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What Is Heroin and Opioids Withdrawal?
Heroin impacts the brain reward system, increasing the user’s tolerance to the drug’s effects over time. The user eventually needs higher doses to reach the same “high” as before. When someone addicted to heroin stops using, withdrawal symptoms set in.
People battling heroin addiction often keep using to avoid painful symptoms of withdrawal. Abusing heroin produces effects similar to pain killers like oxycodone and hydrocodone, only stronger.
Users begin experiencing withdrawal within twelve hours of their last heroin dose. Withdrawal from heroin
may resemble those of prescription opioids. Because heroin leaves the user’s system faster than painkillers
do, withdrawal comes about more quickly. Withdrawal often feels like a horrible case of the flu. The worst pain and discomfort lasts a week — about as long as a bad flu — with withdrawal symptoms peaking during the second or third day.
Common symptoms of withdrawal include:
The length of withdrawal from heroin depends on several factors. The amount of the drug and period over which it was taken can impact how long withdrawal lasts.
Depending on the level and length of use, recovering heroin addicts might suffer post-acute withdrawal
symptoms. Prolonged heroin use changes the brain’s chemical makeup. The effects on mood and behavior
can last months after other withdrawal symptoms pass. Some of these long-lasting symptoms might include
anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia and irritability.
Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—oxycodone and hydrocodone is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.