What are heroin withdrawal symptoms? Heroin’s withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of all opioids. There really isn’t that much of a variation as far as the typical symptoms themselves. People will vary in the intensity and duration of symptoms and not all possible symptoms will likely be seen in any one person, but typical heroin withdrawal symptoms include:
- Diarrhea and weakness
- Stomach pain
- Intestinal cramping
- Depression and anxiety
- Sneezing and watery eyes
- Restless leg syndrome
- Bone and muscle pain
- Headache and backache
There is usually a loss of appetite and a general feeling of malaise and misery. Heroin withdrawal may be shorter than that of other opioids, however. Some people may recover and feel all right after just a week to ten days. In fact, withdrawal from heroin may be easier than that of oxycodone and other very powerful prescription opioids. In fact, when both are taken orally, oxycodone is stronger than heroin!
What is Heroin?
Heroin is prepared by heating acetic anhydride with morphine. It’s not a complex process and is carried out in crude clandestine labs in certain parts of the world on a regular basis. Crude heroin is black and tarry in appearance. Its more refined forms are usually seen as a beige powder. Crude heroin is typically snorted or smoked, but it can be injected. Powdered heroin can be snorted or smoked as well but is more often injected.
Heroin is smoked by placing it on a piece of tin foil and then heating the foil from underneath with a lighter. As the vapor rises upwards, a straw is typically used to suck it in. This is known as chasing the dragon. People choose this method over injection to avoid diseases transmitted by dirty shared needles and the hazards of intravenous drug abuse, such as infection of the heart valves. That much is valid, but heroin is highly addictive no matter how it’s ingested.
Heroin in the Past
Heroin was once freely available in general stores and by mail order without a prescription. The market was flooded with patent medicines made with closely-guarded ingredients. Many of these proprietary medicines contained large amounts of morphine, heroin, marijuana, cocaine and opium. Laudanum, a preparation of opium dissolved in alcohol, was widely available.
Companies catering to “women’s troubles” marketed patent medicines designed to relieve menstrual pain and other female problems. Topics like menstruation were taboo at the time, and many women were too embarrassed to seek medical help. Many of these women also became addicted to these preparations without even realizing it. Before the turn of the 20th century, morphine, heroin and opium were among the very few drugs available that actually worked.
The Pure Food and Drug Act
In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act was the beginning of the end for opioid-containing patent medicines. Although this law did not make these medicines illegal, it did require manufacturers to state active ingredients on the labels. At least people knew what they were actually taking and how much.
Just a few years later, in 1914, the Harrison Narcotic Act placed all opioids on prescription-only status. Heroin continued to be prescribed by physicians until 1924, when the drug was outlawed altogether. Today, heroin remains illegal in the United States because the law says that heroin has no accepted medical use. This isn’t really true, though. Heroin is a superior painkiller and has value in the treatment of severe surgical and cancer pain. Some countries, such as England, recognize this and do have legal pharmaceutical heroin available for medical use.
Recovery from Heroin Addiction
After the acute stage of heroin withdrawal passes, drug cravings may still remain. This is the main reason for relapse. After the brain has been addicted to heroin, permanent changes may remain. It’s these changes that may produce drug cravings so powerful that relapse is all but inevitable.
Let us Help
Medications and ongoing therapy support may greatly increase your chances of staying clean. We can help you find a Suboxone or methadone program near you. These programs often include support counseling as part of their program. Suboxone and methadone may work to decrease or even eliminate drug cravings. Just call us anytime at 833-846-5669. We will assess your needs and refer you to the right kind of help available near you.