Heroin is an illicit opioid street drug, with the chemical name “diamorphine,” and is chemically related to opioid painkillers like morphine, fentanyl, OxyContin, Vicodin, Norco, Percocet, and other prescription drugs. In the United States, heroin is considered an illicit and illegal Schedule I drug, with no medical purposes.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Sap is extracted from poppy plants extensively grown in South and Southeast Asia, rural China, Mexico, Columbia, and other locations where growing conditions are most ideal. The sap is opium. Opium is the white gummy liquid harvested by hand from the ripened seed pods but is also extractible from stalks and leaves in mechanized large pharma-based commercial production. Drugmakers also use opium poppy extracts to make their infamous opioid products. Opium contains roughly 10% morphine. The morphine is extracted from opium through heat and chemical processing. Further processing the morphine residue with solvents and other chemicals produces heroin. Opium, morphine, and heroin have all been used historically in medicine, and all three substances are highly addictive.1,2,3
Depending on purity after various refining methods, heroin comes in powder or tar form and can vary in color from pure white to off-white, to dark brown or black.
What Are Heroin Withdrawals Like?
When a person who is chemically dependent on heroin stops taking it, withdrawal symptoms will begin within hours of the last dose. Withdrawal symptoms can also occur if an addicted person cuts down the amount they use. Specific heroin withdrawal symptoms are described in detail below. The characteristics of heroin withdrawals could be described as incapacitating, dreadful, or similar to a very bad flu, and in severe cases, can be life-threatening if left untreated.4
How Long Do Heroin Withdrawals Last?
There are typically two major phases of heroin withdrawal: acute withdrawal, and post-acute withdrawal. What we think of as classic withdrawal usually takes place in the acute withdrawal phase. The acute withdrawal phase usually begins about 6 hours after the last dose and lasts about 7 days. Post-acute withdrawal symptoms after a week or so can linger for months and even years — though they tend to decrease with every day you stay sober in recovery.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
The severity of heroin withdrawal symptoms will vary depending on many factors, including how long the individual has been dependent on heroin, the amount they have been using, and general health including the presence of infections or other conditions.
One of the first withdrawal symptoms to show is cravings. As the last dose of heroin wears off, the body responds by triggering cravings — similar to needing water in the desert, or the need to satiate severe hunger pangs. This craving is for heroin in particular, meant to coax you into using more heroin in an attempt to block the more severe withdrawal symptoms that are coming.
Muscle Aches and Pains
Heroin and opioids work on the brain to block pain signals — that is why we often use these types of drugs to treat pain. However, during withdrawal, there is a rebound effect. The nerves become hypersensitive and can report phantom pains back to the brain in the form of muscle cramps, aches, and other severe pains.8
Nausea & Vomiting
Recovering addicts describe the nausea and vomiting portion of heroin withdrawal as the most relentless and draining symptom. Nausea and vomiting are usually accompanied by an increase in body temperature (fever), along with hot and cold sweats. It is important to replace fluids by drinking 2-3 liters of water per day.6
Common during the peak of heroin withdrawal, a slight fever is not unexpected. However, if the body temperature is elevated too much, more than 106° (hyperpyrexia) the individual needs immediate emergency care as they can be in danger of convulsions and even death.5
To prevent dehydration it is recommended to drink 2-3 liters of water per day to replace fluids lost through perspiration and diarrhea.6
Anxiety & Restlessness
Heroin withdrawal-induced anxiety and restlessness are the withdrawal symptoms that heroin addicts often complain are the most difficult to endure. Anxiety during withdrawal can feel like you are unable to sit still or concentrate, accompanied by racing heart and panic attacks.6,7
Lacrimation & Runny Nose
The body begins to produce excess bodily fluids during heroin withdrawal. These fluids — with nowhere else to go — begin to leak from the body wherever they can. An individual notices this as an increase in sweat tears and mucous from the nose. Teary eyes that won’t stop (lacrimation) is common in heroin withdrawal, as is a runny nose.6,8
Long-Term Side Effects of Heroin Abuse and Addiction
Overdose is always on the horizon for a heroin user. Heroin users are at risk of many more long-term health effects, shown below.8-13
Long-Term Consequences of Heroin Use include:
Collapsed veins and blood vessels
Skin and muscle abscesses and Infections
Dental — erosion of teeth, oral infections
Increased risk for HIV (AIDS), hepatitis, and other bloodborne diseases
Heroin Addiction Treatment: How Alternative to Meds Provides an Alternative to Addiction
Heroin is a powerful invasive drug that overtakes natural endorphin production, produces pain, damages neurochemistry, taxes the heart, dangerously impairs the respiratory system and inflicts many other tragic consequences.
