What is Heroin?
Heroin is a highly addictive drug that is derived from the pain medication morphine. It is a depressant that has a slowing effect on the central nervous system. Pure heroin is a fine white powder, but as it is mixed with other drugs it may be darker. This form is referred to as black tar and it has a tar-like consistency. This drug can either be snorted, smoked or injected. Heroin use affects individuals of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. There are no specific groups of individuals who choose to use the drug heroin.
One of the reasons why heroin is so addictive is because users get an extreme rush or euphoric feeling. The user’s mouth will become dry and their arms and legs will feel heavy. Heroin diminishes mental capacity and dulls emotions. These effects last about three to four hours after using.
Many people can become addicted to prescription painkillers. Often, such medications are prescribed for legitimate reasons but because they are highly addictive, the user develops a physical dependence on them. As these medications become more difficult to obtain, many are turning to the easier to get and less expensive drug known as heroin.
About Heroin Detox
Many people develop a physical dependence on heroin because they must take more and more of the drug to get the same euphoric feelings. When a person stops using heroin, they will begin the heroin detox process. If they do this on their own, they will experience withdrawal symptoms, and although they are not usually life-threatening, they are unpleasant. The first signs of withdrawal will appear between six and 12 hours after the last use. Because withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to deal with, most users seek medical intervention. There are a few options for opiate detox.
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The Heroin Detox Process
If a person is a heavy user of heroin or has been using for a long time, inpatient detox is often recommended. This means that the person will stay in a hospital or treatment facility under medical supervision so that heroin detox symptoms can be monitored. Medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine, can be administered to ease the symptoms of heroin detoxification.
For those who can manage withdrawal symptoms more comfortably in their own home, outpatient detox provides much of the same benefits as inpatient detox. Medications are given to lessen withdrawal symptoms. Individuals who are in outpatient detox must have frequent clinical check-ins so that medical professionals can monitor progress.
To get a person through the withdrawal process quicker to get into the treatment maintenance phase, a rapid detox is often used. Medications that are opioid antagonists are used because they block the pleasurable effects of heroin.
Medications For Heroin Addiction Detox
Some of the most common medications used in drug detox include:
Methadone – This drug is used during the heroin detox process to relieve withdrawal symptoms. It can also be used as a long-term maintenance medicine for opioid dependence. the dose may be slowly decreased over time, but some people continue to take methadone for years.
Buprenorphine – This drug treats symptoms of withdrawal and it can also shorten the opiate detox process. It can be used for long-term maintenance or combined with other drugs to prevent misuse and dependence.
Clonidine – Often heroin detox is accompanied by anxiety, sweating, muscle aches and agitation. This drug works to reduce such symptoms. It does not reduce cravings.
Naltrexone – This drug helps to prevent relapse. It can be taken in pill form or injected.
There are also drugs to treat nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea which can accompany a person who’s experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
Heroin Detox Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of heroin detox usually are never life-threatening. However, they are very uncomfortable. Heroin withdrawal will be different for everyone. Some will have little trouble with the drug detox process, while others will need careful medical supervision to get through the process. Much of this depends on the level of addiction and length of use. There are three levels of heroin withdrawal symptoms. These are mild, moderate and severe.
Mild symptoms of heroin detox may include nausea, sweats, tearing, abdominal pain, chills, muscle aches and runny nose.
Moderate symptoms of heroin detox often include diarrhea, vomiting, restlessness, agitation, tremors, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
Severe symptoms of heroin detox might include depression, anxiety, labored breathing, insomnia, hypertension, rapid heartbeat, muscle spasms, inability to feel pleasure and cravings for the drug.
As previously mentioned, a heroin user will begin to feel the effects of withdrawal between six and 12 hours after the last use. These symptoms will peak in about two or three days and will cease within five to 10 days. Because heroin is a short-acting opioid, its effects are felt rapidly. It also leaves the bloodstream quickly. Heroin detox is different for every individual who experiences it. The length of time it takes for someone to experience relief from the withdrawal symptoms will depend on the level of addiction and how long a person has been using heroin.
The drug detox process can be tailored to your addiction and if at all possible will allow you to stay in your own home close to those who are supporting you through the heroin detox process. Seeking treatment will not only help you get through the withdrawal symptoms but will also increase your chances of achieving a successful outcome where you will have control over your life.