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5 Coping Strategies in Heroin Detox

According to Harvard Health Publications, heroin withdrawal effects can start anywhere from six to 24 hours after heroin detox begins. As most heroin users well know, withdrawal effects pose the greatest threat to a successful detox period.

Heroin’s effects on the body leave addicts in a perpetual state of chemical imbalance that fuels uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. As the body attempts to repair the damage caused by heroin use, withdrawal effects develop.

Making it through detox is the only way to recovery from a heroin addiction. Anything that helps relieve the range of symptoms a person experiences during heroin detox can only increase the likelihood of successful recovery.

Fortunately, recovering addicts can employ a few coping strategies to help make heroin detox more bearable. Here are five coping strategies to help ease the process along:

1. Medication Therapies

withdrawing from heroin

While detoxing from heroin, staying hydrated can help you cope with the physical withdrawals.

For long-time heroin users, the drug’s effects have essentially crippled normal brain and body processes. For someone in this condition, going “cold turkey” makes for an excruciating detox experience. The combined effects from ongoing drug cravings and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms can quickly become too much to bear.

Heroin detox treatment programs use medication therapies, such as buprenorphine and methadone, to help ease recovering addicts through the withdrawal period. For some people, medication therapies can mean the difference between a successful detox and a disheartening relapse episode.

2. Relief from Aches and Pains

As the brain works to restore normal chemical processes, nerve cell signal transmissions will continue to misfire for most of the heroin detox period. Persistent aches and pains will likely be felt throughout the body.

Over-the-counter pain relievers can go a long way towards helping relieve these symptoms. Pain relievers to consider include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Aspirin
  • Ibuprofen
  • Naproxen

As each drug lists a maximum recommended dosage, it’s best not to exceed these limits, especially when taking more than one medication at the same time.

3. Stay Hydrated

While much of the discomfort experienced during heroin detox results from imbalanced brain chemical levels, heroin residues can also store up inside the body’s fat tissues. Residue stored up in fat tissues can actually intensify and prolong drug cravings during detox.

Drinking lots of water can help the detox process along by flushing residues out of fat tissues and out of the body.

4. Sleep

Insomnia can be one of the more distressing withdrawal effects from heroin detox. Lack of sleep further weakens brain and body functions, which only works to intensify withdrawal effects and drug cravings.

In this case, over-the-counter remedies will likely make the problem worse. Instead, regular exercise and cutting back on caffeine and nicotine offer the best chances for getting a good night’s sleep.

5. Relief from Digestive Distress

Since the brain plays a central role in regulating the body’s digestive processes, stomach cramping, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting can be expected during heroin detox. As good nutrition strengthens the body’s defenses during detox, not eating will only make things worse.

In this case, over-the-counter remedies work well at helping relieve gastrointestinal-related withdrawal effects. Pepto-Bismol helps relieve nausea and vomiting while Imodium A-D can help in relieving diarrhea symptoms.

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