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Life-threatening Dangers: The Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal


You’ve probably seen a depiction of heroin withdrawal in television, film or in other media. It’s dramatic, eye-catching and fraught with life-threatening danger. It’s perfect for the screen, both big and small. But not nearly as many people understand what heroin withdrawal is. And what the symptoms of heroin withdrawal are. All they know is that it’s dangerous. And this is true. But understanding the symptoms of heroin withdrawal is the best way to recognize when someone else needs to get professional help. Or when you need to get help for yourself.

What is Heroin

Heroin is a powerful and illegal opioid drug derived from morphine, which is a natural substance extracted from the seeds of the opium poppy plant (Papaver Somniferum). It is known for its strong pain-relieving and euphoric effects, by hijacking the dopamine and endorphin release systems. Its power to stimulate intense feelings of pleasure makes it powerful, dangerous and, especially, a highly addictive substance.

What is Heroin Withdrawal

After repeated use of heroin, the body grows used to regular intake of pleasure chemicals. This forms a new baseline of dependency that the body falls beneath after about 24-48 hours from the last dose. Heroin withdrawal refers to the set of physical and psychological symptoms that occur when a person who is physically dependent on heroin, an opioid drug, reduces or discontinues their use of the drug. Heroin is highly addictive, and over time, the body becomes accustomed to its presence, leading to physical dependence. When the drug is no longer present in the body, withdrawal symptoms can emerge, and these symptoms can be quite uncomfortable and distressing.

What are the Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal?

Heroin withdrawal is incredibly serious. Heroin withdrawal occurs when an individual who is physically dependent on heroin, an opioid drug, suddenly stops using it or reduces their dosage. The symptoms of heroin withdrawal can be quite distressing and can vary in intensity depending on factors such as the individual's level of dependence, the dosage they were using, and their overall health. Heroin withdrawal symptoms typically begin within a few hours to a day or so after the last use and can last for several days to a week or more. Common symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Agitation
  3. Muscle aches and pain
  4. Insomnia
  5. Excessive yawning
  6. Runny nose
  7. Excessive tearing of the eyes
  8. Sweating
  9. Abdominal cramps and diarrhea
  10. Nausea and vomiting
  11. Dilated (enlarged) pupils
  12. Goosebumps (resembling "gooseflesh")

These symptoms are generally described as being “flu-like”. These symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and even life-threatening. But the biggest risk of heroin withdrawal are from drug relapses.

Why is Relapse after Heroin Withdrawal so Dangerous? The Deadly Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal.

Heroin Withdrawal is commonly referred to as “dope-sickness”. This refers to the acute feelings that come from heroin withdrawal. People experiencing prolonged withdrawal are far more likely to accidentally overdose. Withdrawal leads to cravings and the more intense the cravings, the more likely the person experiences them will seek a higher dose of heroin.

This is particularly dangerous after experiencing withdrawal during unsupervised detox. Getting sober is difficult, but necessary. But getting sober in an unsupervised environment can be deadly. In a moment of weakness, anyone can seek out heroin and undo their progress with potentially fatal consequences. High doses of heroin, especially from someone whose tolerance has diminished, can lead to a deadly relapse. Heroin overdose can lead to both bradycardia and respiratory arrest, both of which can be fatal.

This is why it’s so important to receive treatment in a licensed medical detox facility. Heroin withdrawal can be accompanied by intense and distressing physical and psychological symptoms, and in a rehab facility, individuals receive vital medical supervision and care to ensure their safety and comfort during this critical phase.

Moreover, the structured and controlled environment of a rehab facility minimizes exposure to triggers and enables individuals to establish a sober routine, reducing the immediate cravings and temptations that often lead to relapse. Additionally, access to professional support and the development of relapse prevention strategies during detox play a pivotal role in helping individuals manage the underlying causes of their addiction. Detoxing in a rehab facility not only provides a solid foundation for recovery but also serves as the first step towards long-term sobriety, ultimately improving the chances of successful rehabilitation and a life free from heroin dependency.

Get Help Today

It’s always important to choose the right place when you’re ready to make a change. That is why, at New Spirit Recovery, we offer a tailored and holistic approach to addiction treatment. Our dedicated team of professionals provides evidence-based therapies and support,.We address not only the physical aspects of addiction but also the emotional and spiritual underpinnings. So that we can provide true healing and true recovery from addiction, rather than treating a set of symptoms.

In the heart of Encino, California, New Spirit Recovery creates a safe and nurturing environment where individuals can heal and rebuild their lives. With their commitment to aftercare and ongoing support, this center ensures that clients have the resources and guidance they need for a successful, long-term recovery journey. Call us today at 424-317-9319. Or Contact Us, and get the help you need today. You’re worth it. And you deserve it.