Heroin detox is the first phase of heroin addiction treatment for dependent people. Heroin – a highly addictive illicit opioid – poses many health risks that often require medical attention. Drug detox helps clear an addictive substance from the body in a safe and controlled environment.
Detox is an essential step before starting an addiction treatment program. That said, detoxification does not guarantee long-term abstinence. Instead, it prepares and stabilizes a user for additional addiction treatment programs.
Heroin addiction treatment aims to:
Acute withdrawal or simply withdrawal begins 8 to 24 hours after the last intake and can continue for 4 to 10 days.
According to the ASAM, withdrawal is the onset of a predictable constellation of signs and symptoms following the abrupt discontinuation of, or rapid decrease in, dosage of a psychoactive substance.
Also called extended withdrawal, it includes symptoms (of acute withdrawal) that last beyond the expected timeframes. The protracted withdrawal phase may last for several weeks or months. The most common symptoms include sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression.
Heroin addiction treatment options can vary, but usually involve a combination of counseling services, medications, psychological support and lifestyle changes. Treatment also needs to be tailored specifically to the patient’s needs as each person has different issues requiring different types of therapies.
Detox medication is routinely used to help relieve withdrawal symptoms and prevent seizures.
Specific drugs – Clonidine or Buprenorphine may be used if you have severe withdrawal.
Once you are stable and have mild withdrawal symptoms, you will receive counseling and psychotherapy. These non-drug approaches are crucial to maintaining long-term sobriety.
You will work with a therapist to uncover the underlying causes of your addiction, such as past trauma, stress, and coexisting mental illness. Then, your therapist will teach you skills and tools to replace addiction-related negative thoughts with positive ones.
Psychotherapy sessions may be conducted individually or in a group and can include:
A doctor reviews your condition daily.
Continuous monitoring ensures you are responding to the treatment.
Because heroin users may have life-threatening complications during withdrawal, addiction experts carefully design an emergency plan soon after starting the detox program.
You may experience muscle aches, shaking, diarrhea, sleep disturbances, anxiety, poor concentration, and intense cravings.
Some of your symptoms peak within the first few days. Besides, you may have new symptoms, including irritability, tiredness, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting.
Long-term or heavy users may struggle with psychological symptoms, such as sleep disturbances, anxiety, irritability, and depression. If these symptoms persist, you may need specialized treatment for a co-occurring disorder.
No. Experts do not recommend at-home heroin detox, mainly for two reasons.