how long does heroin withdrawal last

How Long Does Heroin Withdrawal Last?

Wrenching yourself free from the grip of a heroin addiction can seem impossible. Having experienced the suffering of withdrawal symptoms on a regular basis, it may seem like going through the detox process would be unbearable. In fact, anticipating the difficult withdrawal phase of recovery actually deters many from ever seeking help, keeping them stuck tight in their addiction. So how long does heroin withdrawal last anyway? In most cases, the heroin detox timeline involves approximately 5-7 days. Although the physical and emotional effects that accompany the heroin withdrawal process are daunting, it must be looked at as a very short-term issue that will soon pass.

Some addiction treatment centers rely on medication, such as Buprenorphine, to assist with the highly unpleasant side effects associated with heroin withdrawal.  is itself an opioid that can help block the effects of opiates from ever attaching to the brain receptors, so euphoria is not experienced. Over time this helps reduce cravings, and subsequently the desire to use again declines.

There is another option available to help with heroin withdrawal, and that is to go the holistic route.  The holistic approach to heroin detox and withdrawal means that drug-free interventions are made to help assist the recovering addict through the uncomfortable side effects of heroin withdrawal.

It’s totally understandable why someone about to begin a heroin detox might ask, “How long does heroin withdrawal last?” Going through detox and withdrawal from heroin or opioids is a hurdle to clear, versus a welcome event. Detox and withdrawal will vary from one individual to another, based on a number of factors that help determine the timeline. But knowing approximately how long does heroin withdrawal last, and what to expect in a residential detox, can help one prepare mentally for what lies ahead, and to gear up for it.

About Heroin Dependency

Heroin is in the opiate family of drugs, derived from morphine, a natural byproduct of certain poppy plants in regions like Afghanistan, Colombia, and Burma. Opium is produced through the fluid that seeps out of the poppy seedpod and dried into a resin product.

Heroin is a highly addictive drug that leads to rapidly increased tolerance to the drug, resulting in increased dosage and usage in an effort to relive the initial euphoric high.  Heroin use causes a powerful reaction in the brain’s chemistry, attaching to opioid receptors in the pain and pleasure centers. A flood of dopamine leads to the “rush” that is felt upon injecting, snorting or smoking heroin.

This powerful drug makes lasting changes in brain cells, causing the brain to eventually cease producing its own dopamine. Without the drug, the user will become unable to experience pleasure at all, only leading to higher dosing. When chemical dependence takes hold, any attempt to stop taking heroin results in highly uncomfortable flu-like withdrawal symptoms. At this point the addict needs to take the drug to avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms and feeling very sick (“dope sick”).

The Centers for Disease Control recently released data from 2017 citing alarming statistics regarding heroin and other opioids. According to this report, deaths from heroin increased sevenfold from 1,960 in 1999 to 15,482 in 2017. A sense of urgency exists today regarding the staggering increases of heroin and opioid abuse and addiction, and the related fatalities.

What to Expect During Heroin Detox and Withdrawal

It is natural for someone to wonder how long does heroin withdrawal last.  In general, the heroin detox process follows a fairly predictable pattern. The first withdrawal symptoms appear between 6-12 hours after the last dose of heroin. The length of the detox period, as well as the severity of symptoms, will be dependent on factors such as:

  • The duration of the heroin habit
  • Heroin consumption level
  • If the individual has a co-occurring mental health disorder
  • General state of the individual’s health.

All these factors will play a part in the detox experience, as far as how intense the withdrawal symptoms will be and how long withdrawal will last. Generally, symptoms will peak between 24-48 hours and then gradually subside. Most heroin detoxes are completed in 5-7 days, however long-lasting effects can linger, known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Teary eyes
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Restlessness
  • Intense drug cravings
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

While some may they might die from experiencing heroin withdrawal symptoms, the fact is that, while extremely unpleasant and uncomfortable, it is highly unlikely that heroin detox would be fatal. Detox providers will provide comfort through the use of medications that can significantly reduce the withdrawal symptoms, and will closely monitor the individual throughout the detox process.

