Individuals who use heroin recreationally, especially those who are showing signs of addiction, should seek heroin withdrawal treatment before they experience any of the adverse effects caused by the use of the drug. Heroin is a dangerous and highly-addictive drug and its continued use – after the euphoric “rush” – can cause hazardous consequences. Below are the outcomes and steps of heroin withdrawal.
- Heroin works by numbing the synapses (junctions between nerve cells that carry impulses) in the body. When people with heroin addiction stop taking the drug, these synapses are suddenly activated back, and this triggers the many painful symptoms of withdrawal. The pain may occur as early as within five hours after the person’s last hit.
- It is important that people who plan on stopping using heroin seek the advice of a health care provider. A medical practitioner will be able to provide medications that will make heroin withdrawal treatment more tolerable. People who do not have a doctor can go to their local emergency room or health clinic for assistance.
- Patients should take the medicines prescribed to them to reduce the pain that will result from stopping the use of heroin. Medications, such as methadone, clonidine, and buprenorphine, may also reduce the required time spent in withdrawal. Those who suffer from severe symptoms will also be provided additional medication based on their needs.
- Within the first 12 hours, the patient will start detoxing and will experience diarrhea, vomiting, hot and cold sweats, and insomnia, which will all be constantly accompanied by pain. Apart from these, they may also experience extreme shaking, excessive yawning, nausea, and a crawling sensation in the skin. This normally lasts for five to ten days.
- After detox, it is highly suggested that patients enter either an outpatient or inpatient rehab program. This is not compulsory for all heroin users, but it could be very helpful for those who were highly addicted and have a high chance of returning to using the drug. In some rehab programs, methadone is used as a temporary substitute to heroin.
- Those who decide not to enter a rehabilitation program should still seek counseling after heroin withdrawal. This is because abuse of any kind of hard drugs is normally instigated by personal issues, which a person has to resolve in order to become fully treated.
- As an alternative to rehab programs and professional counseling, heroin users may attend Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or SMART recovery as part of their relapse prevention. The time after stopping the use of heroin can be socially uncomfortable and individuals are likely to feel better around people who have been in the same situation as they are.
- Lastly, former heroin users could benefit from undergoing evaluation for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs, such as AIDS, can be transmitted through sharing of needles), as well as for possible underlying mental illnesses (such as depression or bipolar disorder). The appropriate physical or psychiatric treatment should be taken to avoid further complications.
Heroin withdrawal treatment, like the withdrawal treatment of any hard drugs, is challenging and painful. But it is the necessary step to beat addiction and ensure that addicted individuals get another chance at life.