[How to] Heroin Detox at Home
It’s dangerous to heroin detox at home
Despite popular belief, detoxification is not just drinking plenty of fluids and getting some rest. Detoxing from drugs is often painful and can be physically and emotionally taxing.
Heroin detox is dangerous to do at home and should be performed inside of a treatment facility. There is a heroin withdrawal timeline, which specialists use as a template to track the progression of the detox.
The heroin withdrawal timeline measures progress by monitoring the typical symptoms of heroin withdrawal and comparing it to the patient’s heroin withdrawal symptoms.
The timeline template helps doctors and specialists to anticipate bodily reactions to provide top-level treatment and adapt as necessary.
If you or someone you know is considering detoxing from drugs, please consider entering a treatment facility to safely rid your body of toxins. By calling 623-263-7371, an addiction specialist can assist you in locating a detox center near you.
However, should you choose to detox at home, there are safety measures and precautions to take before getting started.
Always remember, It’s OK to ask for help.
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Heroin is a highly addictive substance, and you may want to attempt detox at home. However, the process can be dangerous, read more down below:
Get to Know Heroin
Heroin is a street opioid that comes from morphine. Heroin is a Schedule I substance that is highly addictive and dangerous. The material is sold as a white powder that becomes mixed with, or “cut,” with similar-looking powders like starch or sugars. Long-term use of heroin can cause serious medical complications such as lung malfunction, reconstruction of brain functions, addiction, dependency, and deterioration of the white matter inside the brain.
Heroin detox is intense and often painful. Remote detoxing is unsafe, as each drug detox has a different process. Each individual may have unknown health risks that may get worse if the right precautions are not in place.
One can use heroin by snorting, injecting, or smoking the drug. Since heroin is highly addictive, heroin withdrawal symptoms can become more severe than you think. The specialists and therapists inside a treatment facility have the proper education and preparation to care for you throughout the heroin withdrawal timeline.
Detoxing at home – why or why not?
Professionals recommend that you do not detox by yourself at home. Heroin detox can be a rigorous and painful process. It should happen under the guardianship of medical professionals inside a treatment facility. Not only can you receive proper care, but doctors and medical practitioners can prescribe medication to ease the process and assist with the pain.
The experience of detoxification is intense, and performing it alone at home is ill-advised by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). You should not attempt detoxing at home, because it is dangerous and likely to be ineffective. Instead, complete your heroin detox at a rehab facility.
If you insist on detoxing from heroin at home, here is how to stay safe through the process.
Purging Your System
Detoxing from heroin typically occurs inside a treatment center or facility, due to the extreme stress. Detoxification is the process of ridding your body of the remaining harmful toxins and chemicals from drugs or alcohol. Notably, detoxing is distressing to your body and varies depending on what substance you are detoxing.
Detoxing Causes Withdrawal Symptoms
Detoxing from heroin is going to make withdrawal symptoms difficult. Withdrawal symptoms are pains, cravings, and bodily reactions that occur when your body no longer has access to the addictive substance.
Heroin withdrawal symptoms will depend on the frequency of use and how long the individual has used the drug. Long-term users are likely to have the worst time detoxing. These users have a strong dependency and high built-up tolerance. Tolerance to drugs happens when you need to take more of the drug than before to feel the same effects.
Common Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal
Symptoms of heroin withdrawal can begin about half a day after the last use, heightening to peak levels a full day or two after the previous dose.
- Dilated pupils
- Accelerating pulse
- Eye sensitivity
- Leg spasms
- Cold flashes with goosebumps
Additionally, other physical symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhea, are likely to occur during detoxification. There is waste inside the body that will exit in any way it can.
These withdrawal symptoms are mild and generally work themselves out after a few days. Expect these symptoms after detoxing from minor and short-term use of heroin.
Severe withdrawal symptoms
Severe heroin addiction comes with more severe health complications. When someone has a heroin addiction, the damage becomes worse over time, making it harder to detox. Detoxing from heroin at home can be highly dangerous, especially if you have a severe addiction.
- Cardiac arrest
- Extreme dehydration
- Agitation and irritability
- Lower pulse
- Harsh cravings for heroin
- Dangerously low breathing
- Lung failure
These are only some of the complications that can arise when detoxing from heroin addiction. This list is incomplete and does not consider pre-existing conditions.
Mental health disorders are pervasive among addicts, regardless of substance disorder. Heroin works by binding to specific receptors and activating them in the brain. These receptors, called mu-opioid receptors, stimulate the release of dopamine that floods the user with euphoric happiness or, a “rush.”
Over time, the brain re-wires itself to accommodate the brain’s extensive dopamine release and reward center. This reconstruction has detrimental emotional effects such as anxiety, depression, and antisocial personality disorder.
Addiction Severity and Withdrawal
The extent of heroin withdrawal symptoms depends on the frequency of use and length of time used.
- If an addict uses 1-2 bags of heroin a day, they are will likely have a mild withdrawal.
- If an addict uses 3-6 bags a day, they can expect to have a moderate withdrawal.
- Severe withdrawals are likely to occur from the use of more than six bags a day.
Detoxing is painful
Those who expect a moderate to severe withdrawal must seriously consider professional detoxification such as a treatment facility or hospitalization.
Anything above a mild withdrawal experience can be incredibly painful and can benefit from a doctor’s pain management medication. Additionally, the risk of relapse increases exponentially when detox occurs at home.
Detoxing at home increases your risk of doing drugs again. While at home, it is easier to succumb to the heroin cravings you will experience. No one is there to stop you, and you are in a familiar environment.
