Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms (12 Signs You Need to Know)

A concept image of heroin abuse

If you or a loved one is dealing with heroin addiction, it’s important to understand the potential dangers of withdrawal. Luckily, there are multiple treatments available to alleviate discomfort.

Drawing from my expertise on this topic, I have extensively researched and compiled comprehensive information on heroin withdrawal and included it in this article. 

You can gain knowledge on the symptoms of heroin withdrawal and effective methods to make the process smoother and move towards a successful recovery.

Quick Summary

  • Heroin withdrawal symptoms tend to include flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and intense drug cravings.
  • The time it takes for heroin to leave your body depends on factors such as how much heroin you use, whether you are physically dependent on it, and the duration of drug use.
  • Heroin addiction symptoms may include physical changes such as constricted pupils, drowsiness, itching, and weight loss.

What Are The Signs of Heroin Abuse?

A close up shot of syringe, spoon, and heroin

The signs of heroin abuse are often visible physical, psychological, and behavioral changes. The signs and symptoms of heroin use vary based on the duration and quantity of drug consumption. 

The typical indications of heroin addiction are:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Cravings
  • Hyperactivity
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Emotional numbing
  • Inability to think clearly

4 Causes and Risk Factors for Heroin Abuse

It is commonly believed that heroin addiction is the result of several factors, including:

  • Genetics
  • Changes in brain chemistry
  • Environment
  • Psychological disposition

Heroin use can change the brain’s structures and chemicals, creating strong drug cravings  [1]. Regular exposure to drug abuse in one’s surroundings can normalize drug use. Moreover, those who have untreated mental health issues may use heroin as a way to self-treat.

What Is The Duration Of Heroin Withdrawal?

A doctor explaining to a patient the duration of heroin withdrawalThe duration of heroin withdrawal varies based on the severity of drug abuse, dependency, method of usage, underlying mental health issues, usage duration, and amount. Generally, the withdrawal period lasts for around one week.

Although heroin withdrawal and recovery are individual journeys, the basic withdrawal timeline follows the same path for most heroin users [2].

The first 24 hours of heroin withdrawal typically involve the onset of initial symptoms, which can range in severity depending on the individual’s history and intensity of abuse. 

The period between 24 to 36 hours after withdrawal usually has more severe symptoms that can cause physical and mental challenges. It is a crucial phase of the withdrawal process that can lead to relapse if not addressed by a professional.

During days 4 to 6, the drugs will be completely removed from the system, and symptoms will slowly decrease. This could lead to a less severe form of substance abuse disorder. 

After the seventh day, most brain and biological functions recover from heroin withdrawal unless it’s a severe case. Treatment can then concentrate on resolving any lingering mental and physical health concerns.

What Happens During Heroin Withdrawal?

During heroin withdrawal, individuals may experience a range of physical and psychological symptoms as their body adjusts to the absence of the drug.

If a person addicted to heroin stops or reduces its usage, they’ll experience withdrawal symptoms as early as a few hours into withdrawal.

The symptoms include anxiety, nausea, excessive sweating, and chills. Besides, the person may also experience diarrhea, stomach cramps, and muscle aches. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and may resemble the flu.

When a person ceases heroin use, they will experience severe illness for several days. A doctor may prescribe medication to alleviate these symptoms.

Typically, cravings for heroin subside over the following months; however, they may resurface unexpectedly after several months.

9 Common Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

A man under the blanket experiencing flu-like symptoms from heroin withdrawal

The experience of heroin withdrawal varies from person to person. The severity and length of withdrawal symptoms depend on factors like the duration and quantity of heroin use and overall health.

Common symptoms of heroin withdrawal may include:

  • Flu-Like Symptoms
  • Gastrointestinal Issues
  • Anxiety, Irritability, and Depression
  • Muscle Aches and Pains
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Intense Cravings
  • Sweating
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Death

Withdrawal can have severe complications leading it to become life-threatening if you have other health conditions, such as a heart problem [3]. The severe withdrawal symptoms can intensify stress on your heart and lead to heart attacks or other fatal issues. It is riskier to attempt a cold-turkey detox from these drugs.

