What are the Common Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms?

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Common Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms and Their Causes

Since 2007, there has been a continuous rise of heroin use in the United States. In 2016, roughly 948,000 people had abused heroin within the last year, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Once dependence to heroin forms, there are withdrawal symptoms to deal with that can be dangerous. Heroin withdrawal symptoms are often described as a super flu by people who go through detox. Thankfully, heroin withdrawal medication is available that can ease an addict through the withdrawal stage.

In this article, we will examine the heroin detox process including heroin withdrawal symptoms.

Causes of Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms to heroin and most substances happen because of how the body responds to frequent substance abuse. There is a natural balance in the body that heroin abuse upsets. As a result, the body begins to adjust its balance with heroin as a new constant. This is what causes a tolerance requiring a person to use increasing amounts of heroin or other opioids to achieve their “high”.

When the person then decides that they are going to stop heroin use, their body is still in this tolerant state. While it attempts to return to normal functions, the person goes through various mental and physical side effects known as heroin withdrawal symptoms.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms

Without the use of heroin withdrawal medication such as methadone, a person going through the heroin detox process can expect to have the following mild to moderate symptoms:

  • Nausea along with vomiting.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Excessive tearing and sweating.
  • A runny nose.
  • Cramps in the abdominal area.
  • Agitation as well as difficultly concentrating on anything.
  • Chills.
  • Tremors.
  • Aches in the bones and muscles.
  • Fatigue.

As the person goes through detox, their symptoms begin to peak showing the following more severe symptoms:

  • Accelerated heart rate.
  • Hypertension.
  • Anxiety.
  • Insomnia.
  • Depression.
  • Uncontrollable muscle spasms.
  • Respiratory impairment and depression.
  • Severe cravings that can be a major cause of relapse.

Medical Detox Programs

The safest way to get through detox is to employ the help of professionals. At a rehab center, a person is able to receive a medical detoxification. What this means is that prescribed medication can be given to the person to help them with the more severe withdrawal symptoms.

The majority of the medications used are opioids, like heroin. However, they are either given with another opioid blocker or the medication itself has anti-abuse properties. An individual going through detox is also usually limited with the amount of medications they can take. For example, a slow-release methadone tablet is given once a day.

By the end of the medical detox for heroin, a person will start to feel more themselves and become ready to enter into further rehab programs. Without therapy after detox, the risk of relapse is high since the issue that initially prompted the heroin abuse is likely still in effect, such as inadequate coping skills for stress. It is therefore important that the addict seek further professional help before considering themselves “treated for addiction”.

Rehab centers provide treatment options including outpatient and inpatient programs. Of course, an addict staying at the rehab while they go through treatment is expected to have better results due to the intensity of said program. Outpatient is better suited for people with a moderate addiction or people finishing their inpatient treatment.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.

Sources:

https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/heroin

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/scope-heroin-use-in-united-states