How Long Does Heroin Withdrawal Last?

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Heroin is an opiate substance that is derived straight from morphine. It is a highly potent substance that was once used by medical professionals to help control pain. However, the habit-forming potential of heroin plus new pharmacological innovations quickly removed heroin from doctor’s offices and hospitals. Today, heroin remains among the public, but as one of the most dangerous and addictive illicit substances available. 

More people are abusing heroin than ever before, mostly due in part to the opioid epidemic that has gripped the nation for nearly a decade. Heroin produces the same effects as prescription opioids (like oxycodone and hydrocodone) do. This means that when the well runs dry and affording expensive prescription painkillers is no longer possible, turning to heroin can preserve one’s desire to get high at a much lower rate. Unfortunately, because of how addictive heroin is, people quickly find themselves tolerant to it. This means that their bodies become so used to the presence of heroin that it requires more and more of it in order to produce feelings associated with being high. As a person continues to increase how much heroin they are using, they may quickly find themselves dependent on it. Being dependent on heroin means that a person cannot stop using it without experiencing physical and psychological effects known as withdrawal symptoms.

What is Heroin Withdrawal?

Heroin dependence is a serious problem, as the withdrawal symptoms it produces can be so painful that it keeps people using just to avoid feeling terrible. It is also a problem because when a person does decide to stop using and they are dependent on heroin, they will undoubtedly develop withdrawal symptoms. The kinds of withdrawal symptoms they may develop vary based on a number of factors, such as:

  • How much heroin was being abused
  • How often heroin was being abused
  • If heroin was being abused alongside other narcotics 
  • If the person has a co-occurring mental health illness

The more severe heroin addictions tend to result in more intense withdrawal symptoms and vice versa. However, heroin withdrawal can be unpredictable, which is why it is important to have the appropriate resources available to get through them (such as medical and mental health professionals at a detox center). Some of the most commonly experienced withdrawal symptoms associated with ending heroin abuse include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweats
  • Chills
  • Runny nose 
  • Watery eyes
  • Shakes and tremors
  • Headaches
  • Muscle aches
  • Abdominal pain
  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia 
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

People withdrawing from heroin often describe it as feeling similar to the flu but much, much more severe. If detoxing at a professional treatment center, individuals who develop these withdrawal symptoms can have them managed, providing them with as much resiliency as possible to continue to push through the challenges withdrawal symptoms create. Thankfully, for most people, this period of withdrawal does not last very long.

How Long Does Heroin Withdrawal Last? 

Heroin withdrawal is a process that typically lasts for about one week. In some cases, though, heroin withdrawal can continue for weeks, months, and possibly even years. 

Withdrawal symptoms usually begin about 6-12 hours after the last use of heroin. It is at this time that people can start to feel a general sense of being ill. They may get nausea, develop a headache, sweat, and get anxious. Over the next handful of hours, those symptoms can start to increase in severity and intensity and more can develop. By 1-3 days after last use, a person is likely experiencing the symptoms they initially developed plus others, including vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, runny nose, and chills. After the third day, these symptoms often begin to gradually lessen and by one full week past use, all symptoms are either gone or are easily manageable. For some people however, the usual heroin withdrawal timeline does not match their experience, as some can grapple with withdrawal symptoms for much longer than one week. 

Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)

When withdrawal symptoms associated with any type of substance abuse continues even after detox has been completed, it is known as post acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS. For heroin addicts, some of the most common symptoms they continue to experience can include cravings, anxiety, and depression. Continued therapy and professional treatment can help address these stubborn symptoms, however that does not mean that they will go away fast. For some, it’s a healing process that takes time. But, through continuing to do the therapeutic work and utilizing medications if necessary, the symptoms associated with post acute withdrawal syndrome can become less and less as time passes. 

Continued Treatment for Heroin Addiction 

Being addicted to heroin is a big deal. Attempting to stop heroin use and get sober is an even bigger deal, but definitely a more positive one. If you were addicted to heroin and successfully detoxed from it, going right back to your everyday life without any professional or therapeutic support is a recipe for disaster. Once you complete detox, enrolling in a treatment program can make all the difference. Inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization programs, intensive outpatient programs, and outpatient programs are all available for you to attend based on the type of focus your substance use disorder requires. Through this continued care, you can build on the success of your detox and solidify your standing in your sobriety. 

Addiction Treatment in Orange County

Heroin addiction is extremely painful to go through, even when you can feel nothing at all. Sometimes the numbness of the disease can blind you to how serious your situation is. But, if you are addicted to heroin and want to stop using, do not hesitate to reach out and ask for the help you deserve. 

We understand the unpredictable, chaotic up-and-down of active addiction and can relate to what you are going through. The most important thing you can do for yourself at this moment is call us. We will not only help you end your active heroin addiction, but we will also help guide you along the road to recovery. 

Do not wait. Call Ari Recovery today. We can help.

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