Heroin withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening after prolonged addiction. For this reason, the importance of medical supervision during heroin detox is not something to take lightly. Heroin addiction is one of the hardest drugs to withdraw from because of the uncomfortable symptoms that appear when the drug is withheld. Not only are the symptoms uncomfortable, but some of them can also be dangerous enough to require medication. This procedure can only be performed by medical professionals in a treatment facility that is equipped to treat heroin addicts.
Symptoms Experienced During Heroin Detox
Each person reacts to heroin withdrawal differently. However, some withdrawal symptoms are common among all recovering addicts. Some of the frequent symptoms experienced during heroin detox include:
- Emotional symptoms
- poor concentration
- social isolation
- Physical symptoms:
- breathing problems
- racing heartbeat
- nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- muscle cramping
Some of the withdrawal symptoms become dangerous when the person has been abusing the drug for a long time, or when other drugs or alcohol are used in combination with heroin. Also, some addicts have co-occurring physical health problems that can be exacerbated by the withdrawal process. Dangerous withdrawal symptoms can include hallucinations, DTs, heart attack, seizures, stroke, or death.
Stages of Heroin Withdrawal
As with most addictive drugs, heroin withdrawal progresses through two distinct stages. The first stage is known as acute withdrawal. In this stage, the person experiences the physical discomfort of withdrawal. As mentioned before, this physical discomfort can be controlled or minimized by medical professionals.
The second stage of withdrawal is known as Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS). This stage of withdrawal presents the emotional or psychological aspects of withdrawing from heroin. Because the drug affected how the brain functions, the brain is now trying to return to its normal state. Unfortunately, this process can take up to two years to finalize.
What to Expect in Medical Detox
During medical detox, the patient is under close observation 24/7 by skilled addiction specialists and medical personnel. Their goal is to ensure the utmost in safety and comfort for the individual during this difficult phase of treatment. In some cases, medication can be administered to help minimize the discomfort. In severe cases, medication is used to prevent serious complications or death.
One of the beneficial aspects of medical detox is the controlled environment. In this setting, the recovering addict is removed from the temptations they face every day. Consequently, they avoid relapse and can move forward from detox to rehab. While in rehab, they will gain the skills and confidence needed to resist temptation and reclaim their place in society.
It is important to remember that medical detox is only the first step in addiction recovery. It addresses only the physical aspect of addiction. Rehab is necessary for addressing the emotional and spiritual aspects of healing. Detox followed by rehab is the best option for successful recovery from heroin addiction. During rehab, the person learns how to cope with everyday problems while their brain is still in the process of getting back to normal.
Other Services a Recovering Addict Can Utilize
Another practical option for recovering addicts is an aftercare program. Aftercare programs assist recovering addicts with finding employment, obtaining transportation, locating halfway houses or assisted living facilities, and can help arrange daycare and many other services an addict may need.
If you would like more information about medical detox or about other services for recovering addicts, please call our toll-free number now.