Usually ingested by self-injection or sniffing, heroin is a highly addictive and illegal narcotic that produces an almost immediate feeling of euphoria for the user.

Withdrawal Symptoms

The symptoms associated with withdrawal from heroin can begin anywhere from six to eight hours following the last ingestion, becoming most severe between forty-eight to seventy-two hours after the last usage. Symptoms may include:

  • dilated pupils
  • piloerection (goose bumps)
  • watery eyes
  • runny nose
  • yawning
  • loss of appetite
  • tremors
  • panic
  • chills
  • nausea
  • muscle cramps
  • insomnia
  • stomach cramps
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • shaking
  • chills or profuse sweating
  • irritability
  • jitteriness


Initial treatment for heroin use includes immediate detoxification, which is meant to provide a safe and painless withdrawal process to a drug-free state. Following detox, continued treatment may involve a prescribed methadone program to alleviate cravings, as well as a variety of other medication such as LAAM, naloxone, buprenorphine and naltrexone that block the effects of opiates like heroin. While the use of medications is necessary in most cases of heroin addiction, recovery is most successful when combined with behavioral therapies that include both residential and outpatient programs. Behavioral therapy is meant to help change the addict’s way of thinking, their expectancies from drug use, and their learned behavior and to help them better cope with life’s daily stressors.