At home, you are in the same situation as before and can act on the impulse to satisfy your craving.
Inside of a drug addiction treatment center, there are no triggers or ways to use drugs. Rehabilitation centers are the safest place for you to detox from heroin because treatment happens away from triggers, other people, and external influences.
Heroin Addiction Treatment
Detoxing from heroin is only the first step to solving your addiction problem. To recover from heroin addiction, you must undergo proper medical treatment. Prescription medication can ward off heroin cravings as well as manage pain during detox.
Cleaning the heroin out of your system will only be useful if you never use heroin again. Relapse can happen at any time if proper management is not in place. Real recovery from heroin addiction means identifying the underlying cause of substance use disorder.
That means going to talk therapy, attending support group meetings, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and sometimes occupational therapy. All of these sessions work together to create an individualized plan for your recovery from addiction.
Precautions for Detoxing at Home
When detoxing at home, you can anticipate a generalized heroin withdrawal timeline. The first signs of withdrawal can begin about 8-12 hours after the last use. However, the peak will happen anywhere from 1-2 days after the previous use.
Safe space and protection
Find a safe place to detox, give yourself a comfortable and clutter-free space. Do not detox alone, ask for friends or family members to be with you while detoxing. Only choose friends or family members that will show you emotional and physical support.
Do not invite anyone you do not trust, as you will be in a vulnerable state for many hours, at the least. Lastly, you need at least one person there with you at all times in case of a medical emergency.
You will soon become dehydrated by the vomiting and diarrhea that accompanies withdrawal symptoms. Dehydration is very likely while detoxing, causing nausea and extreme headaches. Keep water and plenty of electrolyte fluids nearby and drink them often.
Throughout the vomiting and diarrhea is when you need the most hydration. Even if you are sick and do not want to drink, sip it anyway.
In the event you cannot keep fluids down, you will have to go to the hospital to stabilize and receive IV fluids.
You will need to eat healthy food to gather your strength through this process. You must feed yourself the right foods to recover from detoxing completely. Yes, you will need to recover from detoxing, and that is not the same as recovering from addiction.
Studies have shown that poor eating habits can make resisting drug use more difficult. Therefore, stock the fridge up with healthy foods of all different food groups, you never know what will sound good, or tolerable to eat.
Specialists suggest eating fresh, whole foods while detoxing. Go grocery shopping beforehand, buy things that you like to eat raw, or are simple to prepare.
Avoid buying foods high in sugar, sodium, caffeine, along with any junk or processed foods. These poor nutritional decisions will only hurt you when your body craves healthy food the most. Fruits and vegetables in season are best, but you cannot go wrong with leafy greens.
Getting decent sleep is easier said than done. During detox, one of the heroin withdrawal symptoms is insomnia. Insomnia will make getting a good night’s sleep very difficult.
There are ways to promote natural sleep, even when your brain cannot sit still.
Do not use electronics at least 30 minutes before intending to sleep. The blue light on the electronic screens produces endorphins in your brain, keeping you awake.
Make sure that wherever you are sleeping, you have access to fans and cold air conditioning. The cold will keep you as comfortable as possible and help combat the excessive heat and sweat you will produce overnight.
Finally, if you can, some stretches and yoga poses can help to regulate blood flow and promote sleepiness before bed.
Let a Professional Step in
The detox experience may prove to be more intense than you, or your guardian can handle. So, when is it time to ask for help?
If the pain becomes too much, or if you find detoxing to be too intense without medicines to help, it is time to call a professional to help you. Detoxing from heroin is a good thing to do, but sometimes, the realism of detoxification sets in and is more significant than any person can handle alone.
When to call the doctor or go to the ER
Signs of dehydration:
- Sunken eyes
- Unquenchable thirst
- Increase in irritability
- Low urination
- Dry tongue
- Slow skin rebound
- Weak pulse
Dehydration can cause a multitude of problems. If you cannot keep fluids down, and your caregiver notices any of the above symptoms, it is time to go to the hospital.
Signs of electrolyte imbalance:
- Dry mucous membranes
These are potentially life-threatening, as accidents can occur during these episodes. Again, if you have pre-existing conditions, we do not recommend detoxing at home due to unknown risks that could be lethal.
Signs of cardiac issues:
- Shortness of breath
- Upper body pain
- Chest pain
Chest pains are never a good sign and require medical attention from the nearest hospital. Pain in your chest can indicate several abnormalities or heart deficiencies that need monitoring immediately.
Relapse, thoughts of suicide, or self-harm
If at any point throughout detoxing, you find an insurmountable urge to use heroin again; you need to get to a hospital immediately. Additionally, if you are feeling intense thoughts of suicide, self-harm, or thoughts of harming others, you must go to the nearest hospital quickly.
Get Solutions Today
It is highly inadvisable that you detox from heroin at home. The intensity of heroin withdrawal symptoms is likely too great to handle alone, without medication, and no protection from relapse. The safest option is to complete your heroin detox at a rehab facility.
If you still decide to detox from home, please be safe. This decision should not be made lightly. In short, just because you feel you can, doesn’t mean you should.
If you or someone you love is considering detoxing from drugs, please consider entering a treatment facility. A facility can make you comfortable and safe while your body rids itself of harmful toxins and chemicals. Call 623-263-7371 to speak with an addiction specialist who can help you locate a center to detox safely.
Protect yourself, make good choices, and do not be afraid to ask for help. We are proud of you and your decision to detox from heroin.
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