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 / Heroin / How To Help A Loved One Through Heroin Withdrawal

How To Help A Loved One Through Heroin Withdrawal

Wanting to quit using heroin immediately after realizing the problems it has caused your family is a familiar feeling. But doing so cold turkey can lead to severe, potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms.


SAMHSA reports that 94.3 % of Americans aged 12 years and above put their lives at risk from a weekly consumption of heroin, while 21.2 million Americans are in dire need of substance abuse treatment.

Your loved one is not the only person with this problem. Please consider reaching out to Rolling Hills Recovery Centers' professional team to seek the best interventions for your loved one.

What is Heroin Withdrawal?

When you have been using heroin for a prolonged period and abruptly stop or reduce the amount you have been using, you may experience several symptoms (sometimes flu-like symptoms), such as:


  • Intense cravings

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Sweating

  • Increased heart rate


Heroin withdrawal comes with severe symptoms that may be very uncomfortable and can even lead to death if you have an underlying health condition such as heart disease.

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How Heroin Affects The Brain

When heroin chemicals enter your brain, it binds to opioid receptors. These receptors may be found in various parts of the brain and body, including locations in pleasure and pain perception and a section of the brain that controls respiration.

Two of heroin's immediate side effects include a spike in euphoric feelings and fuzziness of thought. After taking the drug, you begin to feel drowsy, and your heart and respiratory rates start to slow down. When the effects of the drug wear off, you may feel depressed. At this point, you'll begin to want the substance to recapture the positive sensations you had before using it.

The brain's function is altered when heroin is used regularly. Repeated use of heroin may lead to:

Tolerance: The need for ever-greater dosages to attain the same intensity or effect as when the user started using the drug.

Dependence: The need to keep taking the drug to prevent withdrawal symptoms. When heroin users depend on it, the drug no longer produces pleasurable experiences. Instead, some people need to keep using heroin to feel normal.

Addiction: A person who is addicted desires the substance merely to feel "normal."

Medically Reviewed:


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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Rolling Hills Recovery Center offers free 24/7 heroin addiction support. Call today and confidentially speak with our addiction specialists at 855-559-8550.

What Are The Risks of Using Heroin?

Heroin overdose is a problem for you as a new user and also if you are an old user because it is generally not easy to determine the purity of the heroin you are consuming. Sugar, starch, or quinine are common ingredients in heroin sold on the street.

There is an additional risk when heroin is coupled with substances like strychnine. Slowed and shallow breathing, seizures, coma, and sometimes even death are symptoms of an overdose of heroin. All these can occur whether you smoke, snort or inject the substance.

The CDC reported that nearly 20% of all opioid-related deaths involved heroin in 2020. You will likely suffer from tricky withdrawal symptoms when you stop using heroin abruptly.

According to the NIDA, heroin abuse can trigger a series of complications. Many of the chemicals in street heroin may be difficult to dissolve, resulting in obstruction of blood arteries leading to the liver, lungs, kidneys, or brain. Scarred or ruptured blood vessels, pathogenic microorganisms of the veins and arteries and heart valves, boils, and other soft-tissue infections are all medical repercussions of prolonged injection usage.

It might cause infection or even death in small patches of tissues and cells in vital organs. These contaminants may trigger an immune response that causes rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic conditions.

The transmission of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, and other blood-borne infections may occur if intravenous equipment or fluids are shared. Furthermore, a drug user's sexual partner and children risk contracting the disease.

Treatment at Rolling Hills Recovery Center

Helping A Loved One Cope With Withdrawal Symptoms

When you are ready to commence treatment for heroin addiction, you may need all the help you can get from friends, loved ones, and substance use caregivers at a treatment facility. Rolling Hills Recovery Center offers your loved ones the following features and more;

Professional Care

Try to get professional help for your loved ones or convince them to go to a treatment facility as much as possible.

Going through the process alone is never advisable since the withdrawal symptoms may be overwhelming, sending you right back to a relapse. It is best to manage withdrawal symptoms in a rehabilitation facility, where you can be given detox medications and monitored for the arising withdrawal symptoms by healthcare professionals.

It is also important to get medically aided detox at a treatment facility so the doctors can manage any side effects of the medicines you use.

Emotional Support

Emotional and psychosocial support is crucial once you start treatment, especially when experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Do not isolate yourself; talk to your family members and discuss what you may be going through with them.

Support groups and one on one counseling sessions come in handy since you may be able to acquire relevant coping mechanisms during these sessions. You can also learn how others who have been in a similar situation went about getting better.

Early Preparations

You may find the beginning of detox the most challenging part of treatment. You may feel tormented both physically and mentally. However, preparing a few things beforehand may make the difference in a successful withdrawal period.

You may need to have fluids within easy reach. The vomiting and diarrhea can make you or your loved one severely dehydrated hence the need to take a lot of fluids, including water, to replace the lost fluids.

Do not be idle. Activities such as watching a movie, listening to music, reading, or even playing a board game keep you occupied, which is essential for keeping your mind off withdrawal.


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Take action if you suspect that a friend or family member is abusing heroin, and don't wait for things to get better before you do so. Do something now. Your chances of recovery improve immensely if you receive assistance as soon as possible. Seek help from Rolling Hills Recovery Centers' professional team! Watch out for withdrawal symptoms and take the necessary steps.

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What is heroin withdrawal?
How heroin affects the brain
What are the risks of using heroin?
Helping a loved one cope with withdrawal symptoms

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