Learn About Medical Detox For Heroin Addiction

If you’re addicted to heroin, you have probably thought about getting professional help. You may be feeling very alone. However, heroin addiction occurs in all walks of life. It’s not a character flaw. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. Addiction to heroin is best handled by addiction medicine specialists. You will find these professionals in any quality substance abuse treatment center. This article will help you to learn about medical detox for heroin addiction. It’s important to educate yourself as much as you can. This is true whether the addiction concerns you or someone close to you. There is always hope.

Heroin is an opium derivative. It can be snorted, smoked, swallowed or injected. Many heroin addicts prefer to inject the drug directly into a vein. This method uses the smallest amount of product while delivering the rush, or intense feeling of euphoria, that users seek most of all.

Injection is dangerous because street heroin is produced in illicit, makeshift laboratories. Little attention is paid to quality control or sanitary precautions. This means that the finished product is not medically suitable for injection. It may contain bacteria that can cause endocarditis, which is an infection of one or more of the heart’s four valves. These valves are involved in sending vital oxygen-carrying blood to all parts of your body. Damaged heart valves can result in debilitating illness and death.

Street heroin may also be contaminated with toxins. It’s often cut with fentanyl by greedy dealers. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid at least 30 times stronger than heroin. It’s not uncommon for heroin users to overdose and die from the inadvertent intake of fentanyl.

Heroin Addiction and Withdrawal

Addiction to heroin will result in a withdrawal syndrome if the drug is suddenly stopped. Withdrawal is painful and extremely unpleasant. In fact, addicts who have experienced it will universally avoid it at all costs. It’s a main reason why many people remain addicted. The prospect of withdrawal is enough to instill terror in the bravest person.

Symptoms generally start with anxiety and then build up from there over time. Withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Muscle, joint and bone pain
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Extreme lethargy and weakness
  • Anorexia

Symptoms may persist for anywhere from 10 days to several weeks or more, depending upon the individual, the dosage, the route of administration, the frequency of use and the overall length of time the drug was used.

Medical Heroin Detox Protocol

If you have experienced heroin withdrawal yourself, you probably have an intense fear of it. You need to know that you shouldn’t let this fear stop you from going to substance abuse treatment. Medical detox uses medications that will keep you comfortable as your body withdraws from the heroin. Some common medications include the following:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Clonidine, a beta blocker

Medication protocols, just like treatment plans, are highly individualized. Everyone is different. If you’re not getting sufficient withdrawal relief, speak up. Your medications can be adjusted. During heroin detox, you should not be in any kind of significant pain. You should be able to eat and drink fairly normally. You should be able to sleep, although you cannot yet expect the normal sleep patterns you once had before you became addicted. It will take time for your brain to heal and restore its correct balance of neurotransmitters. Brain chemistry cannot normalize itself overnight.

People with drug addictions are more likely to have a concurrent form of mental disorder, such as depression, than the general population. A quality substance abuse treatment center will screen you for a possible dual diagnosis during your comprehensive intake interview. If a mental disorder is suspected, you may receive special medications to treat your condition. This is very helpful. A client with an untreated mental condition will find it much harder to cope with and overcome their addiction than someone who doesn’t have a mental disorder issue. In fact, their condition may well have contributed to their addiction in the first place.

Here is some detailed information about the medications named above:

Buprenorphine, also known as Suboxone, is a partial narcotic medication that quells withdrawal symptoms by attaching to the brain’s opioid receptors just enough to produce relief. It curbs drug cravings, too. It works very well for some people but not so well for others.

Methadone is a full narcotic that also attaches to the brain’s opioid receptors. However, it does this more efficiently than buprenorphine does. Methadone will reliably stop opioid withdrawal symptoms in just about everyone, including those not helped by buprenorphine. Methadone is highly effective at controlling drug cravings.

With both buprenorphine and methadone, the drugs’ dosage is gradually reduced over the detox period. One oral dose is sufficient for 24 hours.

Benzodiazepines are anti-anxiety and hypnotic medications related to Valium. Other common brand names are Xanax, Dalmane, Halcion, Tranxene and Ativan. They will help with severe anxiety and insomnia.

