The Duration of Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
How long does heroin withdrawal take to kick in? What does the heroin withdrawal timeline look like? For someone going through the problem of withdrawal, it can be scary not knowing how it plays out.
In this article, we explore the heroin withdrawal timeline and how long each of the stages of withdrawal takes. Keep reading to find out the key details as well as how effective recovery can be found with Resurgence Tennessee if you or a loved one are struggling with opiates!
Heroin Addiction: What Is Heroin?
Heroin is one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs in the world. Heroin is an opiate, which means it is derived from the opium poppy plant. It is often used as a recreational drug because it produces euphoric effects or a state of intense happiness. However, it can also be used to treat severe pain and can be prescribed by doctors when they deem it appropriate.
Heroin hijacks the brain’s pleasure centers by flooding opioid receptors with dopamine — the feel-good neurochemical behind the desire for sex, food, and other survival behaviors.
Dopamine also stimulates memory formation, so using heroin can become a powerful learning experience for persons struggling — one they want to repeat again and again. This is essentially what results in a drug abuse habit.
How Common Is Drug Addiction From Heroin Usage In The US?
The latest statistics from the CDC reveal that heroin addiction is more prevalent than most people might think. In fact, it’s actually more dangerous than many other types of drug abuse, because it can be so deadly. Here are some of the most recent statistics on heroin addiction in the United States:
- Overdose deaths increased by 7% from 2019-2020.
- Over 13,000 people died from an overdose involving heroin use.
- The rate of overdose deaths in 2020 was nearly seven times higher than in 1999.
- Nearly 20% of all deaths from opium overdose involved heroin use.
What Are The Risk Factors For Developing A Substance Use Disorder?
Substance use disorders refer to a range of conditions, including alcohol use disorder, drug use disorder, and nicotine dependence. These conditions are characterized by persistent, excessive substance use that results in a wide range of negative consequences — from mild to severe — for the individual.
A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of developing a disease. If drug dependence runs in your family, you may be more likely to develop it.
But having a risk factor does not mean that you will get the disease. Substance use disorders have a wide range of causes and risk factors. Some of them are genetic, some are environmental, and most are a combination of both.
Genetics and Substance Use Disorders
Genetic makeup plays a role in determining who is at risk for developing a substance use disorder. For example, children with certain genetic predispositions may be more likely to abuse substances as they get older, even when they don’t have any other obvious risk factors. One of these may be neurodivergence. Persons on the autistic spectrum or those struggling with ADHD can be considered at risk of developing drug addiction habits.
Environmental factors also apply. People who grow up in marginalized neighborhoods where drugs are more prevalent are more likely to start using at an earlier age than those who live in middle-class neighborhoods.
If you have one parent with a substance use disorder or addiction, you’re at higher risk for developing one yourself. If both parents had problems with alcohol or drugs, your risk is even higher.
Mental health can also be a risk factor. Persons struggling with mental illness of some sort, most commonly depression and anxiety are at risk of developing a substance use disorder. Most often, they begin using substances as a means of self-medicating to try to compensate for the symptoms of their condition.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
Heroin withdrawal symptoms appear typically within 6 to 12 hours after the last dose of the drug. However, some people experience withdrawal symptoms within 4 hours of their last dose of heroin. In essence, withdrawal symptoms are the result of the body reacting to the lack of the substance that it has now become dependent on.
The heroin withdrawal timeline varies wildly from person to person, but according to medical experts, the withdrawal period can last, on average, up to two weeks. This is not an exact science, however, as many persons have reported protracted withdrawal that lasts for much longer. During this period, they may experience severe withdrawal symptoms that make the withdrawal process extremely challenging.
