Heroin Withdrawal & Detox

woman going through Heroin detox being offered a helping hand

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “In 2017, there were 742 overdose deaths involving opioids in Washington — a rate of 9.6 deaths per 100,000 persons, which is over half the national rate of 14.6 deaths per 100,000 persons. The greatest increase in opioid deaths occurred among cases involving heroin, with a rise from 60 deaths in 2010 to 306 deaths in 2017.”

Washington has lower opioid deaths compared to the rest of the country. However, heroin-related deaths increased five times between the years 2010 to 2017. This is an alarming statistic. For every death, there are many more people who are using heroin. Heroin detox is an important resource for many of these people.

Heroin Withdrawal

Heroin, or diamorphine, is a synthetic opioid that is mostly used worldwide as a recreational drug. When heroin interacts with opioid receptors, it acts as an analgesic and reduces the perception of pain.

When opioid receptors are activated too much, they produce euphoria and eventually signs of heroin withdrawal. Achieving euphoria the main reason people use heroin. Heroin also releases dopamine in parts of the brain that encourages a person to keep repeating heroin use. Thus, heroin reinforces its own use.

The half-life of heroin is two to six minutes, which means that half of the drug leaves the body in that time. A drug completely leaves your body in about five half-lives. This timespan means that heroin completely metabolizes from your system in about 30 minutes. Heroin withdrawal symptoms usually start shortly after this period.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Because people using heroin often continue using heroin to avoid withdrawal symptoms, recognizing the symptoms can be a helpful way of identifying if someone is living with heroin addiction. Some common heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Agitation and anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goosebumps
  • Headaches and pain
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Yawning

Heroin detox symptoms are very uncomfortable, and this discomfort is part of the reason why heroin users seek out and continue using the drug. At first, heroin use feels great, but over time the euphoria fades and a primary reason to use it becomes to avoid the negative side effects.

Find a Heroin Detox Center in Washington

People may be curious about how detox and treatment can help them through their addiction. The following are key elements that professional drug detox and treatment programs offer patients who are ready to change their lives for the better:

  • A well-balanced diet: Meals are designed with recovery in mind. Addiction is usually coupled with a poor diet, so restoring healthy eating habits will help the recovery process.
  • Building new, healthy habits: Besides healthy eating, rehab help patients discover new habits around exercise, hobbies, and free time. These are important places to begin the recovery process.
  • Community: The people that patients spend time with the most understand what they are going through. They will either have gone through it themselves or are specially trained to foster success.
  • Comprehensive care: For those needing medical care as well as psychological support, every area of a person’s life is looked at to address the whole person.
  • Establish healthy boundaries: Living with a substance use disorder means healthy boundaries may never have been established. Rehab helps build those boundaries and give a person the tools to maintain them after rehab ends.
  • Medical support: When detox is life-threatening, medical staff are trained to handle and help people through these situations.
  • Remove negative influences: Drug use and addiction are often influenced heavily by association. The people that a person uses drugs with can sabotage treatment, so separation from those influences is critical.
  • Structure: One of the most important benefits of inpatient rehab is a structured environment. They are structured to help you succeed in both the short and long-term

Heroin withdrawal can be a challenging process. It is important that a person looking for inpatient rehab treatment is comfortable with their rehab facility.

Heroin Detox Timeline

Heroin detox works like any other opiate. The exact timeline depends a lot on the person undergoing treatment, the extent of their heroin abuse and their willingness to participate in treatment. The following provides a general idea:

  • Heroin detox timeline: Lasts less than a day. Acute heroin detox takes almost no time at all because of heroin’s short half-life. It only takes a few hours for heroin to leave the body.
  • Heroin withdrawal timeline: Lasts one to three months. Withdrawal symptoms usually last long after the drug has left the body. For some people, this stage can go on for years.
  • Medical Treatment: Lasts one to three months. Medical care is often supportive and helps with withdrawal symptoms.
  • Support and therapy: Lasts for the rest of a person’s life. Support and therapy might include counseling, Narcotics Anonymous or group therapy. Detox and withdrawal are challenging, and this phase should last as long as a person needs.

Heroin addiction is serious and can lead to harm and even death if left untreated.

If you or a loved one live with heroin addiction, contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield to speak with a representative about specific programs and payment options that fit your needs or the needs of your loved one. Take the first step toward a healthier future by calling today.

M, Leesa. “Acute Opioid Withdrawal: Identification and Treatment Strategies.” US Pharmacist, 2016. Accessed May 7, 2019.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Washington Opioid Summary.” March 29, 2019. Accessed May 7. 2019.

Smithedajkul, Patrick. “Managing Acute Opiate Withdrawal in Hospitalized Patients.” Acphospitalist, 2009. Accessed May 7, 2019.

Turner, Carla C., et al. “Opioid Use Disorder: Challenges During Acute Hospitalization.” The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 2018. Accessed 7 May 2019.