How long is detox for heroin? The answer to this varies from person to person. It’s also affected by duration of use, whether other opioids are involved and dosage. However, for all its power, the detox time for heroin is often shorter than that of other opioids. Symptoms are typically severe:
- Stomach pain
- Muscle and bone pain
- Restless leg syndrome
The above symptoms can be greatly reduced or even eliminated by special medications used in a medical detox. This is usually Suboxone, but methadone and clonidine may also be used. When speaking of detox, it’s important to clarify which kind of detox you are referring to. Although the term detox would generally mean a medical detox, it’s also possible to complete a heroin detox at home. As long as the home detox is immediately followed by drug rehab recovery services, it’s an acceptable way to eliminate heroin from the body’s systems.
However, home detox isn’t advisable. Heroin withdrawal, like that of all opioids, is extremely uncomfortable and quite painful. Intense drug cravings magnify the overall misery. Heroin withdrawal is often compared to a severe case of the flu, but this isn’t really accurate. It’s far, far worse than that.
Modern medications can ease opioid withdrawal symptoms dramatically, but this will also extend the total detox period. The fastest way to detox is probably without medication, but it may be so horribly painful and uncomfortable that many people won’t be able to stand it. It’s better to use medication and get through the process, even if it takes longer, than it is to fail altogether and return to heroin use just to get relief.
What About Ultra-Fast Opioid Detox?
Facing heroin detox without medication is enough to terrify anyone. In recent years, some detox facilities offering “72 hour detox” services have appeared in many communities. These places claim to painlessly rid your body of all opioids within three days. You will sleep through most of it, they claim, and wake up drug-free and feeling great. This is nonsense. It’s also potentially dangerous. There is no quick way through opioid withdrawal. Once your brain and body have become modified by opioid use, there is a process it must go through to be able to function normally without them again.
These ultra-fast detox places use naloxone or naltrexone, both opioid antagonists, to force opioids, in this case, heroin, off the brain’s opioid receptors, especially one called the mu or MOR. This throws the body into full-blown, instant withdrawal and would be extremely harsh and painful, but you’re not aware of it because you’re highly sedated. This may sound like an easy way out, but it’s not. It’s very hard on the body’s systems, and expecting to feel normal after only 72 hours of withdrawal time just isn’t reasonable or feasible. People have died and suffered severe adverse effects with this procedure. A study conducted by NIDA, the National Institute for Drug Abuse, found that people who awakened after the sedation phase of their ultra-fast detox had withdrawal symptoms comparable to those normally present for anyone on that particular part of the opioid withdrawal timeline. In other words, they really hadn’t gained much benefit at all.
It’s best to avoid this so-called ultra-fast detox. It’s not any faster overall and at best, just lets you sleep through part of it. It’s potentially dangerous, often wildly expensive and may pose other health risks as well.
How Long Does Heroin Detox Take Overall?
When done at home without medication, heroin detox will tend to take about two weeks. However, the worst of the symptoms may begin to abate as early as three to four days after the last heroin dose. More improvement is generally seen after about a week to ten days, with the person feeling even better at the 14-day mark. Some symptoms, especially insomnia and restless leg syndrome, may persist for as long as a month to six weeks and even longer, but this is not as common with heroin as it is for some other opioids, especially oxycodone and methadone.
Medical detox using Suboxone and other drugs works by using other medications as substitutes for heroin. This eases withdrawal symptoms, sometimes completely, and tremendously reduces drug cravings. However, the substitute drug must then be gradually reduced until it’s finally stopped. This generally takes more time than a non-drug heroin detox, typically requiring a bare minimum of at least 10 days. It could be much longer if the heroin use were of a long duration or a very high dose.
Questions About Heroin?
Everyone is different. That’s why we’re here to help you on an individual basis. Just call us at 833-610-1174 anytime for confidential, personalized help with heroin detox or rehab.