Why is heroin so dangerous?
Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs on the street, and it is also one of the most dangerous. Drug users are attracted to the pleasurable “rush” that they get after taking heroin. When they come down from the high, it often feels like a “crash”. They may feel drowsy and confused, and cardiovascular functions slow down, sometimes with devastating consequences.
Heroin creates a strong dependency, with users having to take more and more of the drug in order to achieve that rush. This puts them at high risk of an overdose, and because of the slowed functioning that follows the crash, they are not always in a position to seek help.
An added danger of heroin is that it is frequently combined with other substances to enhance its effects or to add to its volume. Examples are painkiller powders, baking soda, rat poison and laundry detergent. This means that what the user thinks is heroin can produce unpredictable effects that can be life-threatening.
What are the symptoms of heroin withdrawal?
Withdrawal symptoms start within hours of the last dose and peak within three or four days. The severity depends on the individual, the length of the addiction and other factors. Common withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Strong cravings for the drug that may be accompanied by aggression if it is not available
- Anxiety, depression and mood swings
- Stomach cramps and diarrhea
- Fever, chills and sweating
- Muscle spasms and joint pains
- Nausea and vomiting
- Elevated heart rate, blood pressure and respiration
These withdrawal symptoms often feel too uncomfortable to tolerate. Users are at high risk of relapse as they seek heroin to get away from the unbearable cravings. Inpatient detox allows for medical supervision of individuals attempting recovery. It is a way of keeping them safe, managing their withdrawal symptoms, and ensuring that they do not get access to drugs.
What happens during heroin detox?
The first step of heroin detox is an intake assessment, during which a doctor will take down your medical history, make note of any coexisting conditions and medications that you take, and evaluate your general health. The information will be used in the development of a detox plan that is customized to be just right for you.
During detox, you will be under round-the-clock medical supervision, so that you can be kept safe and comfortable as your withdrawal symptoms peak. Medication may be administered to help you get through some of the symptoms.
Two methods of heroin detox that are sometimes used are rapid detox and anaesthesia-assisted rapid detox. As the names suggest, these methods are designed to get users through the withdrawal process quickly. They carry risks such as irregular heartbeat and fluid in the lungs.