Heroin is an incredibly addictive and potent drug that many people struggle with throughout the United States and elsewhere in the world. This illegal drug also causes large numbers of overdoses every year, many of which are fatal. Many overdoses occur in people addicted to heroin who have tried unsuccessfully to quit using on their own. Withdrawal symptoms can cause many people to falter in their attempts to overcome their addiction.

This yo-yo effect of going back and forth between heroin binges and attempted detox can put the body through a great deal of stress, even resulting in permanent, life-threatening damage. As such, it is crucial to understand withdrawal symptoms of heroin, as well as the opiate withdrawal timeline, so that you can seek out detox treatment when you are ready to break your addiction to heroin.

What are the Symptoms of Withdrawal?

When a person stops using heroin, whether they are intentionally trying to detox or not, they will experience withdrawal symptoms because of the biochemical dependence the brain developed to heroin when they abused the drug. Symptoms can range from mild to severe in both how they feel and the effects they can have on a person’s health. Some of these heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Mood swings and unstable moods
  • Profuse sweating
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Achiness throughout body and in bones
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Dehydration
  • Mental confusion
  • Trouble sleeping and insomnia
  • Jitteriness and shaking
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Drug cravings
  • Depression
  • Heart palpitations and arrhythmias
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Rapid breathing and shortness of breath
  • DTs
  • Heart failure
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

How Long Does Drug Withdrawal Last?

Given the long list of withdrawal symptoms of heroin along with the potential severity of some of these symptoms, it is no wonder if you are asking yourself, “How long does drug withdrawal last?” and dreading the answer. Well, the good news is that the worst of heroin withdrawals usually occurs within two to three days of the onset of those symptoms, which begin within the first 12 hours of detox.

Overall heroin withdrawal symptoms can linger for up to a few months after detox begins, but most become manageable within the first week of the process. Some symptoms such as drug cravings could return intermittently for the rest of a person’s life, but with proper aftercare, these recurring symptoms will not necessarily result in relapse.

With this timeline in mind, you can better understand what stage of the detox process you are in and when you can expect symptoms to worsen or lessen as you try to break your addiction.

Why Should You Detox in a Treatment Center?

The detox experience is at best extremely uncomfortable and at worst dangerous to your health. For this reason alone, it’s a bad idea to try to quit heroin at home on your own or anywhere that you are not under professional medical care. Detoxing in an addiction treatment center will keep you safe as you receive treatment and also help you stay on track with the program.

The safety provided in an addiction treatment center comes in many ways. Some people going through heroin detox become quite disoriented and may even resort to self-harm (either intentionally or unintentionally). A professional treatment program can stop these self-harm behaviors if and when they occur.

Furthermore, seizures and other severe withdrawal symptoms require medical interventions to be arrested and treated. Treatment centers provide a safer detox because medically trained staff are on-site at all times, and they also help prevent that back-and-forth yo-yo effect of trying and repeatedly failing to detox from heroin.

Going forward, you can see why detox treatment is so necessary and how you can better deal with heroin withdrawals in an addiction treatment center.