Heroin Detox

Heroin detox becomes necessary when the body adapts to the presence of the drug and more and more is needed to reduce cravings. Heroin rehab centers provide help for those who are unable to stop using heroin despite an understanding of the harm it is causing them and their family. Too many people have felt the pain and destruction of heroin addiction. The abuse of this drug leaves its victims with no other goal than to use more heroin.

This fixation on getting more of the drug results in the addict stealing from friends and family members, neglecting their job or family, or even wandering off for days or weeks at a time on a 'binge'. The result of this unexplainable behavior is the loss of friends and family which leads to upset and anger for all involved. Heroin detox and rehab centers treat individuals of all ages and socio-economic groups.

Detox, short for detoxification, is the first step of the drug treatment process. Withdrawal is the term used to describe the body's reaction to the removal of any substance it has become dependent on. Detox is the first step because until there is no heroin in a person's body, withdrawal can cause severe craving for more.

Additionally, while in a drug induced state, a person is not fully prepared to participate in the educational and therapeutic process of rehab and treatment. Until the heroin detox process is complete, someone is simply not ready for rehab, treatment and recovery. Withdrawal is caused by stopping or dramatically reducing drug use after heavy and prolonged use. The user's physical reaction frequently includes sweating, shaking, headache, drug craving, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, inability to sleep, confusion, agitation, depression, anxiety, and other behavioral changes.

Certain types of drugs require a period of medical detox; others do not. Opiates, such as heroin and methadone do require medical detox. Prescription medications, of all classifications, require medically supervised detox. Other illegal drugs, such as marijuana, crystal meth and cocaine (crack) do not require medical detox.

Every day that an addict delays entering heroin detox, they are risking a fatal heroin overdose. Other serious health consequences of untreated heroin use include:

  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Pulmonary complications
  • Diseases spread through shared needles, such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C. Approximately 70-80 percent of new Hepatitis C infections in the U.S. each year are the result of injection drug use.

Generally speaking, withdrawal from heroin and other opiates may occur as early as a few hours after the last use. The major withdrawal symptoms of heroin addiction include drug craving, restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting, sweats and cold flashes. These major withdrawal symptoms of heroin addiction and other opiate addictions peak between 48 and 72 hours after the last dose. Without proper medical care seizures or convulsions can occur. The good news is that an addict can usually complete heroin detox or opiate detox within five to seven days.

Even though there have been improvements in medically supervised heroin detoxification, patient discomfort and high dropout rates exist today. This has led to the growth of ultra-rapid, anesthesia-assisted opioid withdrawal procedures, which have been publicized as a fast, painless way to withdraw. Studies have also shown however, that the procedure can lead to risk of death, psychosis, increased stress, delirium, attempted suicide, abnormal heart rhythm and acute renal failure. The anesthesia method comes at a high price between $5,000 and $15,000.

For many, withdrawal symptoms continue to be the greatest obstacle in heroin detox treatment. Studies concur that there is no proof that one heroin detox treatment is better than another. However, many recovered heroin addicts feel that choosing to detox off heroin without the use of additional drugs makes for an easier recovery in the long run. This is because the recovering addict is not switching their addiction from heroin to methadone, LAAM, etc. They are able to complete the detox process and move on with their recovery process.

Heroin detox can be a very challenging process both physically and emotionally. It is our opinion that anyone undergoing heroin detox, should do so in drug rehab programs or addiction treatment programs that specialize in medical detox programs. All heroin detox programs should be medically monitored, complete with 24 hour nursing, able to dispense medications as needed and directed by a physician trained in addiction medicine.

While in the grips of heroin addiction, addicts are often involved in high risk activities. By undergoing heroin detox in drug rehab centers, addicts receive a comprehensive physical examination. This will help identify any medical problems that are present and need to be addressed. This examination process is begun in detox and ongoing support is available if a person transitions into drug rehab.

Another reason we feel that heroin detox should be provided within the confines of drug rehab programs or addiction treatment programs is due to the structure they provide. Many people attempt heroin detox on an outpatient basis. While outpatient heroin detox can work for some, most addicts require the structure of inpatient detox programs to deal with the cravings and keep them away from their environment, old friends and access to opiates.

Heroin detox involves admitting there is a problem, seeking medical help, staying focused on the goal and rehabilitation and treatment through a continuing program. Many times, although not physically dependent on heroin, psychological cravings will overcome the former user throwing him or her into relapse. All facts conclude that there is no easy cure nor guarantee that relapse will not occur. The determination of the recovering person and support through family, friends, physicians or other sources must accompany the heroin detox process.



  • 80% of individuals found having a heroin overdose are found alone, meaning other individuals are too .high. and panic and leave.

  • Heroin is highly dangerous.

  • Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is derived from morphine.

  • Men are more likely to develop a heroin addiction than women.

  • 51% of drug overdose deaths occur from heroin.

  • A heroin users can become extremely depressed due to the fact that their body has become dependent on the pleasurable feeling from heroin.

  • Nausea and vomiting are a few symptoms of heroin withdrawal.

  • A few individuals have died of a heroin overdose when they mistakenly snort heroin, thinking it is cocaine.

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