Can You Die From Heroin Withdrawal?

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Heroin use is one of the most dangerous addictions a person can develop. With The National Institute on Drug Abuse reporting 13,165 deaths involving heroin in 2020, it has become one of the country’s longest-running and most dangerous drug epidemics ever. The effects that heroin has on those who try it can be a feeling of euphoria at first that they will never experience again. It is that high that makes them chase it through the years, raising their own tolerance with each dose, and making withdrawal so much harder when the time finally comes. For those ready to make the first steps to recovery, worry over the potential risks of quitting can stop them from moving forward. With the right team behind them, they don’t have to worry at all.

The safest place to get off of heroin is at a rehabilitation center. Knowing the risks involved in overcoming heroin addiction, Guardian Recovery can eliminate the worry of painful side effects through programs made to help users find peace from addiction while offering safety during detox. Guardian Recovery can help you effectively overcome an addictive disorder of any severity. Contact us today for more information.

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Can You Die From Heroin Withdrawal?

Heroin Withdrawal without proper oversight can be life-threatening. The effects can range across a wide spectrum and, for some, they can include medical issues that require medication or assistance. The combination of many of the effects can lead to issues like extreme hydration and other life-threatening situations. In these varied cases, it can be fatal. At their core, the risks that come from heroin withdrawal are easily managed by those who know how to handle them. It is not something that should be done alone. Proper and safe detoxing from heroin should be done in the care of a rehabilitation center or hospital.

What Are the First Steps to Take When Preparing to Detox From Heroin?

Before beginning detoxification, it is important to seek medical attention. It is important to get the opinion of a professional in order to understand how withdrawal symptoms may present themselves in the individual. From there, they will help to determine the best course of action and provide resources and assistance moving forward.

Gradually reducing the amount of heroin being used is another key ingredient to easing eventual withdrawal symptoms. Since the severity of the effects is usually tied to the amount of the drug a person regularly does, slowly scaling back can potentially stave off risks.

What Are the Risks of Heroin Withdrawal?

Coming down from a drug that your body has become accustomed to can be difficult, and heroin is a prime example of severe physical and psychological effects of withdrawal. Some of the common effects that a person could experience during heroin withdrawal are:

  • Vomiting and Nausea
  • Dehydration
  • Insomnia
  • Fever
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Sweating
  • Runny Nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Chills
  • Cramping

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How Long Do Heroin Withdrawal Effects Last?

The length of time before a person begins to experience these effects can vary depending on the extent of their usage. Usually, the effects can begin within hours of the last time heroin was used. They can last for days or even weeks.

The Importance of Staying Hydrated

Since so many of the side effects of heroin withdrawal lead to dehydration, drinking water is incredibly important. It is the sudden loss of fluids that can often be what leads to a person’s death.

What Treatments Are Used to Treat Heroin Addiction?

Heroin treatment comes in many forms and, for a person looking to end their addiction, a professional can lead you along many different roads. These may include:

  • Behavioral Therapy — A person addresses the root cause behind their addiction. By coming to terms with and understanding the reason behind their pull toward the drug.
  • Residential Treatment — A person going through detox may often be treated in a residential center. Here, they receive care around the clock and monitoring of their health as the drug leaves their system.
  • Outpatient Treatment — This is where a patient gets much of the same care and assistance as those in residential treatment without living there overnight.
  • Support Groups — Groups like Narcotics Anonymous allow patients to interact with others who share similar stories, leading to the understanding that they are not alone.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment – Through the use of approved medications, a trained professional can administer treatment aimed to ease the effects of withdrawal.

What Medications Are Used to Treat Heroin Withdrawal?

One of the main reasons why heroin detoxing should be done in the care of a medically trained professional is their ability to offer medication to help ease the withdrawal symptoms. These medications can be:

  • Methadone — Acting as an opioid to receptors in the brain, methadone can reduce the cravings a person has for heroin.
  • Buprenorphine — Similar to methadone, buprenorphine attaches to the same receptors without causing a sense of euphoria or sleepiness.
  • Naltrexone — A non-narcotic, naltrexone acts by blocking the high feeling that narcotics can offer, removing the desire to take them.
  • Clonidine — Clonidine is used to treat some of the symptoms that heroin withdrawal can produce. It is known to suppress feelings of anxiety, sweats, headaches, and other effects users face from detox.

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When you are in the throes of active heroin addiction, finding the motivation to move towards a life of recovery can seem almost impossible. The good news is that you never have to take the initial steps alone. As soon as you make the decision to reach out for help, Guardian Recovery will be there to walk you through the remainder of the process. First, we conduct a brief pre-assessment to determine which level of clinical care is right for you. We offer a free, no obligation health insurance benefit check to determine whether our services are covered partially or in full. For those battling heroin addiction, entering into a medical detox center is generally the first step in the treatment process. While you are in detox you will undergo a safe and comfortable heroin withdrawal before moving on to the next appropriate level of care. To learn more about detox options for heroin or to begin your personal journey of heroin addiction recovery, contact us today.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave

L.M.H.C.

Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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