What Does Heroin Withdrawal Feel Like?

The first step young men must make when they want to recover from their heroin addiction is to undergo heroin detox and withdrawal. The initial step can often seem scary because of the unknowns, like, “What does heroin withdrawal feel like?” 

To answer this question depends on several factors. First, it is crucial to remember each young man’s heroin addiction will be unique to them. After that, the frequency of use, the amount used, and the delivery method can all determine what heroin withdrawal feels like. 

However, we will attempt to answer this question by sharing the common heron withdrawal symptoms to help give you a better idea. 

What is Heroin?

Heroin is an opioid drug made from the resin left over in opium poppy plant seeds after morphine has been made from these seeds. Heroin is a depressant drug, just like other opioids, as it slows and numbs various bodily responses and functions. 

What Does Heroin Look Like?

The color of heroin can vary depending on what is mixed with it and ranges from a white or brown powder to a black sticky tar. The powder can be snorted or mixed with water and injected. The black sticky tar is often heated, and the fumes are inhaled. Users can also smoke heroin. 

Effects of Heroin Use

When heroin is introduced into the body, it attaches itself to the naturally occurring opioid receptors in the brain and central nervous system (CNS). Once it binds to these receptors, it can cause an initial rush of euphoria as the drug forces an increase in the release of “feel good” endorphins in the body. 

As this initial rush wears off, many people experience a relaxed state without any pain. Users refer to this state as “going on the nod,” where they move between a sleepy state and a wakeful state. While alternating between these two states, it is possible to experience hallucinations, such as hearing colors or tasting sounds. 

Dangers of Heroin Use

One of the primary dangers of heroin use is the highly-addictive effects one experiences when using the drug. Some young men find the experience so pleasurable that they start to crave the drug as soon as the effects wear off. Other young men often want to repeat the experience, so they will use heroin again and again. 

As you can imagine, continued heroin use can lead to:

  • Changes in brain functioning – The body’s natural store of endorphins can be depleted to the point the only way they are released is by using heroin.
  • Tolerance – The body grows accustomed to functioning while under the effects of heroin. This results in using more of the drug to achieve the desired effects.
  • Dependence – A psychological dependence develops when you believe you need the drug to reach a euphoric state. 
  • Addiction – Addiction takes hold when you find you are using heroin to function and avoid going into withdrawal. Heroin addiction can be potent because you believe you need the drug just to feel normal.  

Other dangerous effects of heroin use can include:

  • Increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases
  • Increased risk of HIV and AIDS
  • Slowed respiration
  • Coma
  • Respiratory failure
  • Accidental overdose
  • Insomnia
  • Increased risks of infections
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Co-occurring mental problems

Effects of Heroin Withdrawal

What does heroin withdrawal feel like? The effects can range from mild and moderate to severe symptoms. 

Mild Symptoms

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue
  • Mild body aches

Moderate Symptoms

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Intense abdominal cramping
  • Uncontrolled shaking
  • Listlessness and sleepiness
  • Problems focusing and concentrating
  • Irritability 
  • Cravings

Severe Symptoms

  • Major depression
  • Extreme anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Itchy skin
  • Intense cravings
  • Muscle spasms and body pain
  • Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
  • Tremors
  • Extreme shaking and sweating

Overall, many who have experienced severe heroin withdrawal describe the physical symptoms as similar to an extreme case of the flu. 

Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

The initial withdrawal symptoms usually begin between 6 and 12 hours after the last dose. Initially, they can seem mild. However, the longer the body goes without heroin, the more intense the withdrawal symptoms become. 

Most people reach the peak of their withdrawal symptoms within 2 to 4 days of their last dose. After that, physical heroin withdrawal will feel less intense, and symptoms are fully resolved in 10 to 14 days. However, the psychological, post-acute effects and cravings can continue for weeks, months, or longer.

Treatment for Heroin Addiction 

Treatment for heroin addiction can include medication-assisted treatment (MAT) during detox to help reduce the severity of withdrawal effects. Therefore, medically supervised detox is highly recommended. 

After completing your detox, you can choose from different inpatient and outpatient treatment programs. Additionally, many outpatient treatment programs can include residing at a sober living home to help maintain a safe, secure, supportive, and structured environment. 

Furthermore, many young men prefer to transition to a sober living home after completing inpatient treatment to help further them adjust to their new drug-free lifestyle and avoid relapse

Avoid Heroin Relapse at Sober Living Homes for Young Men in Los Angeles

New Life House offers access to sober living homes for young men in the Los Angeles area. We provide a safe, supportive, caring, and structured environment for young men to continue to work on their heroin recovery as well as outpatient treatment, life skills programs, and educational programs. There are never any set timelines as we believe each young man should remain in a sober living home for however long they feel necessary to benefit their sobriety and recovery. We also help families heal and recover from heroin addiction. 

Visit our admissions page today to learn more about sober living homes for young men and family programs or to arrange your move-in date. 

Last Updated on February 21, 2024


Contact Us

    Call Us Now: (888) 357-7577

    Call Us Now: (888) 357-7577