Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

Withdrawal symptoms from heroin can begin almost immediately after the last dose has worn off. Though it does get better, some symptoms can linger for months afterwards, which is why professional treatment and aftercare are so important.

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Dr. Langdon M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Kimberly Langdon M.D.


It is a well-known fact that heroin withdrawal is extremely uncomfortable and a huge part of the reason why it is so hard for people to stop using the drug once they have started.

However, it’s important to remember that getting through heroin withdrawal is possible and thousands of people do it successfully every single year.

Getting through heroin withdrawal is never easy for anyone, but you are not alone and help is available to assist you on your journey.

Timeline Of Heroin Withdrawal

Heroin withdrawal begins as soon as a person’s last high from heroin starts to wear off. Though mild at first, these effects can be felt from the very first time a person uses heroin.

6 To 12 Hours After Last Dose — Onset Of Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal begins for most people between six and 12 hours after their last dose. This is what is known as the beginning of the acute phase of heroin withdrawal.

At this point a person will likely start to feel irritable and agitated, and will start to feel their first cravings for another dose.

1 To 3 Days After Last Dose — Peak Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

It is around this time when withdrawal symptoms will peak and a person is at their highest risk for relapse. Cravings will be incredibly strong at this point.

Peak heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • muscle aches
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • sweating
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramping
  • runny nose
  • watery eyes
  • loss of appetite
  • insomnia
  • anxiety

This period has often been described as similar to having a very bad case of the flu. Fortunately, around day three to five, these physical symptoms will start to subside.

1 Week Or More After Last Dose — Physical Symptoms Subside

After roughly a week since a person last used heroin, they will notice that most of their physical symptoms are gone, or are at the very least very mild at this point.

They may still be experiencing psychological symptoms like depression and anxiety, as well as mild drug cravings and nausea.

Months Or Years After Last Use — Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms

Some people report symptoms of emotional and psychological withdrawal for extended periods of time after use has ended.

At this point some people may even report cravings from time to time for heroin. This is why aftercare support and relapse prevention programs are so important with opioid use disorders.

Learn more about heroin withdrawal symptoms.

What Affects The Heroin Withdrawal Timeline?

The opioid withdrawal timeline will not be identical for every person who goes through heroin withdrawal, and there are several factors that can affect it.

Factors that affect the opioid withdrawal timeline include:

  • how long the person has been using heroin
  • how regularly the person has been using heroin
  • how much heroin the person has been using
  • whether the heroin was injected, snorted, or smoked

The opioid withdrawal timeline can also be affected by factors such as a person’s size, age, and genetics.

Can You Shorten The Heroin Withdrawal Timeline?

The best option a person has to shorten the heroin withdrawal timeline is through medical detox and professional substance abuse treatment.

Detoxing from heroin with the assistance of medications and a physician’s direction can reduce and even eliminate the discomfort from withdrawal. It can also greatly reduce the risk for relapse during the withdrawal process.

Medications used in heroin detox include methadone and buprenorphine (Suboxone). Like heroin, they are also opioids and do not come without their own risks.

The idea behind medication-assisted treatment with alternative opioids is that a physician can monitor and guide the detox process.

They will wean the person off the opioids at a comfortable rate, thus reducing cravings and the risk for relapse.

Treatment Options For Heroin Withdrawal

Treatment for heroin addiction almost always includes medically monitored detoxification to start. It is only after a person is 100% sober from substances that they can begin to address their mental health.

Getting sober from heroin is truly just the first step in your heroin addiction treatment. The reasons why a person is drawn to using heroin must be examined through therapy and counseling to ensure they do not start using again.

Therapy options will generally include individual, group, and family therapy if needed. Some rehab centers also offer behavioral therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy.

Treatment options for heroin use will almost always include some level of aftercare because ongoing support can be crucial with any opioid use disorder.

Find Help For Heroin Addiction At Bedrock Recovery Center

At Bedrock Recovery Center, we understand how difficult it can be to seek heroin abuse treatment for yourself or a loved one.

Our substance use treatment specialists are available to answer any questions you might have, and we can get you started in a quality treatment program almost immediately.

You deserve a happy and healthy life — give us a call today.

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information — Withdrawal Management https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Heroin DrugFacts https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugfacts/heroin
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse — Heroin DrugFacts https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000949.htm

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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