It is estimated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that 9 percent of the U.S. population abuses opiates over the course of their lifetime. One opiate in particular, heroin, is becoming the drug of choice for many people because of its potent high and inexpensive price, especially when compared to other drugs. Sadly, it doesn’t take much for a person to get addicted and experience withdrawal between periods of using. Not only will the addict need the opiate to prevent symptoms of withdrawal, but he or she will gradually need more of the drug over time to satisfy an increased tolerance.
Symptoms of Withdrawal
The symptoms of withdrawal vary based on when they present during the addiction. Early symptoms include heroin cravings, yawning, sweating and a runny nose. Other early signs include muscle aches and increased tearing. Agitation, anxiety and insomnia are also common. Late symptoms include abdominal cramping, vomiting, dilated pupils, goose bumps, nausea and diarrhea.
Any discomfort a patient might feel from the process of detoxing may be very uncomfortable. However, unlike substances such as alcohol and benzodiazepine tranquilizers like Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam), the detoxing process for heroin should not be life-threatening. The unpleasant side effects of withdrawing from heroin tend to begin within 12 hours from the time of last use. If you begin a methadone treatment at a drug rehab in Orange County, you can expect to feel symptoms of withdrawal after 30 hours of not having heroin or methadone. The worse the dependency, the worse the symptoms.
How to make the Process of Detoxing Easier and More Comfortable
Although nothing can truly ease the process of quitting a highly addictive opiate like heroin, steps can be taken to make treating the addiction less painful. For instance, certain medications will help with symptoms of withdrawal such as anxiety, sweating and cramping. One of the most common drugs used to assist in heroin detox is the hypertension drug, clonidine. This medication decreases certain chemicals in the blood, causing the blood vessels to relax and allowing the heart to beat slower.
Loperamide is an opioid used to treat diarrhea and may help with symptoms of detoxification. Magnesium might assist with calming anxiety. Recovering addicts should always consult a physician before taking medication. Opioid drugs like methadone and Suboxone act like heroin without the high, lessening the symptoms of withdrawal without any addicting effects. These medications may be used in the short-term to relieve symptoms or they can be used long-term with a gradual reduction of the dosage. Some drug rehabs in California offer rapid opiate detox in which patients are placed under anesthesia and injected with opiate-blocking drugs.
Reaching out to others while going through withdrawal can be very beneficial for a patient. Those in recovery should keep friends and family close for emotional support during this time. If an individual is going through withdrawal, loved ones can visit the drug detox center. Even if a patient is part of one of the region’s drug detox programs, he or she may still want to attend a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. At these meetings, the patient will be with other people in recovery who are going through the same situation.
If the patient was on heroin for a prolonged amount of time or has tried outpatient rehab programs without success, he or she may want to consider an inpatient program. These arrangements allow the patient to stay at the facility and recover from the addiction without the temptation of drugs and negative external influences. In these programs, staff is available 24/7 to help patients get through every aspect of obtaining sobriety.