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How Long Does Heroin Withdrawal Last?

A woman hikes up a mountain as the sun sets behind her.
There are times in life when you have to decide how you want to live—and if you’re willing to do what it takes to get there.


This question actually requires a two-part answer. There are two sides to recovery from any substance—the physical and the psychological.

Let’s start with the physical. Many people describe this as feeling like you have the flu. You may feel nauseous and experience diarrhea and vomiting. Abdominal cramps, muscle cramps, sweating and chills are all common.

When Does Heroin Withdrawal Start?

Heroin doesn’t stay in your system for long. Here’s what happens after your last dose of heroin:

  • Symptoms begin within 6-12 hours.
  • Symptoms peak within 1-3 days.
  • Around day 4, symptoms begin to improve.
  • Symptoms generally are gone by the time you have been off heroin for 5-10 days.

The severity of your symptoms depends on a few factors. How long have you been using heroin? How heavily have you used? Are you detoxing alone at home (potentially very dangerous) or are you being medically supervised in a treatment program?

It would be great if—after your week of feeling lousy—you could get back to your old life, feeling fine and ready to go.

Unfortunately, there’s still the second phase of heroin withdrawal.

The Psychological Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal

Drugs may make you feel good, but it’s always a loan that needs to be paid back. So if heroin made you feel joyful, carefree and comfortably numb, you can expect to feel pretty much the opposite during this phase of recover. Think of it as your body’s way of balancing everything out.

Again, everyone is different, but it’s common to experience depression, anxiety, sleeping problems, lack of motivation and sensitivity to stress.

There are two ways to handle these symptoms. The first is to realize that they will take time to resolve. Heroin has done a job on your brain’s natural reward system. Many people find that they turn a corner at around 60 days and begin to feel more peaceful, hopeful and happy.

The second way to manage symptoms is to address them head on. Going forward, you’ll need new ways of handling stress and dealing with life (other than numbing out).

Many people think that the point of rehab is to help you physically get off of a drug. While that is one part of it, it’s actually far more important to find out why you started using heroin in the first place—and kept using.

A good treatment program can help you straighten out both your body and your mind, which will give you the tools you need to launch your new life.

Let Us Help You

Recovery isn’t one-size-fits-all. At The Raleigh House, we’ll work with you to help find the path that’s right for you—and help you manage and overcome your withdrawal symptoms. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the heroin addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House and how it can help you build a new life.

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