Heroin Detox and Rehab in West Palm Beach, FL
In 2017, the US Department of Health and Human Services announced an opioid crisis due to high and increasing numbers of opioid deaths. This was caused by the aggressive marketing of opioids in the 1990s by pharmaceutical companies that also downplayed their addictiveness. Most people who are addicted to heroin start by using prescription painkillers.
Heroin use can quickly lead to a substance use disorder. In 2021, there were three million people with an opioid use disorder and more than 500,000 people dependent on heroin. Once you have developed a dependence on heroin it is very difficult to quit as you experience withdrawal symptoms when you do. This means that you must detox in order to recover. We will discuss the detox process and how this looks when you enter rehab. If you want to quit heroin the sooner you take that step, the easier it will be.
What is Heroin?
Heroin is a semi-synthetic opioid drug. It is made from morphine which naturally occurs in opium poppy seeds. Heroin enters the brain across the blood-brain barrier and is rapidly converted to morphine. The reason it is more addictive than morphine, despite acting in the same way in the brain, is because heroin passes into the brain quicker than morphine, so it causes a faster and more intense high.
Heroin is a Schedule I substance because it is highly addictive. Being Schedule I also means that it is not recognized to have any medical use and therefore can never be produced, sold, or taken legally. Due to being an illicit substance, it is very difficult to know the potency of the drug you are taking and whether it has been mixed with other substances. Common impurities include fentanyl, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine.
Heroin Abuse and Dependence
Dependence occurs when your brain gets used to your drug abuse and chemical changes result in it thinking it needs the drug to function normally. This is why you experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. You can develop both physical and psychological dependence on heroin.
Addiction is usually close behind dependence. This is a mental health disorder that makes you compulsively seek out and take heroin. Despite being a medical condition, addiction is sometimes treated as a moral failing and a problem with a person’s character. This is an unfair and sometimes dangerous judgment that can act as a barrier to treatment.
Using heroin comes with the risk of overdosing. It is important to understand the signs of this so that you can recognize them in yourself or help someone else who is experiencing them. Signs to look out for include:
- Weak pulse
- Bluish nails and lips
- Low blood pressure
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of consciousness
You should call 911 immediately if you see someone experiencing these symptoms. If they are conscious you can help the emergency services by finding out how much heroin they have taken, when they took it, and if they mixed it with anything else. You can also find out a little about them such as their age and approximate weight. Once the emergency services arrive they can administer naloxone which rapidly reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. If the person is unconscious you can help by putting them in the recovery position while you wait for medical assistance. This will prevent them from choking on their own vomit if they throw up.
Detox from Heroin
Detox is the removal of drug toxins from your body and the management of withdrawal symptoms. There are two main ways of detoxing: cold turkey and tapering. Tapering is when you stop taking the drug gradually. You may also take a substitute drug to replace heroin and then reduce this until you are not taking either. This approach helps mitigate many of the psychological and physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal.
Quitting heroin cold turkey is not recommended as it can be a very challenging process and there can be complications. There is a much higher chance of recovery if you undergo detox under medical supervision. You may also be given substitute medications to help you taper off your drug use, and will be monitored by medical professionals so that your heroin withdrawal symptoms are as manageable as possible.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
Since you can develop a physical and psychological dependence on heroin, withdrawal symptoms will also be both physical and psychological. The severity of these symptoms and the length that they last differ depending on your situation. Factors that affect this include age, weight, metabolism, physical and mental health, how long and heavy you have been using for, and which method of administration you use. For example, severe symptoms are more likely if you have been using heavily and have poor physical or mental health.
- Muscle aches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain and cramps
- Insomnia and fatigue
- Drug cravings
Heroin Withdrawal Timeline
As mentioned, the length of the withdrawal process will depend on multiple factors. However, we will discuss the rough timeline:
Days one to two – symptoms of heroin withdrawal start within around six to twelve hours of your last dose. Common symptoms at this stage include muscle aches, anxiety, shaking, stomach cramps, shivers, and vomiting.
Days two to three – symptoms peak around days two to three and tend to include stomach cramps, shaking, vomiting, and sweating.
Days six to seven – symptoms usually decline by days six to seven but may last ten days.
Post-acute withdrawal – some people will experience symptoms for much longer. Post-acute withdrawal tends to include psychological symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and sleep problems that can last for weeks or even months.
Heroin Addiction Treatment
The first step in getting treatment is accepting that you have a problem and reaching out for help. With heroin detox, it can be unpleasant and even dangerous, so it is recommended that you get support from an addiction treatment center. Risks that are associated with detoxing from home include relapse, dehydration and other associated electrolyte imbalances, and self-harm.
When you reach out to an addiction center for support, they will usually give you the option to undergo detox through an inpatient or an outpatient treatment program. With the former, you will receive twenty-four-hour monitoring and support during the detox process. This means that if you are struggling doctors can see the moment you need it and make sure that you are receiving the medication or psychological support you need. This may include taking substitute medication. Common medication includes buprenorphine and methadone which help to reduce your heroin withdrawal symptoms. If symptoms persist you will also be given adjunctive medications.
An outpatient treatment program may suit those who cannot take time away from responsibilities such as work or family. You will go to the treatment center for sessions but will spend the night at home and will be able to work as usual. Clients will also have access to a twenty-four-hour helpline in case they have any problems and can be prescribed substitute medication. While inpatient treatment has been shown to have the best results, it is not possible for everyone, and outpatient treatment may still work for you.
Detox is only the first stage of recovery, so it is important that you receive aftercare. There are reasons that people take heroin such as untreated mental health problems and coping with trauma. If you do not work on the reasons for taking heroin it is very likely that you will relapse. Most people will receive continued support through therapy and support groups after they have completed detox.
Therapy can help you to understand why you started taking heroin and work to find healthy ways to cope. It can also help you understand your triggers so that you do not relapse. It is important to note that most people do relapse at least once before they remain sober, so do not lose help if this is the case for you.
Many people benefit from twelve-step support groups. These allow you to speak with people who are going through similar situations. Speaking with peers can help you not feel alone and learn from each other. Twelve-step programs help you to understand that you are not in control of your heroin use, and they help you to manage this so that you can avoid it.
Getting Support in West Palm Beach
At Ebb Tide, we offer person-centered treatment because we understand that heroin addiction affects everyone differently. We believe recovery requires focusing on your whole being, which means creating new and healthy habits and understanding which places, people, and things trigger you so that you can set boundaries or avoid particular things or people where possible.
Our treatment options include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Group Therapy
- Physical activities such as gym workouts, yoga, swimming, and team sports
- Balanced and nutritious meals
You can find out more about the support we offer by visiting our website or calling us at 561-931-4944. We accept Medicaid because we believe that everyone should have access to addiction treatment. We would love to welcome you to our treatment center.