The Heroin Detox Process
Heroin is a highly addictive drug. Once you become dependent, it is extremely hard to stop using. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t quit. With a detox plan that is well thought out, you can become free of heroin within a few weeks. But, before going into the heroin detox process, let’s learn about this widely used drug so it will be easier to understand the detox process.
What is heroin?
Heroin is an opiate that is derived from the pods of the opium poppy. As soon as the pods become mature, they are picked and scoured with a sharp razor. The resin is allowed to seep out of the pod slowly over several days. Once the resin becomes dry, the dried sap is scraped. This is the most potent compound of opium. This substance is then refined to make morphine, which is then converted to heroin. It can be injected, snorted or smoked.
Most forms of heroin found on the market have been diluted with another substance, such as corn starch, to decrease their potency and to increase the volume for larger supplies and better profits. Heroin, in its purest form, is rarely available to drug users.
Top 4 Heroin Detox Questions
- Why is heroin so addictive?
Heroin produces intense feelings of pleasure, making you want to have more and more. If you don’t stop after a few doses, you will soon become addicted. When you smoke, snort or inject the drug, it will bind with the opioid receptors in your brain and nervous system, causing them to trigger a potent release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is what creates the feeling of pleasure. Once your brain becomes accustomed to this euphoric rush of dopamine, you will become addicted and have intense cravings for the drug.
- How long does heroin stay in your system?
Heroin has a relatively short half-life of 30 minutes. A half-life is a time required for the concentration of the drug to decrease by 50 percent. This means that a half-hour after taking the drug, its concentration in your body should decrease by half and all traces of it should vanish in less than an hour. However, it’s not quite as simple as that. There are other factors that come into play, such as your metabolism, the quantity of heroin you have taken, your body mass, and the state of your hydration. In general, heroin’s effects can be felt up to five hours after the last dose.
- What makes heroin so dangerous?
Heroin depresses the nervous system, causing the addict to feel drowsy. At high doses, it can drastically slow the heart rate and respiration, causing the user to fall unconscious or even die. Besides the dangers of an overdose, users can experience other serious health problems, including chronic heart and lung problems, a deterioration in cognitive skills (such as memory and decision-making), frequent illness and infection, permanent chemical imbalances in the brain, infections and abscesses at the site of injections, and exposure to blood-borne diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B and C.
- How is the presence of heroin detected in your body?
Heroin detox at our drug rehabs New Jersey facilities tests a patient’s urine, blood, saliva, and hair follicles to detect the presence of heroin in his or her body. How long the drug can be detected after your last dose depends on the rate at which the drug leaves your system. Urine tests can detect it for up to two days, but advanced testing methods can detect it up to seven days. Blood tests and saliva tests can detect heroin for only up to six hours, but some advanced tests can detect it for up to two days. Hair follicle tests can detect heroin for up to three months.
What is the process of heroin detox?
The process of heroin detox is not an easy one, but it can be done successfully with professional help. It goes through several difficult steps that require willpower, patience, and self-discipline on the part of the patient. Here are the steps in the heroin detox process:
The Patient is Made to Stop Using Heroin
Once a heroin addict checks into a drug rehabs New Jersey detox facility, he or she is made to stop taking the drug. This is not an easy thing for the patient because he or she will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms as soon as four hours after quitting. The symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on how dependent a person has become.
- Mild symptoms include abdominal cramps, nausea, watering eyes, runny nose, sweats, chills, frequent yawning, and muscle and bone aches.
- Moderate symptoms include restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, tremors, goosebumps, trouble concentrating, and fatigue.
- Severe symptoms include intense drug craving, anxiety, depression, rapid heart rate, hypertension, impaired respiration, muscle spasms, difficulty feeling pleasure, and insomnia.
These symptoms start within four to 12 hours after the last dose, reach their peak in two to three days, and, depending on the severity of the addiction, last five to 10 days. While they are generally not life-threating themselves, they can cause psychological problems, such as depression and suicidal feelings.
The Heroin Detox Process Begins…
Detoxing from heroin should start before the drug completely leaves your system, which is about five to seven days after the last dose. During our drug rehabs New Jersey heroin detox process, medications, such as Suboxone and methadone, are used to slowly wean the patient off the drug. Therapy may also be used to help the patient’s body and brain to recover from the drug’s effects. The patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and breathing are monitored continuously to keep him or her safe. Depending on the severity of the addiction, the detox process can last from a week to several months — long after every trace of the substance has disappeared from the system.
Replenishing Lost Nutrients is Critical in Heroin Detoxification
An essential part of the detox process is to replenish the nutrients that the patient’s body was deprived of while he or she was a drug addict. The patient is given foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Since a heroin addict often suffers from constipation and digestive system problems, he or she is given a high-fiber diet that includes whole grains and leafy vegetables.
Medication Used in the Heroin Detox Process
The medications used by detox centers in NJ to detox from heroin can include Suboxone and methadone, which are prescribed by a medical doctor. The purpose of these medicines is to reduce the withdrawal symptoms, lessen the pain and discomfort, and wean the patient off the drug. Both Suboxone and methadone are tapered medicines, which means they are administered in gradually decreasing quantities until the patient makes a full recovery.
- Methadone is an opioid drug that is normally used to treat severe pain but can also be used to treat opioid addictions. It is given to the patient as a tablet, liquid or injection in gradually decreasing doses to wean the patient off heroin.
- Suboxone is a drug that contains a partial opioid agonist called buprenorphine and an opioid antagonist called naloxone. Buprenorphine behaves like heroin and other opioids and its job is to provide just enough of the drug to stimulate the brain’s opioid receptors to prevent a drug craving, but not enough to continue the addiction. Naloxone blocks the effects of the drug and prevents an accidental or intentional overdose. Suboxone is the more popular drug for the treatment of opiate addiction because it is safer and more effective. Suboxone is administered in gradually decreasing quantities until the patient is completely cured.
Why should heroin detox be done in a rehab facility?
The safest way to treat heroin addiction is medically assisted detox at a reputable addiction treatment facility. Heroin detox at home is possible, but not recommended because you won’t receive the necessary care and emergency help. At our drug rehabs New Jersey detox facility, the entire process is monitored by a team of medical professionals who are trained and experienced in the detoxification process. Whenever a problem arises, a doctor will prescribe safe medications after determining the cause.
What is Rapid Opiate Detox?
Rapid Detoxification was a procedure that began use in the 1980’s. Rapid Detox patients are given general anesthesia as well as drugs to flush the opiates out of their system. For the addict, it is a major shock to their system and this procedure is now considered risky. All the usual withdrawal symptoms still occur, but since the patient is under anesthesia, they don’t consciously feel the effects of withdrawal. When the withdrawal symptoms decrease, the patient is awakened. In fact, rapid detox is not recommended by treatment providers and professionals, and it is not considered to be an effective form of detox. ASAM recommends against rapid opioid detox, warning that the possible benefits do not outweigh the risks, and it should, therefore, be avoided. Rapid detox can be potentially dangerous, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports several fatalities as a result of this method of drug detox. Soba College Recovery does not offer a Rapid Detox option.
What happens after heroin detox?
Do not assume successful detox will prevent your body from craving heroin. Heroin detox is not a cure for heroin addiction. Addiction can re-wire brain functions to seek the drug above everything else. View detox as the first step in the recovery process. You will need to undergo drug rehab to discover and address the underlying causes of your addiction and prevent relapse. Please see this article on how to choose a rehab facility in NJ.