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How is Heroin Withdrawal Treated?

Whether it is smoked, injected, or snorted, heroin is a highly addictive drug that poses many dangers to people who use it. In the short term, heroin provides users with a sense of being high, euphoria, or extreme relaxation. Over a period of time, using heroin regularly can result in a deterioration of the brain. This brain damage results in learning difficulties, impaired judgment, and problems with memory and concentration.[1]

Heroin users are at an increased risk of overdose and death because heroin is so addictive. When someone uses heroin regularly, their body’s systems become dependent on it. When they attempt to reduce their usage or quit entirely, they may experience a range of physical symptoms of withdrawal. These include insomnia, restlessness, bone and muscle pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. People often have intense, almost debilitating cravings. Without professional support and treatment for heroin withdrawal, it is nearly impossible to quit using the drug on your own.

Asking for help with heroin addiction can be difficult and scary, but knowing what to expect and how heroin withdrawal is treated can help you get prepared.


Step One: Treatment for Heroin Withdrawal

Withdrawal from opioids, including heroin, can be incredibly difficult. Not only does heroin withdrawal come with uncomfortable symptoms, but the cravings for heroin can be intense–or almost irresistible. Most people who attempt to quit on their own end up relapsing, either due to the intensity of the cravings or the severity of their withdrawal symptoms.

heroin withdrawal symptoms

Detox is usually the first step to quitting heroin. Completing a detox program can help people have a safe, comfortable detox experience. During detox, people are given care, support, and supervision as their body rids itself of toxins, including heroin.

A trained staff monitors and treats them for uncomfortable or dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Often, people receive medications to help manage the discomfort of withdrawal. They are also given distance and time away from heroin, making it more likely to have a safe, complete detox.  Without medically supervised detox, most people are unsuccessful in avoiding a relapse.

Using Heroin Detox Medications

After detox, people must participate in addiction treatment to learn how to live a life without using heroin. Heroin addiction rehab generally involves a combination of therapy, education, holistic therapies, and medications.

The medications people receive during heroin rehab work by reducing cravings for heroin and give people some relief from the emotional and physical discomfort of opiate withdrawal. These medications are effective at treating heroin withdrawal because they bind to the same receptors as opiate drugs but do not cause the euphoria that comes from using opiates. Methadone, Suboxone, Subutex, and Clonidine are some of the most commonly prescribed medications used in the treatment of heroin withdrawal.[2]

When used in combination with mental health and holistic treatments, heroin detox medications are effective at helping people complete their detox. The length and severity of a person’s addiction will help determine how long they need to keep taking medication.

Understanding the Medications Used During Treatment for Heroin Withdrawal

There are several medications used during treatment for heroin withdrawal. Before beginning a program, it is important that you understand how each medication works so you can know what to expect and be able to make informed choices about your treatment.


Suboxone is a medication that contains two separate medications: Buprenorphine, which is an opioid drug, and Naloxone, which blocks the euphoric effects of opioids.[3]


Subutex is another name for Buprenorphine, an opioid drug used in addiction treatment. This medication can be used as part of replacement therapy.[4] While it is an opiate, it does not have the same potential to be addictive as heroin does.


Methadone is a potent opioid pain reliever that can be used to treat heroin addiction. It blocks the “high” or euphoria associated with heroin or other opiates.[2]


Clonidine belongs to a category of medications called antihypertensives. During heroin addiction treatment, it is used to help relieve some of the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal, such as restlessness, sweating, and hot flashes.

Medications are only one aspect of successful addiction therapy. To have the best chance at lifelong recovery, it is crucial that you receive care for your whole self–body, mind, and spirit. Used alongside mental health therapy and holistic treatments, medications can offer some relief from the physical discomfort of withdrawal and allow your body to adjust more gently to the absence of heroin.



Find Help for Heroin Addiction Today

If you or someone you love struggle with addiction to heroin, you are not alone. Please reach out to the staff at the Mandala Healing Center. We offer holistic treatment and detox programs, as well as support to people at any stage of addiction recovery. We truly believe that anyone can recover from addiction to heroin if they have the right support. That is why we offer compassionate, comprehensive addiction treatment and detox programs in a safe, healing environment.

If you need life-saving treatment for heroin withdrawal and addiction, please do not wait another day for the care you deserve. Call today to speak to one of our admissions counselors.