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Heroin is a highly addictive, psychoactive opioid drug. It is made from morphine, which is derived from the opium plant, poppy.

The DEA (the United States Drug Enforcement Administration) classifies heroin as a Schedule I substance, meaning the drug is not currently accepted for medical use and has a high potential for abuse. Heroin works by affecting the neurotransmitters and affecting the way one’s brain perceives pain and pleasure. Detox is the process that an individual must go through to rid his or her body of heroin upon commencing substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment. Detox begins from the time of an individual’s last dose of heroin. Every person is different and will undergo a somewhat unique experience when detoxing from heroin. The severity of withdrawal symptoms and length of time each system persists will depend on several contributing factors (e.g., the personal health history of the individual, the potency of the substance, if the substance is mixed with other drugs and/ or alcohol, the length of time the individual abused heroin, method of ingestion, the frequency of abuse, etc.). Withdrawal symptoms occur because of an individual’s body recalibrating and learning to function without the presence of heroin in its system.

Detox Timeline

Due to the fact that heroin carries intrinsically addictive qualities, an individual that abuses the substance is likely to experience a variety of adverse withdrawal symptoms when ceasing use. The general detox timeline is as follows:

  • 6 to 12 hours after one’s last dose: the first symptoms of heroin withdrawal are likely to begin and usually peak after two to four days before subsiding, examples include: 
    • Insomnia
    • Excessive sweating
    • Nausea
    • Chills
    • Abdominal cramping
    • Anxiety
    • Muscle aches and/ or spasms
  • 12 to 72 hours after one’s last dose: at this point, additional digestive symptoms, as well as psychological symptoms, will begin, examples include:
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Sleeping difficulties
    • Depression
    • Mood swings
  • Beyond 72 hours after one’s last dose: peak withdrawal symptoms will ensue and can last for up to six days, examples include:
    • Intense stomach pains
    • Shivers
    • Spasms 
    • Insomnia
    • Loss of appetite

After ten days, any subsequent withdrawal symptoms that occur are known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Although the withdrawal symptoms that occur from heroin detox are not known to be lethal, it is best to undergo detox from heroin in a supervised setting, to ensure the safety of the individual for the duration of the process. 

Further Information and Support

Navigating the challenges that arise from living with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all-consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. At {Upwell Advisors}, we offer unique, customized concierge therapeutic services to provide our clients with unparalleled support throughout every step of the recovery process. 

Feel free to reach to contact us anytime via email at sean@upwelladvisors.com. We look forward to supporting you on your journey.

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