What Does Heroin Withdrawal Feel Like?

One of the biggest obstacles to recovery is the fear of the withdrawal process. Many drug and alcohol addicts will continue their addictive behavior long after they want to quit, simply to avoid the detox process and painful symptoms that accompany the withdrawal. Some even try to detox from their addictions at home, suffering through days of discomfort and violent withdrawal only to go back to abusing drugs and alcohol to relieve the pain.

What Does Heroin Withdrawal Feel Like?

The Opioid Crisis and Heroin Addiction

There is and has been a national crisis of opioid abuse in our country. Opioids are prescribed painkillers, synthetic opioids, and illegal drugs such as Codeine, Heroin, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Methadone, Morphine, and Oxycodone. Some of these are prescribed daily for pain, acute and/or chronic. Many people who are prescribed painkillers abuse them. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH):

  • Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
  • Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder.
  • An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
  • About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
  • Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.

If one has become addicted to heroin, they are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they quit, but withdrawal symptoms can also appear following heavy use. Physically, heroin withdrawal may feel like having the flu. People often experience nausea, diarrhea, runny nose, achiness, tremors, fatigue, chills, and sweats. Move severe symptoms can also occur such as difficulty breathing, depression, anxiety, and insomnia.

More About Withdrawal Symptoms from Heroin

Heroin withdrawal is not considered the most painful opioid detox because of the drug’s relatively short half-life but it is extremely uncomfortable. If you are lucky enough to have the means to get into detox that helps you through your withdrawal symptoms with medicine and supervision, your symptoms are lessened and can be easier to endure. However, you will still experience heroin withdrawal symptoms and this is when and what you can expect:

  • 24 hours to 2 days – Withdrawal depends on how fast-acting the opioid is. Heroin withdrawal may begin after a few hours and include muscle pain, anxiety, teary eyes, runny nose, sweating, insomnia, and frequent yawning.
  • 3 to 5 days – Peak of symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, goosebumps, blurry vision, and rapid heart rate.
  • The first week – Symptoms taper off but may still experience digestive issues, loss of appetite, dehydration, or seizures.
  • After the first week – For severe addictions, insomnia, irritability, cravings, sweating, anxiety, and depression may persist for 6 or more months.

While heroin withdrawal can be intense and uncomfortable, the worst of the symptoms usually pass within a week. Depending on the level and length of use, recovering heroin addicts are likely to suffer post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), including poor sleep, poor concentration, increased anxiety, depression, panic attacks, fatigue, hypersensitivity, irritability, mood swings, restlessness, and memory loss. PAWS can last anywhere from 18-24 months. The effects on mood and behavior can last months after other withdrawal symptoms pass. However, as time goes by and the user remains drug-free, the symptoms will slowly begin to diminish.

Overcoming Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Stopping heroin “cold-turkey” brings about a rapid onset of withdrawal symptoms, which are very difficult to endure. The risk of experiencing a relapse during withdrawal is high as the craving to use and stop the symptoms can be overwhelming. When people try to self-taper their heroin use on their own they are seldom successful. A relapse during withdrawal sometimes leads to overdose.

Quitting cold-turkey is not recommended as it is the most difficult and dangerous way to attempt to address addiction. Medically supervised detox with withdrawal medications, counseling support, and symptom management make the experience much easier, safer, and more likely to result in a successful recovery.

Allure Detox and Heroin Addiction Treatment

If you or a loved one are struggling to quit heroin Allure Detox can help. Fortunately, there’s more hope now than ever. This hope comes from advanced techniques in heroin detox and changing perceptions. Allure Detox is a part of this “addiction revolution.” Our physicians and nurses help patients stop using heroin by administering the prescription drugs needed to manage withdrawal symptoms along with counseling and 24/7 medical supervision.