How to Quit Heroin

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Before exploring how to quit heroin safely, here is a short overview of heroin abuse trends and risks.

Heroin Abuse Trends

Heroin is a highly addictive substance that can ruin your life. It can even end your life. It is derived from substances in poppy plants and is often injected but can also be smoked or snorted. Heroin has no medicinal uses and is considered one of the most addictive drugs. It used to be popular amongst celebrities and rock stars, but it is not as popular in pop culture as it once was.

That said, heroin is still a sought-after substance in the United States.

About 1.1 million Americans reported using heroin in 2021 according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. [1]

You might wonder if one can quit heroin cold turkey, but the reality is that the safest way to stop heroin use is with the help of professionals in the structure of a rehab center like Avenues Recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with heroin addiction, reach out to us at Avenues Recovery so we can help you on your journey to sobriety.

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Heroin Withdrawal Factors

Heroin withdrawal symptoms can be so severe that some users will try to use again just to get the symptoms to stop. The severity of withdrawal can depend on many factors such as

  • The amount of time the user was using heroin
  • The amount of the drug they were using
  • How they used
  • If they combined heroin with other drugs or alcohol
  • A person’s weight and metabolism

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When Do Withdrawal Symptoms Start?

For heavy users, the first symptoms might start within 12 to 24 hours after they stop heroin [2]. For lighter users, they might start to feel symptoms even sooner.

These are some symptoms of heroin withdrawal:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Nervousness
  • Jitters
  • Anxiety
  • Vomiting
  • Cravings
  • Agitations
  • Spasms
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes

A person going through withdrawal can expect the peak of the symptoms to occur about 1 to 2 days after symptoms begin. After 3 to 5 days the symptoms begin to lessen in most cases. After seven days the symptoms will decline drastically, but there still may be residual aches, pains, anxiety, and irritability, but not as bad as they were initially.

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Can a User Get off Heroin Cold Turkey?

Now that you’ve read about how to kick heroin, you are probably wondering if it’s safe for a user to quit on their own. Here are some points to consider before you consider withdrawal on your own:

  • The possibility of relapse is very high during withdrawal.
    As mentioned earlier, many users trying to quit heroin on their own may return to heroin use to help ease their withdrawal symptoms. Once a person tries to stop using heroin on their own many times, they may end up giving up because they find it too hard.
  • A person who relapses is at risk of overdose.
    If a person turns to heroin while they are trying to quit heroin on their own, they could end up taking a higher dose than usual which could lead to an overdose.
  • Staying in the same environment can make relapse more likely.
    If a person decides to detox on their own, they may still be spending time with their friends who are drug users. They also haven’t learned any skills that would help them deal with the triggers that they previously dealt with. Both of these factors could lead to relapse.
  • There are health risk factors affiliated with detoxing alone.
    Some of the risk factors affiliated with detox are:
    • Appetite loss
    • Nausea
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting
    • Severe dehydration
    • Suicide ideation

A combination of these features can lead one to need medical care. Also, one can choke while they are vomiting which can be fatal. If you or a loved one suffers from heroin addiction, you don’t have to do it alone. The safest and best way to get off heroin is in a rehab center like Avenues Recovery Center.

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Managing Heroin Withdrawal

Managing heroin withdrawal is a term to describe when a medically licensed physician aids in the withdrawal process. It is also called medical drug detox treatment. This usually takes place in a rehab center. What happens during medical detoxification?

  • Placement in a safe environment.
    Firstly the patient will be put in a safe place. Medical professionals will be on call to help during detoxification. The medical professionals on staff will also be able to help if the patient has severe cravings or suicide ideations.
  • Being offered opioid replacement medications
    The patient may be offered opioid replacement medications such as Buprenorphine or Buprenorphine/Naltrexone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid used during the detox period. It occupies the same neurons in the brain that heroin does, but the effects are milder.
    Buprenorphine/Naltrexone is also a partial opioid that helps reduce cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and thoughts of using heroin. Slowly the opioid replacement medicines will be reduced until the patient is weaned off of them. If a patient experiences relapse or is not managing without the opioid replacements, then they can be prescribed Buprenorphine/Naltrexone long-term to keep them safe.
  • Other medicines used during heroin detoxification
    This is a list of other medications to aid in heroin withdrawal:
  • Naltrexone - This drug is an opiate antagonist. It is used when patients are still experiencing cravings despite the detox treatment.
  • Clonidine - Originally given for hypertension, this medicine can help reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress, insomnia, irritability and jitteriness in a patient going through detox.
  • Robaxin - This medicine is a muscle relaxant. It can be helpful in treating muscle aches, anxiety, tension or any pain a patient is experiencing during the withdrawal process.
  • Other medications - A medical professional can prescribe other medications during the withdrawal process.

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Heroin Detox at Avenues Recovery

Now that you know how to stop heroin abuse safely, it’s time to find the right support network to begin your journey. If you or a loved one suffers from heroin addiction, you don’t have to do it alone. The safest and best way to get off heroin is in a successful rehab center like Avenues Recovery Center.

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[1] nida.nih.gov

[2] www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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