Once you are ready to start the journey to recovery from your addiction, you will first have to undergo a heroin detox process. This is a form of preliminary treatment that you need to undertake before you can start working on the other aspects of your substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation.
Understanding Heroin Detox
Since heroin abuse and addiction is often accompanied by dependence, it is essential that you first go through heroin detox before you can start focusing on the behavioral and therapeutic aspects of your treatment.
During heroin detox, the toxins from heroin will start leaving your body and system. As a result, this might cause you to suffer withdrawal symptoms. In many cases, these symptoms tend to be uncomfortable, painful, and sometimes devastating. It is for this reason that you should go through a medically managed detoxification process.
Although the therapies provided during heroin detox will be based on medications and/or medical practices, it is also essential that you undertake behavioral therapy and counseling after you have successfully completed this preliminary form of treatment.
In many cases, heroin detox should last as long as the doctors have recommended. During this period, you should also continue taking any medications that they might have prescribed.
After detox, you will be required to go through behavioral therapies such as group and individual counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and contingency management. These therapies will be useful in helping you address all the issues and problems underlying your heroin abuse and addiction.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
Through heroin detox, you can manage most if not all of the withdrawal symptoms that arise when you give up this substance of abuse. These symptoms are sometimes similar to being dope sick or having the flu.
Before the heroin detox process, you should research the process of withdrawing from this substance. By so doing, you will discover that you might suffer any or all of the following withdrawal symptoms once you give up heroin:
- Acute anxiety
- Depression as a result of the drop in endorphin activity that heroin causes in your brain
- Feverish chills that oscillate from very hot to very cold
- Intense heroin cravings
- Loss of appetite
- Restless legs
- Severe muscle cramps
- Suicidal thoughts
- The shakes
Whereas these symptoms might be severe for you, other heroin addicts might find them to be quite mild. The severity of these heroin symptoms will depend on the following factors:
- How you used to abuse this drug (intravenous heroin abuse is often accompanied by more severe withdrawal symptoms)
- The duration of your heroin use disorder
- The existence of any other pre-existing conditions like diabetes and HIV
- The state of your health
- The total number of times you have undergone heroin detox in the past
- Tolerance to heroin
- Your age
Heroin Detox Medications
If you opt for medical detox, doctors might recommend that you use methadone, buprenorphine, and/or Suboxone to make withdrawal more bearable for you. These are referred to as maintenance medications and they are quite useful during heroin detox for some patients.