Heroin causes a physical dependence because of the way it interacts with the brain’s pleasure centers. Withdrawal from this opioid drug is difficult to manage on your own and detoxification can be dangerous if not well-monitored. It is imperative to have the right care and support when facing heroin withdrawal. An inpatient program that has a doctor supervising it may be necessary for some people.
Heroin Plays Tricks on the Brain, and This Makes It Difficult to Stop
Heroin and other opioids affect the brain’s “reward centers,” the parts of the brain that help you feel pleasure. This is because the drug can emulate the chemicals the body produces to make you feel good. Over time, your body will not produce the natural chemicals anymore and instead depends on the heroin to feel “normal.” Known as dependence, this is one thing that makes it so difficult to manage heroin withdrawal.
As the body gets used to having heroin in its system, it takes more and more to reach that same “normal” where the reward centers are active. This builds resistance and is another reason why it is so hard to stop long-term heroin use.
Initial Physical Symptoms of Heroin Detoxification and Withdrawal
Most narcotics and many other drugs can cause serious symptoms when you stop using them. Heroin is no different. If someone stops using heroin cold turkey and does not take any medication to help manage their withdrawal symptoms, they may experience:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Hot and cold flashes
- Muscle cramping
- Watering eyes and runny nose
- Insomnia and sleep disturbances
In general, most people begin to experience symptoms within 12 hours of last use. In some cases, this may be only a few hours. The physical symptoms are usually the worst in the first few days and begin to get better after three to five days.
Many People Continue to Experience Symptoms Because of the Drug’s Effect on the Brain
While physical symptoms of heroin detoxification begin to fade within a few days, the effect on the brain lasts much longer. Long-term users can experience psychological symptoms of heroin withdrawal for up to six months. This is related to the lack of natural chemicals in the brain to regulate the reward centers. Symptoms of this type of psychological withdrawal include:
- Gloomy disposition
- Feelings of “reduced well-being”
- Intense cravings for more heroin or other opioids
It is important that someone trying to break their addiction to heroin has the right support and monitoring during this time. Fighting the cravings and staying away from opioids can be difficult to manage on your own when your brain physically needs the chemical to function properly. Many people rely on support groups, treatment, or counseling to manage this. This may include:
- Inpatient rehabilitation
- Sober house or halfway house living
- Individual counseling
- Support groups
- 12-step groups
- Other types of therapy that incorporate psychosocial support
Avoiding use during this time is not only important to break the addiction, but vital because it is incredibly dangerous to use opioids following detox. Being clean for several weeks greatly reduces tolerance to heroin, so there is an increased risk of overdose death following drug addiction treatment.
Getting the Right Support and Monitoring Can Help Overcome Heroin Addiction
Because of the nature and severity of withdrawal from heroin, many people choose to check into a drug treatment facility for detoxification and treatment. If you or your loved one chooses this option, it is imperative that you choose the best facility.
Before check-in, meet with the doctor overseeing treatment and learn more about their emergency care plan, how they monitor patients, and how involved the doctor is with care. Regular vital signs checks and working closely with a doctor is important to ensure patients get medical care for serious complications when necessary.medical care for serious complications when necessary.
You may also want to discuss possibilities for using other medications to help with opioid withdrawal. A doctor may recommend this in some cases.
Pintas & Mullins Can Take Legal Action After Drug Treatment Malpractice
If you or your loved one suffered injuries or passed away during drug treatment, medical malpractice may be to blame. Treatment facilities have a responsibility to meet certain standards when monitoring and treating patients. The legal team from Pintas & Mullins will review your case for free and can take legal action on your behalf.
We can handle even the most complex case, fighting for the payout you deserve. Call 888-808-5977 for your no-cost consultation with a member of our team.