What Are the Long-Term Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal?

Heroin is one of the most potent, addictive, and dangerous drugs in the world. After the first dose, many users become hooked, and their lives spiral out of control. If users try to quit heroin, they will experience harrowing withdrawal symptoms that drive them back to active use. This vicious cycle of abuse and addiction takes a physical and mental toll on users, and battling heroin addiction becomes an epic struggle. Without the help of a heroin detox program, heroin addiction can become a matter of life and death.

This article will explore the symptoms of heroin withdrawal and the effects of the drug on the body and brain. If you are losing your battle with heroin addiction, Sequoia Recovery Centers can help you! Our evidence-based detox programs are individualized to meet your specific needs and help you regain your physical and mental well-being. Call Sequoia Recovery Centers today and start your journey toward lifelong recovery.

Sequoia Recovery Centers is a drug and alcohol detox center in Spokane, Washington.

How Heroin Affects the Body and Brain

Once heroin is administered, it quickly converts to morphine and binds to a specific group of receptors called opioid receptors. Heroin releases enormous amounts of dopamine in the brain, and users experience an intense rush of pleasure and euphoria. This “rush” is accompanied by skin flushing and dry mouth, and users will feel their arms and legs go “heavy.” Additionally, users may also feel nausea and experience vomiting. After a few hours, users will feel mentally cloudy and confused and will use the drug again to feel happiness and pleasure.

What Are the Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal?

The symptoms of heroin withdrawal and their intensity are dependent on a few factors. These include The length of time heroin is used, the quantity used, the presence of other substances in the heroin user’s system, their age, and the presence of underlying physical and mental health issues. Heroin withdrawal symptoms can be divided into short-term and long-term symptoms. We will review the symptoms in each area below.

Short-Term Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal

Once someone quits using the drug, the signs of heroin withdrawal often start six to 12 hours after the last dose. The most common short-term physical and psychological symptoms of heroin withdrawal may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Dehydration
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive sweating
  • Muscle aches and spasms
  • Mood swings
  • Hard to focus and concentrate

Long-Term Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal

On average, short-term heroin withdrawal symptoms last up to 72 hours after the last dose of heroin. After the first wave of symptoms subsides, a more intense second wave of symptoms appears. These symptoms can include the following:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Paranoia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Drug cravings
  • Relapse


This group of symptoms will last 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the user. Once this second wave of symptoms passes, many users start to feel better. However, they are not out of the woods. Many who are recovering from heroin may experience a series of prolonged withdrawal symptoms through a phenomenon called post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). Symptoms associated with PAWS can be felt for several days at a time and can cycle for up to a year and include:

  • Hostility or aggression
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Paranoia
  • Hyperactivity
  • Intense cravings for heroin

PAWS can occur for several reasons. First, heroin significantly changes brain chemistry, and it will take time for the user’s brain to be able to produce neurotransmitters on its own. It also takes a significant amount of time for body functions to return to normal. Additionally, the body goes through tremendous amounts of stress when people quit using drugs. Stress can often lead to prolonged symptoms and can even lead to relapse.

Sequoia Recovery Centers: The First Step in Recovering From Heroin Addiction

Heroin addiction is a serious business, and many users hang on by a thread to survive. To kick heroin for good, they must enter a heroin detox program to regain physical and mental health. Sequoia Recovery Centers understands that heroin addiction is a disease and our evidence-based detox programs are geared to help you get ready for intensive treatment. Experienced detox personnel will design a detox program personalized to your needs in the comfort of our private comfortable suites. To find medical detox in Washington, contact Sequoia Recovery Centers today.

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