In an ongoing series, we will answer questions in our Cove Center for Recovery Ask the Drug Expert column regarding drug treatment issues. So if you have a health related question, please submit it to And we will answer your question in our daily blog.

Today’s Question

Q: I’m going into a drug detox soon for heroin abuse. How do they help you get through the withdrawals and what should I expect?

A: First of all, it is important to know that heroin withdrawal will not be the same for everyone. Please consider the following factors in order to determine the level of your addiction and how long it will take for you to recover:

  • What was the length of time using heroin
  • How was it abused
  • How much was taken

These all factor into the level of your addiction. And this will tell you how dependent the brain and body are to the drug. Therefore, the severity and duration of withdrawal will vary as well. Someone with a history of mental illness or addiction may be more likely to become more dependent on the drug faster.

Another important point to consider is that heroin negatively effects how the central nervous system functions. As a result your heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and temperature regulation are greatly impacted. It also latches on to opioid receptors, which raises the quantity of chemicals in the pleasure center of the brain. When heroin is abused, a user experiences euphoria. Alternatively, when it is stopped, your body literally does a 180 and you feel extremely depressed

In terms of withdrawal symptoms they will vary by how much the brain depends on heroin. For light heroin users, withdrawal may be less severe and not last as long.

Do not go at quitting alone

Now in general, heroin withdrawal isn’t considered life-threatening on its own; but be aware that some of the medical and psychological symptoms may have complications that can be life-threatening. For instance, depression may lead some to have suicidal thoughts. And most importantly, heroin should never be stopped suddenly. Without the support of addiction treatment professionals, quitting heroin can be extremely dangerous.

Heroin is a fast-acting opioid, meaning that it takes effect rapidly but also leaves your body just as fast as it enters.

It is my judgement that detox is the safest and least painful way of removing heroin from your body. Since withdrawal can climax after just a few days of the last dose, detox is by far the most comfortable and safest way to rid the drug from your body and prevent relapse.

It is important to note that detox should begin even before heroin completely leaves your system and can take as long as 5 to 7 days to complete. For someone who has abused heroin more extensively, detox could last up to 10 days. More and more detoxes are relying on medications and therapy to help the body and brain recover from heroin’s nasty side-effects.

We wish you the best in your brave decision to quit abusing heroin and hope these points raised today were truly helpful.

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