Every hour in the United States, hundreds of people overdose on the incredibly strong drug, heroin. In 2015 alone, this drug claimed the lives of 12,990 Americans. That means addiction overcame thousands of people to the point of putting themselves at fatal risk.
With the addition of substances like fentanyl to heroin increasing, the dangerous effects of the drug are exponentially rising. Kicking this habit is not a need, it’s an emergency.
Recovering from a heroin addiction is certainly very challenging but it’s possible. Knowing what to expect can make quitting a bit easier since many experience quite volatile symptoms from withdrawal.
So, what can someone expect when detoxing from heroin? No two people will experience this process the same way. But, there are many common symptoms that typically arise. Here’s what the body will go through when removing this substance out of its system.
Short-Term Effects when Detoxing from Heroin
There are a variety of physical and psychological effects a person may experience through withdrawal.
Typically, withdrawal occurs within 12 hours of the last administered dose. However, it may also occur within a day or two, depending on the person. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports this process may last anywhere from a week through a few months.
Some short-term effects include:
- High levels of aggression and irritability
- Inability to concentrate/general lack of focus
- Excessive sweating
- Muscle aches and spasms
- Uncontrollable mood swings
These symptoms can come and go quite frequently during a detox. It’s important that the patient has access to medical supervision, in case of an emergency.
Long-Term Effects when Detoxing from Heroin
The long-term effects of a detox are much more severe and excessive than the early symptoms. Medications and other treatments can help ease some of the prolonged effects.
However, the body really just needs time to adjust back to how it was before. Patients may experience these withdrawal or detox symptoms for hours at a time.
It can take up to 10 days for heroin to truly exit someone’s system. The effects that follow a detox are mostly psychological, but there may be a few physical occurrences.
For instance, it’s likely a person will have severe episodes of paranoia and anxiety. Since they’ve grown so reliant on the substance, their body feels uneasy without it.
Depression may occur, as well as hyperactivity. The key symptoms to look for are drug cravings, as the goal is to prevent any relapse. These signs may be obvious; a person may clearly express their desire to obtain more heroin.
They also may act more secretive and hide their intentions from close friends and family. If you notice your loved one is a bit reticent, you may want to be wary.
It’s common for people to seek medications to assist in their withdrawal process. These prescriptions allow the body to cleanse itself while a person is sedated. This is advantageous for someone who’s already prone to irritability.
Naltrexone is a very effective long-term medication when recovering from heroin. It helps reduce drug cravings, so patients are less likely to relapse. If a patient were to give in, they wouldn’t experience the same “high” sensations as before.
However, to use Naltrexone, a person has to have already detoxed from the substance. It’s not nearly as effective when a person is undergoing the withdrawal process.
Instead, patients may find more relief in methadone and buprenorphine when detoxing from heroin. Both have the ability to reduce heroin abuse by allowing a patient to slowly wean off the drug.
These medications have their drawbacks, as well though, too. Patients can get addicted to either drug, as they both are derivatives of opioids. When using this medication, it’s crucial to take the recommended doses to prevent further complications.
How to Combat Suicidal Thoughts
When detoxing from heroin, it’s common for people to experience suicidal thoughts. Although at times they’re inevitable, this behavior can be controlled by detox medication.
Again, the best thing to do during this time is put the recovering addict under the supervision of a healthcare professional. If that’s not an option, make sure you or your loved one is not in a situation that could turn deadly.
If you’re detoxing yourself, make friends and family aware so they know what to look for. You can even ask them to call and check on you frequently during your recovery.
Get rid of any life-threatening objects that would are in your bedroom, such as scissors or razors. You may also want to remove any objects that could fit into a socket. Think – wires, cords, shoelaces, and metallic objects.
Remember that it’s normal to have morbid thoughts during this process. It’s important to not beat yourself down or feel ashamed for feeling the way you do. Positive reinforcement can go a long way throughout detoxification.
Also, remember that thoughts are just that- nothing more, nothing less. They don’t have to be explained, nor acted on. It’s important to keep in mind they will eventually pass over time.
Let’s Wrap This Up
The road to recovery is not easy, quick, or painless. It’s quite possibly one of the hardest things a person could ever have to experience. But, recovery is the first step a person must take to get their life back.
We understand how debilitating the detoxification process can be. That’s why we offer top-notch care to those looking for their new beginning. We offer treatment for a variety of opioid products, including heroin, codeine, fentanyl, and morphine.
If you’re looking to flip the page to the next chapter of your story, you’re in the right place. Contact Paramount Recovery Center to learn what we can do for you. Also, don’t hesitate to check out some information on our medical detox program.