What It’s Like to Withdraw from Heroin

Part 1


“I felt like I would never sleep again, but I am not sure if that or the cold chills are worse. I thought if I could sleep, I would have dreamed of not having cold shakes or dope sneezes.”

This is an account, written in the first person, of what it is like to go through withdrawals from heroin. Keep in mind heroin withdrawal symptoms vary depending on the amount the person was using and how they react to the withdrawals.

Heroin withdrawal at home is one of the worst experiences I’ve ever been through. There is one specific time that stands out in my head vividly. I was 21-years-old and I had just gotten back a restaurant job I had lost the year prior because of my drug use. But I have a hard head and don’t learn very quickly. The manager could tell when I was high at work because I would sweat profusely. I only worked weekends at the restaurant so one Sunday he gave me an ultimatum: come to work sober on Friday or don’t come at all. I couldn’t afford to lose the job, so I started my detox the next day.

“The next 5 days were horrible. I couldn’t sleep well, I couldn’t eat, and couldn’t go to the bathroom. I was hot, but at the same time, I was cold. I found the most comfortable place was to be in the bathtub. I would fill the bath with scalding hot water and lay in it. Sometimes it was the only place I could sleep. I would wake up in the hot water and feel overheated, so I would turn on the cold water and sit under the showerhead until I got cold, then lay back in the hot water. I also liked the bathtub because it was right next to toilet when I had to vomit.

“When I wasn’t in the bathtub, I never ventured far from my bed. I would binge watch shows on different streaming services to try and stay out of my head. The weirdest part is whatever shows I watched during that time—no matter how much I loved them before—I can no longer watch them anymore because they remind me of that withdrawal.

“I think they call that classical conditioning. Your thoughts during withdrawal are the worst part. It is nearly impossible to be happy or be motivated to do anything. You think of every possible way to get money to get a fix, no matter how degrading they are or how much dignity you will lose.

“Stealing from your mother or pawning your possessions are commonplace at this point of a detox. I remember having one thought that stayed with me though: Rehab sounds nice right now. I wouldn’t have to sleep in a bed stained with withdrawal sweat, I wouldn’t have to make any excuses, I would be around trained professionals who would get me through it. And eventually, that is what I did. I went through withdrawal at Narconon, and the two experiences are like day and night.”

Mike A.—Narconon Graduate

Read Part 2 of What it’s Like to Withdrawal from Heroin



Aaron has been writing drug education articles and documenting the success of the Narconon program for over two years.