aches
  • Yawning a lot

Moderate withdrawal symptoms

  • Vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Restlessness
  • Goosebumps
  • Trouble concentrating

Severe withdrawal symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Drug cravings
  • Hypertension
  • Muscle spasms
  • Difficulty feeling pleasure
  • Impaired respiration

Dangers of Quitting Heroin Alone

Heroin withdrawal is not generally considered to be life-threatening itself; however, some of the symptoms either medical or psychological may lead to life-threatening complications.

Depression may lead a user to consider suicide. Nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting are common symptoms during the acute heroin withdrawal phase. These conditions can lead to severe dehydration. Furthermore, patients run the risk of asphyxiating and choking on their vomit.

Therefore, attempting to quit heroin suddenly without the support and assistance of medical and mental health experts who can employ several methods to manage the side effects of withdrawal and further keep people safe is not a great idea. It is a risk to the health and life of the users and diminishes their chances of reaching sobriety successfully and safely.

Heroin Detox

Heroin detox presents a safe space to manage symptoms of withdrawal. Heroin withdrawal complications can arise and become dangerous for the detoxing individual if there is no medical supervision. Dehydration may occur. Users might also inhale stomach content after vomiting and suffocate. Even when a patient’s life is not at risk, symptoms of withdrawal are often intense, causing the patient to relapse and avoid attempting to quit heroin in the future. Supervised medical detox is recommended in overcoming heroin addiction.

Managing Heroin Withdrawal at a Detox Center

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, an estimated 517,000 Americans struggle with heroin addiction. DEA classifies heroin as a Schedule I drug, which means that they consider it to have a high abuse rate and addiction potential.

There are many medications approved for heroin withdrawal treatment. Some of them may be used during the detox phase to control the more unpleasant physical and emotional side effects of withdrawal and also keep cravings to a minimum. This process is ideally carried out at a professional heroin detox center.

A longer-acting opioid may be used to replace heroin to offer relief for withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. Adjunct medications can also be prescribed to treat specific symptoms. Anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and anti-nausea medications are just a few examples of symptom-specific medications.

Mental health experts are also on the ground during medical detox to offer support and assistance. Reports from the National Alliance on Mental Illness suggest that about 50% of all drug abusers are susceptible to mental illness. This also influences the duration and treatment methods during the patient’s stay at a heroin detox program and also throughout substance abuse recovery.

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Heroin Detox Duration

Heroin is among the class of short-acting opioid, which means its effects are rapid and also leaves the bloodstream rapidly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is estimated that heroin withdrawal symptoms begin within 6-12 hours after the last dose, peak between days two and three, and last 5-10 days in total.

Detoxification is the set of interventions deployed to manage withdrawal symptoms. Since withdrawal often peaks a few days after the last dose, the most comfortable way to battle heroin withdrawal is to detox in substance abuse treatment centers that offer medical detox.
Medical detox often commences before heroin leaves the system completely and typically lasts between 5 and 7 days. Individuals who are more heavily dependent on heroin may last a bit longer, up to 10 days.

For someone who is more heavily dependent on heroin, detox may last a little longer, up to 10 days. Medical detox often combines medications and therapy to assist the brain and body recover from its heroin dependence. Heart rate, blood pressure, temperature levels, and breathing are all monitored to help ensure people are safe and secure throughout the process.

However, depending on the length and level of use, recovering addicts are likely to experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms which include poor concentration, poor sleep, depression, increased anxiety, hypersensitivity, panic attacks, mood swings, restlessness, irritability, and memory loss. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere between 18 and 24 months. The effects on behavior and mood can last longer than other withdrawal symptoms. However, with time, provided the patient stays drug-free, the withdrawal symptoms will slowly start waning.

At Emerald Isle, we offer detox, heroin withdrawal treatment, and ongoing support to help all our patients reach long-term sobriety. Contact us today to discover how you can get the help you so much need.

Medications Used in Detox

Inpatient and outpatient substance abuse and recovery centers can prescribe drugs to help with withdrawal symptoms. These prescriptions help with the recovery procedure by decreasing withdrawals and cravings.


This opiate is a slow-acting, low-strength medication used to taper patients off heroin and prevent heroin withdrawal symptoms.


This prescription drug is among the most common medication for heroin withdrawal. It diminishes cravings and physical symptoms like muscle aches and vomiting.


This drug inhibits the brain receptors that react to heroin and other opioids. It is neither sedating nor addictive; with time, it may help reduce cravings. Naltrexone is best suited for patients who are already through detox.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction

The heroin addiction cycle is difficult to break because of withdrawal. However, beating a heroin addiction is very possible. Substance rehab centers offer both outpatient and inpatient recovery programs for heroin detox.

Whether you decide to undergo an inpatient or outpatient drug rehab, combating your heroin addiction is a great first step forward. Heroin withdrawal treatment providers such as Emerald Isle are available to treat withdrawals and offer assistance to prevent relapse.

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Heroin Detox at Emerald Isle

We offer holistic heroin detox services to aid you get through the heroin withdrawal phase and addiction process with minimal discomfort. Our medically assisted detox programs offer different support services to our patients.

Our programs are not only to offer physical support but to also provide guidance and compassionate care to assist you in staying on the right path and diminish the risk of relapse while you quit heroin. If you or your loved one is a heroin addict, professional treatment centers are your best course of action. Please get in touch with us today to learn more about the services we offer.

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