Group of people talking about heroin withdrawal

What Does Heroin Withdrawal Feel Like?

This entry was posted on .

As a very widely abused drug, heroin often causes dependency for the user. This dependency leads to the probability of heroin withdrawal symptoms. What heroin withdrawal feels like can be dependent on different factors. Health, length of use, usage amounts, and even method of use can all affect heroin withdrawal symptoms. The only constant is that it is not a pleasant experience to go through.

What Is Heroin?

As a Schedule I controlled substance, heroin has no medical use and a high probability of abuse. It is an opiate drug that is derived from morphine, which is made from components from the opium poppy plants found in parts of South America and Asia. 

The drug comes in different forms, and has different methods of use. Heroin can be used by smoking it, inhaling it nasally, and is commonly diluted with water and injected into the bloodstream. Oftentimes, heroin can be mixed with other drugs and can produce different effects.

Highly addictive, heroin is a very dangerous drug. It can lead to long lasting effects on health, and even death. This is why seeking help for heroin addiction can be vital to the survival rate from addiction.

What are the Effects of Heroin Use?

Heroin abuse can lead to addiction, and other long term effects. Because it is so heavily abused, heroin can cause withdrawal symptoms that vary in severity. Sometimes, heroin withdrawal feels endless and hopeless, leading the person experiencing it to use again to alleviate the symptoms. Long and short term effects of heroin can be harmful and even fatal.

Heroin reaches the brain rather quickly and causes a “rush” in the user. This only lasts for a short period of time, a few minutes at most. However, there are some longer term effects produced by heroin. Often, users can be seen “nodding” in and out of consciousness. There is also the possibility of loss of balance, and an extremely elevated mood. Users also report feelings of heavy limbs, and a clouded mental state. When users try to stop using heroin, it generally leads to withdrawal symptoms, and heroin withdrawal feels uncomfortable for anyone experiencing it.

Dangers of Heroin Use

All drugs come with their own dangers, and heroin is no different. There are risks associated with heroin use that can have profound effects on the user. Changes in the brain chemistry that occur during long term use can be hard to reverse. Oftentimes, users who inject heroin can cause their veins to collapse. This makes it hard for medical professionals in the future to be able to perform life saving procedures. There is also the risk of infectious diseases such as Hepatitis. This can lead to liver issues.

Heroin use can also cause slowed respiratory function and heart rate that can lead to overdose or coma. Lacking oxygen in the brain can cause long term damage in the brain. Reversing this can prove to be very difficult. Abruptly ending heroin use can also be a dangerous task. Especially without medical supervision. Heroin withdrawal can cause stress on the body that can be harmful, and possibly lead to hospitalization.

Effects of Heroin Withdrawal

Heroin withdrawal feels uncomfortable and unpleasant because it causes a wide range of symptoms that are hard to manage alone. These symptoms can range in severity depending on the person using, how much was being used, any other drugs used, and method of use. 

Mild withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Chills
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Extreme tiredness

Moderate withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Shakes or tremors
  • Agitation
  • Problems concentrating

Severe withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle spasms
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Trouble breathing
  • Intense cravings

Heroin withdrawal isn’t considered to be life threatening, on its own. However, the combinations of these symptoms, both medically and psychologically, can potentially lead to life threatening consequences. 

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

Eight through 24 hours: symptoms can begin to be felt within hours of the last use. This can begin with sweats and body aches

24 through 36 hours: symptoms intensify, and risk of psychological and physical complications can be heightened. 

Day 4 through 6: the drug can be out of the system, but the effects of withdrawal can still be present. Heroin withdrawal feels better at this point, but some long term users, or those with other health complications can still feel some effects.

Day 7 and beyond: most of the severe effects should have subsided and addressing the behavioral and mental health can begin.

Treatment For Heroin Withdrawal

Appropriate medications can help achieve an effective, successful heroin detox. These medications alleviate these symptoms and help users comfortably, safely stop using the drug. Often, it is recommended to use the medication in combination with behavioral therapies to help the individual learn new coping skills.

Detox From Heroin in Southern California

There is help, and hope. Here at Ocean Hills, we strive to provide a safe and comfortable environment for those looking to detox from heroin. We provide medical supervision, and therapeutic care to those who come into our care. If you or a loved one need help stopping heroin use, contact us today.

About the author: