Yes, many drugs are difficult to kick, but heroin is said to outdo them all. While heroin withdrawal may be an extremely unpleasant physical experience, it’s rarely life threatening. The addict may feel as though he or she is going to die, but unless there are severe complications caused by some underlying problem, they won’t.
Withdrawal from heroin happens in three distinct stages: acute, secondary and final. What is the heroin withdrawal timeline? (All Treatment)
The Acute Stage: lasts anywhere between 3-5 days
The Secondary Stage: lasts about 2 weeks.
The Final Stage: may last for up to 3 months.
Heroin Withdrawal Timeline: The Acute Stage
In the acute stage (starting about 12 hours after last use), the user may become depressed as the dopamine and serotonin that flood the brain immediately after heroin use are no longer present. The eyes begin to water profusely and nose begins to run.
Shortly thereafter, more physically uncomfortable symptoms set in. Nausea and vomiting, along with abdominal cramps and diarrhea may all be present. Full body aching, hot and cold sweats, extreme fatigue, and anxiety also plague the user. These symptoms peak at around the 3-day mark.
Towards the end of this stage, as the addict has endured bouts of extreme discomfort, unbearable pain and insomnia, there’s often a sense of lost hope and the addict may question whether or not he wants to live.Read more: Heroin Treatment Rehab
Heroin Withdrawal Timeline: The Secondary Stage
Once these acute symptoms subside, more generalized symptoms will arise. As the brain regains its original, pre-addiction chemistry, things turn back to relative normalcy, though less severe symptoms persist, including goose bumps, chills, dilated pupils, and leg cramps.
Heroin Withdrawal Timeline: The Final Stage
The final stage of heroin withdrawal can be long and arduous, though far less severe. Restlessness, anxiety, and stubborn insomnia may continue to plague the addict for several months.
After Heroin Withdrawal
In some cases Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) may set in. This marks a lengthy stay for symptoms that ought to have subsided. This syndrome may be addressed in many ways. Firstly, there are prescription drugs that help lessen symptoms, including Buprenorphine and Methadone, but these medications may come with their own problems and are not indicated for individuals with certain health issues or those who may be pregnant.
Post withdrawal, experts recommend a generally healthy set of habits and proper sleep. Actually, more than 10 hours of sleep may be necessary as are 64 ounces of water or sports drinks such as Gatorade, minimum, per day. A healthy diet is also encouraged, as is plenty of exercise (National Institutes of Health).
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