Acute (Short-Term) Symptoms Of Heroin Withdrawal
Acute withdrawal from heroin can last, generally, for two to three days. People who are addicted to heroin will show physical symptoms of withdrawal when they attempt to quit the drug. Some of the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms one can expect to experience may include:
- Tremors and shaking
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sleep disturbances
- Abdominal cramps
- Hot flashes and sweating
- Trouble concentrating
- Mood swings and irritability
- Irregular heartbeat or palpitations
- Muscle spasms
- Body aches
- High blood pressure
- Intense cravings
Long-Term Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
What about the post-acute withdrawal symptoms? Many persons report experiencing withdrawal long after the period of time that can be considered typical, as it relates to short-term heroin withdrawal. Because of how dangerous this highly addictive substance is, it’s unsurprising that severe cases can have long-standing consequences for your health. Some of these are:
- Psychological problems
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Chronic insomnia
- Respiratory complications
Why A Heroin Detox Program Is The Best First Step
A heroin detox program can help you overcome your addiction by providing assistance with physical withdrawal symptoms, mental health issues, and emotional distress. The drug detox process varies depending on where you go, but most providers follow a basic protocol that includes medical supervision and medication-assisted treatment administered by qualified and experienced medical professionals.
The goal of heroin detox treatment is to help you overcome withdrawal symptoms so that you can begin recovery from addiction. Withdrawal from heroin is among the most difficult withdrawals from any drug.
Medical detox has been shown to help people remain abstinent from heroin use following treatment for opioid addiction. When compared with other forms of detox such as cold turkey or tapering off gradually over time, those who undergo medically supervised detox programs generally have greater rates of successful abstinence from use after treatment compared with those who did not receive this type of care.
This is critical for relapse prevention as the acute phase of withdrawal is a particularly sensitive and risky time for anyone trying to overcome addiction to this substance.
What Makes An Effective Heroin Withdrawal Treatment Program?
Successful treatment programs for heroin addiction have several components in common. These include:
- A comprehensive and individualized assessment of the client’s needs and goals. The initial assessment should include an evaluation of the severity of the addiction, co-occurring conditions (such as depression or other mental health disorders), personal history and family history, employment status, medical history, and any previous drug treatment experiences.
- A treatment plan tailored to each client’s needs. Treatment plans should be personalized to address specific issues identified during the initial assessment process. The treatment plan should also include clear goals that will help motivate clients to follow through on their treatment plan.
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a treatment approach that combines behavioral therapy and medication to manage a person’s addiction. MAT isn’t a magic bullet, but it can help people who want to quit heroin to do so safely and effectively.
Medication-assisted treatment usually involves an opioid agonist, which is an opioid-based medication that’s used to treat addiction by easing withdrawal symptoms. The two most common types of these drugs are buprenorphine and methadone. Buprenorphine acts on the same receptors as heroin, but it doesn’t produce the intense high or euphoria associated with heroin use. Methadone is another type of opioid agonist that can be used to treat opioid addiction (it also reduces cravings).
- Counseling in group settings or individually as needed. Group therapy provides opportunities for peer support and education about healthy relationships, relapse prevention skills, and lifestyle changes needed for a successful long-term recovery from heroin addiction.
Counselors often teach clients how to identify behaviors that led them toward substance abuse in the first place so they can avoid similar situations in the future. Counseling may also involve family members if their presence is helpful for the client’s recovery process or if they have experienced similar struggles with substance abuse themselves (for example, children of alcoholics).
Aftercare And Long-Term Recovery
Aftercare is a vital aspect of heroin addiction treatment. Aftercare refers to the services offered by the addiction treatment center following the completion of a client’s program.
The length of aftercare will vary according to the individual needs and situation of each client. It may include participation in self-help groups such as Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or other 12-step programs, visits with a counselor or sponsor, participation in outpatient treatment programs, involvement in sober living arrangements, vocational rehabilitation services, and group therapy sessions.
The purpose of aftercare is to ensure that clients continue to receive the support they need to maintain sobriety and avoid relapse. Aftercare can help prevent relapse by:
- Helping clients build a strong foundation for recovery.
- Providing ongoing support so that clients feel confident in their ability to maintain sobriety without professional assistance
- Providing resources like counseling, social support groups, and other forms of assistance can help prevent relapse
Get Top Notch Treatment For Heroin Addiction!
At Resurgence Tennessee, our addiction treatment options can help you or a loved one struggling with opioid use today. Reach out to us today to speak with a healthcare professional to learn how our treatment options might be a good fit for your circumstances.
Our team is standing by and ready to handle your situation with all of the empathy and understanding you deserve. Reclaim control of your life today!