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American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

Heroin Detox and Withdrawal

An opiate analgesic first synthesized by C.R. Alder Wright in 1874 and a derivative of the opium poppy, heroin has since been used typically to treat severe pain. It is a legally prescribed controlled drug, supplied in tablet or injectable form for indications similar to morphine, although the latter is widely preferred due to it producing fewer side effects in patients. Its misuse as a recreational drug causes severe problems due to its devastating and all-consuming effects on an addict’s life, family, finances, friends and health. For these reasons, heroin detox centers are made available to help those in need.

Common ways to consume heroin are:

  • Orally
  • Intravenously
  • By smoking heroin (effectively vaporizing it)
  • By insufflation (sniffing)
  • Via suppository (also known as “plugging”)

Did You Know?

Since 2004, 87 percent of the world’s supply of opium and its derivatives are thought to come from Afghanistan.

Dangers of Heroin

heroin-addictionUnadulterated heroin can cause long-term complications like dependence and constipation, like most other opiates. Street versions of the drug are often contaminated, and street heroin, which is by nature adulterated, has long been considered one of the most directly harmful drugs, particularly when administered intravenously. Intravenous use of heroin is a huge risk factor for a number of blood-borne diseases, many of them entirely incurable, such as HIV and hepatitis. Other risks of intravenous heroin drug use are:

  • Contracting bacterial or fungal endocarditis or venous sclerosis
  • Abscesses
  • Poisoning from contaminants used to cut or dilute heroin
  • Chronic constipation
  • Addiction
  • Developing a tolerance
  • Decreased kidney function

Heroin Dependence

A dependence on heroin means that if stopped, withdrawal symptoms will be felt intensely. To better manage these symptoms, there are many heroin withdrawal treatment facilities available for use throughout the country. Each heroin detox program has a different approach to treatment of addiction, and as such, finding one that meets a patient’s needs and expectations should be a straightforward task.

Heroin overdose is a very serious matter that needs to be treated with great caution, as it can claim an addict’s life. Overdoses are customarily treated with naloxone or naltrexone, compounds with high affinities for opiate receptors without activating them. This effectively reverses the effects and precipitates consciousness. This treatment may also stimulate withdrawal symptoms. If you know a heroin user or suspect heroin use in someone close to you, contact us now to discuss treatment options on .

Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms happen typically within six to 12 hours after the last dose was consumed, will peak within one to three days, and then gradually taper over five to seven days. There are some users who experience weeks or months of withdrawal symptoms, known as post acute withdrawal syndrome. To better manage withdrawal, it is strongly recommended to check into a heroin detox center as soon as possible. Common symptoms during withdrawal are:

  • Cravings
  • Mood changes
  • Aches and pains
  • Excessive bodily fluids
  • Diarrhea and stomach pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep problems
  • Insomnia

There are several medications used to detox from heroin. These include opioid-agonist drugs like methadone, levo-alpha-acetylmethadol (LAAM), buprenorphine and even clonidine. These block some withdrawal symptoms. There is also the option of an ultra-rapid opioid detox under anesthesia; however, this is often considered unsafe. Finally, there is a recent and experimental method using the drug lofexidine, which was first released in 1992 and is a central-agonist drug. Drugs that are classified as opioid agonists act like heroin but don’t provide the high; they are usually administered in gradually decreasing doses.

Did You Know?

Bayer first marketed heroin under this name in 1895. Diacetylmorphine is the unbranded name and was marketed as an over-the-counter drug. The name was derived from the Greek word “heros” because of its perceived heroic effects upon a user. Bayer’s advertised it as a “non-addictive morphine substitute,” although heroin would soon have one of the highest rates of dependence among its users, and it continues to claim lives to this day.

Why Withdrawal Must Be Supervised

Unsupervised withdrawal has been identified as a key reason for heroin abuse relapse, in addition to the fact that going it alone can be uncomfortable and unsafe. It is acknowledged that the safest way to detox from heroin is to enter a heroin detox center and undergo a complete treatment program. In addition, 12-step programs are very popular due to their effectiveness in the medium of addiction.

Heroin addiction can be beat with the right help. Heroin detox centers are there to help with the transition back to a healthy, stable life. Call us now on to find out more about treatment programs and centers near you.

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