Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

In 2022 one million people in the U.S. reported using heroin,1 a highly addictive illegal opioid. When someone is addicted to an opioid like heroin or struggling with opioid use disorder (OUD) they are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to cut back their use or stop using altogether.

This page will explain what heroin withdrawal is, go over the withdrawal timelines, and how to get help for yourself or a loved one living with heroin addiction.

Heroin Withdrawal

Dependence is a physiological adaptation of the body to a substance, wherein the body becomes to so used to the drug being present in the system that when someone cuts back their use or suddenly stops using, withdrawal symptoms emerge. In other words, a person feels like they need a substance, in this case heroin, to feel and function normally. With significant levels of physiological dependence, a person may continue to compulsively use drugs or drink to avoid unwanted withdrawal symptoms.

For individuals who have become physiologically dependent on heroin or struggle with a substance use disorder, when use is abruptly slowed or stopped, withdrawal symptoms can emerge.2,3  The severity of withdrawal symptoms is variable, depending on how much heroin was used and how long someone has used the drug.2,3 Symptoms of withdrawal include:2

  • Depressed mood.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Muscle and body aches.
  • Runny nose.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Excessive yawning.
  • Fever.
  • Insomnia.

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

The heroin withdrawal timeline is variable and is dependent on certain factors such as physical and mental health complications, amount of heroin used and frequency of use, and if there were any other substances used.3,4

In general, the heroin withdrawal timeline is:2

  • Onset of symptoms within 6-12 hours after the last dose of heroin.
  • Acute withdrawal symptoms peak within 1-3 days.
  • Symptoms begin to ease within 5-7 days.

While the withdrawal timeline varies from person to person, some individuals (though not all) may experience protracted withdrawal. Protracted withdrawal is marked by the presence of symptoms beyond the generally accepted timeline.5 Individuals may experience anxiety, depression, and cravings for heroin for weeks or months following the more acute period of withdrawal.2 However, protracted withdrawal symptoms can be effectively managed and do subside over time.5

Heroin Detox

Withdrawal from heroin is very rarely fatal, but the effects can be intense and very uncomfortable which may cause someone to return to use in order to avoid these uncomfortable symptoms.3,4 However, medical detox can help people in withdrawal be as safe and comfortable as possible as their bodies adapt to the absence of heroin, easing the entry into treatment.3

A team of addiction specialists, including doctors and nurses, provide continuous care during detox. They may administer medications to manage symptoms and manage cravings and offer mental health support to help navigate emotional challenges that may arise.3

Heroin Addiction Treatment in Mississippi

Living with untreated heroin addiction can take a heavy toll on your quality of life. If you or someone you care about is struggling with heroin addiction, there is help. At our inpatient rehab in Etta, MS we use evidence-based addiction-focused healthcare to help people get on the road to recovery and living a life they deserve.

Contact our compassionate and knowledgeable admissions navigators at day or night to learn more about treatment options for addiction. They can also answer your questions about what to expect in rehab, how to cover the cost for rehab, using your insurance coverage for addiction treatment, and help you start the admissions process.

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