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Q&A: How to Survive a Heroin Detox at Home​

This website is for informational purposes only. I am NOT a licensed physician. I am not being endorsed, sponsored, or paid to solicit my opinions. The opinions expressed herein are my own, and are based solely on my personal experience.

How long does it take to detox off heroin?
Detox can take around 3-10 days, depending on your metabolism, general health, and amount/duration of drug use. Every addict is different, but for me, the worst days were always the 2nd and 3rd. If you're currently going through a cold turkey detox, hang in there. Although it seems like the symtoms will never go away, they will. Don't give up. This is only temporary.

Can you die from heroin detox?
Although every situation is different, it is very uncommon for someone to die from heroin withdrawals. There's always the possibility that a harsh detox at home without medical supervision can stress an already fragile body or aggravate an existing condition, which can result in something awful happening. This is why it's important to seek a medical professional's opinion before going forward with a cold turkey detox.

How should I plan ahead?
Reschedule any commitments for at the very least a week. If you have children, you definitely want to have someone watch them for you. Pull together a list of local NA/AA meeting in your area, and attend a few before you begin your detox (possibly even during). Find someone who can look after you during the worst part of detox, maybe a relative or sober friend. Make a trip to the local pharmacy and pick up everything you need beforehand (listed below). Clean out your house of anything and everything drug-related(spoons, needles, etc.). Change your phone number/clear drug-related contacts. After all, the last thing you want to do is endure a painful detox, only to go back to using right after.

What withdrawal symptoms should I expect?
Some of the most common are: diarrhea, constipation, restless legs, body aches, insomnia, sweats, chills, crawling/burning skin, vomiting, cramping, sneezing, yawning, and hiccups. Think of the flu, but times ten.

What Over-the-Counter medications can help with withdrawals?
Immodium helps with your stomach, Advil helps for aches, and Unisom and/or Melatonin can be used for sleep. Multivitamins, Calcium, Potassium, and Magnesium will help speed up the recovery process. Epsom Salts for hot baths(helps with skin crawling), and Benadryl to help with runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing. Also, make sure to drink lots of fluids, especially something with electrolytes, like Gatorade or Vitaminwater.

What do doctor's prescribe for heroin detox?
The most common doctor prescribed medications used for opiate withdrawal are: Clonodine, Neurontin, and Buprenorphine (Subutex/Suboxone).

What complications can arise from heroin withdrawal?

Complications include vomiting and breathing in stomach contents into the lungs. This is called aspiration, and can cause lung infection. Vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration and body chemical and mineral (electrolyte) disturbances.

The biggest complication is return to drug use. Most opiate overdose deaths occur in people who have just withdrawn or detoxed. Because withdrawal reduces your tolerance to the drug, those who have just gone through withdrawal can overdose on a much smaller dose than they used to take.
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