At some point, a heroin addict decides to quit consuming the drug. One realizes the harm the drug is causing to themselves and people around them. That is usually a brave step towards recovery, though it is accompanied by many fears. Once you have hit the start button, life will never be the same again as you will be free from heroin slavery. The following are some fears that people who are addicted to heroin and other drugs face when they think of quitting the drugs;
Quitting the drug feels like you will have nothing to rely on. Some people use heroin because of loneliness and boredom, hence quitting means that loneliness and boredom kick in again. Also, you will no longer hang out with your friends whom you used to take the drug together.
The greatest fear could be stopping the use of a substance that has helped all along in dealing with problems. It can be a difficult decision when you think in that line, but remember that you have family and friends who will support you throughout the recovery journey. Share the fears with your close friends, family members, and the medical team.
- Fear of rejection
After admitting that it’s enough and you need to get off the hook, one gets worried that friends and family members may reject the “new him/her”. Some people may hesitate to share their decision with anyone since they don’t know how they will react. A person thinks that the might not be supported. Obviously, many people may not understand you nor offer you any support, however, don’t concentrate on them.
There are some who will support your decision. Focus on your recovery; it will prove that you are a changed person to them. Additionally, addicted people get worried about their former friends. They wonder whom they will hang out with. Remember that we make friends as we lose others and if you lose them because of a positive thing, the better.
- Sobriety fear
It can be scary to think of the” sober you”, especially if you have dependent on heroin for a long period. Many addicted think that life without drugs is boring and dull. Besides at rehab there are facilities that will cheer you up. Also, you will be taught various activities that you can engage in after rehab that will bring happiness such as swimming, nature walks, and many others.
Some people who have attempted withdrawal from heroin understand how painful the withdrawal symptoms can be and hence the fear of quitting can be very strong. However, medications are given to relieve the pain and make detox more comfortable.
- Fear of failure
What if it doesn’t work? Many addicted people have tried and it didn’t work, it could be true, but what didn’t work for somebody doesn’t mean it will not also work for you. We are different and withdrawal experiences are different too. Many addicts worry that after recovering, they might experience a relapse.
- Fear of loss of employment
In most cases, heroin withdrawal requires full-time medical care, and this means that you will not be going to work. Many people think that this could risk their job. However, one doesn’t think that the addiction puts them at a greater risk of losing the job. Addiction reduces your production at work, which can greatly impact on your career.
Also, if you are caught with heroin, an illegal drug, you might face a jail term and hence lose the employment completely. Any boss will support the health of their staff. Share your decision with your employer, they might support you.
Recovery from heroin addiction starts with detoxification. Heroin is a powerful opioid and has very strong withdrawal symptoms such as flu, headaches that may tempt the person to return to its use again. Nevertheless, detox is a process that will only last for a while and it can be managed by medications.
Detoxification or detox is a natural process that allows the body to get rid of substances and in this case, heroin. When a person starts using heroin, the body adjusts itself to the drug and perceives it as a normal thing. This is why tolerance develops; taking more and more drugs in order to experience the effects you could experience with just a small quantity of the drug. Also, that is why one faces the withdrawal symptoms.
Scientists argue that long use of opiates can make the nerve receptors adaptive and later resist the drug, thus requiring more of the drug. Withdrawal symptoms occur because the receptors must adapt to the absence of the drug. Although the body can normalize, it can’t happen instantly. For it to regain its stability it requires time.
Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms
The withdrawal symptoms of heroin can start between 6-12 hours after consuming the last dosage. The substances get absorbed quickly making the body requires more replenishment. The withdrawal symptoms persist every day you go without the drug. Ideally, they are more severe during the first three to four days of withdrawal.
Before Detox Day
Detoxification is a difficult and painful process that has a huge reward. You get through physical and mental torments to acquire the freedom you need on the other side. Before the D-Day, prepare yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Remember everything requires a positive attitude, and heroin detox is no exception.
Prepare your detox kit. Have OTC medications including Imodium for managing diarrhea, Tylenol to relieve muscle pains, and Benadryl or Dramamine to treat nausea or dizziness. Have some ice packs and keep enough in the freezer. Design and prepare a comfortable spot to hang out. Diarrhea is on the way, you don’t want embarrassment, right? Stock your toilet with sufficient toilet paper.
Get hydrating beverages. If you are not a water lover, have Pedialyte, popsicles, and Gatorade to keep you well hydrated during the process. Have some delicious food, your favorites. They might comfort you. Have Epsom salts for a relaxing bath. If you a well prepared physically and emotionally, there are high chances that the detox will be lesser complicated.
Have a plan on the activities you can engage to keep you busy in when the cravings knock on the door. Reach out for help from a close family member or friend. You can talk via the internet or phone. You can plan on doing a thorough cleaning of your place. When you feel overwhelmed you can make yourself some fresh juice or a cup of tea and enjoy it.
