What Does Heroin Withdrawal Feel Like?
The heroin detox process is far from easy and breaks people down physically and mentally. Find out what the withdrawal process from heroin feels like.
Heroin withdrawal causes a reaction unlike any other. Drug withdrawal symptoms are an inevitable part of getting clean but heroin comes with an especially difficult detox. People trying to quit using heroin relapse most often during this period of time. Detoxing from heroin and other opiates cause days of anguish that some users describe as a “living hell.”
Many people unfamiliar with drugs wonder what it’s like to withdraw from the drug. Trainspotting, a movie about heroin addiction, paints one of the most accurate portrayals of the process. Users shake and sweat their way through the detox process. It’s physically and mentally taxing, but there’s a brand new life on the other side of the detox period.
So, what does heroin withdrawal feel like? Continue reading to find out more about heroin and how hard it is to quit. If you know someone who uses heroin or other opiates, you might get a better idea of what they’re dealing with.
What Happens During Heroin Withdrawal?
The opioid crisis in America is no secret. More and more people each year find themselves addicted to some form of the opiate drug, from painkillers to heroin. The numbers of deaths due to opiate overdoses continue rising, with opioids involved in more than 47,600 deaths in 2017. This means opiates claim the lives of more than 130 people every single day.
So knowing full well what awaits them, what causes addicts to continue using drugs like heroin? When someone uses drugs for months or years at a time their body adapts to the steady flow of drugs. As their body adapts, they develop a tolerance to the substance or substances.
Tolerance means that they need more of the drugs they use to achieve the effects they want. Once they develop a tolerance, they’ll most likely experience withdrawal symptoms when they quit. In order to understand heroin withdrawal, though, it’ll help to understand more about the drug itself.
What Makes Heroin Such a Dangerous Drug?
What is the difference between heroin compared to other drugs, such as cocaine or methamphetamine? Why are opiate drugs involved in more than two-thirds of deaths due to drug overdoses? The biggest danger that comes with heroin use is the lack of clarity on what exactly it is you’re picking up from the dealer.
Heroin alone is an opioid drug that is made from morphine. The chances of finding pure heroin anymore, though, are slim. Instead, manufacturers cut all types of fillers into their supply. Users may have any number of different substances in their heroin, from starch or powdered milk to other drugs.
Synthetic fentanyl is one of the most commonly found fillers in heroin today and spiked death rates over the past few years. In 2017, fentanyl was responsible for roughly 40 percent of deaths due to a drug overdose. Many of these deaths were likely due to a batch of heroin laced with fentanyl. And there’s little way of knowing whether a batch has it or not.
Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal
With such dangerous odds attached to using heroin, why do people take the risk? Avoiding the heroin withdrawal process is likely one of the biggest reasons. It’s not an easy or comfortable process to deal with and sometimes staying high feels like it’s worth it if it means avoiding the detox period.
If you’re somewhat familiar with the drug, you might have heard the term “dopesick” at some point. This describes the feelings and symptoms that arise when someone is coming down from heroin. Dopesick is basically a slang term that describes the early phases of heroin withdrawal.
Withdrawing from heroin includes mostly physical and some psychological symptoms. Remember, the drug works by directly interacting with and binding to opioid receptors in the brain. It affects how the body processes many physical sensations, especially pain. This causes an incredibly physically taxing detox period.
Again, heroin affects the body’s ability to feel or register pain. When someone stops using heroin, everyday discomforts and minor pains are intensely magnified. Extreme muscle aches and bone pain are common because the body needs to readjust to normal pain sensations. Restlessness and difficulties sitting still are common as well.
The uncontrollable muscle twitches or spasms in a person’s legs lead to another term for heroin withdrawal: “kicking heroin.” People also experience increased levels of sweating during the detox process.
Heroin, and opiates in general cause extreme constipation. Once someone quits using, their body does all it can to rid itself of the stored up waste. This leads to diarrhea and vomiting as some of the most common effects of heroin detox.
Difficulties sleeping and insomnia are also seen during heroin detox. Since the drug keeps users in a relatively relaxed and sleepy state, they may experience abnormal alertness during withdrawals.
Heroin detox causes a few different psychological symptoms in addition to physical reactions. Removing a person’s go-to coping mechanism is overwhelming and leads to an almost constant state of anxiety. Some people also experience various levels of depression.
The intense drug cravings are the worst psychological symptom experience during detox. Once a person depends on heroin to get through the day, they know what will immediately rid them of their withdrawal symptoms. Getting through the overwhelming cravings might be the most challenging part of heroin withdrawal.
Treatment for Heroin Addiction
If you know someone struggling with heroin addiction, sending them to an addiction treatment facility may save their life. When they’re willing to get clean, a treatment facility offers them a safe and supportive place to quit using. They will find themselves surrounded by peers with the same goals they have.
Hawaii Island Recovery offers an incredible facility on the Big Island of Hawaii. We understand the importance of a well-rounded approach to treatment, including both traditional and holistic methods in our care plans. Give us a call today at 877-721-3556 to find out more about the programs available!