What is the Withdrawal Timeline for Heroin Detox?

Heroin withdrawal occurs when you stop using this fiercely addictive substance after sustained use. 

An opiate and a semi-synthetic opioid, heroin interacts with your brain’s natural opioid receptors, delivering pain-relieving and rewarding properties.

In your brain, you have neurotransmitters associated with mood and movement, as well as essential physiological processes. These neurotransmitters or chemical messengers are designed to deliver endorphins when required. Using a drug like heroin continuously floods your brain with endorphins, reducing anxiety while simultaneously inducing a sense of euphoria.

Tolerance to heroin rapidly builds as the drug triggers significant changes in brain chemistry. It is inadvisable and potentially dangerous to abruptly stop using heroin without consulting your healthcare provider.

Fortunately, clinically supervised heroin withdrawal at a licensed medical detox center can minimize the discomfort of withdrawal. According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), medication-assisted treatment is effective for heroin withdrawal.

What does withdrawal from heroin involve, then?


If you become physically dependent on heroin, just like any opioid, discontinuing use invariably precipitates intensely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

You will experience withdrawal symptoms for the duration of the detoxification stage. With heroin and its toxic metabolites leaving your system, your body struggles to cope with this change.

For many people who have used heroin long-term, the fear of withdrawal symptoms becomes a barrier to obtaining treatment.

Fortunately, by educating yourself about what to expect as heroin withdrawal unfolds, you will see that while heroin detox is liable to be uncomfortable, the symptoms are manageable. Heroin withdrawal is also reasonably fleeting, as we’ll outline below.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms will differ from person to person. There are many factors that influence the extent and severity of these symptoms, including:

  • Duration of heroin abuse
  • How much of the drug is used
  • Route of administration
  • Any underlying medical conditions
  • Presence of co-occurring disorder
  • Previous opioid withdrawal history

The withdrawal symptoms that manifest during heroin detox are the inverse of the intoxicating and rewarding effects induced by the opiate. When you ingest heroin by any method of delivery, the drug suppresses some central nervous system functioning, and simultaneously boosts pleasurable feelings. The absence of heroin in the system, by contrast, triggers:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Lowered mood
  • General anxiety


Withdrawal from some addictive substances like opioids carries a heightened risk of complications.

If you require heroin detox, attempting to quit suddenly at home without medical liaison can be dangerous, and it could even be life-threatening.

Additionally, detoxing from heroin at home exposes you to more risk in the form of a potential relapse. During detox, your tolerance to heroin will lower dramatically. Cravings for heroin, though, are likely to remain constant. If you succumb to temptation during a home heroin detox and use a dose you would have easily tolerated before detox, this can be enough of the drug to induce an overdose.



The symptoms experienced during heroin withdrawal are similar in presentation to the symptoms of a bad case of influenza. The duration of symptoms is similar, too, with most heroin withdrawal symptoms peaking after 48 to 72 hours and then subsiding after about a week – more on the heroin withdrawal timeline below.

Everyone undergoes a slightly different experience during heroin detox, but these are some of the most common signs of heroin withdrawal:

  • Disrupted sleep patterns and restlessness
  • Excessive production of bodily fluids
  • Changes in mood
  • Aches and pains
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea and stomach pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cravings for heroin



Some of the most common heroin withdrawal symptoms include disrupted sleep patterns and insomnia. Yawning and restlessness also frequently accompany heroin detox.



You may find yourself sweating excessively, crying, and experiencing a runny nose. As your body battles to restore balance – homeostasis – excessive bodily fluids often manifest in response.



As heroin withdrawal unfolds, it is normal to feel irritable, anxious, and depressed. Ensuring that you have adequate emotional support on hand as you detox from heroin is just as important as securing clinical supervision.

If feelings of anxiety and depression do not subside once withdrawal symptoms disappear, you may be suffering from an undiagnosed mental health condition like generalized anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder. In this case, dual diagnosis treatment allows you to unpack both heroin addiction and mental health disorder at the same time.



Taking heroin blocks pain pathways in the body. During detox, on the other hand, a rebound effect often occurs. In addition to feeling aches and pains, you may also feel more sensitive to pain.



If you find your temperature hits 103F or above during heroin detox, seek immediate medical intervention.



Diarrhea and frequent bowel movements characterize heroin withdrawal. These issues are frequently accompanied by stomach pain as the body initially struggles to function without heroin.



Nausea and vomiting during heroin withdrawal can lead to appetite loss and generalized discomfort.



Cravings occur partly due to a desire to feel the heroin high once more, and partly by a wish to eliminate heroin withdrawal symptoms. Cravings can be managed to some extent through the use of FDA-approved medications during heroin detox and recovery.



You can expect the first symptoms of heroin withdrawal to manifest during the comedown period that occurs from 6 to 12 hours after the last dose as the euphoric and rewarding effects of heroin start to wear off.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms peak from 24 hours to 72 hours after taking the drug. Side effects will start subsiding after anywhere from 5 to 7 days of heroin detox.

The brief duration of heroin withdrawal occurs since it is a short-acting opioid. This means it will take effect quickly, but it leaves the bloodstream just as quickly.

In the event of PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome), heroin withdrawal symptoms can linger for weeks, and sometimes even months.



  • Heroin detox days 1 and 2: The first symptoms manifest after just 6 hours of abstinence from heroin. Pain, mainly in the form of muscle aches, develops over the course of day 1, with pain intensifying over the following day. You might also experience panic attacks, anxiety, insomnia, diarrhea, and shaking.
  • Heroin detox days 3 to 5: The most intense phase of heroin detox is characterized by nausea and vomiting alongside sweating, shivering, and abdominal cramping.
  • Heroin detox days 6 and 7: Acute heroin withdrawal is complete within a week or so for most people. Nausea subsides, as do aches and pains. You may still feel fatigued and rundown, but you should start noticing physical improvements, too.



The most seamless method of navigating heroin withdrawal is to detox at a licensed medical detox center. Alternatively, you could detox at the beginning of a residential rehab program for heroin addiction.

If you detox from heroin with the right emotional and clinical support in place, you will minimize discomfort and cravings for heroin, while increasing your chance of kickstarting recovery from heroin addiction without relapse.

We can help you with that here at Gratitude Lodge in Southern California.



We can help you address the physical and psychological aspect of heroin abuse addiction here at Gratitude Lodge. We have three pet-friendly heroin rehab centers located in Long Beach, San Diego, and Newport Beach.

To kickstart your recovery, engage with our supervised medical detox program. This will help you to purge the toxins from your system with clinical and emotional care on hand, as well as medications approved by the FDA for alleviating the intensity of cravings and heroin withdrawal symptoms.

Medication-assisted treatment can also be effective during ongoing treatment in an inpatient or outpatient setting. Your treatment team will also draw from these evidence-based behavioral intreventions:

  • Psychotherapy (CBT and DBT)
  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapy

To reclaim your life from heroin addiction, access our supervised medical detox program and then segue into ongoing treatment. Make this happen by calling 888-861-1658 today.