Detox is the process of eliminating toxins from the body. Heroin detox is the specific process of removing the physically addictive toxins of heroin from a person’s system. Professional heroin detox programs are designed to help recovering addicts get through the process safely and with minimal discomfort. Medicated detox programs are conducted by board-certified doctors and nurses, and implement maintenance therapy and prescription treatment medications to effectively manage the physical symptoms of withdrawal.
Detoxing from heroin helps to break the recovering addict’s physical dependence. However, detox alone does nothing to treat the underlying psychological triggers behind dysfunctional attitudes and behaviors associated with addictive substance abuse.
Anyone struggling to break free from a heroin addiction should seek help from a professional drug detox program. The nature of heroin addiction is insidious, affecting the person both physically and psychologically. Heroin is an opiate drug synthesized from the opium poppy that acts directly on the brain’s opioid receptors to artificially stimulate a surge of dopamine and serotonin into the user’s system. The body’s natural hormones are usually triggered as a reward response, but heroin disrupts the brain’s normal communication pathways.
People who use heroin regularly find that the brain’s chemistry is fooled into believing it is no longer able to produce the body’s natural “feel-good” hormones unless it continues to receive the artificial stimulus of taking more of the drug.
A person who has abused heroin regularly may experience horrible withdrawal symptoms if use is stopped suddenly, as the body is unable to adjust to the absence of the drug in the system. The temptation to return to a pattern of heroin abuse is overwhelmingly strong, which increases the risk of accidental overdose if the person relapses during the detox stage.
However, seeking treatment from a medical detox program offers the recovering addict the opportunity to use prescription treatment medication that can reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms, making it much easier to get through the physical detox process.
In most cases, the average length of heroin detox is less than eight days. However, the actual length of time it takes for a person to complete the heroin detox program will vary, dependent on a number of factors. These include:
- The dosage being taken
- The length of time the person has been taking heroin regularly
- The presence of polysubstance abuse
- The person’s individual health condition
- Previous detox attempts
Attempting to detox at home can very danger. A person detoxing from heroin may experience withdrawal symptoms, some of which can be potentially life-threatening and require emergency medical attention. Some common symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:
- Intense cravings to take heroin
- Cold sweats
- Goose bumps
- Excessive yawning or sneezing
- Flu-like symptoms
- Abdominal cramping and pain
- Severe bone and muscle aches
A recovering addict is also more susceptible to relapse during the detox process, increasing the risk of accidental overdose. If the person has been detoxing for long enough to reduce the body’s tolerance levels, the risk of overdose increases again, especially if the person takes doses similar to those being taken before the detox process began.
It’s strongly advised to undertake the detox process under medical supervision, as medical staff can administer medication or emergency medical treatment in the event of complications arising. At Get Treatment, we can help you find the medical detox program that fits your specific needs. Our medical professionals are dedicated to ensuring your safety and comfort during this process. You will benefit from 24/7 supervision and support from medical staff, which ensures your physical addiction is addressed effectively.
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Inpatient rehab facilities and intensive outpatient drug treatment centers can administer prescription treatment medications designed to alleviate withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin detox. Medically-supervised detoxification treatments are intended to assist the patient to withdraw from the drug of addiction. Common medications used during the detox process include:
- Methadone: methadone is a replacement often medication given to patients to prevent withdrawal symptoms emerging. The dosage of medication is tapered down over a period of time until the person is free of both drugs.
- Buprenorphine: prescribed under the brand name Subutex, buprenorphine is commonly prescribed during medicallysupervised detox programs
- Benzodiazepines: sedative/hypnotic drugs such as diazepam (Valium) or oxazepam (Serax or Serepax) may be prescribed to treat any symptoms of anxiety or insomnia associated with the withdrawal process.
- Pain relief drugs: ibuprofen and aspirin may also be administered to help alleviate any symptoms of withdrawal.
Reaching out and seeking professional help for heroin detox is the first step to recovery. Choosing to recover in a professional addiction rehabilitation facility offers the person the opportunity to focus fully on recovery in a safe, medically-supervised environment.
Medical staff in the facility strives to ease any symptoms of withdrawal during the detox process to make the process as smooth as possible. Detoxification from heroin breaks the body’s physical dependency on the drug. In order to begin addressing the psychological aspect of addictive behaviors, specific behavioral therapy and counseling sessions, along with strong relapse prevention planning must be undertaken to reduce the risk of relapse once the detox process is complete.