Can Heroin Withdrawal Kill You?
Heroin addicts have a 50 percent chance of survival- only half of people with a heroin substance use disorder will survive the dredges of their addiction, according to The Archives of General Psychiatry. These deaths are entirely preventable, as addiction is a disease- and there is treatment available many never receive.
Only one in ten drug addicts receive treatment.
What of the rest?
Many overdose, sometimes fatally- others remain in the throes of their addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 28,000 people died from drug overdoses. But what about withdrawal- specifically heroin withdrawal?
Savage debate between those who attest to the validity of deaths stemming from heroin withdrawal attempt to sway those asserting death from heroin withdrawals are nearly impossible. The families of those who mourn their loved ones, who have been ripped from this world from heroin withdrawal, would fervently disagree.
While it’s true, those who are attended to and treated for the symptoms of heroin withdrawal will recover and hopefully go on to succeed in their pursuit of sobriety; as will those suffering from alcohol withdrawal- thought to be the most dangerous substance to withdrawal from (see Delirium Tremens).
It is largely accepted people in withdrawal from alcohol on their own may very well perish from it- so why is dying from heroin withdrawal without treatment so far-fetched? Surely there are cases where one has successfully recovered from heroin withdrawal on their own- yet the same can be said of alcohol withdrawal.
As it were, the symptoms of heroin withdrawal include nausea, vomiting, chronic depression, suicidal ideation, among others. Left untreated, many lives are lost from resulting withdrawal symptoms.
Suicide from Heroin Withdrawal
Those left to their own devices in the brambles of heroin withdrawal succumb to suicidal ideation, or actions of self harm, thoughts of suicide, or attempts of suicide. While suicide is not a direct symptom of heroin withdrawal, the acute misery experienced from the chemical reactions in the body left untreated may prove to be fatal from self slaughter.
A 5 Minute Explanation of “Dope Sickness”
Heroin withdrawal is commonly referred to as Dope Sickness. When left untreated, a medley of adverse effects easily lead to death; foremost: vomiting and severe dehydration.
Heroin & Suboxone Withdrawal Deaths in Prison
As of 2015 rising rates of inmate fatalities from untreated heroin withdrawal symptoms are crippling families nationwide. Although prison personnel are charged with attending to those withdrawing, as described in the video below, these protocols are not being adhered to.
On January 1st of 2016 Krista Deluca died from chronic heroin withdrawal. According to KSBW Deluca’s cause of death was “acute aspiration pneumonia, dehydration, and probable electrolyte imbalance. Due to: protracted vomiting associated with opiate withdrawal.”
Equally as devastating of her death is prison personnel “appropriately” followed procedures, despite Deluca’s death. What does this say of the safety of those with substance use disorders in prison?
In September of 2014 David Stojcevski, who was in jail for an unpaid ticket died from withdrawal of benzodiazepines and suboxone- an opiate used to help people taper from addictive opiate based medications and heroin.
According to The Root Stojcevski’s inquiry of his prescribed medications was met with closed doors; attending personnel answered with “medication has not been ordered at this time.”
The tragedies rage on.
Tyler Tabor died in the care of Adams County Detention Facility in October of 2015 from untreated heroin withdrawal symptoms, according to the IB Times.
Death from untreated symptoms of heroin withdrawal is a real, quantifiable danger.
About the Author
Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.