What Heroin Detox is Really Like
If you or someone you love is dealing with heroin dependence or addiction and is hoping to get off of the opiate, it’s a good idea to find out what this entails. Heroin is a powerful drug, and getting off of it can be difficult, but it is possible. If you’ve seen the movie Trainspotting you may have an idea of what heroin detox is like. The movie is, of course, a Hollywood production and can’t necessarily be taken for truth, but it does paint somewhat of a picture of one person’s experience with heroin detox and withdrawal.
Heroin detox is a physically and mentally trying process that usually involves battling with withdrawal and cravings through medications, behavioral therapy, or a combination of the two. Heroin detox will be very different for you depending on how you decide to go through it. Using substitution medicines such as methadone or going ‘cold turkey’ (stopping heroin use from a certain point on without substitutes), with counseling, or without counseling – each of these considerations will effect what your detox experience is like.
A person experiencing heroin withdrawal will develop flulike symptoms such as a runny nose, achy body, hot and cold sweats, nausea, vomiting, sweating, and muscle cramps. People often feel anxious, irritable, and have difficulty sleeping. Normally you will start feeling these symptoms within 6 to 24 hours after your last dose of heroin, and they will peak in severity between the second and fourth day after your last use. The physical symptoms will usually stop after seven days, so if you can get through one week clean you are in good shape. The cravings, anxiety, and sleep disturbance usually last for weeks or months after your last heroin use, though, and so heroin detox is a long and continuous process.
The cravings involved with withdrawal can be stronger than any cravings you have experienced before. You will want heroin and you will want it badly. Cravings often lead people to relapse and use heroin, but they can and must be overcome for a successful recovery.
Withdrawal from heroin happens when your body develops a dependence on the drug, and it almost always comes along with heroin detox. Dependence and addiction are different in the fact that you may be physically dependent on a drug, but still have control over your use. Addiction is a chronic disease that entails actual changes in your brain chemistry.
Different ways to go through detox
Withdrawal will always be a part of a heroin detox process, but there are different ways to deal with it and to go through detox in general. There are medicines available to help with cravings and symptoms of withdrawal. The main ones are methadone, buprenorphine, and suboxone. These drugs will help to suppress your cravings and are intended to prevent relapse as well as to get users to successfully rid their bodies of heroin. Detox may be an easier process if you decide to use one of these medicines to help.
Either in addition to or instead of medicine, counseling can help with heroin detox. Either in an inpatient or an outpatient treatment facility, with individual counseling or support groups, detox can be a different experience. Given the fact that detox can be very hard, both for people who have not used for too long and for people who have used chronically for a long time, having help and support is very important during heroin detox.