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Heroin is a highly addictive and illegal drug. Once you become dependent, it is extremely hard to stop using. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t quit. With a guided detox plan, you can become heroin-free within weeks. Before going into the heroin detox process, let’s learn about this widely abused drug so it will be easier to understand the detox process.
Heroin is an opiate drug that comes from the pods of the opium poppy. There is a resin in the pods that, when scoured with a razor, seeps out of the pod and dries over a period of days. This dried resin is the most potent compound of opium. This resin is refined to make morphine and other forms of heroin. Heroin can be injected, snorted or smoked.
Heroin is an incredibly addictive drug. That’s because its use produces intense feelings of pleasure. When taken, heroin binds with the opioid receptors in the brain and nervous system. This causes the receptors to trigger a potent release of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, triggering the pleasure centers of the brain. Once the brain becomes accustomed to this euphoric rush of dopamine, the user becomes addicted.
Heroin depresses the nervous system, causing the user to feel drowsy. At high doses, heroin drastically slows the heart rate and breathing, causing the user to pass out or even stop breathing entirely. Besides the dangers of an overdose, users can experience other serious health problems, such as the following:
Heroin usage is an increasingly dire problem for the United States, with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that abuse rates for people aged 18-25 has doubled in the last ten years.
Heroin has a relatively short half-life of 30 minutes. A half-life is the length of time for the concentration of a substance in the body to decrease by 50 percent. This means that a half-hour after taking the drug, its concentration in the body should decrease by half. However, it’s not quite as simple as that. There are other factors that come into play, such as metabolism, quantity of heroin taken, body mass, and hydration level. Typically, heroin’s effects last up to five hours after the last dose.
Detox centers can test a patient’s urine, blood, saliva, and hair follicles to detect the presence of heroin in their body. Urine tests are most common, and can detect heroin in the body for up to two days. Advanced urine testing methods can detect it for up to seven days. Hair follicle tests can detect it for up to three months.
The recovery process is different for everyone, and factors like age and length of usage can dramatically impact the user’s symptoms. The typical timeline for immediate heroin withdrawal is up to a week, with many symptoms persisting for at least three to six months. In some cases, a patient may deal with heroin withdrawal for years.
Due to heroin’s highly addictive nature, the withdrawal process can not always be completed at home. Often, professional help from licensed, medical detox specialists is needed to assist the user as they stop their heroin use once and for all. This process is an intense one, and can lead to violent withdrawal symptoms, including the following:
These symptoms start between four to twelve hours after the last dose of heroin. Symptoms reach their peak in two to three days, and, depending on the severity of the addiction, last five to ten days. While heroin withdrawal symptoms are generally not life-threatening themselves, they can cause psychological problems, such as depression and suicidal feelings.
Due to the fact that heroin is highly addictive, it’s often not safe to complete the withdrawal process at home or one one’s own. Direct medical help is often required from licensed detox specialists to assist the user in getting through their withdrawals and ceasing their addiction altogether.
One of the most important aspects of getting a patient through this period is to distract them from the pain and discomfort they experience. The patient should be kept near family and friends for support, as well as other positive distractions like music, books, or television. In addition, being in an environment equipped to deal with these situations, such as our heroin rehabilitation center, helps to create a sense of calm and peace for the patient.
Can you die from heroin withdrawal? Unfortunately, yes. This is why it is so important to make sure that the withdrawal period is handled with care, to reduce the chances of heroin withdrawal death.
Detoxing from opiates such as heroin will begin before the drug completely leaves your system, which is about five to seven days after the last dose. During the process, medications, such as Suboxone and the generic methadone, can be used to wean the patient off of the drug.
Therapy should also be employed to help the patient’s brain to recover from the drug’s damaging effects, as well as the body. The patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and breathing are monitored continuously during this process to keep them as safe and comfortable as possible.
Replenishing lost nutrients is vital to a successful 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, they are given a high-fiber diet that includes whole grains and leafy vegetables.
The most common medications used to detox patients from heroin include Suboxone and methadone. The purpose of these medications is to reduce the withdrawal symptoms, lessen the pain and discomfort, and to safely wean the patient off of 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.
Going to a rehab center that has a medically monitored detoxification program is the safest way to treat a heroin addiction. It’s best to find a heroin detox program at a reputable drug rehab facility with a professional medical staff that you can rely on. We do not recommend detoxing at home or by yourself. You won’t receive the necessary care or emergency help. At SOBA New Jersey, our team of medical professionals monitor the entire detox process, ensuring you get the care you deserve.
Do not assume a successful detox will prevent your body from craving heroin. Heroin detox is not a cure for heroin addiction. Addiction can rewire brain functions to make an addict seek the drug above everything else. View detox as only the first step in the recovery process. You will need to undergo additional rehabilitation to discover and address the underlying causes of your addiction, prevent relapse, and live a successful life in recovery.
Get started at our drug detox facility in New Brunswick, NJ. Call now to speak with an admissions coordinator about starting and planning your rehab & treatment.
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