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Quitting Heroin: What To Expect

If you or a loved one is in the grips of heroin addiction, it feels like you are in the grips of the devil himself. Heroin is not only one of the most addictive drugs on the planet, it is also one of the hardest drugs to quit. The withdrawal symptoms are extremely uncomfortable, painful, and have the potential to become life-threatening. Quitting heroin is a difficult and monumental journey, but recovery is possible! Quitting heroin isn’t just about quitting the drug itself; it is also about addressing the emotional and psychological issues that are tied to heroin abuse and addiction. The following is a guide of what you can expect when you quit heroin.

What to Expect When You Quit Heroin

he Precovery Period

While we often think about quitting heroin in terms of actually stopping its use, the whole process of quitting heroin or any other drug begins with what is often called the recovery period. It is a stage in which you are finally tired of using the drug and are seeing the devastating impacts it is having on your life and those loved ones around you. You desire to break from your addiction and are seeking something more and that is greater than yourself.

During this period, you are reflecting on how heroin addiction has impacted your life, and you may ask questions such as the following:

  • How has heroin negatively impacted my life and those I love?
  • What have I lost as a result of heroin addiction?
  • What will happen to me if I continue to use heroin?
  • Can I ever be the person I want to be and continue to use the drug?
  • What do I really desire to do with my life, and how is heroin keeping me from achieving my dreams?

This period can take months or even years; however, with the proper motivation and guidance, this initial period can be much shorter.

Having Willingness

Once you have reflected and thought at great length how your addiction to heroin is ruining your life, you must develop the willingness to actually quit the drug. For many addicts, this stage is very difficult because of the extremely powerful hold heroin has on their mind and body. If they quit the drug, they know the withdrawal symptoms will be brutal, and the feelings they experience can lead them right back into active use. As painful and hard as it is, you must come to grips that you must stop your heroin use. If you are having difficulty cultivating the willingness needed to stop, focus on the isolation and depression that you are feeling as heroin has taken over your life. Additionally, think about all that you have lost regarding relationships, money and property–all to maintain your habit. What do you truly want to accomplish with your life?

Dealing With Withdrawal

The stage that all heroin addicts fear the most is when they quit using the drug and have to deal with the effects of heroin withdrawal. The physical and psychological symptoms associated with withdrawal can start being felt a few hours after the last done has been taken. As stated earlier, the process of heroin withdrawal can be a nightmare and its effects can take an enormous toll on those who try to quit.

Some of the common withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Depression
  • Chills and intense cold sweats
  • Severe headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Trembling

The Detox Process

Depending on the severity of your heroin addiction, the presence of other drugs in your system and any underlying medical issues, withdrawing from heroin can be fatal. It is extremely important that you avoid self-detoxing methods or trying to kick your addiction “cold turkey”. You need to seek immediate medical assistance at a reputable medical detox facility. Medical detox has three main goals:

Evaluation– you will be tested to see how many heroin (and other drugs) are in your bloodstream. These tests will also measure their concentrations and you will also be evaluated for any co-occurring mental or physical conditions that may accompany your substance abuse.

Stabilization – during detox, treatment staff will assist you through the withdrawal process through the use of medications (such as suboxone or buprenorphine), nutrition, and other interventions. The ultimate goal is to minimize the effects of withdrawal symptoms and gradually get you to a stable and substance-free state.

Fostering Entry into Treatment – once stability is achieved, detox staff will prepare you to enter formal drug treatment and provide you the encouragement and support you need.

Drug Treatment

Drug detox will help you look and feel better; however, detox alone is not drug treatment. In order to truly address your addiction to heroin, you must enter drug treatment. Residential inpatient-based treatment will provide you the best chance to achieve your goal of long-term sobriety. By entering a residential setting, you are away from the triggers and temptations of your home environment and can focus on your recovery. During your stay in drug treatment, you will receive an individualized treatment plan drawn from a variety of therapy techniques and other services that will help you heal in mind, body and spirit.

You will learn and address the underlying causes of your addiction, learn valuable life and coping skills as well as learn relapse prevention techniques that will help you deal with the cravings and urges that can lead to relapse. Because heroin has a high relapse potential, it is highly recommended that you attend some form of aftercare such as intensive outpatient treatment or even spend time residing in a sober living home or another recovery- based environment.

You Can Recover From Heroin Addiction

If you are struggling with heroin addiction, you may feel there is no hope for you to recover. With help from Ocean Breeze Recovery Center, recovery is not only possible, it is a reality! We offer drug treatment programming that is effective and proven to work. With both traditional and holistic approaches to recovery, we can create a customized treatment plan that will best suit your unique needs. Don’t struggle another minute; call us toll-free today and start your journey towards freedom.


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