Muscle relaxants, such as Robaxin and Flexeril, may help the restless leg syndrome and tremors that can occur during withdrawal.

Beta blockers are drugs normally used to treat high blood pressure and certain heart conditions. Clonidine works exceptionally well. By blocking the body’s adrenalin receptors, it eases withdrawal symptoms considerably for many people. It also causes profound drowsiness, which may be a desirable side effect for a client with insomnia. The detox period may last anywhere from a week to several weeks in total.

How to Get Help

Never let fear of withdrawal stop you from seeking help. A quality treatment center will be sure to keep you as comfortable as possible. If you’re ready to seek help, you have only to call us at 877-978-3125. We are professional counselors, and we are available 24 hours a day. We can help direct you to the best facility for your needs. We help people every day, and we look forward to helping you.

Real Client Testimonials

  • Before coming to coastal I was hopeless, helpless, and my family wanted nothing to do with me. It wasn’t the first detox I’d ever been to, but it was the only one who showed me so much love and compassion. They gave me hope. It’s hard to put into words the amount of gratitude I have for this facility. The employees were my family when I had none. The staff went out of their way to make sure not only were my physical needs taken care of, but my emotional needs as well. From the first phone call prior to admission, to helping me set up continuing care, they never missed a beat. Even going as far as to help me with my legal issues via Zoom court. This isn’t just a detox, they are the family I never had. All of the techs, especially Karen, are phenomenal. They will take the time to listen to you, laugh, and cry(if needed) with you. If you are reading this and you or your loved one is suffering like I was, go to Coastal Detox. The level of care is more than I could ever put into a review. It wasn’t the first detox I’d been to, but it has been my last; I owe them everything I have today, including my life.

    Travis B Avatar
    Travis B.
    12/07/2020
  • Had a really good experience at Coastal. The staff really went above and beyond in helping me get in and gave me the respect l, space and care I needed after I first got there. As I started to fell better they encouraged me to take part in groups which helped get me out of my head and bring positivity and health to my thinking. They had a great massage therapist, who came daily and it was evident the nursing staff genuinely cared. Got to know some of the staff as well and I’m grateful for the cooks Joe and Chris. Those guys literally made us sirloins and pork chops for dinner. Also I gotta thank Chris and Chris for helping me get in and setting me up with a transition plan. Real grateful for that help, I’m not sure if it’s management intention to hire guys named Chris but they got a good thing going there. Overall, I’m clean and sober today and walking it out. Coastal gave me a base that set me up for the success that I’m walking in today

    Brandon B. Avatar
    Brandon B.
    1/16/2020
  • My family is very thankful for Coastal Detox. They have went above and beyond for my son a few times. Unfortunately he has needed their help more than once and they have ever turned their back on him, even when he was at his worst. Jeannie and Chris have been amazing and kept me informed through the entire process. They truly care about the addict and want to help them especially when it would be easy to give up on them. I had many detox facilities be rude and uncaring to me when I was searching for help for my son, but Coastal never did that to us. I don't know the names of all the team members that have helped my son but I know their are many and y'all are angels!! One day we will be able to pay it forward and help someone as you have helped us. Thank you for all you do!!

    Brenda A. Avatar
    Brenda A.
    1/01/2020
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/13/2019
  • Can not say enough nice things about Coastal Detox & staff. Family member was there, told me five stars for the facility & all whom she interacted with. Said the facilities, ambience..., cleanliness, grounds, food, (think their chef is five stars), were all top shelf. All I interacted with personally & on the phone were patient, professional, responsive & caring. Kudos to so many: Jeannie Jones, Clinical Director whom I spent the most face to face time with: great oversight, patience & follow thru. Raquel Barker, Therapist was so understanding & on spot with her assessments/care. Kris Garrigus Admissions Director, another Coastal professional whom I cannot say enough nice things about, always so patient & responsive to my probably too frequent inquires. Not to be forgotten is Judy Tucker, Director of Operations she too so patiently "put up with me"
    I highly recommend Coastal Detox

    Susan C. Avatar
    Susan C.
    11/06/2019

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