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Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

a disheveled person sits at a table possibly struggling with heroin withdrawal symptoms

One of the most frightening words in the dictionary of drug use is “heroin.” And as intense as the high is from using this powerfully addictive drug, the reality of the withdrawal experience is equally intense. But the only way to successfully recover from heroin abuse and return to a healthy life of sobriety is to abstain from its destructive forces entirely. This abstinence is nearly impossible to do alone.

Whether an individual uses this highly-addictive drug in powder form or injection, a treatment center usually offers the best chances of a successful recovery. If you or someone you care about could benefit from the expertise of a medically-managed heroin detox center in Washington, contact Northpoint Washington today.

Our team of professionals helps supervise and monitor individuals through the worst of heroin withdrawal symptoms and sets the stage for the subsequent phases of their recovery. Within our modernized inpatient facility, we are committed to clinical excellence and quality healthcare, treating both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction.

The Stages of Heroin Withdrawal

The complexities of managing heroin withdrawal are well-documented. When withdrawing from heroin, the best course of action is to seek professional detox services. Supervised medical detox facilities specialize in assisting individuals through the drug withdrawal process in a safe and supportive environment. While each individual is unique, much of the withdrawal experience is categorized in the acute and post-acute stages.

After a user’s last dose of heroin, the body begins the detoxification process, and acute withdrawal starts within six to 12 hours. People describe this withdrawal as feeling like a severe case of the flu. The worst of the pain and discomfort lasts about a week, with withdrawal symptoms peaking within the first 48 hours. Typical symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Insomnia
  • Fever and chills
  • Stomach issues
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety

After the second week, most of these physical symptoms will have subsided, but some psychological withdrawal symptoms typically remain but improve over time.

Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome

How long the withdrawal lasts depends on several factors. Some of the most important include how long they used heroin, how much they used, and the presence of underlying medical or mental health issues. This second stage of detox, known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), occurs as the brain readjusts after active addiction and is no longer flooded with dopamine. Those recovering from heroin abuse at this stage typically suffer additional withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Restlessness
  • Poor concentration
  • Increased anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss

Unlike acute withdrawal, which is primarily physical symptoms, post-acute withdrawal symptoms are mostly psychological and emotional. Depending on the intensity and duration of a person’s former drug use, post-acute withdrawal can last several months up to two years. Beyond that, long-lasting symptoms affecting mood and behavior can continue even longer and may include anxiety, depression, and insomnia. However, as time passes and the user remains drug-free, those symptoms will slowly diminish.

PAWS can be a very challenging process. While the brain and body begin to heal and reorient to life without drugs, it is possible to come through it with the right kind of care and support.

Find Expert Care for Heroin Abuse Now at Northpoint Washington

Overcoming an addiction to heroin is very difficult to navigate without help. The experienced clinical staff at Northpoint Washington supports individuals struggling with heroin abuse through specialized treatment options for heroin withdrawal. Here we not only treat the core matters of addiction but also provide expert care to come off the drug safely and learn new ways to manage life in recovery. If you or someone you care about is suffering from heroin abuse, contact us through our online message form or call our team at Northpoint Washington today at 888.450.2153.