“The amount of time your symptoms last depends on the frequency of use and severity of the addiction, as well as individual factors like your overall health.”
Dr. Alisha D. Vassar-Sellers, Pharmacy Director at Aetna Better Health of Maryland Medicaid

Other Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

A man experiencing fatigue as a heroin withdrawal symptomDuring heroin detox, it is common to experience various symptoms besides the dangerous ones.

Although these symptoms are less severe, they can still cause significant discomfort. One of these symptoms is bone, joint, and muscle aches.

It is important to acknowledge that heroin withdrawal can cause side effects affecting mental health and energy, such as fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and other mental health complications, just like it does for others.

Therefore, seeking professional medical assistance is crucial to help with withdrawal management and maintaining sobriety.

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Co-Occurring Disorders From Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction can occur together with various mental illnesses. People with mental disorders may turn to substance abuse as a form of self-medication. They may also use drugs to obtain a sense of control over their thoughts and emotions.

The mental illnesses commonly associated with heroin abuse and addiction include:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Oppositional defiant disorder

After quitting heroin, individuals may experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS), which include difficulties with sleep, concentration, and memory, as well as higher levels of anxiety, depression, fatigue, hypersensitivity, irritability, mood swings, panic attacks, and restlessness.

The symptoms may persist for 18 to 24 months and impact mood and behavior even after other withdrawal symptoms have gone. Nonetheless, avoiding drugs and being patient over time will slowly reduce these symptoms.

How Can I Reduce The Symptoms Of Heroin Withdrawal?

A man undergoing a behavioral therapyYou can reduce the symptoms of heroin withdrawal by getting medication-assisted treatment (MAT), behavioral therapy, support groups, exercise and nutrition, and mindfulness techniques. Depending on your situation, using detox drinks at home could be another option for detoxing.

If you need extra help, rehab treatment programs can provide a structured and supportive place to handle heroin withdrawal. These programs might use medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, support groups, and other therapies. 

The point of rehab is to give you a particular way to treat addiction. This addresses the root issues of addiction and gives you the tools you need to recover for the long term.

Remember that there is no universal method for managing heroin withdrawal. Seek professional assistance to create a personalized plan to manage withdrawal symptoms and achieve effective recovery.

Treatment Of Heroin Withdrawal

A woman making a detox drink at homeTo manage heroin withdrawal, you need a combination of approaches, including medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, support groups, and detox drinks. 

Medications like methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone are administered to manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce heroin cravings. These can be given in an outpatient setting or a residential treatment program.

Detoxing using detox drinks can be an option for some individuals because it helps flush toxins from the body. 

If someone experiences serious withdrawal symptoms like seizures or dehydration, they might need to go to the hospital. In an inpatient treatment program, individuals can get a structured and supportive setting to manage withdrawal and receive continuous care for addiction recovery.


What Is One Of The First Signs Of Withdrawal?

One of the first signs of withdrawal includes flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, sweating, and muscle aches. Additionally, people may experience anxiety, irritability, and insomnia.

How Can You Treat Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms?

You can treat opioid withdrawal symptoms with medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which involves using buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone to manage cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to seek medical assistance when seeking treatment for opioid withdrawal.

What Medication Is Taken For Withdrawal?

The medication that is taken for withdrawal depends on the substance being used and the severity of withdrawal symptoms. For opioid withdrawal, medications such as buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone may be used to manage severe withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. 

How Can A Heroin Rehab Center Help?

A heroin rehab center can help by providing a safe and supportive environment for individuals struggling with heroin addiction. These centers offer various services, including medical detox, individual and group therapy, and medication-assisted treatment. 

Do You Need Help Detoxing From Heroin Abuse?

Withdrawing from heroin can be very challenging, but there are ways to make it less difficult. One solution is to use detox drinks that help remove toxins from the body and ease withdrawal symptoms.

Based on my research on detox drinks that can help people going through withdrawal, I suggest you try Clear Choice Rescue Cleanse.

It works fast, eliminates toxins effectively, and is easy to use. The formula aids in your body’s natural detoxification by removing toxins, making detoxifying from heroin easier.


  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/signs-heroin-addiction
  2. https://www.addictioncenter.com/drugs/heroin/withdrawal-detox/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526012/

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