Withdrawal is the body’s reaction to the sudden reduction or complete stoppage of substance or alcohol use. It comes in the form of physical and mental effects that could be anything from simply being immensely uncomfortable to life-threatening.
Just as chronic alcohol or drug use changes the body, the sudden decline and eventual elimination of these substances from the body also creates a massive change. On top of that, these massive changes also tend to be immensely stressful and, in some cases, require medical attention.
These symptoms, however, could be better managed if the person undergoes a detox program. Some people are more than willing to do whatever it takes to kick the habit but are under the misguided notion that they could do so by themselves. A detox program is designed so that all the necessary precautions are put in place during the detox process.
These precautions become a vital necessity should complications arise in the detox process. In many cases, the sudden loss of substances or alcohol in the body causes a shock to the system, leaving the person in either a coma or causing massive organ failure and death.
- Muscle pain
- Pain seemingly originating from the bones
- Hot and cold flashes
These symptoms could further be accompanied by the more general withdrawal symptoms experienced by most who go through detox, such as:
- Profuse sweating
- Teary eyes
- Runny nose
- Muscle cramps
- Muscle tension
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
- Hypertension (increased blood pressure)
- Poor concentration
- Impaired memory
There are also a number of factors that affect the duration and severity of the withdrawal symptoms, including:
- Substance used
- Duration of substance abuse
- Method of taking substance (orally, nasally, intravenously)
- Quantity/dosage taken
- Medical history
- Current health
- Pre-existing conditions
Outside of these factors, and within the confines of a detox facility, the physical symptoms could run from anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. The psychological symptoms, however, including depression, could last for far longer.
In some instances, the need for medication-assisted treatment is the only way to facilitate a successful detox, as the craving could be so intense that the person is in constant agony without taking whatever it is they have a dependency on.
Heroin is a substance that directly affects the central nervous system, often suppressing or causing irregularities in the proper functioning of some autonomic processes, such as blood pressure, breathing, heart rate, and even body temperature regulation.
With such wide-scale effect, it is no wonder that heroin abuse appears to be among those dependencies with the most withdrawal symptoms. In fact, heroin withdrawal symptoms could even be classified into three categories:
The massive behavioral changes and alterations in normal thought patterns caused by heroin abuse require intensive and extensive psychotherapy to treat. This is why heroin addiction rehabilitation includes more psychotherapy than most other rehabilitation programs.
Examples of these psychotherapy approaches include:
Medically Reviewed By
Nicole Rettino-Lambert LCSW, LCADC, CCS, CCTP, CSTIP
Nicole Rettino-Lambert is a dually licensed clinician with over 20 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults in both addiction treatment and mental health treatment. Along with extensive experience in clinical work, she has held leadership roles in both inpatient and outpatient addiction treatments centers in New Jersey. Throughout her various leadership positions, Rettino-Lambert has developed clinical programming, assisted staff in their growth and development in the clinical field, and had the privilege of helping numerous individuals on their path to recovery.