Understanding Heroin and Opioid Detox

When someone is struggling with addiction to heroin or opioids, it can be almost impossible to quit cold turkey. This is due to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, as well as intense drug cravings. When someone quits cold turkey, they will have to experience all these debilitating withdrawal symptoms and manage strong cravings on their own. This is extremely hard to do without the assistance of medication during heroin and opioid detox.

According to Medline, about 948,000 people used heroin during the past year. In the same year, about 11.5 million people were nonmedical users of narcotic pain relievers. These can include:

  • Codeine
  • Heroin
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Methadone
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone (Percocet or Oxycontin)

There are many different types of opioids. They are pain relievers that work by interacting with opioid receptors in cells. They can be natural and made from the poppy plant (such as morphine or heroin) or can be man-made (such as fentanyl). They work by interrupting your brain’s perception of pain and give a euphoric high.

Drugs Used for Heroin and Opioid Detox

Once the body is dependent on heroin and opioids, it can be very difficult to stop taking them. The inability to stop or slow use of a substance is one of the many symptoms of addiction. The more heroin or opioids a person takes, the higher their tolerance and dependency are. It can be near impossible to stop taking heroin and opioids for a day, let alone forever. One great way to experience heroin and opioid detox is with the help of medication.


Methadone is a drug used to help taper off the opioids instead of suddenly quitting cold turkey. Slowly weaning off of heroin and opioids help to minimize withdrawal symptoms and is less of a shock to the body. Since the body has stopped producing its own opioids due to the overabundance brought by substances, it can be very uncomfortable while waiting for the body to adjust. Slowly allowing the body to reproduce opioids while slowly tapering off makes heroin and opioid detox much more comfortable.

According to The US National Library of Medicine, Methadone is a medication that is taken orally. It is long-acting, thus producing smoother withdrawal, and safe if care is taken with initial dosing. Inpatient methadone tapering takes about 5 to 7 days and has a retention rate of 80%. Outpatient detoxification takes longer to minimize withdrawal symptoms but only about 20% of people complete it.


Also known as Buprenorphine, Suboxone works in the same way as Methadone in that it helps to slowly wean the patient off of opioids. However, Methadone can be addictive in and of itself if not used correctly. Suboxone offers lower addiction potential and can be taken at home instead of in a clinic (like Methadone).


Aside from debilitating withdrawal symptoms, one of the many difficult parts about heroin and opioid detox is dealing with intense drug cravings. Naltrexone works to help curb those cravings. According to The US National Library of Medicine, Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids by competitive antagonism at the u receptor. Because of this blockade, taking opioids will produce absolutely no euphoric high. It also helps work as an additional cushion of support when someone leaves treatment.

Medical Detox

Heroin and opioid detox can be very difficult if done alone. Relapse is extremely likely, and withdrawal symptoms can be debilitating. They can last for weeks, depending on the length and severity of the addiction. The best, safest and most comfortable way to experience heroin and opioid detox is to take advantage of medical detox. These medications have been specifically designed to work with heroin and opioid detox.

An on-site Addictionologist will administer the medications to you, and the 24-hour medical team will be there to help assist with any issue that may arise. An Addictionologist is someone who is specifically trained in working with detox and addiction, including heroin and opioid detox. Having the peace of mind that you are in safe hands and will experience minimal discomfort will help you with your long-term sobriety and recovery.

About Cliffside Malibu

When you are able to minimize the distractions of heroin and opioid detox, such as painful withdrawal symptoms and strong cravings, you will be much better able to concentrate on your recovery. Learning how to overcome your triggers and learning new coping skills are extremely important, and the drugs used for heroin and opioid detox will help you get there faster.

Since no two addictions are the same, Cliffside Malibu offers an individualized treatment plan for each and every client. Treatment plans are created based on a client’s current stage of the Transtheoretical Model: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action, or Maintenance. This model helps ensure that all patients receive the best treatment path possible based on their own specific need. Moving our clients through this model to completion successfully is our goal each and every single day.

Cliffside Malibu’s policy is to ensure that all people who choose treatment with us receives the best care possible. We strive to provide a continuum of care including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient services. Our program includes not only evidence-based behavioral therapy but family therapy and holistic therapy, as well. Whether an individual is suffering from substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are designed and structured to be a supportive environment in order to maintain sobriety.

In addition to world-class treatment, Cliffside Malibu offers luxury accommodations, a serene environment, five-star dining, and plentiful amenities. We understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, to meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.

For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit cliffsidemalibu.com