Quitting heroin use is a task that usually occurs in four stages. The first phase is the pre-recovery stage. The user tries to get sober, but it is hard for them to quit. It may take years to get through this stage. After this, we have the detox and withdrawal stage. Many heroin abusers attest to a hard struggle trying to quit because of the painful withdrawal symptoms. The next phase is early recovery. At this stage, the abuser keeps away from heroin for at least one year. Some individuals find it hard to go through with the program because of the acute withdrawal symptoms or a carefree recovery program. Eventually, we have the long-term recovery phase where the individual has had a full year without heroin abuse; he or she is financially answerable and emotionally fit. Quitting heroin is not a walk in the park since it beats drugs like cocaine, alcohol, prescription drugs and methamphetamine easily.
Step I: Pre-recovery
At this point, an abuser goes through a variety of internal processes. They have an internal dialogue with themselves, they question the value of heroin in their lives, the individuals grow revulsion to the drug, and they seek a better meaning to living than just using drugs. They go ahead and find people like themselves who are living proof that long-term recovery is possible. The individual no longer holds heroin with reverence; he desires a better life and tires of that mad circle of life. Pre-recovery may last months, decades or even years dependent on an individual. A professional may take the person through a self-reflection of their substance abuse history, its effect on other people and the society. The person should be honest in interrogating his or her past.
Step II: Have a Positive Attitude towards Recovery
A person has to be willing to change to have a chance at recovery. Several factors push people to kick the habit:
• Depression: Heroin abusers detach themselves from the society since they find refuge in heroin. A previously jovial person suddenly loses his charm.
• Isolation: Heroin addiction takes a person into slavery. It cuts people from their loved ones, their friends, and even family. Things that previously were pleasurable become miserable. The isolation leads a person deep into depression.
• Loss of property: Most addicts misuse their property to fuel their addiction. When they run out of their cash, they resort to stealing from friends and family. Most heroin addicts do not consider sobering up before depleting their resources, but a few make that decision before it is too late.
Other than these, an individual may employ some exercises that may motivate him to quit heroin abuse. A person may write a list of things they wish to accomplish. They should list financial goals regarding targets that may want to reach for a stable life. They should think about their professional goals: a job, their aspirations, and education. They should also consider their personal goals regarding family, personal character and their willingness to get sober.
Step III: Heroin Withdrawal, Detox, and Treatment
Heroin withdrawal symptoms are the worst. Most addicts do not make past this stage. They vary from person to person but ways exist on how one can manage them. These symptoms are:
1. Fever: The body swings from cold to hot. Bathing warm water may help though not much.
2. Depression: An individual feels moody and may have suicidal thoughts. To counter this, they have to surround themselves with positive people.
3. Insomnia: Lack of sleep is a standard for each heroin addict. Magnesium and calcium supplements plus Valerian root may help.
4. Anxiety: Social awkwardness becomes second nature to a heroin addict. Talking with other addicts on how they cope with the situation will do a lot to help.
5. Aching muscles: The whole body feels sore as if the individual has had a workout. A hot bath usually helps, and a fifteen to a thirty-minute walk would do.
6. Upset stomach: It cuts across the board though severity differs among those affected. Prescription drugs would alleviate the symptom.
• General health
• Pre-existing conditions
• Duration of use
• Method of use
• Frequency and amount of use
• Use of other substances
• Method of detox
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says pharmacological and behavioral treatments for heroin addiction exist.
• Pharmacological(medical) treatment
Medications are helpful in easing cravings and physical symptoms that may induce a relapse. These drugs are safe and are less likely to result in negative effects like heroin does. Particular medication is specific to a patient’s needs.
• Behavioral therapy
Both inpatient and outpatient programs are viable options. Contingency management involves patients earning points dependent on the frequency of negative drug tests. It rewards and molds their behavior while the cognitive-behavioral approach looks at a patient’s expectations and behavior concerning drug use and equips the patient with coping skills.
Options for Heroin Detox and treatment
There are five options available for treatment:
• Public-funded treatment centers
• Public–funded rehabilitation centers
• Private heroin addiction treatment centers
• Faith-based treatment centers
• Luxury heroin treatment centers
Staying Sober from Heroin Addiction
• Sponsorship: Someone guides the addict on recovery literature, gives valuable feedback and general support.
• Twelve step meetings: Recovering patients create new friendships and networks with peers facing the same problem.
• Service work (selfless acts): Providing free service to the community brings recovering patient closer to the society.