Heroin Detox

Heroin is an opioid made from morphine. It may come in a white or brown powder or a black sticky consistency known as black tar heroin.

Detox Programs

Heroin Detox

Heroin is an opioid made from morphine. It may come in a white or brown powder or a black sticky consistency known as black tar heroin.

Roughly 80 percent of the people who abuse heroin abuse prescription drugs first.

Heroin detox will occur shortly after stopping heroin and can cause severe withdrawal symptoms after prolonged misuse. Enrolling in a detox program is the best way to stay safe during a heroin withdrawal.

Signs of Heroin Abuse and Addiction

Anyone abusing heroin will experience the drug’s effects. If you are concerned someone close to you may be using, take note of the following symptoms and behaviors:

  • excessive itching
  • flushed skin
  • nodding off in a back and forth state of consciousness
  • nausea and vomiting

After a while they may also exhibit signs of:

  • insomnia
  • damaged tissue around the nose (from snorting)
  • constipation and cramping
  • collapsed veins around the injection site
  • heart infection
  • depression and antisocial behavior
  • lung complications
  • sexual dysfunction

An overdose is the ultimate sign that someone is struggling with a heroin use disorder. When someone overdoses on heroin, their breathing slows to dangerous levels. Decreased breath rate means less oxygen to the brain, which can result in permanent brain damage and death.

Research has shown that the brain damage caused by heroin can affect decision-making, behavioral control, and how someone responds under pressure.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Anyone abusing heroin and then suddenly stopping the drug will experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. These may include:

  • restlessness
  • muscle and bone pain
  • trouble sleeping
  • diarrhea and vomiting
  • cold flashes and goosebumps
  • leg tremors
  • heroin cravings

Once someone has experienced the acute heroin withdrawal symptoms, they may begin to feel what is called post-acute withdrawal (PAWS). These symptoms can include:

  • heroin urges and cravings 
  • anxiety or panic 
  • depression 
  • sensitivity to stress 
  • mood swings 
  • inability to focus 
  • fatigue 
  • trouble remembering 
  • insomnia

The best way to avoid PAWS is to effectively manage your symptoms with continued addiction treatment programs following a detox treatment.

Heroin Detox Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Long Does It Take to Detox from Heroin?

The length of detox directly correlates to the severity of the heroin abuse.

If someone has used heroin to the point of physical dependence on the drug, it could take weeks to detox from heroin. Most detox programs will wean someone off of heroin slowly to prevent the body from going into shock. This is done incrementally based on the dose being abused at the start of treatment.

What Does the Heroin Detox Timeline Look Like?

Everyone will have their own unique detox experience. In general, most people will experience heroin detox in the following order:

  • Heroin detox begins six to 12 hours after the last dose.
  • Withdrawal symptoms are at their worst one to three days after stopping heroin.
  • Acute withdrawal symptoms usually start to lessen between days seven and 10.
  • Post-acute withdrawal syndrome occurs and may continue for weeks, months, or years depending on the person.

Can I Quit Heroin Cold Turkey?

No. It’s highly dangerous to suddenly stop taking heroin, especially if you have been abusing it for a few weeks or more. The sudden lack of heroin can send the body into shock, causing heart and blood pressure irregularities.

Ways To Manage Heroin Withdrawal

In 2019, more than 19 percent of drug overdoses involved heroin. But there are ways to manage heroin withdrawal and come off the drug for good. The most common treatment for opioids like heroin includes medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and behavioral counseling.

MAT medications for heroin abuse include buprenorphine and methadone. These are derivatives of morphine used to ease the withdrawal symptoms caused by heroin. This can help individuals stick to their sobriety goals and manage their comfort levels.

These medications are used in conjunction with behavioral therapies to ensure a whole-person approach to treatment.

Finding Help for Heroin Addiction

If you or a loved one are seeking heroin addiction detox programs in Georgia or Tennessee, Southeast Addiction Center can help. We aim to provide individualized detox treatment that guarantees safety and comfort. Call us today at (888) 981-8263.


Harvard Health Publishing; Harvard Medical School – Treating opiate addiction, Part 1: Detoxification and maintenance

MedlinePlus – Opiate and opioid withdrawal


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