What to Expect During Heroin Withdrawal
Heroin is a deadly drug that has seen a dramatic increase in use among Americans within recent years, as many are now switching to heroin after developing a dependence on prescription opioids. In 2016, almost 948,000 Americans admitted use of the drug within the past year. Almost 16,000 deaths were linked to heroin in America in 2017. Long-term heroin use damages the brain, affecting neuronal, hormonal, and behavioral regulators and producing severe dependence on the drug. The longer and more frequently an individual uses heroin, the worse the damage becomes. Therefore, it is crucial to seek heroin detox and treatment for addiction as soon as possible.
The Advantages of Medically-Supervised Detox from Heroin
Quitting heroin is a difficult process that produces many uncomfortable – but seldom life-threatening – withdrawal symptoms. With proper medical care, this process may be made far more bearable and symptoms may be managed more effectively. A medically-supervised detoxification program is the best option for this reason. “Maintenance Treatment of Opioid Dependence” notes numerous benefits of such a setting, like allowing healthcare providers to keep patients informed as to the process of care, to monitor the patient’s status, and to offer supportive care and medications to manage symptoms and reduce cravings.
Heroin Withdrawal: Phases and Symptoms
Heroin withdrawal symptoms typically begin within 24 hours after the drug is discontinued, peak at a few days post-use, and last about a week. This phase of withdrawal is known as acute withdrawal. The early stages of acute withdrawal from heroin are often likened to the experience of a flu. Symptoms include:
- muscle aches
- disturbed sleep
- nausea and vomiting
- high blood pressure
- elevated heart rate
- anxiety or depression
- suicidal thoughts are also possible with heroin and similar opioid withdrawal, demonstrating the need for medical supervision throughout the process.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome from Heroin Use
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome, shortened to PAWS, is a condition experienced by some who quit chronic use of heroin and other drugs. In an article describing PAWS, author Erik MacLaren, PhD notes that opioids like heroin affect the user’s neurochemistry to the point where new opiate receptors form on the user’s brain cells with long-term use. Such changes, combined with the decrease in endorphins resulting from such drug use, can contribute to long-term mood dysfunction. The article characterizes PAWS by conditions like anxiety, sleep disturbances, and fatigue that can last for extended periods of time, often up to years after one discontinues use. Other symptoms of PAWS can include tremors, cravings, mood swings, and insomnia.
Continued Care Post-Detox at Granite Recovery Centers
After detoxing, it is critically important to follow up with a dedicated inpatient rehab treatment program to ensure the individual does not relapse. Such programs provide medically-directed care in the form of behavioral therapies, medication, healthy lifestyle choices and planning, and a supportive, drug-free environment that is crucial in maintaining recovery.
Granite Recovery Centers in New Hampshire offers a comprehensive, hybrid treatment program combining 12-step programming with clinical care that will help you or your loved one leave heroin and other harmful substances behind and build a better life. Call Granite Recovery Centers at 603-339-4160.