Heroin Detox: How Long Does It Take?

August 26, 2021

Heroin is one of the most deadly and addictive drugs on the street, but a successful heroin detox is possible. 

Nearly 950,000 Americans reported using heroin in 2016, and use of the drug is most common in young adults between the ages of 18-25. Overcoming an addiction to heroin is difficult, but it can become a reality with the right help.

What Is a Heroin Detox?

Detoxing is the process of naturally removing toxic or foreign substances from the body. Some people might go on a sugar or caffeine detox when they start a diet, simply by not putting sugar or caffeine in their bodies. Depending on the body’s dependency to the substance, detoxing can lead to withdrawal symptoms like headaches. The process can take a few days to weeks or even longer, but when it’s done the body is physically free from the addiction.

The same is true for a heroin detox. When a person decides to quit using heroin, the body begins a detox process. As with a sugar detox, the severity of withdrawal symptoms will be somewhat determined by the extent of heroin use. A drug detox can be extremely difficult, and it’s not recommended to undergo the process without medical supervision since the symptoms of withdrawal can be dangerous. 

Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal

The symptoms of heroin withdrawal can range in severity depending on the extent and duration of use. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Nausea and diarrhea 
  • Strong cravings for heroin and other drugs
  • Abdominal pain and severe stomach cramps
  • Fever, sweating, chills, and shaking
  • Muscle spasms
  • Extreme moodiness, depression, and anxiety
  • Irrational fear

Heroin Detox Timeline

Heroin is a short-acting opioid, which means it takes effect quickly after use. The good news is that it also leaves the bloodstream quickly, so detoxing from heroin often doesn’t last as long as other drug detoxes. In general, withdrawal symptoms typically start 6-12 hours after the last dose and become the most severe around 3-4 days after the last use. Most of these symptoms will wear off after 7-10 days of detoxing. While the initial detox is quite short, long-time users often experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms like difficulty sleeping, poor concentration, and panic attacks for 18-24 months after the detox.

Detox and recovery will look different for every person, depending on several factors. Some of the things that influence the detox timeline include the duration of the addiction, the amount of heroin that was used in each dose, and the frequency and method of use. 

The Road to Recovery

The road to recovering from a heroin addiction is a long one, and detox is the first step. It’s an essential process to prepare the body for success in total rehabilitation. Detox can be difficult, but there are so many resources to help. Addiction recovery centers can offer several methods for detoxing, including:

  • Inpatient detox
  • Outpatient detox
  • Rapid detox
  • Anesthesia-assisted detox

Steps Recovery Centers Can Help

Recovering from a heroin addiction is a long road, and at Steps Recovery Centers we are with you every step of the way. We can facilitate a medically-assisted heroin detox at our holistic detox center. Our recovery plans are highly customized to each individual patient with a holistic approach that treats the entire person – mind, body, and soul – instead of just the physical addiction. We have centers all across Utah, from Salt Lake to St. George, and are equipped with a well-trained and experienced team that are ready to help you reclaim your life. Contact us today for more information.

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