With all the dangers that addiction to heroin brings, delaying heroin detox—which is the process of cleansing the body of the harmful toxins found in heroin—means further risking the serious consequences of heroin abuse. Apart from the effects of heroin on the body, which include liver and kidney disease, pulmonary issues, and heart problems, the risk of contracting diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B and C through shared needle use becomes greater. Then there’s the risk of overdose, which almost always leads to a heroin overdose death.
If a heroin addict really wants to be saved from the pitfalls of heroin addiction, it is important that they take that first step towards overcoming heroin drug addiction, and that first step is heroin detoxification, which has two primary types: natural detox and medical detox.
Natural Detoxification From Heroin
Truth be told, heroin addiction is one of the hardest drug addictions to overcome. This is because regular heroin use makes the addict’s nervous system accustomed to getting a constant supply of the drug. When a heroin addict chooses natural detox, he or she is in effect going “cold turkey”, which means the immediate and total cessation of any heroin intake, thereby allowing their systems to readjust to the absence of the drug. The thing with natural detox, however, is that the addict will have to deal with heroin withdrawal symptoms, which typically set in within 12 hours of not doing heroin, and usually peak after two to four days.
Withdrawal from heroin is a downright uncomfortable proposition. If the heroin addict chooses natural detoxification, he or she must be ready for the withdrawal symptoms of heroin, which include:
- Abdominal pain
Heroin addiction withdrawal is indeed a miserable experience. Apart from the above physical symptoms, psychological or mental health issues may also arise during withdrawal. A patient might experience depression, anxiety, irritability, sudden mood swings and even suicidal thoughts. Worse of all, the misery of heroin withdrawal effects often leads to a relapse, as many heroin addicts are unable to deal with the symptoms, and fall back on their old habits. Their old heroin habit.
Medical Detox from Heroin
With all the horror stories that often circulate about the pain and suffering that heroin withdrawal brings, some individuals go for the other method of detoxification, which is medical detox. Typically, medical heroin detox involves the use of mild or strong sedatives, medications, and sometimes narcotics to help keep the discomfort of the whole heroin withdrawal stage more tolerable. Of all forms of medical detox, the most commonly used is methadone, which is itself a synthetic opioid. In methadone detox, the patient is given gradual doses of methadone until the heroin physical addiction has been overcome, with reduced withdrawal symptoms. The same can be said of Suboxone detox, a more convenient way of detoxification. Unlike methadone, the synthetic opiate Suboxone can be used to detox from heroin at home, and can be made available with a prescription.
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Heroin Rapid Detox
For all the convenience that methadone or Suboxone detoxification offers, the patient still experiences withdrawal symptoms, albeit at a reduced level, but still uncomfortable nonetheless. Rapid detoxification from heroin, however, promises to completely eliminate all withdrawal symptoms. In heroin rapid detoxification, a person is put under as if surgery will be performed. While under anesthesia, heroin and all other drugs will be rapidly flushed from the patient’s body. This procedure, however, is still relatively new. It is also quite expensive, and insurance companies do not cover it just yet.
Heroin Detox: The First Step to Recovery From Heroin Addiction
Even as a recent study concludes that alcohol is more dangerous than heroin, it doesn't make detoxification from heroin any less necessary or important. It is only the first step any heroin addict must take before making a complete drug rehabilitation. It is a relatively small first step, as heroin detox only lasts for a week or two at the most. The next few steps that comprise the entire heroin treatment process must be taken too, or the patient might suffer a relapse, then everything the addict has gone through during detoxification will be for naught. Heroin addiction treatment, after all, is often a lifetime process.