The opioid crisis has been a regular topic in local and national news. Opioid abuse often begins with legally available prescription drugs, like OxyContin and Fentanyl, but many who are suffering from opioid addiction end up moving on to heroin. We at Sagebrush Treatment Centers offer hope to clients dealing with addiction through our heroin addiction treatment center in Northern VA.
One question we receive from time to time is this: can you die from heroin withdrawal? There’s a common misconception that withdrawal, while unpleasant, is something that can be worked through on its own. Maybe you’ve seen this on TV, where a drug-addicted undercover cop goes through a montage full of cold sweats and blurred camera angles. In a few days, he’s back in the office or some such nonsense.
That may be how it works on TV, but this is real life. And in real life, the answer to “Can you die from heroin withdrawal?” is “Yes.”
Both withdrawal itself and some of the associated risks can be quite dangerous.
Can You Die from Heroin Withdrawal? Understanding Heroin
Before we get into specifics, it’s essential to understand the nature of heroin. Heroin is an opioid in the same class of drug as morphine, OxyContin, Vicodin, and Fentanyl. All these drugs derive from (or synthetically emulate) opium. All help with pain, and all are addictive.
Heroin was one of the earliest of the new opioids, developed by Bayer in 1898, ironically as an alternative to morphine. People had become addicted to morphine, and Bayer introduced heroin as an alternative. Of course, heroin was even more addictive and banned in 1924.
To make matters worse, heroin users don’t just develop an addiction. They establish a tolerance for the drug (see DrugAbuse.gov), meaning they need higher and higher doses to achieve the same high. For this reason, overdosing happens frequently and can be fatal.
All drugs in this opioid class have similar addictive properties, and they create identical withdrawal symptoms. What’s true for one is true for the rest, generally speaking.
Can You Die from Heroin Withdrawal? Withdrawal Itself
Despite what you see on TV, heroin withdrawal itself can kill. It’s not common, but it does happen. Australia’s National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre zeroes in on a few of the withdrawal symptoms that can turn deadly. Both vomiting and diarrhea are common side effects of withdrawal, and in some cases, they can be uncontrollable. Individuals experiencing withdrawal on their own will become severely dehydrated, which has, in many instances, led to death. There are documented cases of people dying in jail in this way.
Overall, system distress can also cause cardiac arrest—a heart attack. This, too, can be deadly.
The good news is that these are all easily manageable problems for people under medical care, according to that same Australian study. If you or someone you love is attempting to stop using heroin, don’t do it alone. Get help at a Northern VA addiction treatment program today, where you’ll receive the care necessary to withdraw safely.
Can You Die from Heroin Withdrawal? Overdose Risk
There are other risks besides withdrawal itself, and some of these can be deadly, too. One chance is that people experiencing heroin withdrawal will succumb to the temptation to use it again. Withdrawal symptoms may create desperation that leads such people to engage in risky behavior, such as trying an unfamiliar drug or buying from an unknown source. This is one way that overdose deaths occur, like the ones that have made the news involving Fentanyl-laced drugs.
Here again, the answer is to go through withdrawal safely at an effective treatment center, where you won’t have the option to use again (and overdose).
Sagebrush Treatment Centers
Heroin addiction is a severe problem, and withdrawal can be dangerous, even fatal. If you or a loved one are struggling with heroin use, get help today. If you’re looking for a substance abuse treatment program, Sagebrush Treatment Centers is here for you. Sagebrush Treatment is headquartered in McLean, VA, and we have several locations throughout Northern Virginia.
If you need help, don’t wait. Contact Sagebrush Treatment Centers at 866.488.1156 today to start your journey to recovery.