Heroin is a notoriously difficult drug to quit. Both the body and the brain of the user easily become dependent on the drug and once this happens, kicking the habit is a major challenge. This is not just due to the high addictiveness of the drug, but because the process of detoxing from the drug is accompanied by both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Many people who try to quit end up with a relapse just to ease the withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, attempting to detox from heroin at home is not seen as a good idea.
What Does Proper Heroin Detox Require?
Detoxing starts within twelve hours of giving up the drug and the acute symptoms can last for as long as a week. During this time the recovering user will experience extremely high levels of discomfort. It is important to properly manage the detoxification to prevent a relapse or health complications. This usually involves:
- Round the clock supervision: Since the patient will experience high levels of physical and psychological discomfort during this period, supervision by clinical personnel is important. Some psychological symptoms such as extreme depression may make the person a suicide risk.
- Medical management: It is not a good idea to quit heroin suddenly. This may result in more acute withdrawal symptoms and higher probability of relapsing. In supervised detoxification, the doctors may administer decreasing doses of agents similar to the drug to reduce the acuteness of the withdrawal symptoms.
- Counselling: Recovering users experience a lot of psychological problems during and after the detoxification period. Behavioural counselling and other forms of therapy are very important in managing these psychological conditions. Under medical supervision, the doctors can monitor the patient for signs of these conditions and provide the necessary counselling. Without this, there is a risk of the patient harming themselves and others.
What To Expect During Detox
Even with drug management, it is not yet possible to eradicate withdrawal symptoms from the detoxification process. These symptoms will be both physical and psychological and it may help to be aware of them before the detoxification starts. These symptoms include:
- Cramps in the abdomen
- Pain in the bones and muscles
- Diarrhoea and throwing up
- Rapid pulse
- Teary eyes
- Intense cravings
- Extreme depression etc.
Apart from these symptoms, there may be other medical complications that may occur as a result of these symptoms such as dehydration. Cardiac problems may worsen at this point as well as chronic pains.
Why Detoxing From Home Is A Bad Idea
Going through withdrawal symptoms at home is a bad idea for several reasons. First of all, it will not be possible to do any medical management which means the patient will have to feel the full intensity of the symptoms. There isn’t likely to be proper support or counselling and there may not be someone to monitor the recovering user at all times. At home, the person may be exposed to addiction triggers and they may also have easy access to heroin which can easily lead to a relapse.
If detoxing must be done at home, it is important that there is proper supervision and people to provide support when needed. The user should also not have easy access to heroin.