Here at Pomarri, we offer detoxification services for removing a variety of addictive substances from the body, including heroin. Here is a look at what the early stages of recovery from heroin addiction look like—and how medically assisted detox can strengthen your recovery significantly.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
Because heroin is such a powerfully addictive drug, withdrawal symptoms can be very severe. The severity of withdrawal symptoms typically correlates with the degree of heroin abuse; so a more severe case of heroin abuse is likely to see a much more difficult withdrawal experience. Physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal include but are not limited to:
- Intense drug cravings
- Cold sweats
- Fever and chills
- Muscle cramps
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased heart rate and blood pressure
Worse than these physical symptoms, however, are the psychological symptoms of withdrawal. During withdrawal, individuals often experience severe anxiety and/or depression—so severe, in fact, that these individuals may become suicidal. In addition, many report that the anticipation of withdrawal is worse than the withdrawal itself. Withdrawal symptoms usually start within 6 to 12 hours of the last heroin dose, and without the aid of medication, the peak time for these symptoms is usually 3 to 4 days after the last dose.
Medically Assisted Detox
Self-detox from heroin can be highly dangerous for several reasons. First, cravings and symptoms can become so severe that they induce a user to take heroin (or another dangerous substance) once again. The user might even take a lethal dose of heroin in an attempt to counter the intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms. In addition, psychological symptoms of anxiety and/or depression can be so severe that the user becomes suicidal; in a scenario where the user is practicing self-detox, the risk for suicide is much higher.
Medically assisted detox gives users the medical and professional support they need to overcome the intense period of withdrawal associated with heroin use. This type of detox involves using medications such as Methadone to alleviate withdrawal symptoms; this makes the period of withdrawal much more comfortable for the individual. Medically assisted detox might also involve counseling and group therapy.
The First Step to Recovery
Medically assisted detox is the first step toward a successful recovery from heroin addiction. Not only does it make the withdrawal period more comfortable, but it also prepares the body and mind for the remainder of the rehabilitation process.
Based on our own extensive experience, as well as a great many supporting studies, a longer detoxification episode results in lower relapse rates. For this reason, our detoxification process ranges from 8 to 12 weeks in length.