Detox for Heroin Abuse: What Should I Expect?

Detox treatment can be an intimidating option for those wanting to get clean and especially intimidating for those struggling with heroin addiction. Apprehension could arise from fear of not being able to handle the withdrawals that come from heroin use when detoxing.

However, if you are someone that has attempted to get help multiple times, like with rehab or therapy, but has since relapsed, it might be time to seriously consider detox treatment. Preparation is key when it comes to getting ready for any kind of tough treatment, especially detox. 


Your Best Interest

Addiction is hard. When one relapses, they begin to feel hopeless and sometimes sink deeper into their addiction. The first step is to have their best interest in mind.

Think of those in your life that also have your best interest and reach out. A good support system can offer the encouragement you need to take the next step. 


Background: Heroin and Tolerance 

  • Reward drug: Substance abuse of any kind, at any accelerated tolerance level, can be rough waters to tread for an addict. That said, heroin is one of the harder ones. Heroin titillates the reward center of the brain, which in turn raises tolerance levels, telling the user that they need more and more frequently.
  • Heroin and our system: Heroin leaves the system faster than other opioids. Withdrawal symptoms can occur only six hours after use. 
  • Withdrawal: There is a range of nasty withdrawals that come from heroin use including nausea, vomiting, insomnia, agitation, diarrhea, sweating, anxiety, cramping, and aches. Long term use can make these symptoms much, much worse. Studies show that these withdrawals, depending on the user, typically last a week, peaking around day three or four. Know that this can be a very tortuous time, however, it is necessary to get through this hard period. 


Detox Is Managed Intervention

  • Inpatient: the patient is under 24-hour care and supervision.
  • Outpatient: allows the patient to meet with doctors regularly without 24-hour care and supervision. With outpatient programs, the patient will have the opportunity to work and live at home.


Inpatient Rehab Is the Best Option for Heroin Addiction 

You will most likely require 24-hour medical supervision. In fact, with heroin addiction, the suggested recovery is one that is done under the supervision of medical staff.

Since the withdrawals are so bad, the patient is likely to encounter any number of side effects including anxiety, depression, and self-harm. 

  • Risk reduction: When under the supervision of medical staff, you greatly reduce the risk of harming yourself. The medical staff will monitor how you are doing both physically and mentally. Also, know that depending on the intensity and the strength of your addiction, the medical staff can provide certain medications to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal. Some of these medications will curb cravings as well as ease the pain


Outpatient After Inpatient 

After you have gone through inpatient, you might want to consider outpatient treatment. Remember, just because you went through it, does not mean you are cured.

A patient will continue to experience cravings. You will need help creating a support system that will get you through the tough times ahead.


Manage Stress Throughout the Process

  • Concerns: There is a lot of stress and apprehension surrounding inpatient treatment, not just in regards to the actual addiction, but also your life. There are things you can do which might help to alleviate some of the stress, as well as prepare you for rehab. 
  • Family and financial woes: It is suggested for the patient to enter rehab with the least amount of additional stress. The patient often worries about their job, bills, children, pet, or some other obligation. Finding care and help from a trusted friend will help to alleviate some of these stresses. When it comes to your employer, it is best to contact and set up a plan to explore your options for return and/or benefits sooner rather than later. Sometimes employers can offer you assistance during your recovery.  
  • Packing: Sometimes the stress of packing can be enough to deter someone from getting help. Ask a friend to help you pack or get together a list of what you think you might need. 
  • Recovery Comes First. Always know that jobs and clothes are replaceable, but life is not. So put recovery first!   


Accept Your Feelings No Matter What 

This is a trying time, just remember to let your feelings happen. It is normal to feel scared and worried just as it will be normal to feel angry or sad or hopeless. Detox will not be easy, but it will be necessary in order to recover. 


Sometimes the choice that seems the hardest is because that choice is the right thing to do. Reaching out to friends and family during this time is encouraged.

True Recovery believes that a good support system is crucial to the journey of staying recovered, and it all begins with the courage to seek help. For more questions or concerns regarding you or a friend’s recovery please call us at (866) 399-6528.