Opioid Addiction: Heroin Withdrawal
General Heroin Overview
You are possibly reading this blog post because: 1) You are curious about the process of heroin withdrawal, 2) You or your loved one is addicted to heroin and you are looking into treatment, 3) You are currently sober and reminding yourself why you stay sober and how you never want to have to get sober again.
Heroin use has doubled among 18-25 year-olds in the United States and is becoming a popular drug of choice. As a result, heroin overdoses have quadrupled and as of 2014, 8,200 Americans die yearly from heroin use.
Heroin is a depressant drug that hinders the electrical signals sent from the brain to the rest of the body; because of this hindrance, heroin overdoses are more common as the body's functioning is impaired and breathing becomes scarce.
If you think you believe that your loved one is currently overdosed on heroin, please stop reading and call 9-1-1.
Signs of a Heroin Overdose (for reference):
- No breathing, shallow breathing, or slow and difficult breathing
- Very small pupils
- Tongue discoloration
- Weak, vital pulse
- Bluish tinted skin on lips or nails
- Muscle spasticity
If you or your loved one is suffering from a heroin addiction and seeking treatment, we are here to help.
At New Method Wellness, we provide substance abuse treatment for addiction and alcoholism; if you do not find New Method Wellness compatible, we will help you find a treatment center that is right for you.
Signs of Heroin Addiction
If you are concerned that you or your loved one is addicted to heroin, there are common signs that we suggest you start to observe.
The signs of a heroin addiction include but are not limited to (via Options Behavioral Health System):
- Mood swings
- Hostility towards others
- Agitation and irritability
- Lying about drug use
- Avoiding loved ones
- Significant weight loss
- Scabs or bruises from picking skin
- Chronic pneumonia
- Clouded mental functioning
- Collapsed, scarred veins
- Blood clots
- Kidney disease
- Chronic illnesses
- Respiratory depression
- Decreased personal hygiene
- Posession of burned spoons, needles or syringes, missing shoelaces, and glass pipes
- Nodding out
If you have a suspicion that your loved one is using heroin, and they exemplify a handful of the aforementioned signs, then they may have an addiction to heroin.
As any extended use of drugs, heroin can have long-term effects on the user. Some of these include:
- Liver Disease
- Abscesses around injection
- Infection of valves and lining of the heart
- Hep B / Hep C
- Collapsed Veins
- Blood Clots
If you choose to detox from home, be sure to consult a physician and schedule a blood test to ensure that you are not affected by any of the aforementioned conditions.
What to Expect During Detox
The detoxification process is highly dependent on the duration and amount of heroin used.
The continued exposure of one's body to heroin causes a dependence and sensitivity to the drug; when the supply of heroin ceases, the body of the addict will be starved and unable to function properly, temporarily.
A heroin detox is often called the 'super flu' as the symptoms of a heroin detox are very similar to those of a bad case of the flu. The symptoms of a heroin detox are not life-threatening in and of themselves, but generally, the cravings for heroin during detox commonly entice the addict to pick up and use again if not constantly supervised in detox.
We will not sugar coat this process by any means; the cravings that you will experience during a heroin detox have been described:
"This isn't a passing, mild craving you might need when walking by an ice cream truck on a hot summer afternoon. These are like cravings you might feel for water when you're walking across the desert." - Rehabs.com
The symptoms of a heroin withdrawal will often last for 5-7 days with a peak between days 1-3.
Common symptoms of a heroin detox:
- Cold sweats and hot flashes
- Depression and anxiety
- Loss of appetite
- Unstable moods
- Muscle cramping and abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Pain in the bones
- Cravings to use heroin again
- Lethargy and exhaustion
- Running nose and watery eyes
You can detox from heroin at home; however, it is safer to detox in a medically supervised facility. We offer medical detoxes for all clients on an as-needed basis.
Tips for Helping Your Withdrawal
Although the prospect of going through a heroin detox is anything but exciting, there are ways that you can help yourself out during the process.
Ever heard of the 'law of attraction'?
If you haven't, the whole concept is focused on: "what you put into the universe will come right back to you."
Think of your thoughts and your perceptions as a boomerang. What you choose to focus on will either be your Achilles's Heel or your biggest asset.
If you choose to focus on how horrible the heroin detoxification process is going to be, or if you focus on every single withdrawal symptom with utmost attention, that is all you will see, hear, feel, and talk about.
Alcohol Rehab puts it perfectly in their heroin withdrawal overview:
"The expectations that people have about their future can have an impact on what they actually experience. If they expect that the symptoms of heroin withdrawal will be severe then this is what they are likely to experience. This will happen because they will be overly focused on what is happening with their body, and they will notice every twinge."
At our detox facility at New Method Wellness, we encourage common distractions for our clients going through a heroin detox. Of course, we support sleep and rest if necessary, but we also understand that sitting in a room with nothing to do but think about your detox is a recipe for disaster.
Common distractions we support in detox:
- Spending time with other people in the house
- Watching TV or a movie
- Reading approved literature
- Listening to music
- Sitting in the hot tub (with staff monitoring)
- Practicing a balanced diet and cooking if capable
Remember, the pain you are feeling is only temporary. Once you surpass your withdrawal symptoms, the healing starts to happen... and it is wonderful!
Our Detox Facility
Our detox facility at New Method Wellness is monitored 24/7 by our qualified staff. In case of an emergency, we have an on-call nurse available 24 hours a day as well.
We believe that a medically aided detox is necessary for some patients, especially those who are withdrawing from opiates, benzos, and alcohol. Each of our clients meets with both our physician and our psychiatrist immediately after checking into our facility.
For more information on our detox program, or to learn how we can help you get you or your loved one get into treatment, please call 866-951-1824 or you can fill out the form below.