Heroin is one of the most dangerous and addictive drugs in the world. It’s regularly responsible for numerous overdose deaths per year and is notoriously hard to stop using once addicted. For most people, the best way to recover from addiction is first and foremost with heroin detox.
Heroin detox is a specific type of treatment that’s usually used before undergoing other types of treatment – like counseling, therapy, and so on. Understandably, one of the top concerns with this treatment is how long it takes. But, to understand how long it will take to detox from heroin, we have to explore what goes on during the process, and so on.
Bearing that in mind, we’ve created this blog post to explain heroin detox and give you a good idea of how long it’ll take.
What is Heroin Detox?
Detox is short for detoxification, and it basically refers to the process of getting rid of toxins from your body. In the case of heroin detox, you aim to flush heroin out of your system. It’s relatively easy to understand: you stop taking heroin, and it no longer enters your body or causes damage. Typically, this comes as the first step in the heroin addiction recovery process. Without a detox, it’s almost impossible to kick this drug addiction.
What happens during heroin detox?
Heroin detox beings once the user stops taking heroin completely. It might seem simple, but there are a few things to expect when you simply “stop taking” heroin. Abstaining from heroin or any hard substances after prolonged use will have significant consequences on your body. The main issue with this drug is that it is overly addictive. As a result, your body builds up a dependency very quickly. After just a few uses, there’s already a chemical addiction in your system that makes your body feel like it desperately needs heroin.
So, what do you think will happen when you suddenly have no heroin in your system?
Well, things don’t go too well. Your body negatively reacts to initial detox, which results in various withdrawal symptoms. Heroin withdrawal symptoms are reasonably specific and very easy to spot. Most people that experience them will say it’s like going through a very severe bout of flu. Typically, these symptoms start to develop within a few hours of your last heroin dose. They gradually get worse over the course of a few days, then start to get better as you progress through the detox.
Some of the main symptoms through withdrawal are:
- Severe body aches
- Cold shivers
- Sweating profusely
- Stomach cramps
- Extreme agitation
- Dilated pupils
- Runny nose
- Muscle pain/spasms
While these symptoms can be very unpleasant, the good news is that they’re rarely life-threatening. There are different things you can do to cope with them and get through your heroin detox, but we’ll touch upon them later.
How Long Does It Take to Detox from Heroin?
So, this is the big question, and we’ve already touched upon it when talking about the detoxification process. As soon as you stop taking heroin and start your detox, you will likely see withdrawal symptoms within eight hours or so. They can come about quicker if you have a very high dependence on heroin and you take it regularly every single day.
From here, it usually takes between one and three days for your symptoms to hit their peak. This is where you really start to struggle and feel like you’ve got the worst flu the world has ever seen. Most people cave heroin the most during this time as the withdrawal symptoms are just too much to handle.
The good news is that after this intense period, the symptoms start to relax just a little bit. Within the next few days, they can be gone completely. So, for some people, heroin detox only lasts for about a week.
However, this is a generalization that looks at pretty much the ideal scenario.
There are a few other factors that can influence your detox duration:
- How long have you been on heroin?
- How often do you take it?
- Do you have any underlying mental health issues?
- How old are you?
- What physical shape are you in?
All of these things can have an impact on how long it takes to detox from heroin for one reason or another. The first two are the main ones; the more addicted you are, the longer it takes to detox from this substance. Instead of a week, it could take closer to a month – possibly even more in extreme scenarios.
Consequently, the answer to the question is that it can take anywhere from a week to a few weeks to get through heroin detox. It really does depend on the individual, but this should give you a general overview of what to expect.
How Do You Detox from Heroin?
Now, when it comes to heroin detox, you have two main options:
- Go at it alone, but risk the dangers
- Get medically managed treatment, and have a higher success rate at sobriety
Going at it alone can work if you have a mild heroin addiction. If your withdrawal symptoms aren’t that bad, then they can be combated using similar techniques to when you’re ill. You drink lots of water to replace lost fluids from sweating, vomiting, and diarrhea, and you can take vitamin supplements as well.
However, in a lot of cases, heroin withdrawal symptoms are simply too much to handle on your own. Many people who attempt heroin detox will give into the symptoms within a few days, putting them right back where they started. This is where medication-assisted treatment really helps you out. You’re not alone, and you go to a specialist rehab facility that prevents you from accessing any heroin. But the main benefit is that you get assistance from medical professionals to cope with the withdrawal symptoms. They prescribe medication that counters some of the worst symptoms, making the detox process much easier for you to handle.
As a result, you could argue that medically managed treatment can help you detox from heroin quicker than if you did it alone. With the correct treatment backing you up, there is less chance of relapsing. The symptoms can also be contained and prevented from getting really bad for an extended period. Instead of taking multiple weeks to get through it on your own, it could take just a week or two in a treatment center.
If you’re serious about kicking your addiction, then it is well worth considering medication-assisted treatment. This is pure because you’re not the only one responsible for the heroin detox. If you try doing it at home, by yourself, then all the responsibility falls on you and your willpower. You can quickly get your hands on heroin, you can easily cave in, it’s just a case of how well you can resist. In a rehab facility with medical treatment, you’re put in the perfect scenario to recover and get over your heroin problem.
Heroin Detox Can Vary in Length
To summarize: heroin detox is the first step in recovering from this addiction. It clears your body of this harmful toxin, removing the need you have for it. When it comes to how long it takes to detox from heroin, then it depends. It can be a few days, it can be a few weeks – it varies based on how much heroin you take, how long you’ve been taking it, and how much your body depends on it.
If you want to ensure that you don’t suffer regular relapses and can get through the worst withdrawal symptoms, then medically managed detox treatment is the best course of action. Let us know if you need help with a heroin detox as we are passionate about helping people get successfully sober long-term.
If you or a loved one needs help, call us at 949-625-4019.