When do you peak in heroin detox? The worst symptoms of untreated heroin withdrawal typically peak at around the fourth to seventh day. This is when the nausea, vomiting and diarrhea begin to ease somewhat, although the diarrhea can persist for several weeks. It’s best not to let this happen, though. An over-the-counter-medication for diarrhea called loperamide is inexpensive and very effective against the constant diarrhea that can rob the patient’s body of fluids and electrolyes and make sleep impossible.
Loperamide for Diarrhea
Loperamide is an interesting compound. It’s a synthetic molecule first created by chemist Paul Janssen in 1973. Dr. Janssen is the same person who also first synthesized fentanyl. When first introduced, the drug was thought to be so potent and dangerous it was placed into Schedule 1, a highly restricted category reserved for illegal addictive drugs with no accepted medical use in the United States. There, it kept company with marijuana, heroin and LSD. When scientists realized that the opioid, while highly potent, was unable to cross the blood-brain barrier successfully, the drug was placed in Schedule V, the least controlled category for drugs with a very small abuse potential. It became popular as an extremely effective anti-diarrheal sold under the brand name Imodium.
As the 1980s came to a close, loperamide was removed from Schedule I and became available over the counter. Some opioid addicts think it can help them with the misery of withdrawal, but it cannot because it can’t reach the brain’s opioid receptors. It can actually cross the blood-brain barrier, but bouncer cells keep kicking it back out again. Loperamide can only work on opioid receptors in the stomach and gut, but it stops diarrhea like nobody’s business. Never take more than the recommended dosage. No matter what anyone tells you, loperamide cannot help ease opioid withdrawal symptoms other than diarrhea, and it can be dangerous when taken in excess.
As the first week of heroin withdrawal ends, the user will probably notice a slight but definite improvement. By this time, vomiting has stopped and the person can even eat a little soup or jello. Cravings for sugar may begin about this time, added to the intense drug cravings for heroin already present. Extreme weakness, fatigue, insomnia, depression, anxiety and restless leg syndrome may all still be present, but stomach pain is usually gone. After the first week is over, heroin detox typically gets easier, except for the insomnia, which is often one of the first symptoms to appear and the last to depart.
It’s really hard to go without sleep for weeks on end. It might be a good idea to ask your doctor for something to help you sleep temporarily. Just remember it’s only temporary until the withdrawal-induced insomnia subsides. Prescription sleep medications solve nothing in the long term, and most are addictive themselves.
Improvement at 10 Days
At about 10 days, the person may notice a marked improvement. The appetite is back, pain is gone, all stomach issues are gone and flu-like symptoms have disappeared as well. Sweating and hot and cold flashes may still be present, but they are typically much improved as well. This is a good time frame to take advantage of a spa or jacuzzi or even just a tub. The warm water and pulsing jets will improve remaining symptoms by quite a bit. Light swimming in a heated pool is good, too. The diarrhea is probably much improved at this point as well. Discontinue the loperamide as soon as you can. Expect at least a day or two for the drug to wear off; it’s very long-acting. By the way, loperamide comes in both tablets and liquid. Unless you like the taste of banana-flavored dirty mop water, stick to the tablets. The liquid tastes just awful.
This is what unmedicated heroin withdrawal is like. It’s very, very tough to withstand all the way to the end but if you can, you will have made it through completely free of any addictive drugs. It’s an accomplishment, but remember that detox is only the first step to sobriety. You will need drug abuse recovery treatment to stay clean in the long run. Without rehab, detox rarely results in lasting sobriety. You certainly don’t want to become readdicted and have to do the withdrawal thing all over again.
For More Help
Just call us anytime at 833-364-0736 for information and guidance about heroin addiction and withdrawal, We have lots of ideas and resources, and we’re eager to share them with you. We’re here to help, and we look forward to your call.