Heroin is a highly addictive opioid drug derived from another opioid called morphine. Morphine is a natural opioid that is derived from the opium poppy plant and is used as a painkiller in medical settings. Heroin is known for being highly addictive, so much so that people may quickly develop a tolerance and physical dependence on the drug after regular use. When an individual reaches the point of addiction, they may experience severe withdrawals when they try to quit. To ensure the safety and success of those wanting to quit heroin, our Sebring, FL, drug rehab offers heroin detox that can help.
How Is Heroin Used?
Heroin is taken in a variety of ways, with injection, smoking, and snorting being the most well-known ones. The strength and duration of a drug's effects can be affected by the mode of administration that is selected.
Injection, commonly referred to as "shooting up," involves dissolving the heroin in water and injecting it into the veins with a syringe. The drug is quickly delivered to the brain via this mechanism, producing a strong and fast euphoric rush. But there are serious health hazards associated with heroin injection, such as the danger of infections, vein damage, and the spread of blood-borne illnesses.
Heroin can also be heated on a foil or in a pipe and then smoked by inhaling the ensuing smoke. This process enables the medication to enter the bloodstream and be quickly absorbed through the lungs. In comparison to injection, smoking heroin results in a slightly later start of effects, although it can still create a strong rush and a state of calm. Smoking also poses severe risks to respiratory health.
Snorting is the practice of crushing heroin and inhaling the powder through the nose. The powder enters the bloodstream after being absorbed through the nasal tissues. Compared to injection or smoking, snorting heroin takes longer to take effect, but it still gives users a high. Although this method might seem less dangerous than injection or smoking, it still has the potential to harm the nose and cause other health issues. It is crucial to remember that heroin, regardless of the method employed, poses serious hazards to both physical and mental health and can easily result in physical dependence and withdrawal.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
Heroin and other opioids are highly addictive substances that can lead to physiological changes in the brain and in a person’s behavior. Heroin works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and throughout the central nervous system (CNS), activating certain brain cells (neurons) because their chemical structure mimics those of the body’s natural opioids.
However, heroin activates opioid receptors in an unusual way compared to naturally occurring opioids, sending abnormal signals sent to the brain, which controls basic functions like heart rate, breathing, and sleeping. After a while of heroin use, the brain begins to adapt to the drug, leading to tolerance.
Tolerance is when a person needs to take higher doses of the drug to feel the same side effects. Psychological dependence also occurs because of frequent use. Dependence is characterized by withdrawal symptoms, which occur when someone attempts to quit heroin cold turkey or cut back on it without a gradual transition.
Symptoms of heroin withdrawal are the result of a phenomenon that occurs when someone stops using the drug after becoming dependent on it. What’s more, opioids like heroin are notorious for producing intense, uncomfortable, and sometimes life-threatening withdrawals, making it more difficult for people to quit using heroin and making relapse less likely.
Common heroin detox symptoms include:
- Fast pulse and heart rate
- Increase breathing
- Increased blood pressure
- Elevated body temperature
- Sleep disturbances such as insomnia
- Heightened reflexes
- Muscle spasms, cramps, or pain
- Bone pain
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Stomach pain
Withdrawal symptoms across all types of opioids are comparable, though the intensity and duration of detox from heroin can vary depending on how long the person has been using the drug, how much of the drug they would use, the state of their general health, and other factors.
Can You Die From Heroin Withdrawal?
Although heroin withdrawal is not fatal on its own, it can cause serious problems that, if not treated, can result in the death of the user. The most dangerous symptom of detoxing from heroin is dehydration. Severe dehydration can occur because of gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting, which may only be properly addressed in a medical setting. Many people have died from dehydration while attempting heroin detox at home without medical support.
Concerningly, dehydration is not the only side effect to consider. A person going through withdrawal may vomit or have trouble swallowing. This raises the possibility of aspiration pneumonia, a serious lung infection that can be fatal if not treated quickly, which is caused by breathing stomach contents into the lungs. Heroin withdrawal can also result in severe psychological suffering, including depressive symptoms and strong cravings. In some situations, people may have suicidal thoughts or engage in self-harming actions, putting their lives at serious risk if they are not constantly watched and given the right mental health support.
For this reason, our drug rehab in Sebring, FL, advises that those interested in quitting seek out medically supervised detox to minimize the risk of relapse and complications like dehydration.
How Long Does Heroin Withdrawal Last?
The duration of a heroin withdrawal might vary from person to person, but typically, the acute phase lasts for approximately a week. It is crucial to remember that the general process of recovery from heroin addiction lasts longer than this initial stage. Heroin withdrawal can occur within hours after a user has stopped using heroin. Typically, withdrawal symptoms begin around 8 to 24 hours after the person’s last use. However, when any short-term withdrawals appear, they can vary depending on the person.
For instance, individuals with intense and severe addictions to heroin are more likely to experience withdrawals sooner and more intensely than more recent users. Acute heroin withdrawal – during which the worst of symptoms occur – can last anywhere from 3 to 10 days.
On the other hand, long-term withdrawals may also occur, which are otherwise referred to as “protracted withdrawals.” These occur when persistent impairment is felt even after acute withdrawal is over. Long-term heroin withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Continued fatigue
- General sense of dysphoria, or feeling down
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable (anhedonia)
- Short-term memory problems
- Cravings for heroin
- Decreased attention
- Impaired concentration
An underlying mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, can make heroin withdrawal more difficult. For those who are battling mental illness, our facility also offers residential mental health care that addresses these symptoms and can aid in the recovery process.
Detox for Heroin in Sebring
Medically supervised withdrawal treatment is an approach in which doctors or other clinical staff provide round-the-clock monitoring, medication, and other treatments to help manage and ease the discomfort of withdrawals. Commonly prescribed medications for treating heroin withdrawal include methadone or buprenorphine.
These medications work by binding to opioid receptors, but rather than produce euphoria like heroin would, they eliminate or reduce withdrawals without the high. Methadone and buprenorphine (Suboxone) help eliminate or reduce withdrawals, reducing cravings for heroin and preventing relapse. Because severe dehydration is a common symptom of heroin detox and can become life-threatening if not properly treated, it is advised that those seeking to recover from addiction get help in a professional setting.
Finding Heroin Detox Near Me
Our heroin addiction treatment program incorporates medical detox for patients who need it to increase their chances of long-term recovery. By helping them get through withdrawals safely, patients are more likely to move forward in their treatment plans.