Heroin is an illegal drug in the opioid family. As such, uncomfortable side effects often accompany its use, particularly when withdrawal sets in. The symptoms of heroin withdrawal can appear within hours after someone last uses the drug. The type and severity of withdrawal symptoms vary based on how long someone used heroin and the extent to which they used it. Moreover, people with mental health disorders or previous opioid addictions beyond just heroin may experience worse withdrawal symptoms. Get your questions answered about the symptoms of heroin withdrawal when you call The Willows at Red Oak Recovery® at 855.773.0614.
Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal
Heroin use suppresses central nervous system function. Things like heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, and temperature regulation are all affected. At the same time, the pleasure center in the brain is lit up, which produces a high feeling. Withdrawal symptoms are typically the opposite of what heroin use causes. For instance, people in withdrawal may experience an elevated heart rate and depressed mood. The full range of physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:
- Shaking or muscle spasms
- Increased heart rate
It is worth noting that the symptoms of heroin withdrawal rarely limit themselves to physical impacts. They may be most immediately noticeable, but heroin withdrawal usually involves psychological impacts as well. Perhaps the greatest danger is severe depression and suicidal ideation, as the brain must cope without the intense pleasure heroin provides. Anxiety and cravings for heroin also accompany withdrawal for most people.
The experience of both physical and psychological side effects can mean detoxing from heroin should always be done under medical supervision. In most cases, a single side effect is not life-threatening on its own. However, attempting to go cold turkey from heroin without medical support is unlikely to be comfortable, nor will it establish a firm foundation from which to pursue recovery.
Heroin Addiction Treatment Using MAT
The first step in heroin addiction treatment is always detox. The rest of recovery becomes impossible if a patient does not first get sober and remove the drug from their system. As heroin is an opiate, several medications have been approved for use to target withdrawal symptoms and manage cravings. These medications cannot treat heroin addiction long-term. Instead, they target the initial detox symptoms and ensure that you can achieve sobriety and begin ongoing treatment. Still, the medication buprenorphine can prevent relapse within the first year of treatment.
In most cases, a team of professionals uses medications to support recovery alongside behavioral therapy. In such cases, an addiction treatment program is implementing medication-assisted treatment. Despite numerous positive indicators pointing to the effectiveness of MAT programs, less than one-third of people in recovery from heroin addiction ever receive MAT. Not only does MAT reduce heroin overdose deaths, but its practice also decreases opioid use and boosts treatment retention.
Behavioral Therapy in Heroin Addiction Treatment
The other component of high-quality MAT programs is behavioral therapy. Many different types exist, with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) perhaps the most common. CBT tries to change the beliefs and behaviors that sit at the root of someone’s addiction. It also emphasizes the development of coping skills to deal with stress and relapse triggers. Another therapy used for heroin addiction treatment is contingency management. This therapy offers participants a reward system to encourage them to meet recovery goals and pass drug tests as they pursue sobriety.
Lastly, another element sometimes employed in heroin addiction treatment is 12-step facilitation therapy. This treatment prioritizes client engagement in 12-step groups with a long history of efficacy in treating alcohol use disorder. More generally, this type of therapy and 12-step programs focuses on acceptance, surrender, and consistent engagement in the 12-step group. Acceptance means coming to grips with the idea that abstinence is the only solution to the problems addiction causes. Surrender involves trusting the process and allowing the support group to aid in recovery.
Enroll in Treatment at The Willows at Red Oak Recovery®
The symptoms of heroin withdrawal may be intimidating. But avoiding them and living with an unchecked addiction is far worse. Reach out to The Willows at Red Oak Recovery® at 855.773.0614 to take the first steps on your recovery journey.