Heroin Detox

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What is Heroin Detox?

Heroin is a type of opioid. There are natural and synthetic opioids available on the market, as well as semi-synthetic opioids. Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid that is created by chemically processing the naturally occurring opioid morphine. Heroin is chemically processed in order to make it enter the brain more quickly and have more immediate effects on the body. Heroin can be smoked, snorted, or injected subcutaneously or intramuscularly. When heroin is pure, it is a fine, white powder, though it can be cut with other materials of drugs that can alter its appearance. Heroin is used by people of all different ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds. 

The detoxification process is the first step in getting treatment for heroin addiction. Detox allows the body to rid itself of all the toxins that have accumulated due to the use of drugs like heroin. 

The Effects of Heroin Abuse on the Body

When a person injects heroin, they often feel a rush, a surge of euphoria. After the rush, users will feel a period of sedation and peacefulness. These feelings are not as strong when heroin is snorted or smoked. Heroin is often looked to for its effect of making the user feel detached from any mental or physical pain and creating a sense of well-being. Some other side effects of heroin use are less desirable. Slowed respiration, sweating, and itchiness may be experienced, as well as nausea and vomiting. Prolonged use of heroin can lead to constipation, reduced libido, and irregular periods in women. 

Heroin affects people differently depending on the age of the user, the amount taken, and the method of consumption. Over time, heroin alters the way the brain works in ways that are not fully understood but can take months or even years to recover from. 

What are the Symptoms of Heroin Detox?

During the detoxification process, clients will experience a number of different withdrawal symptoms. This is because their body has become used to having heroin present, and suddenly that presence has changed. The detoxification process can bring about withdrawal symptoms that are uncomfortable, making it important that clients undergo detox in a safe and secure environment under the supervision of medical professionals. This ensures that clients have the best chance at achieving and maintaining total sobriety and can go into treatment feeling healthy and clear-minded. 

Acute Withdrawal

During the acute withdrawal stage, clients will begin to feel the effects of the heroin leaving their bodies. The withdrawal symptoms of heroin use are both physical and psychological and can vary from person to person. The physical heroin withdrawal symptoms include headaches, muscle and joint pain, problems sleeping or insomnia, and fatigue or lack of energy. Psychological withdrawal symptoms include feelings of anxiety, intense paranoia, agitation or irritability, and drug cravings. 

Early Abstinence

During the early abstinence stage of treatment, clients will likely be past the physical aspect of their heroin withdrawals. The psychological symptoms of heroin withdrawal may continue through this stage of treatment, with cravings for the drug worsening. Relapse is likely during this stage of recovery, which makes receiving proper treatment all the more important. While clients will no longer feel the physical pains associated with withdrawals, the psychological aspect of detoxing can take a toll all on its own. 

Protracted Abstinence 

At this stage of treatment, constant drug cravings should be becoming less severe and tapering off. Clients are now able to focus on their treatment and take advantage of a variety of coping skills they have learned throughout their program. Relapse prevention tools, identifying and avoiding triggers, and processing through cravings are all important aspects of treatment that clients will be able to utilize to help ensure they remain sober. This is the part of treatment where confidence in one’s sobriety truly begins. 

How Long Will It Take To Detox from Heroin?

The amount of time one can expect to spend detoxing from heroin will vary from person to person, as it does with other drug or alcohol addictions. The severity of the client’s addiction must be taken into account when creating a treatment plan to ensure they have enough time to completely overcome the physical and psychological side effects of heroin detox. Heroin detoxification typically takes place within several weeks, though it can take longer in more severe instances of addiction. 

How to Recognize If Heroin Detox May Be Right for You

If you think you may have an addiction to heroin, detoxification is a great way to begin proper treatment. Heroin has a very high potential for addiction, and if you experience any of the following, you may have developed a dependence on heroin:

  • Using heroin more often or for longer than you had planned
  • Experiencing heroin cravings
  • Wanting but being unable to cut down or quit using heroin
  • Hiding your use from family and friends 
  • Facing negative social, educational, or criminal consequences as a result of your heroin use
  • Feeling ill when stopping the use of heroin
  • Requiring more heroin to achieve desired effects 

What are the Different Types of Heroin Detox?

There are both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs available to those who are addicted to heroin. Inpatient programs are typically encouraged, especially for those with severe or long-lasting problems with addiction, as well as those with co-occurring disorders. 

Holistic detoxification programs are designed to encourage the healing of the mind, body, and spirit at the same time throughout treatment. These programs typically encourage the use of various therapies, including aromatherapy, acupuncture and acupressure, yoga, meditation, and other experiential therapies. 

The vast majority of heroin detox programs will be medically supervised or medically assisted programs. This is due to the severity of heroin withdrawal symptoms. These programs help to ensure clients are able to remain as comfortable as possible throughout the detoxification program. 

Getting Help and Heroin Detox

The detoxification process is often the most difficult part of treatment for heroin addiction. During detox, recovery clients are able to rid their bodies of the many toxins that build up as a result of drug use. But this process isn’t always easy. Deciding to get help for heroin addiction can be frightening and, at times, may seem like too much to handle. But recovery programs are created with these struggles in mind and are able to help clients overcome their addiction and go on to lead productive and peaceful lives. 

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