Today, drug addiction is common. Due to the ongoing opioid epidemic, heroin addiction is especially common. The dangers of withdrawing from heroin can be extremely dangerous and life-threatening. According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), over 20 million people have struggled with substance abuse at some point in their lives. Over 800,000 Americans have died from a drug overdose since the beginning of 1999 and the number is rising at a record pace.

Chances are high that you, a loved one, or someone you’ve met is struggling with an addiction problem. The most addictive drugs on the market these days contain opiates, heroin being the most popular among addicts. We will break down why this drug is so addictive and why it is important to be informed on the dangers of withdrawing from heroin. For many, drug addiction will lead to a life full of crime, sickness, or death.

Heroin is defined as a highly addictive analgesic drug derived from morphine and is used illicitly as a euphoria-producing narcotic. It is an opiate, which means relating to, resembling, or containing opium. Over 800,000 Americans have died from a drug overdose since the beginning of 1999 and the number is steadily increasing. In 2019 over 70% of overdoses involved an opiate. Overdose deaths involving prescription opiates, heroin, and synthetic opiates such as fentanyl have increased over six times since 1999. These shocking statistics give you an idea of how real this epidemic is and what our nation is currently going through.

What does Heroin feel like?

Heroin is the fastest-acting opioid and the most widely abused. Opioids are drugs that relieve pain and produce a euphoric high. People can become addicted to heroin after only the first few uses. The drug works by activating receptors in the brain called mu-opioid receptors(MORs). This reaction impacts the reward system of the brain, triggering dopamine to be released.

Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter which sends messages between nerve cells and plays a role in how we humans feel pleasure. The high and rush of the drug are so intense, users will crave the feeling over and over again.  These cravings play a huge part in why people withdrawing from the drug often experience relapse and often find it hard to stay clean. 

Dangers of Withdrawing from Heroin

Heroin withdrawal will be different for each individual depending on a few factors. The length and severity of withdrawal depend on how much of the substance was taken on a daily basis and how regularly it was used. The duration of withdrawal will also change.

The two most common dangers of withdrawing from heroin are relapse and accidental overdose. Accidental overdoses frequently happen when a person gets clean and then “goes back out”. This means that the individual practices temporary sobriety then decides that they want to use it again, thinking their tolerance is the same as before. Because their tolerance to heroin has diminished, accidentally overdosing is highly likely.

When drug addicts are in stages of heroin withdrawal, the potential for relapse is high. Dangers of heroin withdrawal include vomiting, a very common symptom to be aware of. When vomiting, one may accidentally inhale or aspirate, leading to asphyxiation and death. This could also potentially lead to aspiration pneumonia, which may result in shock, abscesses, respiratory failure, and death.

Heroin withdrawal

Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal

The dangers of withdrawing from heroin have a lot to do with withdrawal symptoms. During withdrawal, the potent effects of heroin that many come to love are in fact opposite in effect. Instead of experiencing euphoria, reduced heart rate, or having little anxiety they might feel agitated, stressed out, and nauseous. Symptoms of heroin withdrawal can be categorized as mild, moderate, or severe. Here is a list of the most common withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin withdrawal:

Mild withdrawal symptoms: 

  • Nausea
  • Runny Nose
  • Sweats
  • Chills
  • Yawning
  • Muscle and Bone aches
  • Tearing

Moderate withdrawal symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Goosebumps
  • Poor Concentration
  • Restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Agitation

Severe withdrawal symptoms:

  • Drug Cravings
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Hypertension
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of pleasure
  • Respiration Issues

Treatment Options for Heroin Withdrawal

The dangers of withdrawing from heroin are real. When deciding what action needs to be taken in order to help someone with heroin withdrawal or addiction, your first step should always be contacting a medical professional. 

Some people may think that they can just quit cold turkey and detox themselves at home but this is risky. Although some have quit this drug from pure willpower, the safest option is to contact professionals and get the ball rolling. Without the right support, a person may not know how to deal with the side effects of quitting this drug.

The first step is usually being admitted into a detox facility. On average, a person being admitted into detox will stay 1-2 weeks. Here they can rid their bodies of the toxins and generally get the “worst part” over with. These first two weeks are always the hardest being that this is when the majority of withdrawal symptoms take place. However, trained medical staff will be by their side 24-7 and will help stabilize the individual and cope with withdrawal. The correct medicine needed to help each individual will be provided as well as nutritional and hydration support.

The next step of the process is finding the most suitable treatment program. This may be inpatient or outpatient, depending on how much of and how long the drug was abused. Choosing the correct treatment program could be the deciding factor in whether an individual chooses to live a life of sobriety or continues along the path of drug addiction.

Inpatient treatment programs are highly recommended and full of great tools required to reach and sustain sobriety. Residential treatment is an inpatient program providing therapy for substance disorders, mental illnesses, or other behavioral problems. The length of time one might spend at an inpatient treatment center can vary from 30 days to upwards of one year. Here clients will receive around-the-clock medical and emotional support. Treatment centers such as Oasis Recovery and Knoxville Recovery have a great team of clinicians who will help each individual based on their unique needs. 

Outpatient treatment is usually available at most treatment centers that offer inpatient treatment programs. An outpatient rehab is a great option for people who are motivated to stop using their substance of choice and want to get sober but require the flexibility of a program that will work around their schedules. This option usually lasts anywhere from 1-6 months depending on the client’s circumstances. Outpatient treatment includes the services offered during inpatient treatment, but living at the facility is not required. Some form of Intensive Outpatient Therapy (IOP) is usually suggested after successful completion of residential treatment occurs.

Treatment centers such as Oasis and Knoxville Recovery Center offer affordable, comprehensive treatment plans and a quality team of clinicians who will help each individual based on their unique needs. Choosing a treatment center that offers both inpatient and outpatient programs can increase a person’s chances for a life of sobriety. 

If you or someone you know needs help with drug addiction and wants to get sober, please reach out to Oasis Recovery. One phone call can make the difference between a life of happiness or continue on the road of addiction.

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