Heroin Withdrawal: What to Expect - Harmony Oaks Recovery Center
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Heroin Withdrawal: What to Expect

Heroin Withdrawal: What to Expect

What to Expect When Quitting Heroin

If someone is addicted to heroin, they will experience heroin withdrawal when they quit. This is also known as “dope sickness.” People will often keep using heroin just to avoid this sickness. To make quitting easier, it is therefore vital to know what you’ll experience. This can help mentally prepare you for the physical illness that comes from stopping. You can also take steps to make the quitting process easier. This will make the transition to sobriety less painful. Here’s everything you need to know before you stop using.

How Heroin Works

Part of the reason quitting heroin is so difficult is how it affects the body. Heroin is an opioid. That means it attaches to nerve cells in our brains called opioid receptors. Here are some of the things opioid receptors do:
  • Regulate pain in the body.
  • Create emotional detachment from pain.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Help provide a sense of happiness.
  • Manage responses to drugs as well as hormones.
  • Are involved in vision, taste, and smell.
When heroin attaches to these cells it reduces stress, increases happiness, and can even make colors brighter and foods taste better. It also takes away the pain. When quitting heroin – or any opioid – a person, therefore, feels pain. They will have increased stress. This happens because the heroin was providing all the joy and pain relief. When the person quits the drug, their brain isn’t producing the right natural chemicals to stop pain or make them feel better. So they end up suffering until their brain can start producing the proper chemicals to stimulate the opioid receptors naturally.

Why Heroin is so Difficult to Quit

Quitting heroin is so hard is because the chemistry of a heroin addict’s body is literally different than a non-addict. When they make a decision to quit using, their body still craves the chemicals it needs. It creates pain and anxiety. Imagine if you stopped eating. Your body still needs the nutrients from food. So, it would make you hungry to tell you to give it nutrients. Eventually, you would start to starve. At that point, you’d likely do anything necessary to get food. Heroin works the same way. The body needs something, so it makes the person miserable until it gets it. Fighting against the urge to use heroin is as difficult as fighting the urge to eat. Only, instead of just starving, you’re also in agonizing pain, feel sick, and are unable to handle the constant fear your body is creating.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

When you do decide to quit, you will be at war with your body for some time. This is because your brain wants chemicals it isn’t getting. It needs to re-learn how to make those chemicals themselves. Until it does that, you’re going to be experiencing withdrawal. Here are the symptoms you’re likely to feel:
  • Nausea and stomach cramping.
  • Deep aches and pains in bones, muscles, and joints.
  • A pounding, racing heart.
  • Intense anxiety and depression along with dread.
  • Insomnia.
  • Diarrhea and/or constipation.
  • Sweating.
  • Muscle Cramps.
Watery discharge from the eyes. These may be mild to severe. It depends on how long you’ve used heroin and how much you used on a regular basis. You may feel all of them, or only a few. However, even if your heroin use is mild and your withdrawal symptoms aren’t severe, it’s important not to quit alone.

How to Safely Quit Heroin

There are a few simple things that are necessary when you plan to quit heroin. These are:
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment to manage pain.
  • Monitoring by a medical professional to ensure withdrawal symptoms don’t cause other issues.
  • A quiet environment for rest.
  • Time away from stress so the person can focus on recovery.
  • Support from people who understand heroin addiction.
  • Therapeutic treatment to provide ways of coping with anxiety and depression.
  • Social groups of successfully recovered addicts.
Each of these is vital to not only coping with the short-term pain of withdrawal but the long-term process of recovery. You need every tool at your disposal to end this addiction for good.

Get Help Now

Now that you know what to expect from withdrawal from heroin, you know how hard it is to quit on your own. You need help to deal with dope sickness. You need the support of people around you who know how hard it is to stop using. That’s why we’re here. Our staff is trained to assist people in stopping their heroin use safely. They create a treatment program for each individual that addresses your needs. They can help provide medication to ease the strain and pain of withdrawal. They’re able to give you the mental health help you need to cope with difficult feelings. In addition, they can give you the resources to find people who have recovered and can help you quit for good. Please, don’t let addiction run your life for another day. Call us and we’ll help get you out!
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