Heroin Withdrawal
Signs | Symptoms | Treatment

Heroin Withdrawal

Addiction to an opioid such as heroin can develop in an individual very suddenly and without much effort. Addiction specialists and other medical professionals in the recovery industry consider the addiction a disease 1 when the user becomes dependent on heroin. 

There are countless harmful drug-seeking behaviors and even life-threatening mental illnesses that are established from heroin abuse. Many behaviors of which are very challenging to control or overcome.

How Is Heroin Used?

Heroin is most commonly:




Another way of taking the drug is by mixing heroin with crack cocaine. This technique heroin users have invented is called speedballing 2.

How Heroin Addiction Starts

Other opioid medications such as Vicodin 3 and Oxycontin 4 can only typically be obtained through a written prescription by a licensed medical professional. What many have thought to be interesting though, the National Institute On Drug Abuse 5 has reported finding through studies and research, that other opioids have similar effects to those of heroin.

Upon the moment heroin is taken and enters the user’s system, the drug is converted to morphine and works rapidly to attach to opioid receptors 6 within the brain. This is precisely the process that explains the reported “rush” feeling that is typically referenced among people who use heroin.

Many of the resulting thoughts behaviors that are seen to be often dangerous are caused because of the brain’s desire for more, despite the full range of negative consequences that are nearly guaranteed to happen.

Signs & Symptoms of Heroin Addiction

There are various signs and symptoms of drug addictions. With heroin and opioid dependence, the addiction severity highly depends on the individual. There is some heroin causing side-effects 7 considered to be the most common and are typically seen in addiction treatment facilities. Some of these symptoms include:

Hostile behavior towards others
Lack of personal hygiene
Unable to complete everyday tasks and responsibilities
Continually lying about the addiction
Frequent hallucinations
Scabs and marking on the skin from picking
Weight loss
Muscle aches
Severe decrease in drive and motivation
Family members and other loved ones being avoided

What Is Heroin Withdrawal?

With heroin such strongly impacting specific areas of the brain, consistent use of the drug results in the user establishing a greater and greater tolerance. Naturally, the individual will steadily need to increase their dose to continually achieve the level of “high” that is desired. Opioid withdrawal symptoms 8 that come from heroin is usually more excessive than opioid agonist drugs, like prescription painkillers.

The intense discomfort coming from the symptoms of heroin withdrawal is precisely why most people keep using the substance instead of checking into a heroin detox treatment center where safe and effective medication-assisted treatments 9 (MAT) under the proper medical supervision.

Industry professionals recommend receiving addiction treatment through medically-assisted detox programs as the first step of recovery for anyone who has developed a substance abuse disorder.

Our residential treatment program in Huntington Beach provides the most comprehensive care that is available. Choosing to participate in our evidence-based medical detox program is the optimal choice in helping the withdrawal process pass as smoothly as possible.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

There are a vast number of heroin withdrawal symptoms that we witness during our treatment programs at New Song Recovery in Huntington Beach 10. These dreaded symptoms are typically seen as soon as the process of ridding the system of unwanted toxins commences. 

The heroin detox program11 at New Song Recovery is designed to correct the chemical and physical changes that the substance had made to the patient’s brain. The detox process is done under the constant medical supervision of addiction specialists, significantly increases the safety and comfort levels of those experiencing more severe withdrawal symptoms. 

Some frequently seen symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:

Elevated heart rate
Decrease in appetite
Heightened anxiety
Abdominal cramping
Hypertension and sweating
Frequent mood swings
Easily agitated
Intense Cravings

The American Society of Addiction Medicine 12 (ASAM) has published reports stating that approximately 517,000 people in the United States suffer from heroin addiction. The Drug Enforcement Administration 13 (DEA) has classified heroin as a Schedule I type drug, meaning that it is considered to have a high rate of abuse and increased potential for addiction. Heroin itself also has no medicinal uses anywhere in the country.

Heroin Addiction & Overdose Data

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 17(CDC) reports that heroin abuse has doubled for Americans aged 18-25 in the past decade. In 2013, approximately 8,200 individuals died from a heroin overdose, which is close to four times the number of heroin-related overdose fatalities in 2002. Since then, the healthcare industry and gone to great lengths to become more educated on this matter and spend more time and effort in fighting this epidemic.

Also, according to the CDC,14 there were approximately 15,000 deaths caused by an overdose involving heroin in the United States. That is a rate of nearly 5 deaths for every 100,000 citizens. Those numbers may be alarming, but data shows that the year 2018 also reported a decline in heroin-involved overdose death rates. The decrease of just over 4% down from 2017.

Other facts and statistics found about heroin use in the United States in recent years include:

  • Heroin has been proven time and time again to be a cheaper alternative to other highly addictive drugs
  • OxyContin and Vicodin, and CNN 15 reports that close to half of young injection heroin users abused a prescription opioid drug first.
  • A reported 13.5 million people take either opioids or other opium related substances globally. An astounding 9.2 million of those people use heroin 16.
  • Heroin use in 2018 saw a slight decrease, with close to 808,000 Americans reporting to using heroin, compared to an estimated 886,000 Americans in 2017.
  • The 2007 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported 153,000 current heroin users in the US in 2007. Other estimates give figures as high as 900,000

What To Expect From Heroin Withdrawal Treatment

The heroin detox program at Newsong Recovery in Huntington Beach is closely supervised by our team of addiction specialists and other medical professionals who possess more than 35 years of experience.

Our doctors and specialists use only the latest evidence-based approaches 18 to manage all the mild to severe symptoms that are seen during heroin withdrawal.

Your detox at our luxurious Huntington Beach facility 19 begins with a comprehensive assessment. We are determining the most effective detox protocols based on the evaluation, as well as the patient’s substance use and medical history. Our physicians use medications that are proven to be safe and effective when eliminating the risks of physical and mental withdrawal symptoms.

Most patients are able to complete our detox program within three to seven days successfully. Although, there is not a recommended time frame stating how quickly it should be completed.

For some, the detox process may only take a couple of days, even hours. For other patients, though, it can easily take up to weeks and months to eliminate the drug from the body’s system. To ensure a successful outcome is reached for our patients suffering from a harmful addiction, our team finely tailors each treatment plan to match each patient’s unique and specific needs individually.



  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/addiction-science 
  2. https://www.rehabs.com/blog/speedballing-my-ride-on-the-roller-coaster/
  3. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-3459/vicodin-oral/details
  4. https://drugfree.org/drug/oxycontin
  5. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin  
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3371376/
  7. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/what-are-immediate-short-term-effects-heroin-use
  8. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm
  9. https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment#medications-used-in-mat
  10. https://newsongrecovery.com/detox-overview/ 
  11. https://newsongrecovery.com/heroin-detox/
  12. http://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf 
  13. https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling 
  14. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/heroin.html 
  15. https://www.cnn.com/2014/08/29/health/gupta-unintended-consequences/ 
  16. https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/heroin/international-statistics.html 
  17. http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/heroin/index.html 
  18. https://newsongrecovery.com/medication-assisted-treatment/
  19. https://newsongrecovery.com/huntington-beach-california/