18 Dec Withdrawal Symptoms From Heroin
If you’ve recently decided to get help for your heroin addiction—congratulations. We fully understand that taking that initial step towards recovery is never easy. However, once you get the help you need and deserve, you will be one step closer to living a healthy, positive life.
It’s important to understand that kicking any drug is never easy. However, it can be argued that kicking heroin is the most difficult. Further, every individual who makes the decision to stop using the drug with experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms will, in a word, be painful—but that should not discourage you.
This article will help detail the history of heroin, the dangers of the illegal drug, but most importantly, what to expect from withdrawing from heroin. Remember, education is key—in all aspects—and that is what we aim to do: provide an education on heroin.
Identified as an illegal narcotic, Heroin is not only highly addictive but is also incredibly dangerous as well. When a user is high on heroin, they initially get a rush of good feelings, that is then followed by a relaxed sensation all throughout their body. One of the most common ways to administer the drug is through injection, which poses a whole host of other issues. Severe addicts may even inject themselves up to a couple times a day, leaving permanent scars of their “track marks”. These scars are one of the most common signs someone is abusing heroin.
There is no doubt that heroin is an addictive drug. That’s part of the reason so many people have a hard time quitting. Unfortunately, an addiction can form after just a single time of experimenting with the drug. All it takes is one high for someone to start craving that sensation for the rest of your life. Sadly, when someone has a strong craving for their next hit of heroin, that is often dangerous territory for an overdose. Someone who has overdosed on heroin can easily stop breathing and die as a result. In some cases, drug dealers will even mix in a stronger opioid called fentanyl to make their heroin more potent, causing a user to overdose after they’ve taken their normal amount. If drug dealers lace a batch of heroin with fentanyl, an overdose is likely to occur.
Regardless of how you get this drug into your system, the effects of heroin on the brain occur quite quickly. Users will either snort, smoke, or inject heroin into a vein, however, most choose to inject since it offers the user the fastest high.
The intensity of the high will depend on how much of the drug was taken. As soon as heroin has been ingested, the user’s skin will become warm, they will have a dry mouth, and all of their extremities will feel heavy. Other common side effects of heroin include nausea, vomiting, and in some cases extremely itchy skin. Once the initial effects begin to wear off, a heroin high will last a short period and then result in drowsiness for a few hours. During this period, heart function and breathing will be severely slowed.
Street Names for Heroin
As with most illegal drugs, heroin has many different street names. Specifically, when the drug is bought on the streets, it is often referred to by a variety of different titles, including the following examples:
- Black Tar
- Black Pearl
- Brown Sugar
- White Stuff
- White Nurse
- White Junk
- White Stuff
- White Nurse
- White Junk
- Chiba or Chiva
- Brown Sugar
Please note that these are not all of the nicknames for heroin, but just a select few. As well, the name in which the drug is called generally refers to the specifications of the heroin—i.e. what it’s cut with, etc.
The Dangers of Heroin
If you use heroin often, your body builds a tolerance to it. That doesn’t mean it won’t harm you. It means you need to take more and more to get the same high, and your body starts depending on it. The effects on the body from continued use of this drug are very destructive.
Long-term Effects Include:
- Bad teeth
- Inflammation of the gums
- Cold sweats
- The weakening of the immune system
- Respiratory (breathing) illnesses
- Muscular weakness, partial paralysis
- Reduced sexual capacity and long-term impotence in men
- Menstrual disturbance in women
- Inability to achieve orgasm (women and men)
- Loss of memory and intellectual performance
- Pustules on the face
- Loss of appetite
Getting Help for a Heroin Addiction
Treating an addiction to heroin usually involves therapy, medication, support groups, and most importantly, lifestyle changes. These heroin addiction treatment programs are available at both inpatient drug facilities and outpatient treatment centers. The most important aspect of treatment is finding the best option for you and your needs. Every individual is different, meaning what works for others suffering from addiction may not necessarily work for you.
Medical detox is the first step toward overcoming heroin cravings. It’s best not to try detoxing without the help of a physician. Heroin withdrawal is often painful and can last weeks for some, but physicians can prescribe medication that can minimize discomfort and help the body slowly readjust. We will discuss specific withdrawal symptoms from heroin later in this article.
Therapy is also an important aspect for tackling the underlying behaviors that led to a person’s heroin use, as well as finding a good rehabilitation center. There are many rehab centers for heroin addiction in Georgia that offer a holistic approach with experienced staff to help an addict fight their addiction.
Withdrawal Symptoms From Heroin
While in rehab, a person will experience the withdrawal process. Heroin withdrawal often feels like a really amplified case of the flu. The worst physical symptoms roughly last for a week or so, with symptoms reaching an all-time high during the second or third day.
