Level of Dependency Dictates Severity of Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
Although there are different routes an individual may have taken to get there, once addicted to heroin the risk to life is homologous. There is no difference in the deadly effects to the user who got there due to legitimately prescribed pain medications that turned into an opioid dependency, or the street user whose recreational drug use escalated to junkie status. Regardless of the origin of one’s heroin addiction, the bottom line is the same: heroin kills.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report that in the last decade heroin use has doubled. In 2013, an estimated 8,200 people lost their lives due to a heroin overdose, and those numbers have continued to climb ever since. Heroin abuse and overdose, including opioids in general, including fentanyl, has ballooned, becoming a national epidemic.
Once an addict reaches the point where they realize they will surely die unless they get help, the door has opened to recovery. However, the knowledge that he or she will have to endure the daunting difficulties of withdrawal and detox may pose such a deterrent to receiving treatment that they may not pursue it at all. Misinformation and fear combine to give the addict another reason to just remain in their deadly habit, which is why clear information about the heroin withdrawal process is so important.
What Heroin Withdrawal Looks Like
Withdrawing from any drug that the body has become dependent on is difficult and unpleasant at the very least, and could be fatal if not managed properly (in the case of alcohol withdrawal specifically). Heroin withdrawal will vary depending on how dependent the brain has become to the drug, so the duration and severity of heroin use dictates the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
Medically supervised withdrawal is warranted for long-term users, as severe physical and psychological symptoms may become life threatening. Those severe symptoms include depression, hypertension, rapid heart rate, anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms, and intense craving. Those who may attempt to go through withdrawals on their own may quickly relapse at the onset of such serious symptoms, so a supervised withdrawal is imperative for the entrenched addict.
For someone who hasn’t abused heroin in high doses over a long period of time, the withdrawal symptoms can be managed with some outpatient support. Mild to moderate heroin withdrawal symptoms include nausea, abdominal cramping and diarrhea, sweats, fatigue, trouble concentrating, agitation, tremors, and muscle aches. Symptoms generally begin within 8 hours of the last dosing of heroin and peak at 48-72 hours.
After the acute phase of withdrawal ends, some may experience post-acute symptoms, such as foggy thinking, difficulties managing stress, sleep disturbances, memory problems, concentration problems, mood swings, and occasional cravings.
Help for Heroin Withdrawal
The mindset that the addict takes at the outset of the decision to stop using heroin will heavily dictate the withdrawal experience. Once it is determined whether medically-supervised detox is indicated or not, it is important to not expect the worst, as this causes tension in the body and only escalates the withdrawal symptoms. Here are some things that will help with heroin withdrawal:
- It is highly recommended for someone in the early phase of recovery to be admitted to a quality rehabilitation program where intensive therapy can solidify sobriety. Discontinuing the use of heroin is simply the beginning of the process of living a clean and sober life. The support and companionship found in a high quality addiction treatment program is invaluable to a long-term recovery.
- Heroin addiction typically leads to a physically depleted body, and a quality rehab addresses this by providing a menu of nutrient rich foods. To restore health, a diet rich in lean proteins (fish, chicken, turkey), vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and lots of hydration will benefit recovery. In addition, nutritional supplements like B complex, vitamin C, and magnesium are recommended.
- Accountability to self. Write a letter to yourself describing the reasons why you have decided to get clean, including goals and aspirations for the future. When cravings hit, continually revisit what you wrote and recommit to sobriety.
- Stay distracted. Going through withdrawals is an unpleasant experience, so keeping yourself distracted will help you avoid dwelling on every little sensation your body experiences during the process. Watch comedies, take walks, read something inspiring and motivational, and visit with non-using family and friends to help pass the time.
- Some people might benefit from the supportive environment of an Narcotics Anonymous or non 12-step program, garnering strength from the members and making new sober friends as well.
- Medically supervised withdrawals may include anti-craving medications such as buprenorphine, naloxone, or naltrexone. These opioid antagonists help block the opioid receptors and help to maintain abstinence.
Ranch Creek Recovery for Quality Heroin Addiction Treatment
Ranch Creek Recovery is a private recovery facility located in a beautiful estate. The calm serenity of the hillsides offer the perfect environment for recovery. Ranch Creek Recovery offers both residential and intensive outpatient services to treat heroin addiction, with round-the-clock staffing to aid and assist in detox and withdrawal. Our holistic approach addresses the unique needs of each client with a wide range of therapeutic options to enhance recovery. In addition, our amino acid therapy helps the individual in heroin withdrawal by easing the symptoms of cramping, joint pains, headaches, nausea, diarrhea and cravings. Contact us today at (877) 997-8931 .