Heroin Withdrawal Timeline - Suboxone Treatment Clinic in Palm Beach

Heroin abuse is a serious problem in the United States. According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, 0.3% (or about 902,000 people) aged 12 and older reported using heroin in the past 12 months.[1]

Oftentimes, individuals who are addicted to heroin continually abuse the drug despite their desire to quit. The main reason an individual refrains from getting sober is to avoid the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal associated with heroin addiction. While the exact symptoms and duration of the heroin withdrawal timeline can vary from one person to the next, withdrawal symptoms can last for a week or more and make individuals extremely vulnerable to relapse.

Fortunately, medication-assisted detox programs work to relieve their patients from experiencing the full effects of heroin withdrawal. Because of this, individuals attempting to get sober from heroin should always attend a professional detox program.

What is Heroin Withdrawal?

Heroin is an illicit opioid drug derived from the seed pod of the opium poppy plant. Because most individuals crush and snort or intravenously inject heroin, the drug reaches the brain quickly and intensely. The powerful rush the drug creates is what makes heroin so addictive and many individuals report cravings after just one use.

The longer an individual uses heroin, the more their body builds a tolerance to the drug. After a while, the body becomes accustomed to the presence of heroin in its system. This causes an individual to experience symptoms of withdrawal when they attempt to quit their heroin use. Long-term heroin abusers experience more severe side effects than others. Individuals may begin to experience the symptoms of withdrawal just by cutting back on the amount of heroin they use.

Symptoms of Heroin Withdrawal

The severity of withdrawal symptoms depends on the severity of an individual’s addiction. If someone used heroin for a short time, they may experience mild to moderate symptoms. However, long-term heroin addicts will experience the worst side effects of withdrawal.

The mild to moderate symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:[2]

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Watery eyes
  • Sweats and chills
  • Frequent yawning
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Tremors
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Goosebumps

The severe symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Heroin cravings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Hypertension
  • Muscle spasms
  • Respiration issues
  • Having a hard time feeling pleasure

While the symptoms of heroin withdrawal are not life-threatening at first glance, the complications of certain symptoms can lead to fatal consequences. If left untreated, hypertension could lead to an array of complications like a heart attack or stroke. Depression can become so severe that the individual develops suicidal ideations and tendencies. As a result, attending a professional medication-assisted detox for heroin withdrawal is necessary.

How Long Does Heroin Withdrawal Take?

The heroin withdrawal timeline may vary from person to person, depending on a variety of factors. Some of these factors include age, overall health, how long heroin was abused, how frequently heroin was abused, whether other substances were involved, and much more. However, a general timeline is as follows:

Beginning Stage

Heroin is a short-acting opioid, meaning it takes effect quickly and leaves the body quickly. Because of this, withdrawal symptoms typically begin anywhere from 6-12 hours after the individual’s last dose. Certain individuals may not experience withdrawal symptoms until 24 hours after their last dose.

During the early stages of the heroin withdrawal timeline, the symptoms will not be severe. However, the symptoms might become uncomfortable enough to warrant the use of FDA-approved detox medications.

Peak Stage

The peak stage of withdrawal is when the symptoms are at their worst. Typically, this is what causes individuals to relapse when they attempt to detox at home. It is important to note that detoxing at home is never a good idea, as it may lead to serious health complications.

The peak stage typically begins on the second or third day of an individual’s detox. At a medical detox center, patients will be provided with comfort medications and tapering medications to limit the severity of heroin withdrawal symptoms.[3] Additionally, breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperatures are all routinely checked to ensure the patient’s body is responding well to detox.


Heroin withdrawal typically subsides after 5-10 days. However, individuals who had a severe heroin use disorder might experience symptoms well after 10 days. Once an individual’s symptoms of withdrawal begin to dissipate, they will begin attending group counseling and individual therapy sessions. Eventually, they will transition from a medical detox program to an inpatient or outpatient treatment setting.

Find Support for the Heroin Withdrawal Timeline

Heroin addiction is not an easy condition to beat, especially when an individual attempts to do so alone. Detoxing from heroin at home is extremely dangerous, as withdrawal symptoms may lead to life-threatening conditions. However, withdrawal symptoms aren’t the only risk for detoxing at home. Many individuals who attempt to detox from heroin at home end up relapsing. And, after abstaining from heroin for a couple of days a person’s tolerance becomes lower. If the individual tries to take the same amount as they used to, they are at risk of an overdose.

Because of this, individuals must attend a medication-assisted detox to recover from heroin addiction. Suboxone Clinic of Palm Beach combines FDA-approved medications, evidence-based therapies, addiction education, and group counseling to provide our patients with a solid foundation of recovery. To learn more about heroin detox and to begin your recovery journey, please contact us today.


  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/heroin/scope-heroin-use-in-united-states
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526012/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK310652/