Discontinuing heroin use at home, on your own, is very difficult to accomplish. For starters, heroin detox at home can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening. The extent and severity of withdrawal symptoms are simply too intense to manage yourself. Most people who attempt at-home heroin detox end up giving up after several hours to stop the withdrawal symptoms.
What Is Heroin?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse defines heroin as “an opioid drug made from morphine, a natural substance taken from the seed pod of the various opium poppy plants.” Since heroin is an opioid, it reacts naturally with the opioid receptors in the brain.
Opioid receptors regulate pain signals sent through nerve endings in the body through the central nervous system and to the brain. When heroin reacts with these receptors, it functions similarly to prescription opioids by numbing the receptors and inhibiting their transmission of pain.
Why Is Heroin Addictive?
When heroin reaches the brain and binds with opioid receptors, it forces the release of serotonin and dopamine, both neurotransmitters. Increased levels of serotonin cause us to feel relaxed and content. Increased levels of dopamine are associated with pleasure. Together, the two can cause a person to experience a euphoric state.
Unfortunately, the brain remembers heroin use as a positive experience. So, when the effects wear off, it will crave more of the drug to experience the sensations again. Furthermore, the more heroin is used, the more the body stops producing natural opioids.
As a result, the brain becomes reliant on heroin to provide opioids to bind with opioid receptors. So, dependency develops, which eventually leads to addiction. Sadly, someone can start to develop a dependence on heroin in just a few days of using the drug.
In addition, tolerance levels start to increase the more the drug is used. Should a person stop using heroin, they will go into withdrawal, and the symptoms can be unpleasant and painful.
What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Heroin?
The withdrawal symptoms of heroin will vary depending on how long the drug is used, the frequency of use, and the amount used. Common withdrawal symptoms can include the following:
- Uncontrolled Shaking
- Excessive Sweating
- Decreased Appetite
- Bodily Aches and Pains
- Mood Swings
- Intense Carvings
Heroin Withdrawal Timeline
- Within 24 Hours of Last Use: Withdrawal symptoms can appear within a few hours of last use. They can range from mild to moderate to severe and usually feel like a bad flu infection.
- One Day to Three Days: The symptoms will continue to intensify in frequency and severity until they eventually peak. This stage of withdrawal is considered dangerous without supervised detox.
- Four Days to Six Days: Withdrawal symptoms will start to lessen and become less intense. However, long-term heroin users can continue to experience peak symptoms for up to a week before they notice they are tapering off.
- Seven Days to Two Weeks: While the physical withdrawal symptoms will have passed, many people can still experience intense cravings.
- Beyond Two Weeks: Some people can experience PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome), where cravings and mental health issues can continue for several months or longer.
Why Heroin Detox At Home Is Risky
Quitting heroin “cold turkey” at home is very risky. As you progress through withdrawal symptoms, they can become so intense you will want the pain and discomfort to stop. Sadly, this often results in relapse. Unfortunately, when relapse occurs, some people accidentally overdose on heroin and end up in a coma or die.
In addition, there are other health issues you need to consider. For example, changes in your respiratory rate and heart rate could cause you to experience respiratory failure, heart failure, or stroke.
Furthermore, when there are underlying mental health problems, heroin withdrawal can make them worse. As a result, some people will cause self-harm to themselves or, worse, commit suicide.
Why Supervised Heroin Detox Is Safer
- Supervised heroin detox at a medical detox center allows you to detox safely and in a supportive environment.
- Medical professionals and addiction specialists oversee your detox.
- Your detox can be managed with medication treatment for heroin use disorder.
- You have access to the detox center’s amenities to make detox easier.
- You can start planning your next steps on your recovery journey.
- You have no outside distractions, so you can fully concentrate on your detox treatment.
- Medically supervised detox prevents you from relapsing as you go through withdrawal.
- You can avoid severe pain and discomfort.
- You reduce the risk of life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.
As you can see, heroin detox at a medical detox center is safer than heroin detox at home. It also provides you access to therapies and treatments you do not have access to with at-home detox.
Heroin Detox Center in Pompano Beach, FL
Stopping your heroin use disorder is easier when you detox at Retreat of Broward in Pompano Beach, FL. Our JCA-accredited medical detox center provides a safe, supportive, and caring environment to start your detox. We also offer medication treatment and assistance in planning your next steps in your recovery. Start your heroin detox today by contacting us today.