Why is heroin so hard to quit?
Heroin addiction, and opiate addiction in general, is very difficult to quit long-term. The withdrawal symptoms are a big part of why it is so difficult. When the opioid receptors are no longer stimulated by an opiate, the withdrawal process begins. The physical symptoms are very intense. Anyone who has not experienced opioid withdrawal after prolonged heroin use cannot even begin to understand how difficult it is to get through withdrawal. Quitting heroin on your own is hard.
Relapse is all too common.
Even for people who have gotten past the opiate withdrawal somehow and, after days or even weeks, finally feel somewhat back to normal, the risk of relapse is still high. Why would anyone go through the suffering of withdrawal symptoms and then even consider going back to heroin, or any opioid for that matter. This is where opiate addiction comes in. Heroin addiction is more than just the severe physical opiate withdrawal. It is also a psychological condition. For a very long time after quitting heroin, very strong cravings will affect the recovering heroin user.
Cravings are a serious problem.
Cravings for heroin can be very intense. These cravings may present as verbal thoughts, visual thoughts, remembered smells or even fully formed mental plans. These cravings can enter your mind spontaneously or they can be triggered by things in your environment. When a craving comes along, the best thing to do is see it for what it is and let it pass. They always do pass eventually. Unfortunately, it can feel almost painful to ignore a craving. Cravings make quitting heroin very difficult without help.
Never give in to cravings.
It can seem like the best way to get rid of the craving is to use more heroin. This is never true. If you go back to using heroin, the cravings will only come back with greater intensity. It can take years for cravings to subside to being almost non-existent. It is possible that cravings for heroin will never go away completely for many heroin addicts. If you suffer from drug cravings, you may view them simply as another symptom of heroin addiction and nothing more. Acting on a craving by seeking opiate use never ends well.
Medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone, are used in addiction treatment in conjunction with therapy. While not a cure for opioid use disorder, these medications provide an effective treatment. Most importantly, they help to prevent relapse. In the case of heroin addiction, this can be life saving. Preventing relapse prevents overdose. Also, these meds allow the patient to think more clearly and engage in effective therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. MAT makes quitting heroin a lot easier.
Avoiding the deadly opiate.
Unfortunately, those who have become addicted to heroin find that this opiate is all accessible. When it is easier to buy a street opiate than it is to visit a doctor to get help, treatment may be delayed and relapse can more easily. An important, common sense way to reduce opiate overdose and reoccurring heroin use is to put barriers between the opiate user and the opiate dealer. This means throwing away phone numbers and deleting them from your phone. In today’s high tech world of smart phones, cloud computing and social media, deleting a contact can take a lot more effort. Yet, an important part of early addiction treatment involves thoroughly burning the bridges that may lead you back to opiate drugs. Blocking access to heroin is an important part of quitting heroin. Ask your trusted family and supporters to help you with this.
Methadone versus buprenorphine.
Many patients get hung up on the difference of these two medications and which is better and which is worse. The fact is that methadone and buprenorphine are two very important tools in treating opioid dependence and opiate addiction. An easy way to think of the main difference is that methadone may be started before opiate withdrawal progresses very far. Buprenorphine can only be started after a period of moderate withdrawal symptoms. While it seems like a minor distinction, it can be a big difference for people struggling with substance abuse. Your doctor can help you to better understand what will work best for you.
Methadone can be life saving.
If methadone must be used over buprenorphine to save a life, then it is the best choice of the two. However, it is possible to transition from methadone to buprenorphine in the future. If you have gone through medical detox and now are on maintenance treatment with one of these drugs, your long-term goal should be to continue in therapy to address the issues behind your addiction. In addition to seeing a trained and licensed psychotherapist, you may benefit from support groups as well. After you quit heroin, ongoing therapy is very important.
You can quit heroin.
Many people have gone through an opiate detox to quit heroin use. It is not only possible, it is not too difficult to do if you have help. While heroin withdrawal symptoms can be severe, after your last dose of street opiate, your doctor will initiate appropriate medical treatment and you will feel much better. Overcoming opioid addiction is important. In order to save your health and your life, you must seek help. You do not have to be a statistic in the opioid crisis. In addition to getting medical help, you should practice harm reduction immediately. Narcan, or naloxone, is an overdose reversal drug that you can get without a prescription in many states. Naloxone may soon be an over-the-counter drug.
Seeing a Suboxone doctor.
A good first step may be scheduling an immediate appointment with a Suboxone doctor. Suboxone is a commonly known brand of buprenorphine. If the Suboxone doctor evaluates you and believes that you will be best served by an inpatient treatment center or a methadone clinic, they may refer you to an appropriate treatment center. They will also provide mental health services onsite or refer you to a mental health provider for therapy.
Get started today.
You must not delay. Getting started in overcoming heroin withdrawal and getting onto safe maintenance therapy can change your life and also save your life. Find a treatment program in your area and make the call today. Quitting heroin on your own is hard, but you can definitely quit heroin today with medical care. Please contact our office for more information on how to quit heroin.