Cravings can knock you down, but you should be strong. Go for a nature walk, listen to nice music, and watch a good movie or any other activity that is of interest to you. They will help you in minimizing the cravings. Keep on reminding yourself that they are temporary. They might be very strong in the first days but focus on the recovering and life free from heroin.
Day 1 of Heroin detox
This is the most difficult day; people face a lot of fears. However, just take it easy and concentrate on keeping yourself busy. On the first day, due to the strong urge to take heroin, you might not be able to think properly and you might fall back to using heroin. Delete that number of the dealer and cancel all the plans. If you a parent, ask a close relative to take care of the children. Reduce all the things that can add to your irritations.
You may experience restlessness in your legs. Apply heating pad alternating with ice packs. Stretch out. You can have a walk or do some workouts. Try lying down on your stomach and get slowly. A runny nose, excessive yawning, and watery eyes are normal. If muscle cramps are too much, take a hot bath or cold one. Add some Epsom salts as they help in relieving the soreness of muscles.
Heroin Detox Day 2
Eat nutritious meals, lots of vegetables, fruits, and be well hydrated. When one is addicted, they forget about their health and body. Detoxification should be a time of helping the body to heal from the damage it has suffered from heroin use.
You might experience sweating. Damp a towel and place it on your forehead. Keep on changing your bed sheets, there is no harm in that. Sweating is normal, but you can manage it. If you can, sleep on towels. To treat hot or cold flashes, drink cold or hot tea whenever you experience them. If you are vomiting, take lots of water, Dramamine or Antivert. Rest as much as you can. For diarrhea, take Imodium, more water, and have a rest.
Day 3 of Heroin Detox
This can be the worst day for most heroin addicts who are withdrawing. But the good thing is that, once you overcome it, you will experience it again. Put your mind at a task. Think about your recovery goals, why you want to quit using heroin, the harm it has caused to you and your family, and other positive things that will make you more encouraged to face the withdrawal symptoms.
Some people write them and stick them on the bedroom or in a place where they can see them constantly. Make short-term goals that are achievable. If you have relatives and friends who can offer you genuine support, call them and ask them to come over on this day. Distract yourself from all triggers by either going for walks or outdoor activities.
Still, take lots of water and fruits. If you feel hot, take a cold shower. One can experience stomach upsets. Lie down and try rubbing it in clockwise or circular motions. Ginger tea can be of help in relieving the stomach cramps. Also, chamomile tea and peppermint tea have been known to relieve stomach upsets. If the symptoms seek medical help; remember they can be life-threatening. The following are the common heroin withdrawal symptoms;
- Mood swings, anxiety, depression, and fear.
- Teary eyes, runny nose, and sweating.
- Stomach upsets, vomiting, and nausea.
- Fever, chills, and dehydration.
- Leg cramps and spasms.
- Diarrhea and dilated pupils.
- Insomnia and loss of appetite.
- Yawning and goose pimples.
If you have ever attempted quitting heroin or any other opiate you know that the list doesn’t include all the agony that one goes through. It is extremely traumatizing and one can do anything to avoid going through it. The withdrawal symptoms can last for days or weeks depending on various factors such as how much heroin you were taking and for how long have you been addicted.
After the severe symptoms are over, various physical and mental discomforts may persist for some weeks. The withdrawal symptoms differ among people and can be worsened by a combination of heroin with other drugs. Also, co-occurring mental or physical conditions may be present and should be treated instantly before starting the detox.
Withdrawal from heroin is not life-threatening by itself, but the withdrawal symptoms can cause health complications that can lead to death if not medically addressed. For instance, depression can make one think of committing suicide or doing a hurting thing to themselves or those around them. Therefore, no one should stop using heroin on their own without supervision by a physician. They offer various medications and ways of managing the withdrawal symptoms.
Medications used in Heroin Detox
Scientists have discovered various medications that can be effective to relieve the withdrawal symptoms of heroin detox. Not all work for every person. Everyone has different body mechanisms. Some people will go through the detoxification period comfortably without using any medications.
Detox is not enough for recovery from heroin addiction. A long-term plan should be devised such as medications, therapies, and counseling. The following are some common medicines used;
Methadone (methadose, Dolophine) is an opioid medication that produces the same effects as the drug you are addicted to, though it doesn’t make you “high.” Also, it can inhibit the effects of heroin, in case a relapse occurs while on the medication. You can take it daily, but it is only available in special treatment centers registered by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and verified by SAMHSA. One can be allowed to go with the medication at home, after meeting some requirements.
Buprenorphine (Suboxone or Subutex) was the first medication to be approved for managing heroin withdrawal symptoms. It blocks all the receptors in the brain that are triggered by heroin use. Buprenorphine is a shorter acting medicine as compared to methadone. It is most recommended by doctors because it has a lesser risk of lethal overdose.