Throughout a residential detox the individual will be supported with medications as symptoms emerge. The detox team will access various over-the-counter medications that can alleviate the muscle aches, fever, headache, chills, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhea symptoms. The individual will also receive psychological support to offer encouragement and help guide through the detox process, and then into the treatment program.

Residential Detox for Heroin Withdrawal

Increasingly, heroin and opioid detox and treatment involves medication, such as using certain opioid antagonists and agonists to help control craving and slowly reduce the desire for the drug. These medications may include buprenorphine as an example, that are prescribed for the purpose of stabilizing the individual in recovery while reducing the risk of relapse. In most cases, the drugs are prescribed for a limited time, such as 3-12 months, before beginning a tapering schedule. However, in some cases long-term use of these drugs is warranted.

What to Expect in Heroin Rehab

It is important to understand that overcoming a heroin addiction is a long-term effort that is undertaken at an inpatient treatment facility. Detox alone is not sufficient to achieve lasting sobriety. Without follow up addiction treatment the individual is bound to relapse right away. This is because the deeply entrenched thought-behavior patterns that define the daily life of an addict do not just go away. These reflexive habits must be identified, addressed, and changed to have any kind of success in recovery.

Heroin addiction treatment is a two-pronged method that typically involves detox and evidence-based behavioral therapies such as contingency management and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). During rehab the individual will be immersed in a variety of therapeutic activities that are designed to be an integrated approach to overcoming addiction. These treatment elements include:

  • Psychotherapy: The role of psychotherapy in treating a heroin addiction is a core treatment element in addiction recovery. The therapist will access a number of evidence-based therapies to effectively guide the person toward embracing new healthy thought patterns and introduce coping skills to assist them in recovery. In addition, the therapist can help the individual explore their emotional state and work through any lingering or unresolved issues.
  • Group therapy: Addiction and depression can leave someone feeling very isolated and alone in their disease. Bringing together small groups of peers who can discuss their points of view and personal experiences with each other can give each participant a feeling of belonging. This shared experience, the recovery journey, can bond the participants and even foster new friendships that will endure after rehab is completed.
  • Non 12-step or 12-step participation: The recovery communities that may be integrated into the overall rehab program provide an excellent introduction into the power of fellowship. Recovery meetings offer opportunities to learn from each other and become inspired by those who have achieved a sustained recovery, and who benefited from the particular program, be it A.A., N.A., Smart Recovery or others.
  • Addiction education: Information can be a powerful tool in recovery. By learning about how chemical dependence develops it can give individuals a new perspective about what a danger drug like heroin does to the brain and the body. Along with learning about how addition happens, clients are also taught methods to help avoid relapsing. They will be coached in developing their own specific relapse prevention plan, and will be equipped with the necessary recovery tools to sustain recovery.
  • Adjunct therapies to promote stress reduction and relaxation: These therapies include yoga, meditation, equine therapy, art therapy, and other holistic practices
  • Aftercare services: The rehab should encourage individuals to develop an aftercare plan for post-rehab recovery. These activities or services can help solidify early recovery while helping to avoid relapse. These actions might include continuing on with outpatient therapy, continued participation in a recovery community, or spending a few months in sober living.

Ken Seeley Communities Offers Heroin Medical Detox and Addiction Recovery Services

Ken Seeley Communities is a California addiction recovery complex that offers the full spectrum of necessary treatment components. These include professional intervention services, residential rehab, various intensities of outpatient programs, and sober living housing that all work together on the recovery continuum. For more information about how long does heroin withdrawal last, and additional details about our recovery resources, please contact our team today at (877) 773-8515.

Prescription Opiate Addiction

What Helps with Prescription Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms?

Getting help for a prescription opiate addiction begins with the detox and withdrawal process. During detoxification the body expels the drug’s residual chemicals while the brain attempts to stabilize in the absence of the drug. Someone anticipating going through this detox process may rightly ask what helps with opiate withdrawal symptoms. After all, during detoxification, highly uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms will come into play, challenging even the most committed person to actually complete the detox process.

