Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline

When you choose us for your heroin detox and withdrawal management, you are in safe hands – we have helped thousands get through their withdrawals. We can help you too.

Heroin Detox at the Providence Projects

At our centres, all prescribing medications or treatments are overseen by Dr Mufeed Ni’man. You will be treated in a caring and delicate manner to help make you feel safe and comfortable and alleviate the withdrawal symptoms. Opioid withdrawal reactions are uncomfortable but not usually life-threatening, especially when you confide in us and notify us of any symptoms as they occur.

We have observed that symptoms usually start within 12 hours of the last heroin dose taken and within 30 hours of you being last exposed to methadone. Most of these symptoms, sometimes all, are alleviated during your prescribed detox regime here at the Providence Project. We want to emphasise, however, that detox alone is not the solution to eliminate your cravings and kicking addiction forever. It is just the beginning of the treatment recovery process.

The chances of long-term recovery are slimmer without the necessary therapeutic interventions that treatment offers. Several options are available, including our medically supervised residential heroin detoxification. Our addiction specialists are on hand to guide you through the options available when you call us or during the admission interview.

Knowing what to expect from a heroin detox before you begin to make sure you complete the process most appropriate for your situation is essential. The best chance you have of overcoming heroin addiction is finding a programme that works for you. With so many options available, it can be challenging to know where to look. Fortunately, plenty of help is available at our centre, including from our admission experts, medical personnel and our supportive therapists and counsellors.

Heroin Withdrawal - Breaking the Walls

When you have been using heroin and other opioids, this will result in strong physical dependence, and you may notice yourself relying on the substance to achieve a basic everyday conscious level of existence. Heroin mutes pain, emotional and physical; it also, however, affects your overall health and ability to understand your body’s signals. Many people who are addicted to heroin no longer enjoy using but continue using to fend off withdrawals. They operate out of fear.

Hence, the first stage of our heroin rehab programme will be heroin detoxification. At The Providence Projects, you will be assessed by one of our doctors to ensure that you receive a fully personalised detox in a safe and healthy environment. The Providence Projects and The Providence Surgery are highly experienced in heroin detox. As we have been providing this service since 1996, and with The Providence Surgery’s recent rating of ‘Outstanding’ by The Care Quality Commission, you can entrust us with your future. We are here for you.

Heroin is one of the strongest and most addictive illicit drugs. Suddenly stopping after prolonged use can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. The safest and most effective way to deal with your physical dependence, manage withdrawal symptoms, and overcome cravings is in private rehab.

With 25+ years of experience with addiction, Providence Projects employs a personalised and research-based approach with almost 100% success in treating heroin withdrawal symptoms.

What Are the Signs of Heroin Addiction?

Heroin addiction creates a physical and psychological dependency on the substance, resulting in a strong desire to keep taking heroin and acute withdrawal symptoms if you try to stop the drug use.

A definitive sign of heroin addiction is the intense and uncontrollable cravings that make you care solely about getting another dose. As your body becomes dependent, and you fall into the habit of using heroin as a pain killer, stress relief, or another psychological coping mechanism, cravings become strong enough to make you disregard your well-being and that of others.

In the beginning, heroin may lead to stark changes in how you feel, making you calm, content, joyful and exhilarated. However, as the addiction grows, heroin tends to numb your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Many addicts continue to use heroin not because of its effects but because of the intense heroin withdrawal symptoms if they try to stop.

Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms you can expect are:

Heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • An intense desire for another dose and overwhelming cravings
  • Flu-like symptoms, including sweating, headaches, tremors, runny nose, muscle spasms and cramps, and headaches
  • Dry mouth, constipation, stomachaches, and nausea
  • Anxiety, restlessness, trouble sleeping, and even insomnia
  • Mood swings, symptoms of depression, panic attacks, numbness and a general lack of motivation

What Happens during Heroin Detox?


The heroin detox process differs depending on which private rehab you choose. At The Providence Projects, we focus on immediate admission and a personalised treatment plan.

You can call us on the phone, schedule a meeting, and quickly get a comprehensive assessment of your condition. Once you get in touch with our addiction experts, they will craft a personalised detox plan because each individual’s case is unique.

Our detox programmes stick with NICE guidelines and time-tested and science-based methods. Although each case is different, we often use substitute medicines, like buprenorphine (Subutex), to reduce the severity of physical withdrawal symptoms while your body gets used to functioning without heroin.

During the detoxification programme, you will be in a comfortable, safe, and secure environment with 24/7 supervision. Our medical professionals will ensure to give you the prescription medications at the right time with the correct dosage, respond to any issues you may have, and offer immediate medical assistance if you are not feeling well.

