Heroin withdrawal is not an easy process to go through. As with any addiction, it can be difficult to break the learned behavior in the brain. With heroin addiction, however, you must also overcome unnaturally powerful chemical forces. But don’t let the challenges discourage you; where there’s a will, there’s a way.

New life awaits those with the dedication, persistence and willingness to face their addiction head on. While it’s important to treat the biological aspects of addiction, it is just as important — or perhaps more — to discover and treat the underlying emotional and spiritual reasons that lead to regular heroin use in the first place.

For some, a change in environment and relationships can remove the desire to use heroin or other substances. It is important to develop honest and authentic relationships that can fill the void in your soul. If you have a dysfunctional home, a rehabilitation center may greatly help with the environment aspect of your recovery. It can give you a healthy foundation where you can start to rebuild your life.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

While the emotional and mental side of recovery can be taxing, the physical aspects of withdrawal can be even more difficult for some. It is important to seek the care of a specialist before removing heroin from your system. It is also wise to plan out your detox so it will be as painless as possible.

The withdrawal process can take a week or longer with the worst symptoms manifesting themselves between 24 and 48 hours after cessation. The heroin in your body is like a crutch propping up your chemical systems.

When you remove the crutch it takes a while for your chemical systems to rediscover their equilibrium. For most people this will be an unpleasant process. While withdrawing, you may feel like you have a severe illness such as the flu. Some symptoms of heroin withdrawal are:

  • Restlessness
  • Severe muscle and bone pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Cold flashes with goosebumps (“cold turkey”)
  • Uncontrollable leg movements (“kicking the habit”)
  • Severe cravings for heroin

The Physical Withdrawal Process

Many facilities, including The Recovery Village, offer medical detox programs to help you recover in a safe, clean, monitored environment. Before you start the detox process, make sure that you have made the following arrangements.

  • You have discussed your plans for detox with a physician and have their phone number if needed.
  • A safe location with a bed, bathroom and shower. You will likely want to take a lot of showers.
  • A heated blanket.
  • Light nutritious meals and plenty of water.
  • A supportive group of people. Some friends or family may also be able to help you out emotionally.
  • Dedicated time: You should have at least five days when you don’t have any responsibilities. You shouldn’t have work, school or any appointments requiring you to drive.

The severity of the withdrawal will likely be determined by the length and intensity of substance use. For those with extreme cases, additional help will likely be needed. If your entire detoxification and withdrawal is supervised by a doctor, he or she may provide a chemical alternative to heroin to ease the parting blow.

Pharmaceutical drugs like Suboxone and Subutex can reduce withdrawal symptoms. However, these drugs carry the potential for addiction and should only be used for the most severe cases. Only a doctor can determine if they are the right choice for you.  

Don’t Give up on the Process

Heroin withdrawal can be a very difficult process but it is absolutely worth the effort. Long-term recovery will get you back on track to the life that you always dreamed of. Your friends, family and colleagues will thank you and be forever grateful to have you back in their lives.

Despite the challenges of detox and withdrawal, living free from heroin can offer you new hopes, dreams and expectations for the future.

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