Thankfully, there are medications available that can help reduce the withdrawal symptoms and help the individual successfully complete this important first step in recovery. During a residential detox, specialists are trained in what helps with opiate withdrawal symptoms and will offer both medical and psychological support to minimize discomfort and safely guide the individual through the process.

About Opioids

Prescription opiates are powerful synthetic opiate with very high addictive properties, thus the Schedule II controlled substance classification. Some prescription medications often contain both the core analgesic, opiates, combined with either ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

These drugs work to suppress the effects of physical pain by modifying the signaling in the central nervous system through the body’s opioid receptors. By blocking the pain signals, the perception of experiencing pain is altered, allowing the patient to endure post-operative discomfort. Used appropriately and for a specified period, prescription opiates can advantageous for pain relief due to surgery or injury. Unfortunately, extended use of these drugs can result in addiction or chemical dependency.

Prescription Opiate Detox and Withdrawal

Opioid withdrawal can be a painful process, so one should not attempt to go through it without medical support. Within 6-12 hours following the last dose of prescription opiates, withdrawal symptoms will emerge.  The length of the detox period as well as the severity of the withdrawal symptoms will depend on the severity of the opiate addiction. Generally symptoms peak on days 2-3 and begin to subside on day 5.  The total withdrawal timeline can last from 7-28 days.

Opiate withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Chills
  • Goosebumps
  • Chills
  • Increased pain sensitivity
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Excessive yawning
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Drug cravings

What Helps with Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms

A residential detox and withdrawal will involve close supervision of vital signs and withdrawal symptoms. The detox team will know what helps with opiate withdrawal symptoms and can ease much of the discomfort with a variety of interventions.

Clonidine can help reduce anxiety, muscle aches, cramping, runny nose, and agitation. Over-the-counter medications can help with muscle aches, stomach discomfort, and diarrhea. Detox medications can help mitigate some of the withdrawal discomfort, and support early recovery.

Psychological support is also an important aspect of the detox support efforts. The withdrawal symptoms often include depression, anxiety, and may even induce suicidal thoughts. The emotional support efforts can help to persuade the individual to continue on and complete the detox.

Comprehensive Treatment for Opiate Dependency

Following the detoxification process, the individual will now be in a much better place to enter into active treatment for the addiction. Detox without addiction treatment is likely to result in nearly immediate relapse, so treatment should always be the goal when initiating the recovery process. Addiction treatment programs use assorted therapies and activities that work in tandem to help break the addict reflex behaviors.

Treatment elements in Opiate Addiction recovery include:

  • Medication can help the individual transition slowly off of the opioid, reduce cravings, and thereby reducing the risk of relapse.
  • Individual psychotherapy sessions. During these one-on-one sessions the psychotherapist helps the client identify underlying factors that might be driving the dependence on prescription opiates, such as using it to self-medicate a mood disorder or a difficult emotional event or trauma. Cognitive behavioral therapy can guide individuals in shifting disordered thought and behavior patterns.
  • Group counseling sessions. Group therapy provides the important social support component in recovery. Members of the group, under the facilitation of a therapist, can share their personal experiences and struggles, while gaining each other’s support.
  • Complimentary therapies. These might include family therapy, couples therapy, mindfulness training, yoga, and art therapy can augment treatment results and improve recovery success rates.

Ken Seeley Communities Recovery Services for Prescription Opiate Addiction

Ken Seeley Communities is an addiction and dual diagnosis treatment program. It is understandable why someone would want to know in advance what helps with prescription opiate withdrawal symptoms. Rest assured that at Ken Seeley Communities all clients will be carefully monitored during detox and withdrawal, with our residential detox team providing every measure available to reduce withdrawal discomforts. Our goal is to transition the client safely through detox and into treatment. If you are ready to change your life for the better, please contact Ken Seeley Communities today at (877) 744-0502. Our team is here to help make that happen.