Heroin Detox

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Anyone who is hooked on an addictive street drug such as heroin will need to get fully detoxed from it if they want to start living any sort of new life. The process of recovery is always going to be split up into two separate phases: the physical detox and the long term recovery. You have to get through the detox before you can start living the long term recovery.


Now the acute detox phase is only going to last about 3 to 5 days, and in some cases might stretch out a bit longer than this. But there is also the post acute withdrawal stage that can really last for several months or even the first few years, where the body is still undergoing some long term physiological changes after years and years of drug abuse.

Detox from heroin

Detoxing from heroin can be particularly challenging because of the intensity of the withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, the average drug addict will have a very hard time breaking free from the addiction because the opiate detox phase is so incredibly miserable. Detox symptoms will typically include stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, anxiety, body aches and pains, restlessness, irritability, and other flu like symptoms. But of course it is not just the type of symptoms that occur but the duration and the intensity of them that makes it so uncomfortable.

There are really 3 basic methods that you might use in order to try and get through heroin detox: Detoxing at home, detoxing in a drug rehab, and doing an ultra rapid detox. Let’s take a closer look at the options.

Heroin detox at home

If you heroin detox at home then you are in for a rough ride. Cold turkey is no walk in the park and basically you will experience the full range of detox symptoms. There is little you can do to control these other than ride it out if you choose to go through this cold turkey.

You can have some success using over the counter medications to help control the symptoms, but do not expect miracles. You can try taking:

Tylenol alternating with Ibuprofen every 4 hours to help with body aches and pains. Take 1000mg of Tylenol and then 4 hours later take 800mg of IBU and then 4 hours later more Tylenol and so on….

Benadryl (Diphenhydramine HCL) for anxiety and possibly to help with sleep. If you are restless and anxious taking 50mg of Benadryl can help. Take every 4 hours as needed.

Immodium – for diarrhea.

That is about it really. Anything else you take might complicate things or make things worse. Get lots of sleep, take it easy, and rest. Drink lots of fluids and try to eat 3 meals each day if you can. Remember that opiate withdrawal is not a life threatening condition, no matter how bad you might feel. The best strategy is to simply get through it without complication if possible. Don’t take something you might regret or over complicate this process. Heroin detox is not supposed to feel great, so you should expect at least some degree of discomfort. Do what you can to minimize it but do not create even more problems for yourself by going overboard.

Detox in a drug rehab

This is the ideal route to take as the medical staff at a rehab can help treat your withdrawal symptoms a bit better than you can do by yourself at home. In some cases they will even give prescription medications that can help control the opiate withdrawal symptoms more directly. Of course drug rehab is not cheap and not everyone will be able to secure funding for these kinds of services. If you can swing it then that is great and you should take full advantage of it.  It sure beats a heroin overdose.

Remember what I mentioned above about getting off of heroin actually being a two part process, consisting of acute detox followed by long term recovery? Well, of the 3 options listed here, going to a drug rehab probably offers the greatest potential to you in terms of your long term success in recovery. The other 2 options offer very little in the way of long term, follow up care. Drug rehab is typically followed up with counseling, outpatient services, long term treatment, introduction into 12 step fellowships, or other long term strategies for recovery.

It does not do much good to get detoxed from heroin only to end up going right back to the old life and relapsing again. Drug rehab usually offers access to residential treatment and follow up care.

Ultra rapid detox

This is a relatively new procedure where you go in for a surgical procedure and get “put under” so that your body can be quickly flushed and detoxed very rapidly. The good part is that when you wake up you will not feel any withdrawal symptoms. The bad part is that this is expensive and is not covered by any insurances just yet. Another downside is that some people have unfortunately died during the procedure so it remains quite controversial. Plus, there is little emphasis on follow up care or on long term strategies when you are essentially being detoxed on what is practically an outpatient procedure.

Remember, detox is useless in the face of what could very easily amount to “yet another relapse.” How much effort and money are you putting into a detox procedure? If it is relatively pain free and you have little to no discomfort then this does not provide much incentive to stay clean in the long run. After all, you detoxed once, why can’t you do it again?

Even if you do go through a great deal of agony in heroin withdrawal, the mind still tends to forget the intensity of that pain over time and the threat of relapse will always be there. If you don’t have a long term strategy for how you are going to stay clean and sober in the long run then you might want to hold off on detox altogether until you can get the proper motivation to see it through to a new way of life.

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  • http://best iHear

    i heard that rapid costs like 20 grand, then again so does the wrong rehab…i know its a sensitive subject…

    but rapid-detox can kill by way of heart-attack, the pressure of massive detox in 12 hours…it’s condensed its’ THAT much worse…the body/mind cannot handle it sometimes…be wary, very wary cuz that’s too scary…

    you can save yourself alot of hassle and just do the at home method…be safe where the effects of too much dxm won’t set off too many alarms…

    careful dosing, but do dose enough, drink redbull and red soda’s and don’t ask can go through that weird alice in wonderland sort of hell or the regular kind…but hell will find you you squire…

  • http://best iHear

    pure dxm only if you want to live

    remember kids

    it’s a warzone out there

  • cyn

    it doesn’t sound like this author has any real experience with heroin/opiate use or withdrawal. Inpatient detoxes don’t always make it any easier. Unless you’re dropping a lot of money into a place that will more or less sedate you, you’re better off getting some otc meds & some benzos and just being in your own home. In my experience detoxes are filled with dirty often disgusting people you wouldn’t want to be around even if you felt well. Then they want you to go to meetings & do activities when you just want to be left alone. Don’t pay others to fix you, only you can ‘fix’ you!
    read about the law of attraction, the power of mind over matter, believe in yourself and your ability to help yourself. You have power – you can take control and take your life back! The pessimistic view this author expresses on home detox makes me sick. No it won’t be fun, but how bad do you want your life back? It is worth it. I was addicted to heroin/opiates for 9yrs. The day I get home from detox I use. Decided to do it at home-i was more comfortable and am still clean a year later. It is no ‘one day at a time’ struggle! I felt better in a week & never looked back. I don’t miss it-being sick, hustling $ to score constantly-i hated that life & wish I had got out sooner! Before you detox make sure you’re getting proper nutrition/hydration also.

