A safe detox from heroin is actually fairly simple to do, though it is far from easy. Staying relatively safe in terms of medical stability is the easy part, while actually making it through acute heroin withdrawal symptoms without being driven to relapse is the hard part. There are a number of suggestions to help the struggling addict with both of these challenges.
Safety and Heroin Detoxification
In terms of heroin detox and safety, the main thing is to stay properly hydrated and well nourished. There are a number of potential side effects from heroin withdrawal which basically resemble the flu. An upset stomach is a common symptom, and this can include both vomiting as well as diarrhea. If these symptoms persist, then it is possible that the person could become dehydrated and malnourished. Because of this, one of the number one suggestions for a safer heroin addiction detox is to consistently sip ice water. Small amounts of food should be tested periodically to see if the person can keep the food down. If ice water is used and even small amounts of food can be ingested and retained, then there is very little threat of any dangerous medical conditions related to heroin withdrawal.
What Happens During Heroin Detox?
Most addicts find this hard to believe because heroin detox treatment is generally so intense and uncomfortable. In fact, detoxification from other drugs–such as alcohol or barbiturates–is actually much more dangerous from a medical standpoint. While withdrawal from heroin is extremely miserable, it is actually not all that dangerous. In fact, there is no direct medical threat to the body during heroin withdrawal, and the only potential problems result from complications due to extreme withdrawal symptoms. This is further evidenced by the fact that heroin leaves the body fairly quickly, and withdrawal will generally be over within just a few days. Though it is not healthy to do so, most people can go for a few days without eating much food, as long as they stay properly hydrated and get plenty of rest. Anyone who has been sick with the flu knows what the basic process consists of in terms of nursing ourselves back to health. Drink fluids and stay in bed. Safely making it through detoxification from heroin is not much different.
The Dangers of Heroin Withdrawal
The threat of dehydration and the extreme heroin withdrawl symptoms can be mitigated by going to a drug rehab that has a medical detox unit. There they can help the heroin addict through withdrawal by giving them medications to help give them some relief. Various medicines can be used to treat the specific withdrawal symptoms, and they might also use some form of synthetic opiate like methadone to treat the overall withdrawal. Use of methadone in detox, however, is still fodder for debate. In the vast majority of cases, this approach is not needed to provide patient safety, but only to provide the addict with some level of comfort. Ultimately, if the addict relapses back to heroin, this is a safety risk in itself, so ideally the addict will want to afford themselves every chance that they can to get clean and sober. Thus a trip to drug rehab may very well be the safest route they can go, especially if it leads the heroin addict to a new life of sobriety.