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What Happens During Heroin Detox?

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs, and the detox period can be tough. However, once you’re through the detox stage, you’ll be on the road to recovery. Although detox is slightly different for everyone, it can be helpful to have a general idea of what happens.

The severity of the withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on how dependent the brain is on the substance. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and vomting

Heroin greatly increases dopamine levels in the brain. After prolonged or repeated use, the brain becomes unable to produce sufficient amounts of dopamine on its own and has to readjust to functioning without the drug. Therefore, many people also experience psychological withdrawal symptoms, like anxiety, agitation, and paranoia.

Timeline of Heroin Detox

Heroin withdrawal symptoms usually start between six and 12 hours of the last dose. The symptoms usually peak around the second day. By the third or fourth day, the symptoms typically subside a little, but the discomfort isn’t completely gone. It’s important to eat properly during this time to help your immune system. Many people experience shivers and abdominal cramping during the third, fourth, and fifth days.

Withdrawal symptoms often end after about seven days. For those who were severely addicted, the symptoms may last for 10 days, but they rarely last for longer. However, some symptoms, like trouble sleeping and loss of appetite, may persist for a few more days.

Although the acute withdrawal stage typically ends in under 10 days, the entire detox process can last for several months because the brain changes caused by heroin take a long time to reverse. This is known as PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal symptoms.

If you begin a supervised detox program, the process will typically begin with an intake and evaluation, which will let your healthcare providers determine an appropriate treatment plan. You’ll probably have a physical exam and be asked questions about mental health symptoms. Then, your medical professionals will come up with a plan for your immediate detox and long-term treatment.

Even though the effects of detox and withdrawal are rarely fatal, it’s very important to go through detox under medical supervision. This reduces the risk of relapse and provides medical care in case there are complications. If you or a loved one is struggling with a heroin addiction, call us at 800-737-0933 for the care you need.

Is Addiction Truly a Disease?

Finding the courage to get help battling addiction is difficult, especially when the addict and those around him fail to see addiction as a disease. Because many addicts made a choice at some point to drink alcohol or try a drug, people often view addiction as a choice or lack of morality and willpower. This is not the case, however. Addiction is considered a disease for several reasons. Understanding them can help both an addict and his or her loved ones come to a better understanding of addiction. These are the reasons addiction is considered to be a disease.

Biology

Studies of addiction have shown that there is a 40 to 60 percent chance that an individual may be susceptible to addiction based on genetics. Those with addicts in their family tree are more likely to become addicts themselves and are likely to become addicted to a given substance more quickly than others. Mental illness also increases the likelihood of addiction as it alters the way the brain functions.

The Brain is Hardwired for Addiction

The human brain has evolved in a way that inadvertently invites addiction. When the body does something that feels good, like eating, exercising or having sex, the brain releases dopamine to encourage the behavior. These activities are necessary for survival, so the brain rewards the body for them with a hit of dopamine and positive feelings. Drugs and alcohol can overstimulate the brain, causing it to bathe itself in a sea of excess dopamine. This makes the person feel so good that they want to repeat the experience. As drug usage continues, the brain must get used to functioning with an excess of dopamine and forgets how to work without it. Over time, drug use stops affecting only the brain’s pleasure center and begins affecting other chemicals. The result is changes in all of the following:

  • Learning
  • Judgement
  • Decision-making
  • Stress levels
  • Memory
  • Behavior

Relapse Cycles

Many diseases are manageable and treatable but not curable. In this way too, addiction is like a disease. Although addictions can be overcome and beaten, staying sober requires lifelong vigilance. Once the chemistry of the brain is altered by addiction, relapse is always possible. The body may continue to crave and desire drugs and alcohol even though an individual has not been using them. This pattern is similar to other diseases that sometimes go into remission but can become active again later.

When understood as a disease, it’s east to see why addiction requires professional treatment. No one expects a diabetic or cancer patient to get well on their own, and the same should be true of those suffering from addiction. If you or someone you love is battling this disease, get help today by calling 800-737-0933. The path to freedom from addiction starts with a simple phone call.