Common flu-like symptoms of withdrawal include the following:
- Abdominal Cramps
- A runny nose
- Muscle Aches
- Bones Aches
- Trouble Concentrating
- Goose Bumps
- Rapid Heart Rate
- Muscle Spasms
- Impaired Respiration
- Difficulty Feeling Pleasure
Symptoms may begin as soon as six hours after the last time a person used heroin. Chronic pain will start to develop on the first day, generally in the form of muscle aches. These aches will get stronger over the initial 48 hours. Other symptoms during this first period of the withdrawal process can include anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, shaking, and diarrhea.
By the third or fourth day, withdrawal is in full swing. Symptoms during this time often include abdominal cramping, sweating, shivers, and nausea/vomiting.
A user will usually feel withdrawal symptoms for a week. Eventually, the common muscle aches and nausea will begin to wear off, allowing the recovering addict to feel normal again. Why physical symptoms may taper down, phycological symptoms can still be present for months. Anxiety, depression, irritability, and insomnia are all common symptoms that may linger past the week withdrawal mark.
The signs and symptoms of heroin addiction will vary among users. The most common symptoms of heroin addiction include the following:
- Mood Swings
- Avoiding Family and Friends
- Lack of Personal Hygiene
- Inability to Fulfill Responsibilities
- Increased Sleeping
- Lack of Motivation
- Slurred Speech
- Track Marks
- Running Nose
- Shortness of Breath
- Dry Mouth
- Flushed Skin
- Constricted Pupils
- Extreme Itching
- Weight Loss
- Scabs or Bruises
It’s imperative to understand that though the signs and symptoms listed above are commonly connected to heroin abuse, they do not automatically mean a problem is occurring. Before you make any sort of accusation, try to get some more information regarding the situation. Specifically, have a conversation with your friend or loved one to better determine if he or she is addicted to heroin.
If a problem is occurring, you will not be able to offer help until the individual with the addiction admits the problem and asks for assistance. Though it may sound cliché, the fact remains true: You cannot fully and successfully help someone unless they want to get help themselves.
Heroin Laws in Georgia
Drug possession laws in Georgia are taken very seriously throughout the state. Over the past decade, the state of Georgia has been fighting a major war on drugs and part of their solution are stricter drug penalty laws. These laws are so strict that possession of any amount of heroin is a felony punishable by up to 15 years behind bars. If you are convicted twice with heroin, you can be facing a full lifetime in prison.
When it comes to minors, the courts in Georgia take these individuals who have been arrested for possession of drugs and move them into community-based rehabilitation centers. Instead of incarcerating minors in juvenile detention centers, Georgia law enforcement hopes to improve the minor’s life by offering a safe and drug-free environment.
Within the state of Georgia, possession of any amount of heroin is a felony that is punishable with a minimum of two years in prison. It’s important to note that the time behind bars can be up to 15 years just for a single offense. If someone is convicted of a second heroin possession offense, they can be looking at up to 30 years of incarceration.
As with most drugs, selling heroin is worse than just possessing it. The law views the drug dealer as someone who is enabling the user, therefore worsening the drug problem altogether. No matter how much heroin is being sold, first-time offenders are looking at a 5-year minimum for their jail term. If caught selling twice, drug dealers can be sentenced to a lifetime in prison.
If you’ve ever considered using or selling heroin, it is highly recommended to research—in full detail—the legal consequences.
If you have gotten into legal trouble due to heroin (or any other sort of illegal drug), you will need to contact an attorney. Even if you are well aware that what you’ve done is wrong, a professional attorney can still help ensure that you get a fair sentence. Further, if you are ready to make a positive change in your life, legal representation can help portray to the courts that you’ve learned from your mistake and now want to better your life.
It’s Never Too Late for Help
If you get one thing from this article, hopefully, it’s that it is never too late to get help from a drug addiction, even when the drug in question is heroin. No matter what, everyone deserves a chance at sobriety. Addiction is very powerful and it is very easy for a drug addict to get trapped in the cycle of addiction. In fact, addiction is a disease, and many suffer from it. It is important to understand that there is always hope.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a heroin drug addiction or any other substance abuse addiction for that matter, please call our Georgia treatment center today. Our medical professionals will help alleviate the symptoms of heroin withdrawal and make your detox process as comfortable as possible.
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“Heroin: What You Need to Know.” WebMD. 15 Mar. 2019. https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/heroin-use#1
“Heroin: What Is It?” Drug-Free World. 15 Mar. 2019. https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/heroin.html
“10 Facts About Heroin.” Drug Policy Alliance. 15 Mar. 2019. http://www.drugpolicy.org/drug-facts/heroin