Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Detox and Withdrawal


Heroin, an opioid drug is destroying lives and communities across the country. It is indiscriminate of gender, religious or ethnic background or socio-economic upbringing. The drug is synthesized from morphine. Morphine is a natural substance, which can be extracted from the seeds of the poppy flower. Once synthesized, it tends to be a white or brown powder, although it can also be made in a sticky, black substance. This is known as “black tar”. Other names used to describe heroin include H, smack, junk and skag. Scientifically, it is known as diacetylmorphine.

A History of Heroin

Heroin was first synthesized by the German Bayer company in 1898. The created it because they required a medicine that was able to kill pain in the same way as morphine, but that was able to suppress coughs and colds as well. This was needed for the German army soldiers. Indeed, the name “heroin” comes from this, as it stems from “heroisch”, which is German for heroic.

Signs and Symptoms of Heroin Detox

Someone who is addicted to heroin will have compulsions to continue to use the drug. This is because it relieves pain and users fear how they will feel if they were to stop taking the drug. Although the initial decision to take heroin is a personal decision and mistake, once someone is addicted, they are no longer in control of their actions. One particularly worrying fact is that more and more people become addicted to heroin because they are addicted to prescription painkillers and heroin is easier to get. As such, even the decision to use it for the first time is perhaps not an entirely personal mistake.

Heroin detox can start as soon as a few hours after the last hit and they can last for around a week. However, this only addresses the body’s immediate dependence on heroin and not the psychological dependency. Furthermore, the severity of the heroin withdrawal signs and symptoms of detox depend on the individual as well. The length of time they took the drug and the dosage they took, as well as their overall physiology all play a part. Some of the symptoms that can be expected, however, include:

  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Profuse sweating, even if the room is cool
  • Severe pain in muscles and bones
  • Vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal cramps
  • Feeling very heavy
  • Cramping in legs, which results to kicking
  • Insomnia
  • Crying
  • Chills
  • Cold or flu like symptoms, including cold sweats and fever

Finally, many heroin users also have a range of other infectuous diseases. This is due to poor personal care including things such as swapping dirty needles. The symptoms of any illness you may have will also become more apparent during detox.

Mental Signs and Symptoms

A far more significant problem with heroin detox is the psychological issues that are involved with it. Unfortunately, these are often overlooked by people who provide help for those who are trying to detox. At Creative Care, we focus strongly on dual diagnosis, which means we understand that people have significant mental health issues as well. Sometimes, these mental health issues caused the drug addiction, whereas other times, the abuse led to the mental health issue. Regardless of which, however, a heroin addiction is as much a psychological addiction as what it is a physical addiction and you can only conquer this with the right type of support from the right kind of people.

Some of the psychological symptoms you can expect include extreme anxiety, panic attacks and depression. However, if you are also dealing with a mental health condition, these symptoms could be magnified. Unfortunately, it is due to lack of support during the rehabilitation period that so many people end up relapsing. It is at relapse that the biggest chance of overdosing also occurs. This is because your body will have lost some of its tolerance to the drug, which means you may use more than you are able to cope with.

If you are struggling with a heroin addiction, the thought of the detox process may be very frightening to you. Please contact our team of specialists at Creative Care to discuss your options with you. We have tailored packages of care that are designed to support you in the way that is most suitable to your needs. Our goal is to give you all the tools you need to return to society as a full member of society, helping you to reclaim control over your own life.

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