If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, knowing the heroin detox timeline can help put into perspective the process of withdrawal and recovery. But to understand the timeline for heroin withdrawal, you need to understand what it is and how it affects your body. 

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid that is derived from the opium poppy plant. It is an illegal substance that is highly addictive and brings with it a lot of side effects and a high risk of overdose. 

How Does Heroin Affect the Body?

Heroin has the most significant impact on your brain. It binds itself to a specific receptor in your brain referred to as the mu-opioid receptor or MOR. Your body naturally produces neurotransmitters that bind to these receptors and help regulate things like hormone production, feelings of happiness, and pain. Whenever these MORs are activated, it stimulates the release of dopamine, so your brain gets a jolt in the reward center. The more often you use heroin, the bigger the jolts you get in the brain’s reward center and the more reinforced that behavior becomes.

Heroin also slows down your central nervous system, so your brain function, breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, and even body temperature can become irregular. With too much heroin, all those things can result in a loss of consciousness or coma. Taking heroin can result in feeling sick or vomiting, feeling cold with a lowered body temperature, shallow breathing, relief from physical pain or a rush of pleasurable feelings, as well as a narrowing of the pupils and a diminished sex drive. When you detox from heroin, it causes other interactions in your body. 

What are the Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal?

The symptoms of withdrawal are vast and vary throughout the timeline for heroin withdrawal. The symptoms of heroin withdrawal can be very serious and include things like shaking, nervousness, cravings, depression, nausea or vomiting, restlessness, muscle pain and abdominal pain, and more. 

The symptoms can be better managed and overcome with things like medication and therapy. With heroin withdrawal, many people try to undergo detox on their own, at home, but when the cravings or the intense pain and nausea become too much, they relax. But with help from trained professionals at a detox and recovery center, your withdrawal can be managed with medication and therapy, increasing the likelihood that you will be able to move through all the stages of the detox timeline safely and successfully. You deserve to be your healthiest and happiest, which sometimes means getting help.

What is the Timeline for Heroin Withdrawal?

The timeline for heroin withdrawal or heroin detox timeline is based on many factors such as:

  • How long you have used heroin
  • If you have used heroin and other drugs together
  • How much heroin you have used
  • What your current physical health is
  • What your mental health is
  • Whether you have help from a treatment facility when you detox from heroin

For example: Someone who has used heroin for many years, and abused heroin in large doses with other prescription pills will likely undergo a longer, more severe withdrawal timeline. Someone with a history of mental illness or previous opioid addiction might experience more intense withdrawal symptoms compared to someone for whom this is the first time they have struggled with drug abuse. 

6-12 hoursSymptoms beginNausea, abdominal pain, muscle spasms, sweating, shaking
1-3 daysSymptoms peakIntense cravings, shaking, sweating, nervousness and agitation, muscle pain, nausea and vomiting
7-10 daysSymptoms begin to subsideNausea, abdominal pain, muscle spasms, sweating, shaking

The timeline for heroin withdrawal can vary for each person. Some people feel symptoms of withdrawal intensely the entire time, other people experience intense withdrawal symptoms just for the first day and then get better. Heroin will leave your body within a few days. Your digestive system will metabolize it and remove it, but how healthy you are and how much you have used will dictate how quickly this process happens. The withdrawal symptoms of heroin will continue until your body and brain have removed any residual compounds and gotten over their dependents. 

This can be very painful and frustrating but with proper help from a recovery facility, you can take medications to manage the symptoms, undergo therapy to get your brain back toward a healthy place, and develop strategies to manage your stress and remain clean. 
Reach out to Total TMH to find professional heroin detox programs near you.