  • jamescook1380

    Good site. all what is written here is true. I am a doc. Drug Clinic Dr.Vorobiev. Belgrade. All advices that posted here are right. It s possible to go through heroin withdrawal at home if you are just at the beginning of your addiction. Even then it is really painful and distressing. You must be determined, absolutely motivated to do this. My strong opinion is that there is no other alternative for treatment of heroin addiction ( or any other opioid addiction) as only detox with following complex rehabilitation program including Naltrexone therapy and treatment of mental dependence.We successfully use conventional heroin detox and ultra rapid heroin detox (UROD). We do approximately 250 URODs a year. Excellent results. we do detox as a detached program (short course) and also as a preliminary stage for a full course of opioid addiction treatment. The core treatment is curing of mental dependence + Naltrexone therapy. Reliable long term results. Not less than half of the patients do not relapse during the next year after treatment. It is not bad at all considering that on average in other clinics it is around 20%.

  • gukie

    make a decision. u can do this. keep a list of all the positive reasons for your decision. one day at a time, really…. i have a star hanging next to calender it says one day at a time. write down your short term goals… today…. next weeek, month away, long term….next yr….5 yrs…. keep that list near by……….. but always always always stay focused one day at a time…. when you detox, buy gallons of water, keep in your room……. get doc note to be off work 1 to 2 weeks…. plan on aim for 12 hours sleep per day/night…bedrest and lots and lots of water to flush out the bad toxins. also stick with very low carb diet for the first week, this will speed up the detox, carbs are toxic for addicts… the spikes in insulin then falls will make you crave the drug you are trying to defeat. hambergers, chicken, salads, veggies, steak, very low carb, no bread, no candy, no pasta…. also vit c tablets or cranberry tabs, the anti oxicidents will help cleanse every cell…. benadryl is a must have for anyone whith addiction, keep it with you… take 2-4 to get great sleep… take one in the morning before work so you calm down and less chance for stress wich can trigger the urge to use again…. benadryl wears off around 4 hrs so you may want one at lunch too. personallly i love stacker 2 because it has cafffiene wich is a natural mood booster, gives you energy so you can still function, caffience is natural anit-inflamatory for the pain and flue like symptoms that come from detoxing…….. you want to avoid artificial chemicals like anti-depresents, they slow down the adrenals which cause fatigue and you are not able to detox the body as well if your adrenals don’t run at peak performance…. water, water, water, no sodas unless it’s diet and ony diet just every now and again……… the artifical sweetner slows adrenals…and makes you have cravings for sweets, it’s a chemical. drink as much water as possible… if you take the stacker 2 you want to limit the caffiene drinks because too much caffiene with make your heart race… also try oil-pulling in the morning………. use safflower oil rince mouth in am on empty stomach for 20 minutes this detox’s the entire body and it works… trust me!!!! i have used it.. when you release all these stored chemicals chances are you will devolope sinus issues, flu-like symptoms but keep doing it, you are on your way to a cleaner mind and body… allot of chimicals being released at one will cause headaches & nightmears. very little alcohol, try to do without alcoholic drinks. the caffiene releases small amounts of seratonine so you will get the same feel-good emotions as the opiates, just on a much smaller scale….. but that is some much better than cold turkey… cold turkey will make you sooo low………. too low i think. i only take one stacker 2 in the morning before shower……..i don’t want more than 1 per day because that will cause too much stimulation….. try to do these things together… its a no fail method, start today be clean in month or less and see what you can be……when you are sober the world is your oyster……… just don’t take on too much at once.. if you overload your list of things to do it may trigger u to use. take it easy and don’t promise people anything…… just scheduel things for this week and say you will try your best.. u feel enough guilt already you don’t need to add anymore on your plate… the detox is enough to commite to…. if you have a bad day… take a deep breath, breath, relax, get you a benadryl and make a u-turn…. don’t let one bad day ruin so sober streak, tell your mood you are just going to keep that moment in the past because your future is brighter. may it a habbit to think positive

  • AtombombOG

    im going to start the in home detox this weekend. by reading all the different comments and info on this page i feel i have the will to do this. as long i keep the lord, my loved ones, and this internet site by myside im sure ill be fine. oh yeah heard smoking chronic helps too…

  • margo

    I want to help my daughter do a home detox. She also has an eating disorder which she is receiving treatment for. Any advice before we start. She has a methadone script and key worker but is still using most days. She wants to do it but is scared she will stop eatiing again if she stops using. Vicious circle as she thinks she’ll get kicked of the eating disorder support if they know she’s using. Any suggestions please I really want to help her succeed …

  • Patrick

    @ Margo – I would take her to an inpatient rehab, the eating disorder complicates the whole thing and also makes it a bit more dangerous. Opiate withdrawal is usually not dangerous but it can be if there are complicating factors, especially if they involve dehydration and/or poor diet.

    In particular, Methadone can be fatal if you stop using a large amount of it cold turkey. Add in the eating disorder and I think she needs professional help. Just my opinion….

  • Satinder Wahla

    i used heroine drug from 2 years daily ,now i want to stop this all ,,please help me how can i stop this and live a happy life without this drug ,,,please help me for god sake?

  • kate

    Please help me help my son detox, he is ready. he is using heroin and speed. Should we focus on the heroin first? Should I follow the advice above, offer water, tylenol, benedryl?