Heroin is a highly addictive substance that gains control mentally in a way not many other drugs do. For that reason, people struggling with heroin addiction need to seek specialized treatment for drug addiction if they are to overcome it. The reason heroin addiction is more complex to treat than other substances is that it not only takes control mentally but physically also. It is the combination of mental and physical dependence that cause the distressing withdrawal symptoms associated with detoxing from the drug and also increase the likelihood of relapse.
The whole issue of heroin detox has been clouded by how it’s represented in movies and mainstream media. The images of someone in deep physical pain and distress alone in a dank, dark room is something that deters many people suffering from addiction issues from taking the crucial first step towards recovery that detox represents. Nevertheless, prolonged heroin abuse can cause some serious health complications, some of which can be life-threatening and so early intervention with drug rehab is always going to yield a faster and more effective recovery.
The facts are quite different from the perception and in an attempt to dispel some myths about heroin detox; we are going to take a closer look at exactly what’s involved.
Withdrawal takes place in the immediate hours after abstinence and the symptoms presented can range in severity. Unaided heroin detox is never recommended as it is impossible to say how any individual will respond to suddenly not using. There should be some kind of medical assistance close at hand to treat symptoms as they present during the detox process.
The symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:
- Intense cravings for the substance that can become an obsession due to the two layers of addiction associated with heroin.
- Profuse sweating that is not explained by physical activity or environment, with periods of chills and feeling very cold. These extreme changes in body temperature are caused by physical dependency and it is the body’s craving for heroin that creates this feverish condition.
- Deep and sometimes intense muscle and bone pain with varying degrees of intensity. Some patients report a feeling of becoming really heavy and sluggish both mentally and physically.
- Nausea, vomiting, fever, runny nose and watery eyes.
- Cramping in the legs and arms and occasionally the lower back. The physical sensation is a constant need to stretch to relieve the cramping sensations, which can be so severe that patients can lash and kick out during this phase of withdrawal.
- Becoming emotionally overwhelmed is a withdrawal symptom of heroin which is entirely normal when the body is being cleansed of the drug.
- Perhaps one of the most distressing withdrawal symptoms from heroin are the thoughts that can go through a patient’s mind while in detox. Irrational fears and paranoia may surface together with feelings of guilt and shame. Negative thought processes may become so extreme as to make the patient feel as though they are no longer able to cope. Mood swings become more extreme and frequent and sometimes this can trigger other underlying mental health conditions such as personality disorder or schizophrenia.
There is no doubt about the fact that withdrawing from a substance as addictive as heroin is extremely challenging and this is where personalized drug addiction treatment can be very beneficial.
Heroin addiction is lonely for patients; they often are unable to see a clear path to recovery. The knowledge that detox is a challenging process can make people very reluctant to take that step, although programs at qualified drug rehabs are the best environments to ensure discomfort is minimized. Having someone on-hand who is qualified and trained to deal with the sometimes severe symptoms of withdrawal provides huge support to a patient seeking drug addiction treatment.
In addition, formalized and supervised detox and drug rehab treatment centers provide personalized detox plans so that individual needs and requirements are met, with active therapies like CBT and counseling underpinning the progress made during and after detoxification. Although it is more difficult to treat heroin addiction than it may be other substances, this does not mean it is impossible. A comprehensive treatment program that addresses both the physical and mental aspects of heroin addiction is the most direct path towards a healthy life in recovery.