Heroin Withdrawal and Treatment

When it comes to heroin addiction, the only healthy way to find healing is to undergo treatment at a reputable facility that can help you heal the physical, mental and emotional aspects of your addiction. Through proper heroin treatment, patients can be supported in overcoming their disease and find long-term healing. Treatment usually begins with medical detox to help manage withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting the use of the substance. From there, the heart of heroin treatment begins. 

Heroin Detox and Withdrawal

After being admitted to a treatment facility, the first step is to undergo medical detox. The healing process cannot begin if heroin is still in the patient’s body. By finding the right detox center for you, you can start ridding your body of the harmful toxins placed there by heroin to heal the physical aspects of addiction. You want to make sure the facility offers sub-acute medical detox and monitors through post-acute withdrawal symptoms.

The detoxification process can be overwhelming for some. Heroin withdrawal often involves several uncomfortable symptoms. Your brain has become accustomed to the presence of the drug in your system and therefore relies on it to provide proper functions. Without it, your body goes through a withdrawal response. 

Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal

The withdrawal process often occurs in two stages, distinguished by specific symptoms. The duration and severity of these symptoms will depend on the severity of the patient’s addiction, including how long they have used heroin, how frequently and how much was ingested during each use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has stated that heroin withdrawal symptoms typically begin within six to 12 hours of last use and peak within two to three days. They usually last between five to ten days total.

Early symptoms of heroin withdrawal:

  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Tearing
  • Yawning
  • Muscle aches

Late symptoms of heroin withdrawal:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Dilated pupils
  • Diarrhea
  • Goosebumps 

Treatment After Detox

Following the detox process, the central part of heroin treatment begins. This can include several therapies, holistic treatments, medication, nutrition, exercise and more. 


According to several scientific studies, medication-assisted treatment helps patients stay sober during rehab. Medications can be used during the withdrawal process to relieve symptoms and be used after detox to help manage cravings. Common medications used in heroin treatment include methadone, naltrexone and buprenorphine, as approved by the FDA.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Detox and medication alone are not enough to help someone fully heal from heroin addiction. Various counseling strategies have proven to be extremely helpful in patients learning how to address their negative thoughts and behaviors. One such therapy that has been used in heroin treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches individuals how to change their negative thoughts and actions. Individuals learn how to regulate their emotions by learning they respond to feelings rather than situations. CBT can be done in individual, group and family sessions. 

Experiential Therapy

Alongside traditional therapies such as CBT, experiential therapy can help patients learn to overcome repressed feelings and emotions through hands-on, real-world activities. Depending on the facility, several activities can be used in experiential therapy:

  • Adventure therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Equine therapy
  • Rock climbing
  • Ropes courses

12-Step Programs

Many treatment facilities across the United States use a 12-step model to help their patients recover. Initially coined by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the treatment model can be used to treat a variety of addictions. Through the 12 steps, you will learn how to stay sober with peer-run groups. In 12-step programs, individuals are expected to find a sponsor who will help walk them through the 12 steps. They can also help individuals find a support group of other recovering addicts to call on in times of need. 

The program starts by having you admit you are powerless over addiction. You then begin to evaluate your past mistakes and begin to heal the relationships that were damaged because of addiction. Through the program, the hope is for you to have a spiritual, not necessarily religious, awakening or behavioral change that will help you overcome addiction and maintain your sobriety for the long haul.

Family Treatment

Another significant part of heroin treatment involves bringing the family in for healing. The family plays a crucial role in addiction and recovery, which is why it is critical to educate the patient’s family on addiction, treatment and how to support their loved one for long-lasting sobriety. Family members will also learn how to look after themselves through this challenging time and improve their interpersonal relationships, especially with each other.


Heroin withdrawal and treatment involve many moving parts necessary to give the patient the best chance at recovery. The withdrawal process heals the physical aspects of addiction by removing the toxins placed there by heroin use. Once this process is complete, the primary part of treatment begins. During this time, medication, various therapies and family involvement are crucial to overcoming their past mistakes, negative thoughts and destructive behaviors to set them up for a lifetime of sobriety. Casa Palmera uses several modalities, so you can be sure you will find the proper and individualized treatment needed to help you heal from addiction. We provide an interdisciplinary therapeutic drug rehab designed to address the root causes of addiction. Our methods are wholly individualized and offer the highest standard of dignity and confidentiality during your stay. Contact us today to learn more about our programs. The road to recovery begins at Casa Palmera, don’t hesitate to start. Take the first step today and find healing.


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.