Heroin Medications Used During Withdrawal

Heroin medication is used during withdrawal from the drug to help alleviate symptoms and make it easier to make it through detox. Learn more about the medications used and how it helps an individual through withdrawal from heroin.

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine was approved by the FDA in October, 2002 as a new treatment for heroin and those with opioid addiction. It may cause dependence and withdrawal symptoms when stopped. It is the first narcotic approved for addictions prescribed by physicians in offices. Some advantages include effectiveness at reducing cravings and is only needed every other day which lowers risk of overdose. Subutex is used in the first few days of treatment and Suboxone helps block effects of opioids and is used for people on maintenance drug therapy. Some side effects may include:

  • Headaches
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Upset stomach
  • Sleep issues

Naltrexone

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist medication which binds to opioid receptors but does not activate them. It is most helpful for highly motivating individuals in detox who want total abstinence including those who experiment with opioids and are in early stages of addiction. The drug blocks part of the brain that feels pleasure when taking narcotics. It blocks receptors and prevents the body from responding to opiates. Some side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

Methadone

Methadone is a strong acting medicine which reduces opiate cravings and blocks opiates. It blocks receptors in the brain affected by opiates such as heroin, enabling people who use it to gradually detoxify from opiates without experiencing painful withdrawal symptoms. Methadone occupies the receptors in the brain that opiates use, blocking the high feeling opiates provide. Cravings are reduced along with symptoms of withdrawal. Side effects may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite

Desipramine

Despiramine is a tricyclic antidepressant which may be useful in facilitation of opioid abstinence in opioid maintenance individuals. Long-term use of heroin suppresses the production of neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine which help regulate mood and are involved in development of depression. Heroin users are likely to experience post-withdrawal depression which can be treated with an antidepressant that counteracts suppression. Side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Nightmares
  • Sweating

Hired Power believes people with addiction need tools and resources to support recovery. Call us if you would like to find out how we can support your journey with our programs, tools and information to aid your journey to recovery.