Can You Die From Heroin Withdrawal?

Heroin withdrawal in itself is not life-threatening, but can lead to potentially life-threatening situations if the symptoms are not kept under control. Fortunately, there are ways for people to go through heroin withdrawal safely and comfortably.

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Dr. Langdon M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon M.D.


The short answer to this question is no, you cannot die from heroin withdrawal.

Heroin withdrawal is said to be highly uncomfortable, but it would be extremely rare to die from these symptoms.

Withdrawal will, however, make you feel very ill, and some people might be more sensitive to withdrawal symptoms from substance abuse than others.

For instance, if someone has a heart condition they may be more sensitive to an increase in their heart rate or blood pressure.

Find out more about heroin withdrawal syndrome.

Is Heroin Withdrawal Life-Threatening?

While you cannot die from heroin withdrawal, heroin withdrawal can still be life-threatening in the sense that it can lead to overdose if a person relapses after treatment, which can be fatal.

Withdrawal can also be life-threatening in that the psychological symptoms can be so strong for some that it can lead to thoughts of suicide.

Causes Of Heroin Deaths

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 14,000 people die every year in the United States from heroin-related deaths.

Furthermore, up to a third of all opioid-related deaths involve heroin.

Heroin Overdose

It is very possible to overdose on heroin alone, especially when you consider that 100% pure heroin is so rare to find on the streets today.

Most heroin sold today has cutting agents to increase the bulk of the product and increase profits for dealers while decreasing their costs.

While some cutting agents are harmless (sugar, flour), others were never made for human consumption (laundry detergent, rat poison).

Some heroin cutting agents, like fentanyl, can cause the heroin product to be potent and make it much easier for consumers to overdose.

This is especially true when you consider that the consumer is rarely made aware of anything being added to their purchased product.

A person may take their regular-sized dose of heroin not realizing it contains fentanyl (which is up to 50 times more potent) and overdose.

Learn more about how heroin overdose occurs.

Polysubstance Abuse

Polysubstance abuse is the use of multiple drugs simultaneously. This can be a very dangerous practice, especially when one of the drugs being used is heroin.

Using multiple drugs at the same time will intensify the effects of both of them. There can be consequences if someone doesn’t know what they are taking or if they have pre-existing conditions involving their heart.

Relapse After Heroin Addiction Treatment

Relapsing after completing a heroin addiction treatment program can be particularly dangerous. This is because a person’s tolerance is significantly lowered after going through detox and a period of sobriety.

In this situation, it is even possible for a person to overdose from taking the same amount of heroin they were used to before treatment, not realizing their tolerance has been lowered.

How To Safely Undergo Heroin Withdrawal

While heroin withdrawal can be notoriously uncomfortable and difficult, it does not have to be. You have a few options when it comes to undergoing withdrawal safely and comfortably.

Medical Detox For Withdrawal Symptoms

Medical detoxification for heroin allows a person to go through withdrawal in a safe and comfortable environment.

A medically supervised heroin detox program can provide medical care, nutritional support, medications to ease symptoms, and other forms of care.

By avoiding the discomfort that goes with withdrawal as well as the cravings, a person has a greater chance for success. They can also rest assured knowing they are safe under medical supervision.

Medications For Opioid Withdrawal

Medications for opioid withdrawal include methadone, buprenorphine (Suboxone), and naltrexone. All of these are also opioids, and some have the potential for addiction and abuse.

Because medications for opioid withdrawal have their pros and cons, it is important to discuss them with your health care provider before starting medication-assisted treatment.

Treatment Programs For Heroin Addiction

While treatment for heroin addiction may start with some form of medical detox, anyone seeking a treatment center for an opioid disorder should also consider an inpatient or outpatient program.

To prevent relapse, it is very important to address any underlying mental health issues a person may have, so they are not drawn to using heroin again in the future.

Continued inpatient or outpatient treatment is essential when overcoming heroin addiction, especially as many people in recovery still report having heroin cravings months and even years later.

Find Quality Care For Opiate Withdrawal At Bedrock

If you or a loved one are ready to get help today for heroin addiction or any other drug or alcohol use disorder, give Bedrock Recovery Center a call.

We can get you started in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program almost immediately, and answer any questions that you might have in the meantime about treatment options.

Recovery is possible, and you deserve to have the life that you want.

People Also Read:

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse
  3. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2024 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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