Heroin is an extremely addictive opioid drug and unfortunately, the rise in the number of people using heroin has steadily increased over the past few years. There are a number of consequences; both socially and medically as a result of a heroin addiction. The good news is, if you or someone you care about is addicted to heroin, addiction treatment and recovery is possible. For a safe and effective journey to quit heroin, it is important to understand the effects of the addiction and the process of detox as well as recovery. Recovering from a heroin addiction is a long-term process that requires dedication; however, it is possible.
Dangers of Quitting Cold Turkey
It is extremely important to understand what your body goes through when the addiction is no longer being met. First, it is essential to recognize the fact that you are not weak for needing help to stop; heroin is addiction and drastically stopping the heroin intake will send your brain and your body into a panic. Quitting heroin should never be attempted without professional medical supervision. The withdrawal symptoms may cause extremely serious pain and in some situations, quitting cold turkey, without supervision may be fatal. Withdrawal symptoms often include:
- Body pains
- Abdominal cramps
- Severe chills and sweats
- Disturbed sleep
Detoxing is the first step to quitting heroin. The detox process takes time, oftentimes between 7-10 days, with the acute symptoms peaking on about the third day. Mild symptoms, such as anxiety and insomnia can last much longer. The symptoms of detox can become severe, which is why it’s critical that you contact an addiction treatment center for recommendations on safely detoxing.
Quitting Heroin for Good
Although detox is the first step to quitting heroin, before beginning the detox phase and beginning your road to recovery, it is essential that you develop a willingness to stop using the drug. It’s important that you motivate yourself to quit and that you identify the reasons why you want to stop. Keep in mind that making the decision to quit using heroin must be your choice, you cannot quit for someone else, you must quit for yourself. If you only “promise” to quit for someone else’s sake, it may make it difficult to avoid relapsing. It’s important that you understand the consequences of using heroin, including the health risks, but understanding the consequences will not make you quit; only you, your dedication and your patience can make you quit.
Heroin Addiction Treatment
Heroin is at the top of the list when it comes to problem drugs. It leads to the greatest risk of disease as well as one of the leading causes of death due to drug overdose. Those with a heroin addiction often face financial difficulties, such as bankruptcy, experience a change in their personality and face lost memories. Treatment is critical in reducing the risks associated with detox as well as helping to reduce the risk of relapse. There is a variety of treatments, including behavioral therapies and medicines that are effective in helping those addicted to heroin quit. Common addiction treatments for heroin may include:
The most common medications for the treatment of heroin include methadone and buprenorphine. Both medicines work by binding to the same receptors in your brain that heroin binds to; however, the result is weaker and helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms and the cravings.
- Methadone is a slow-acting opioid agonist that is taken by mouth, which allows it to reach your brain slower, so it lessens that high that generally occurs with other routes of medicine administration, such as intravenously. Methadone has been a popular form of heroin addiction treatment since the 1960s and it is an excellent treatment option for those who don’t respond well to other medications. It is only available and dispensed through an approved outpatient treatment program.
- Buprenorphine, also known as subutex, is a partial opioid agonist. It relieves the cravings, without producing the dangerous side effects or the high that other opioids produce. It was previously only taken orally; however, in 2016, the FDA approved an implant option, which eliminates the need for daily dosing.
- Vivitrol is also an opioid antagonist. It isn’t sedating or addictive and does not cause physical dependence, but some patients have trouble complying with the treatment plan, which reduces the effectiveness.
Heroin is one of the most addictive as well as one of the most dangerous, even deadly substances in the world. Learning how to safely quit heroin is the first step toward the road of a clean and healthy life. It is highly advised that self-treatment not be the option when it comes to quitting heroin, because the withdrawal symptoms can be extremely painful as well as dangerous. Fortunately, with the help of an addiction treatment center, recovery is an achievable reality.