Can You Die From Heroin Withdrawal?
You may have read that you can die from heroin withdrawal. Can you? In most cases, the answer is no, but there are complications that could result in death.
Someone battling a heroin addiction may be ready for sobriety but is very fearful of the withdrawal process. Addicts are very familiar with the painful withdrawal effects—so much so they keep using the drug to avoid them.
There is support for those who desire sobriety but dread the detox process. Through the support and guidance of experts in the addiction recovery field, you can safely get to the other side. Keep reading to learn more about heroin withdrawal, treatment, and recovery.
About Heroin Addiction and Heroin Withdrawal
Heroin is a product of opium, which comes from poppy plants mostly in Southeast Asia. After the opium is changed to morphine, the highly addictive substance, heroin, results. Heroin has no medical value and is therefore labeled an illicit drug with a Schedule I DEA classification.
When someone who has become addicted to heroin attempts to stop using the drug, the body will rebel within hours. A cascade of flu-like symptoms is triggered. This is because of the way addiction changes the brain chemistry over time. As the person continued to use the heroin and became dependent on it, their brain structure was altered. After addiction has evolved, the person will use heroin just to avoid being sickened by the withdrawal symptoms.
What You Can Expect During Heroin Detox and Withdrawal
When you enter a detox program you will begin to process through the withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms begin 6-12 hours after the last heroin dose.
Symptoms begin as mild flu-like symptoms also known as “dope sick” symptoms, then peak at about 72 hours before they start to subside. Many of these symptoms can be controlled with prescription and over-the-counter meds given during the detox.
Heroin withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Abdominal pain.
- Muscle spasms.
- Bone pain.
- Muscle and joint aches.
- Chills and goosebumps
- Excessive yawning.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Intense cravings.
The level of severity of the withdrawal symptoms will vary based on how long the person has been using heroin and the amount of heroin used.
Dangerous Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
When someone’s detox is being watched over by a detox team it can reduce many of the risks of withdrawal. When someone attempts to stop heroin use without this type of support, though, there can be serious health risks.
The major issues that can increase the risk of death from heroin withdrawal are:
- Dehydration. When symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea are not being treated by a treatment provider, it can result in dehydration. This can have very serious adverse affects on someone’s health. Dehydration causes such things as kidney failure, heart attack, organ damage, low blood shock, and seizures.
- Depression. Heroin withdrawal can trigger the symptoms of depression. Left without support, the person may be overwhelmed with feelings of despair and even become suicidal.
Detox experts are able to provide the meds and support needed throughout the detox process. This is vital to the person being able to complete the detox from start to finish. Without this support, most people would give up and return to the drug just to stop the withdrawal effect.
What Happens After Heroin Withdrawal?
A formal treatment program is the next step of the recovery journey. Without this treatment, it is not possible to sustain sobriety. That is because the thought patterns that keep someone shackled to heroin use must be changed. The process takes a certain amount of education, therapy, and support to be effective.
For someone with a long history of heroin addiction, a 90-day inpatient rehab program provides the best chance of long-term success. While enrolled in the program the person will learn and practice new ways of thinking and responding to life stressors. These behavior-based therapies can help them replace prior behaviors with new, healthy ones.
During rehab, the person will engage in a variety of treatment actions. Each treatment program will have its own theme or niche that helps define it. While most rehabs use evidence-based treatment approaches, these can vary from one program to the other. In addition to psychotherapy, methadone or other replacement drugs can also help sustain recovery.
The basic treatment elements for heroin recovery include:
- Therapy, such as CBT, DBT, CM, and MET.
- Group work with peers
- Holistic activities
- Life skills classes
- Relapse prevention planning
- Twelve Step program
Rehabs also offer a variety of other services and features based on the central mission or theme of the program.
Ways to Help Maintain Abstinence from Heroin
After you have completed the detox and treatment phases of recovery, there is still work to be done. In fact, great care should be taken to shore up your recovery after rehab, as relapse after a period of sobriety can prove fatal.
To maintain abstinence from heroin you will need to keep up with your sober support network and aftercare actions. By attending meetings as often as you can you surround yourself with others who can help support you. Getting a sponsor is also a vital step that can offer an extra layer of protection from relapse.
Sober living can be very helpful. Not everyone has a supportive home to return to, so sober living can help, at least in the early months. It is also good to keep going to therapy sessions. These sessions can be a source of support when setbacks or challenges happen.
So, can you die from heroin withdrawal? While quite rare, it is still possible. Instead of taking undue risks, have a trained detox team manage your detox and withdrawal process.
Bodhi Addiction Treatment Center Provides Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Bodhi Addiction Treatment Center can help you safely navigate the heroin withdrawal timeline. Our expert team offers guidance and support through all stages of detox and rehab. Call us today for more detail about our program at (877) 328-1968.