Heroin Withdrawal Management

Besides the intense physical symptoms, drug addiction also creates a psychological dependence on the substance. While the detoxification programme will help many heroin addicts clean their bodies from the substance and other toxins, the withdrawal process takes more time to address the underlying reasons for addiction.

Opioid addiction, and drug abuse in general, usually happen because of some social, mental, and emotional issue that deeply disturbs your life. For example, heroin may make you more content and peaceful in high-stress situations, numb the pain from loneliness, or give you a jolt of pleasure to help you escape from your unhappy life. One particular thing, however, is that without intensive rehabilitative treatment, detox alone rarely provides another support in assisting you in staying sober.

For that reason, here at the Providence Projects, we take a holistic approach to heroin addiction by employing various therapeutic options, like one-on-one counselling, support groups, anxiety and depression management, and other programmes to help you learn about those underlying problems and find healthy solutions.

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Medically Assisted Heroin Detox

If you’ve been using heroin for a few months or even years, suddenly stopping can shock your body and potentially put your life at risk. After your comprehensive assessment and crafting your personalised plan, we may use some prescription opioids, like buprenorphine, to more effectively and safely manage symptoms.

Taking such measures may be necessary because many people experience post-acute withdrawal syndrome. When you suddenly stop taking heroin, you may get bad flu, and experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, brain fog, and other adverse side effects. We know that suddenly stopping can be terrifying, so we’ve put immense effort into making the Providence Projects facilities as welcoming and comfortable as possible.

Once you enter, you become part of the family. Our kind, friendly, and professional staff will answer any question, be there to comfort you when you are feeling anxious and supervise and manage the detoxification process to ensure the heroin withdrawal symptoms you feel are not overwhelming and threaten your health in any way.

Heroin Detoxification Timeline

How long the detoxification process will last depends on how severe the addiction is, measured by the length of drug abuse, the quantity of heroin used, your general health condition, and other personal factors. On average, the detoxification programme lasts between 12-14 days. During that time, you will be under 24/7 supervision by our medical staff, with extensive experience in helping you manage the side effects and immediately answering in case of an emergency.

You will most likely develop signs of withdrawal syndrome during the first 12 to 15 hours after your last dose. During the heroin detox, you will gradually reduce your substance intake or rely on prescribed medications, like methadone, buprenorphine and other evidence-based options.

You will experience severe withdrawal symptoms in the very beginning and the first seven days, but under our careful supervision and management, they will be as mild as possible. We will adjust if the heroin withdrawal symptoms are too intense and take the appropriate medical measures if some adverse side effects bother you more than others. For example, you may receive treatment and medicine for anxiety, insomnia, or any other symptom which causes pain and discomfort.

In the second week of your heroin detox, the most common withdrawal symptoms should become milder and will likely disappear altogether. 

Withdrawal Symptoms in Heroin Dependence


Once you stop heroin use, you are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. The intensity and length of those side effects will depend on several factors, such as the length of the drug abuse, the frequency and amount of doses, and your overall health condition. Once heroin withdrawal has begun, symptoms tend to be mostly physical. Here is a list of the most common symptoms you can expect.

  • Intense Sweating
  • Runny nose and watery eyes
  • Body tremors
  • Muscle cramps and spasms
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches
  • Brain fog
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Mood swings
  • Lack of motivation
  • Apathy and numbness
  • Intense cravings and desire to relapse

Trying to endure those severe symptoms is not a game of willpower, nor something you should do alone. Heroin withdrawal should be made under the careful supervision of medical professionals, so they can help you manage the symptoms and act if you experience health complications.

Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms

Addressing the psychological withdrawal symptoms is an often neglected but crucial aspect of successful long-term recovery. The most common and visible symptoms are anxiety, depression, mood swings, and insomnia, all of which negatively affect your mood and overall emotional well-being.

However, other psychological symptoms of withdrawal can be milder, more subtle, and persist much longer, even after your physical dependency has been reduced or eliminated. Apathy, loss of motivation, hopelessness, and emotional fluctuations can persist for much more time because there may be underlying mental health issues that the heroine has been hiding when used as a coping mechanism.

For that reason, alongside the treatment of physical dependence, we offer a holistic and comprehensive approach with various therapeutic tools that help you find purpose in your life, motivation to pursue your goals, and better manage symptoms of anxiety and depression through individual counselling, group therapy, and other evidence-based approaches.

Cravings and How the Detox Process Handles Them

Since your body develops a physical dependence on heroin or the substance to which you are addicted, you are likely to experience cravings as withdrawal symptoms. They can feel like intense urges to get your hands on a dose, making you disregard all other considerations or a more mild but persistent and nagging desire that’s constantly on your mind.