Buprenorphine comes in various forms; capsules which include suboxone and Zubsolv, shot (buprenex), skin patch or Butrans, an implant that is inserted under below your skin for six months, and a film that is placed against the cheek in your mouth. It reduces or mitigates the withdrawal symptoms and cravings for heroin.
This is the only medication for heroin detox that is not addictive. It works by blocking and binding the heroin receptors in the central nervous system making the use of the drug ineffective. Unlike methadone, naltrexone does not treat withdrawal symptoms and cravings, but one can’t get high while on it. It is a long term medication that is usually used after detoxification.
It can be administered via an injection known as Vivitrol or by the mouth, known as ReVia. Naltrexone does not impact on the withdrawal symptoms, and hence one should not take with the hope that it will relieve the symptoms or rather it safeguards against relapses.
It is a generic medicine that is used to manage high blood pressure. It has also proved to be effective in curing opiates withdrawal symptoms. Clonidine reduces the feeling of anxiety and irritability. Also, it eases muscle cramps, sweating, and flu-related symptoms like a runny nose.
Disadvantages of Using Medications in Heroin Detox
The above medications will help you in your detoxification process. They produce effects that discourage you from taking heroin again. Also, others will help you in relieving the painful withdrawal symptoms. Nevertheless, they might cause another problem. The following are some issues that could come up, though the benefits of medications outweigh the disadvantages.
- Dependence – according to scientists, the use of medications to treat withdrawal symptoms could lead to a dependence on the new medication. One may end up requiring more and more of the dosage to relieve the symptoms, hence developing tolerance and later addiction.
- Side effects – most medications cause side effects or allergic to some people. The side effects often disappear with time and can be inclusive of constipation, vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, and many others depending on individuals.
- Risk of abuse – just like any other drug, medicines such as naltrexone and methadone can be abused. Since naltrexone inhibits the heroin effects by blocking the receptors in the brain, some may people may overdose thinking that they can experience euphoria effects. This puts one at a risk of overdosing which can lead to death.
Relying on the medication alone
– This is another drawback that people who use medication could face. Some patients think that medication is all they require to recover from heroin addiction. After taking the medication, withdrawal symptoms might vanish, and one may think that they are now cured. The medications alone are not enough for a successful detox. One should compliment them with therapies and counseling. To achieve and maintain sobriety, recovery tools should be put in place.
Tips for Managing the Withdrawal Symptoms
The following are some few tips that can help you as you detox from heroin. Remember that home detoxification is dangerous and no one should attempt to quit use of heroin before consulting a doctor. Medically supervised detox is safe and comfortable. Also, there are reduced chances of relapses.
- Healthy feeding habits – focus on what you eat. Ensure the food you eat is well balanced with lots of vitamins. Researchers claim that opiates addicts have deficiencies of magnesium and calcium which largely contribute to the muscle cramps and spasms. Lack of these minerals also causes restless leg syndrome. Feeding on foods rich in these minerals can help in reduction of the symptoms.
- Hydration – excessive diarrhea and vomiting that one might experience can leave one dehydrated. Drink a lot of water and other beverages to prevent any discomforts that can be as a result of dehydration.
- Hot/cold baths– many people who have recovered from heroin addiction have claimed that baths helped them in managing headaches, back pain, and muscle pains. It also helped them improve their sleep. When you add Epsom salts in the bathing water, they assist in soothing muscle soreness. When you experience fever, have a cold shower and put a hot pad on the forehead to calm the muscles and cool the body.
- Fun – the withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming and traumatizing. Distract yourself from the pain and frustration of the process. You can listen to cool music, watch a movie, play an interesting game, or read a book. Hanging out with your best friends and family members can help you relax. Laughter induces the secretion of endorphins, happy hormones that assist in relieving the withdrawal symptoms.
- Exercise – when you exercise the body produces endorphins that create a feeling of relaxation. Moreover, workouts can help in treating muscle cramps and insomnia.
Deciding to quit the drug, and in this case, heroine is a very important move that one could ever make in life. Many addicted people are worried about many things when they think of stopping the use of heroin. One fear that they might recover and later experience relapse, others are afraid of life without the use of drugs, and rejection from friends or family members.
Fear is just an imagination of what could happen, and ironically it might not occur. Concentrate on the present, which is recovery from addiction. During heroin detox, one experiences various withdrawal symptoms such as a runny nose, teary eyes, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach upsets, and many others.
Although some people are able to go through the process without using medications, some medications are proved to help in relieving the symptoms. Methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, and clonidine help in reducing the cravings for heroin and easing the symptoms. Nevertheless, the medications have disadvantages such as the risk of dependence on them, overdose and side effects.
During the process, medications are not enough for recovery. Ensure your diet is well balanced, stay hydrated and exercise. Also, have fun and distract yourself from the devastating experience.