Heroin is an opiate-based drug that can cause significant short-term effects, health problems and addiction. Breaking free from a heroin addiction is no easy feat, but it’s absolutely possible with the right treatment. Understanding more about the heroin withdrawal timeline, as well as what to expect during and after the process, may empower individuals—or their loved ones—to take action sooner.
Stage 1 of the Heroin Withdrawal Timeline: Initial Withdrawal Symptoms Appear
To begin, the most effective place to undergo heroin withdrawal is through a medically monitored detox. Medical professionals will be able to monitor your health and nutrition as they rid your body of dangerous toxins.
The heroin withdrawal timeline starts when individuals stop consuming heroin. In the first 24 hours, withdrawal symptoms are common. This can feel very similar to the flu.
Most individuals experiencing heroin withdrawal will begin to notice symptoms just a few hours after the last dose. However, understand that for many, these symptoms aren’t pronounced until 24 hours after ceasing heroin use. Initial withdrawal symptoms can vary, but may include:
- Abdominal pain
Stage 2: Peak of Heroin Withdrawal Timeline
After the first 24 hours, heroin withdrawal symptoms may worsen. For many, this the toughest part about breaking free from a heroin addiction. Opiate chemical dependency is incredibly strong, but overcoming this stage is critical on the way to lasting recovery.
The second stage of the heroin withdrawal timeline will typically last 24–72 hours after cessation of drug consumption. At around 72 hours, withdrawal symptoms can feel like they have peaked, and they will gradually taper off.
The second stage may bring the development of the following symptoms:
- Potential for extreme dehydration
- Anxiety and/or depression
- Paranoia and irritability
- Strong cravings for heroin
- Changes to cardiac system
- Extreme fatigue and inability to sleep well or for long periods of time
Stage 3: Tapering of Withdrawal Symptoms
After 72 hours, heroin withdrawal’s worst symptoms will begin to pass. While many factors can impact the process, the worst withdrawal symptoms will subside in just three full days. Individuals generally start to see their health improve over the course of a week.
Stage 4: Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome
Completing heroin withdrawal is certainly not the end of treatment. In fact, relapse is common immediately following withdrawal. This has to do, in part, with the likelihood of PAWS, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome.
PAWS is marked by strong cravings for heroin. While physical symptoms may no longer be present, anxiety, depression and fatigue are common.
Stage 5: Rehab and Aftercare
In light of PAWS, and to minimize the risk of relapse, it’s integral to include rehab in any heroin treatment plan. Clients who opt to participate in male rehab programs at Serenity Lodge in Lake Arrowhead, California will be able to make the most of treatment. After teaming up with our local partner detox, we can transition Clients into treatment, which includes:
- Individual and Group Counseling
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment
- Multiple Levels of Care
Rehab and aftercare can be residential, outpatient (including partial hospitalization) or ongoing, catering to the needs and schedules of Clients. In the face of a heroin addiction, a licensed and accredited rehab is key for lasting sobriety.
The heroin withdrawal timeline begins when you decide to stop using drugs and start embracing sobriety. Contact Serenity Lodge at 866.379.4365 to start living the life you deserve.