It is common knowledge that addiction is a tough thing to overcome. It does not matter what the substance or behavior is. Stopping any behavior cold turkey is difficult for anyone. Heroin addiction is no different. Believe it or not, there are some people who kick their opioid addiction all on their own. How can that be, you may ask yourself. Make no mistake – kicking an addiction does not involve a foolproof approach. Beating a substance abuse problem usually involves going to a long term treatment center, taking medication, and going to therapy.
Some addicts can break their addictions without help. Usually, people who attempt to quit on their own try several times. It usually takes several tries to achieve their ultimate goal, if they ever do. Each try is a step forward towards quitting for good. Attempting to kick a heroin addiction is an admirable feat. But sometimes it is not enough. You can quit drugs or alcohol on your own. However, most people need help to stay sober. An addict will go right back to using again if they fail to get the proper support and do not find other activities to fill the void. Getting clean is the just the first step.
Detoxing from any substance can be absolutely brutal. If you have ever tried to give up anything from alcohol to sugar, you probably know that your body can react in strange ways. After years of using, your brain chemistry actually changes. Heroin detox and withdrawal is extremely tough to get though on your own. The duration and intensity of heroin withdrawal symptoms depend on many factors, including the length and amount of use. It is typical for older people who have been using heroin for a long time to have a more difficult time withdrawing.
There are generally two types of detox: natural and medical. Natural detox does not involve medications. Medical detox – usually done in an inpatient or outpatient capacity – often involves the use of medications. These may include methadone, Dolophine, Suboxone, or Thorazine. The problem with medication-assisted therapy (MAT) is that the medications can be just as addictive as the substance you are trying to kick. The natural route of detox and symptom relief involves over-the-counter medications and home remedies if you don’t want to use medication.
Detoxing at home requires a great deal of planning. Typically, detox lasts for an average of 7 days, but of course this can vary. The first 3 days are the most severe. Muscle aches, insomnia, and panic attacks are some of the symptoms. During the next few days after that, the shivers begin. You probably won’t have an appetite at all, but it is important to eat properly to boost your immune system. After 6 or 7 days, the withdrawal symptoms still persist but in the form of insomnia, anxiety, and nausea. Beyond a week or so, you will begin to experience protracted withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). These can include deep depression, fatigue, and irritability. PAWS can last for months after the initial heroin addiction withdrawal. Heroin causes neurocircuitry changes in the brain that affect emotions and behavior.
Quitting Heroin Cold Turkey
Many addicts are reluctant and even scared to stop using heroin cold turkey, and for good reasons. The reality is that sudden withdrawal from heroin and other opioids can potentially be fatal. Yes, it’s true that withdrawal means that you are no longer putting a poison into your body. So how is this potentially fatal? Well, a heroin addict’s brain and body are used to the substance. Taking heroin away suddenly causes the body to become confused. Withdrawal can lead to increased heart rate, stroke, respiratory depression, or seizures. It can also lead to depression, which is a big threat in itself. Thoughts of suicide are common during withdrawal. Beating heroin addiction on your own should involve some type of monitoring, both physical and mental.
Does Will Power Work?
You may that you are strong enough to beat your heroin addiction. After all, you’ve got will power, right? If only it were that easy! Recovery is about more than being clean. It is about building value into being clean and appreciating being lucid. Will power is a great thing, but you need more than that. If you think you are stronger than the substance, you might be right. But quitting naturally and solely relying on the power of your will to stay sober might not be the best solution. In fact, you must surrender your will.
Sally Satel is a former staff psychiatrist at the Oasis Clinic in Washington, D.C., where she worked with substance abuse patients. Regarding curing oneself of addiction:
“Of course it’s possible. Most people recover and most people do it on their own. That’s in no way saying that everyone should be expected to quit on their own and in no way denies that quitting is a hard thing to do. This is just an empirical fact. It is even possible that those who quit on their own could have quit earlier if they sought professional help. The implicit message isn’t that treatment isn’t important for many—in fact it should probably be made more accessible.”
Long Term Treatment and Other Options
Inpatient long term treatment is the most effective way for heroin addicts to beat their addiction: 73% of addicts complete treatment and 21% remain sober after five years. It provides the best chance for relapse prevention. A detox program is another option provided that outpatient services are utilized afterwards. Detox programs help the addict get through their initial withdrawal symptoms, but they are not part of the actual recovery from the heroin addiction.
You can beat heroin addiction on your own, but it is extremely difficult. As we said before, getting clean is just the first step. Staying clean is another. Also Heroin makes for a pretty rough detox period. At Amethyst Recovery, you will be in good hands. All you must do is make the decision to beat your heroin addiction.