There were over 9,000 drug overdose deaths involving heroin in 2021 alone. Heroin is a powerful opioid that can cause severe physical and psychological dependence.
Many people who struggle with heroin addiction want to quit. Even still, they fear the withdrawal symptoms that come with detoxing from the drug.
You might be wondering how long to detox from heroin. Further, what can you expect during the process?
If you or your loved one is ready to go through this withdrawal process, this article is a great place to start. Detailed below is everything you need to know about the average heroin detox timeline.
The History of Heroin Use
Heroin use and addiction in the United States began in the late 1800s. It was marketed as a non-addictive substitute for morphine at first. Soon after, its addictive properties became known.
In the early 1900s, heroin was widely used by doctors and patients. They used it to treat pain, coughing, and even depression.
By the 1920s, the negative effects of heroin addiction had become a public health concern. So, laws were passed to regulate the drug’s production and distribution.
However, heroin use continued to rise, particularly in urban areas, throughout the 1950s and 1960s. The 1970s saw a shift in public opinion towards drug addiction.
It was viewed as a disease rather than a moral failing. That’s when the government began to provide funding for addiction treatment programs. Today, heroin addiction remains a significant public health problem.
Symptoms of Heroin Addiction
Heroin dependency can cause a variety of physical and psychological symptoms. Physically, individuals may experience constipation, nausea, and vomiting. They may also have a decreased appetite, dry mouth, and itchy skin.
Heroin use can also cause respiratory depression. This can lead to shallow breathing or even coma in extreme cases.
Psychologically, addicts may experience mood swings, depression, anxiety, and paranoia. They may become socially isolated and have difficulty maintaining relationships.
Heroin dependency can also lead to financial difficulties. For some, this leads to legal problems and difficulty holding down a job.
If this describes you or a loved one, it’s time to seek proper help. That’s where our addiction center can be of service.
The Risks of Heroin Addiction
Heroin addiction can have serious medical and mental health consequences. Long-term heroin use can lead to a range of medical issues. These can include liver and kidney disease, infections of the heart and lungs, and abscesses at injection sites.
Chronic use can also cause damage to the brain. Many times, this leads to problems with memory, attention, and decision-making.
Mental health risks include depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Long-term use can also lead to changes in personality and social functioning. Addicts might also end up having strained relationships with family and friends.
Perhaps the most significant risk of heroin addiction is overdosing. This can result in a coma or even death.
That’s why seeking professional help for heroin addiction is so important. It’s the best way to address the health risks associated with long-term use. That’s why you should contact us to get started on the process of heroin detox.
Factors Affecting How Long to Detox From Heroin
The length of time it takes to detox from heroin can vary depending on a number of factors. One important factor is the individual’s level of addiction.
Let’s consider those who have been using heroin for a longer period of time or who have used larger amounts. They may experience more severe withdrawal symptoms and a longer detox period.
The method of heroin use can also affect the detox timeline. Those who inject heroin typically experience a more intense withdrawal than those who snort or smoke it.
The overall health of the individual can also play a role. Addicts with previous medical conditions may require more time to detox safely. Work with your addiction treatment provider to know what to expect for your specific case.
The Acute Detox Phase
Once an addict is ready to quit, they’ll experience the acute detox phase first. This part of quitting heroin is the initial period of time when the body is adjusting to the absence of the drug.
It typically begins within 6-12 hours of the last heroin use. Then, it can last up to a week or more.
Symptoms of acute detox can vary widely from person to person. For the most part, though, you can expect flu-like symptoms.
These can include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as muscle aches, sweating, and insomnia. More severe symptoms can include seizures, hallucinations, and delirium tremens.
Be sure to seek professional help when detoxing from heroin. This is the ideal way to ensure a safe and effective detoxification process. After all, heroin withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and uncomfortable.
Medically-assisted detox programs can help to manage these symptoms. Plus, professional help can shorten the heroin detox timeline. Overall, expert assistance can make the process more comfortable and safe for those quitting heroin.
Inpatient Detox Programs
Inpatient heroin detox programs provide 24-hour medical care and support. Upon admission, patients undergo a comprehensive evaluation. This is used to determine their medical and psychological needs.
Patients can expect to stay in the facility for several days to a week or more. This timeline will vary depending on their individual needs and level of addiction.
During inpatient detox, patients are closely monitored. They’re provided with medication to manage withdrawal symptoms and prevent complications.
They may also receive counseling and support services. This is essential to help address the psychological aspects of addiction.
Patients can expect to participate in individual and group therapy sessions, too. There’s also educational programming available. This can help them better understand addiction and develop coping skills for maintaining sobriety.
Outpatient Detox Programs
In contrast, outpatient heroin detox programs are not 24/7 assistance. Still, patients can expect to attend regular appointments with medical professionals. They’re also still usually expected to participate in counseling and support services.
Intensive outpatient care is a program that provides more frequent and thorough services. This can include multiple appointments per week with medical professionals and therapists, for instance.
Patients may also receive medication-assisted treatment. This can be critical to help manage withdrawal symptoms and prevent relapse.
During outpatient detox, patients are expected to maintain sobriety. They should also be prepared to adhere to a structured treatment plan.
They may receive regular drug testing and monitoring to ensure compliance with the program, too. Patients can expect to receive ongoing support and counseling as needed. They won’t be alone as they work towards achieving long-term recovery goals.
The Dangers of Self-Detoxing
Substance use disorders are no small matter. That’s why it can be in everyone’s best interest if a patient with heroin addiction seeks professional help.
Self-detoxing from heroin can be dangerous and potentially life-threatening. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe and unpredictable. In some cases, they can lead to dehydration, seizures, and other complications.
Additionally, attempting to detox without a support system can be isolating and overwhelming. This can then make it more difficult to maintain sobriety long-term.
Without access to counseling and support services, individuals may seriously struggle. It could be much harder to address the psychological aspects of addiction. That factor in turn can increase the risk of relapse.
Aftercare and Relapse Prevention
This is perhaps the most impactful part of heroin detoxification. This part of the process should last the rest of the person’s life.
Aftercare may include participation in individual or group counseling, to start. Many success stories also involve ongoing medical care to address any medical or psychological issues.
Relapse prevention strategies may include many kinds of coping skills. These techniques are helpful for managing triggers and cravings.
Setting achievable recovery goals is a great place to start. Further, it’s ideal to develop a strong support network of friends and family members.
Other relapse prevention strategies may include avoiding triggers. Examples include people, places, or situations associated with the person’s previous drug use. Practicing self-care and stress-reduction techniques can also help.
Lastly, those who recover should prioritize maintaining an overall healthy lifestyle. That should include regular exercise, healthy eating, and sufficient sleep.
Why You Deserve to Be Addiction-Free
Addiction can harm your physical health, mental health, and relationships. It can affect your overall ability to function in daily life.
Instead, seek addiction treatment and overcome this issue. In doing so, you can improve your health, repair damaged relationships, and regain control of your life.
You have the right to live a fulfilling life, free from the burden of addiction. It’s true that recovery is a journey that requires dedication and hard work. Still, the rewards of sobriety are immeasurable.
With the right support and resources, you can break free from the grip of addiction. Then, start to build a brighter future for yourself.
Be Willing to Seek Professional Help
The time it takes for how long to detox from heroin differs for everyone. If you or your loved one is ready to get started, though, we’re here to help.
Our treatment options are catered to every unique patient and their needs. So, learn more about our intensive outpatient services available and how they could benefit you.