Here are a few things about heroin withdrawal you might not know about
Heroin has long been a problem in the Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington metro. For decades, the area has served as a transshipment point for heroin and other illicit drugs. But while much of this heroin goes onto other parts of the country and beyond, a lot of it is also readily available to locals.
North Dallas is even home to an area that has earned the unfortunate epithet “heroin hill”, referring to the drug use problem among the many down-and-out men and women who have made the streets their home. One only has to check out one of Dallas’s rehab centers to find just how heroin has affected the lives of people in the area.
While many Dallasites have had a brush with someone who had heroin problems — or even tried heroin in the past — most are not unlucky enough to have experienced the worst withdrawal symptoms firsthand.
While it’s widely known that heroin withdrawal symptoms can be highly uncomfortable, not everyone realizes that they can fatal. What’s more, it’s rarely clear to heroin users or their loved ones just exactly how dangerous of a situation they’re in when they’re quitting, especially when they do it “cold turkey”.
Often, by the time someone with a heroin problem attempts to quit, they may already have built up such a tolerance that quitting without a medically-supervised detox and withdrawal management program can kill them.
Thankfully, even before this point, their body and their behavior may give some clues that they may already need to check into a rehab center. While these signs may be subtle, learning about them can help individuals with heroin use disorders find help before their withdrawal causes serious harm and their habit becomes more difficult to treat.
Below are some of the red flags of heroin withdrawal to look out for. If any of these apply to you or someone you know, make sure to get in touch with a qualified clinician immediately. Contact us to find a drug rehab in Dallas for yourself or a loved one today.
1.) Profound depression
As with any drug, heroin can temporarily alter a person’s mood. However, it can also cause serious permanent changes in the brain that can trigger depression almost as soon as a chronic user stops taking it.
When a person takes an opioid — such as heroin — their brain releases an abnormally high amount of dopamine into their system, which numbs pain receptors, causes euphoria, and creates the other effects we associate with these drugs. Continued use of opioids eventually damages the brain’s pleasure and reward system, causing the brain to stop producing dopamine naturally unless it receives more opioids.
When drug use stops, the brain can’t readily adapt to this change. The body’s pain receptors switch back on in full force, causing the agonizing physical symptoms the user experiences. However, the lack of dopamine in the system can cause the user to sink into a deep depression.
2.) Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
One of the more dangerous heroin withdrawal symptoms is a tendency to seriously consider suicide. Recovering individuals with severe heroin use disorders may think of committing suicide at least once an hour while going through the worst stages of withdrawal.
The risk of succumbing to overwhelming suicidal thoughts can be reduced by seeking help at a rehab facility. There, the staff can monitor individuals and provide appropriate intervention when needed. This makes rehab at a vetted treatment facility much safer for the recovering individual than “self-treatment” at home.
3.) An increased risk of overdose
A person who has been using heroin regularly is likely to have developed a high level of tolerance to the drug. If they stop using heroin, such as during a detox or withdrawal management program, the body’s heroin tolerance levels are reduced.
If the recovering person relapses and goes back to using heroin, they may take an amount that their body was previously able to handle, rather than an amount that’s within their now-lowered tolerance level. This can significantly increase the risk of death through an accidental overdose.
4.) Continued cravings
Most heroin users who try to quit know about the physical symptoms of withdrawal. They know about the abdominal cramps, diarrhea, muscle pain, runny nose, chills, and vomiting. However, it’s a mistake to assume that just because someone has survived the week it takes to endure all these terrible physical symptoms that they will emerge from the ordeal clean and somehow cured of their need to take heroin.
Unfortunately, even if someone manages to successfully expel all the physical traces of heroin from their system, the drug’s lingering effects on their brain remain. While a detox is a necessary step towards recovery, it will do nothing to address the behaviors that led to the heroin use disorder in the first place. If nothing is done to address these root causes, the individual remains at risk from a relapse.
For this reason, rehab programs with good long-term success rates often focus on counseling and therapy to correct problematic behavior just as much, if not more, than the initial withdrawal management process.
Avoiding the dangers of heroin withdrawal
Quitting heroin by going ‘cold turkey’ at home is far more dangerous and less likely to achieve long-term recovery compared to undergoing treatment at a certified inpatient rehab treatment program.
Due to the lack of expert care and monitoring, “detoxing” at home without proper supervision can put a recovering individual at risk from succumbing to some of the more dangerous symptoms of heroin withdrawal. This makes most attempts at self-recovery far less safe for the individual as well as those around them.
Addiction rehab treatment facilities, in contrast, provide a range of individualized solutions to help people with heroin problems achieve safe, sustainable, and permanent recovery. Medical intervention, counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and other strategies are used to not only help individuals get past the initial hump where heroin withdrawal is at its deadliest, but also help keep them clean for the rest of their lives.
If you live in and around the Dallas area, help is at hand. Get in touch with us and we’ll find the right treatment facility. Choose to get sober today.