The horrible truth is that a heroin addict can feel there is no escape because the withdrawals are too debilitating, too horrific to withstand. The “solution” of continuing to use the drug to stave off the withdrawals, becomes an ever-present burden. There is nothing lovely about heroin addiction, evermore so in its last stages. There are ways to accomplish heroin cessation without punishing yourself with these horrific withdrawal effects. Our Sedona heroin rehab program can help.
There is much more to ending heroin addiction than just ceasing to use the drug. The damage that the drug creates in the body, mind, and soul can linger long after and needs to be walked back with real healing, and corrective actions. These are the components of our heroin rehab program. Opiate users can opt for a short one or two-week conversion to a less potent medication, and taper gently off that to make a starting point possible for the remainder of the program. The cold turkey approach is not the only choice. The Methadone program is not the only choice. The 12-step approach may be very helpful to some and may have genuine supportive value, but it is not the only choice. We believe a more comprehensive, compassionate health-based approach makes a valid option.
Sedona Heroin Cessation
Our facility resides within walking distance to the majestic Red Rocks where fresh air, blue skies, and sunshine are abundant virtually all year round in Sedona. Our staff of over forty highly skilled doctors, caregivers, and therapists understand the pain of addiction and were hand-picked for their compassion and dedication to helping others overcome the liability of addiction to heroin and other drugs.
We are not a methadone maintenance-styled program, nor are we based on the 12-steps of AA recovery. We offer new choices and methods that were likely missing from any earlier attempts that may have failed to get you out of the trap.
Summary of what we offer:
Lab-testing to diagnose deficiencies in essential vitamins, minerals, genetic markers, and to show the presence of poisonous neurotoxins, including drug residues, heavy metals, industrial or household chemicals, pesticides, food additives, and so on.
We clear these neurotoxins out of the body using various methods. Exercise, chelation, sauna, conjugators (supplements that convert fat-soluble toxins to water-soluble for natural elimination), nebulized glutathione treatments, mineral baths, ionic foot baths, specialized diet, supplement regimen, provide many more ways to help the body to shed these damaging toxins.
Toxins prevent the absorption of nutrients. Removing them allows us to flood the body with the precise nutrition and diet that will aid the body and speed up the re-set of healthy endorphin and neurochemistry function. These are areas that drugs attack and destroy, and are profoundly vital steps in recovery after addiction.
Life coaching and personal counseling offer clients the chance to revisit their life choices and circumstances and make new decisions, relieve stress, and shed trauma from the past. A fresh start is possible, much more clearly seen without the drug haze, and with experienced guidance to help you restructure your beautiful new life.
Physical therapies provide pain relief, relaxation, and can also contribute to the rebuilding of healthy neurotransmitters after addiction damage. We offer a wealth of these comforting adjunctive therapies, including therapeutic massage, bentonite clay packs, ionic foot baths, cranial-sacral work, music therapy, art therapy, acupuncture, mild exercise classes, deeply soothing mineral baths, Qi Gong, Equine therapy, and many more.
Education classes on how the healthy brain works and how drugs influence and damage the brain, how to effectively rebuild and maintain healthy neurochemistry forever, “Empowering Yourself” class, “Reclaiming the Best of You”, and many more designed specifically for the ATMC client base.
How to Find Out More
It is easy to contact us by calling the number on this page. You will be greeted by one of our informed and friendly staff, who can answer any questions about treatment, costs, insurance coverage, arranging a tour, or any other requests for information you may have about our Sedona rehab and treatments. Call today, and get the info you need to help make the best decision for heroin withdrawal treatment and recovery, and to arrange the very best outcome possible using a health-focused treatment for heroin cessation.
4. Shah M, Huecker MR. Opioid Withdrawal. [Updated 2021 May 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526012/ [cited 2021 Aug 19]
This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.
Dr. Michael Loes, M.D.
Dr. Michael Loes is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pain Management and Addiction Medicine. He holds a dual license in Homeopathic and Integrative Medicine. He obtained his medical doctorate at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1978. Dr. Loes performed an externship at the National Institute of Health for Psychopharmacology. Additionally, he is a well-published author including Arthritis: The Doctor’s Cure, The Aspirin Alternative, The Healing Response, and Spirit Driven Health: The Psalmist’s Guide for Recovery. He has been awarded the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s “Excellence in Research” Award.
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.