The detoxification programme gradually reduces cravings by slowly lowering your dependency on the drug and using medical substitutes to keep those cravings mild. Furthermore, along with the detoxification process, you will also get the opportunity for various types of therapy to understand better what triggers those cravings and how they affect you.

After you walk out of our facilities, we also offer a comprehensive aftercare programme, so you can build support and accountability networks that keep you on the right track, help you avoid relapse, and motivate you to build healthy habits.

Would It Be Safe to Quit 'Cold Turkey?

The ‘cold turkey approach is one where you suddenly stop heroin use or any other drug you depend on, hoping that you can recover with willpower and endurance alone.

Findings from the World Health Organization and the national institute for health and care all reach the same consensus – the cold turkey approach is dangerous and potentially life-threatening if you’ve been using the drug for a long time.

If your body has become very physically dependent on the drug, suddenly stopping will send it into a shock and potentially lead to an increased risk of overdosing once you relapse. The sudden heroin withdrawal will lead to many adverse side effects, such as a flu-like condition, nausea, anxiety, mood swings, depression, vomiting, and other symptoms.

Recovery after Heroin Detox

clients holding hands during group therapy
Heroin detox is just the first treatment step toward recovery from addiction and long-term sobriety. Our residential programmes offer a holistic and science-based approach to recovery where we treat the underlying social, emotional and mental causes of addiction and give you the foundations for healthy habits and effective coping mechanisms to avoid relapse once you get back into your everyday life.

To understand more about the sources of your addiction, how to overcome those obstacles, and resolve related mental health issues that may contribute to your addiction, such as anxiety, symptoms of depression, anger issues and other overlapping conditions, we offer one-on-one sessions with a qualified addiction counsellor. You will find a sympathetic, kind and understanding person who will listen to your troubles and offer tested and evidence-based solutions.

Alongside one-on-one counselling, we also offer a wide range of therapeutic tools and healthy activities that can improve your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Group therapy, physical activity, and motivation workshops may seem unrelated at first, but they all contribute toward the building of healthy habits that fight many of the psychological reasons behind addiction, such as loneliness, low self-worth and confidence, lack of motivation, feeling uncomfortable in your body, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions about Heroin Withdrawal

Can I Stop Using Heroin Without Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms?

If you’ve taken minimal doses only a few times, you will likely experience very mild or weak withdrawal symptoms. However, regular heroin use for a long time likely means you’ve developed an addiction, and you can expect severe withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop.

What Are Heroin Withdrawals Like in 18 and 19-year-olds?

The brain and body of a teenager are still developing, so getting addicted to heroin or any other substance can happen more efficiently, and they experience more severe withdrawal symptoms.

Since they are still emotionally and cognitively developing as people, and their health is more vulnerable, it’s advisable to treat teenage heroin cases in private rehab. The inclusive, safe and comfortable environment is more likely to make them open up about the origins of their heroin addiction. Qualified addiction experts can give advice and immediately react if there are any health complications while the teen is in recovery. 

Do You Offer Detox-only Treatment?

It is possible to decline ongoing rehabilitation after your detox with us, but we advise against continuing into recovery without first going through a cycle of rehab and therapy, which will equip you with trigger-management abilities to help you fend off relapses. However, you have a higher chance of achieving successful long-term recovery if you try our comprehensive heroin rehab programme, which involves one-on-one counselling, group therapy and support groups, workshops and lectures on how to develop healthy habits, and effective coping mechanisms for triggers, and other essential tools that help you avoid relapse once you step out of the facility.

How Long Does the Detox Programme Last?

On average, the detox programme for heroin and most other opiates lasts between 12-14 days. The amount it takes may vary depending on how you respond to the treatment, your health condition, and the severity of the addiction and heroin dependency which you have developed.

Do You Offer Post-Detox Treatment for Heroin Dependence?

Yes, we offer a heroin rehabilitation programme which includes multiple forms of therapy, allowing you to pick one that best connects with your needs, along with various workshops, lectures, and individual and group activities to improve your well-being and build a healthy foundation which reduces the chance of relapse.

Once you step out of our facilities, we also offer a comprehensive aftercare programme to help you stay motivated, committed, and consistent in your fight against addiction.

Will You Provide Medication if I Experience Severe Withdrawals?

Yes, if you experience severe withdrawal symptoms, we offer a variety of evidence-based medications, like buprenorphine, to protect your health and make the detoxification process more effective. There are multiple prescribed opioids that can be given, which one we end up using will depend on your specific case and current health condition.


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