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Quitting Heroin Symptoms and Treatment

 Quitting Heroin is Possible With a Comprehensive Treatment Program

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs that exists. It is processed from morphine and typically has a brown or white powdery appearance. It can be smoked, snorted or injected. Virtually all experts agree that it is one of the world’s most dangerous drugs, as few substances are associated with so many life-threatening side effects, as well as psychological and social consequences of a catastrophic nature.

Short-term effects of heroin include a sudden and intense surge of euphoria followed by confusion and extreme drowsiness. Because the drug depresses respiration, an overdose is usually fatal. Individuals who use hypodermic needles to ingest the drug risk contracting a variety of infectious diseases, including hepatitis and HIV/AIDS. Fortunately, treatment programs are available for those suffering from addiction and the sooner a person gets help, the better his or her chances are for long-term recovery.

The Avoidance of Pain

All human beings experience pain, insecurity, sadness, guilt, and anxiety at least occasionally. However, some individuals fall into the trap of attempting to remove pain and enhance pleasure by resorting to drugs or alcohol. Throughout history, opioids have been favored among those who use this unhealthy coping mechanism. This is because they create a euphoric feeling, thus dulling the user’s perception of anxiety, sadness or pain. This obviously leads to a vicious cycle that virtually always ends with addiction.

Beginning of Addiction

Many individuals believe they will try a drug one time to “see what it’s like” and then never use it again. Unfortunately, the strong euphoria felt with certain substances keeps people coming back for more until an addiction takes hold.


Regular abuse of any addictive drug, legal or illegal, leads to tolerance. The latter is simply a term that describes the need to take higher and higher amounts of a particular substance to achieve the desired euphoria. This means overdose and death are constant risks to the user.

Getting off Heroin

A person may find himself or herself battling an addiction but unsure of how to overcome the problem. Even those with a tremendous amount of willpower find it difficult if not impossible to control or eliminate a heroin addiction without professional help. For this reason, the person should seek a comprehensive program at a reputable facility where his or her progress can be monitored by professionals.

Several steps must be followed when getting off heroin if one is to have at true chance of long-term recovery:


The first step in drug addiction recovery is the detoxification phase. This refers to cleansing the person’s system of harmful toxins. However, there are two different approaches to detox, which are medical and natural.

Although “natural detox” may sound good, in reality it is a difficult process. The term “natural” means there is no pharmaceutical assistance, but rather the person simply goes off the drug cold turkey. Although it is effective, and in many cases somewhat quicker than medicine-assisted detox, it also results in severe withdrawal symptoms that often drive the person back to the drug.

For this reason, many individuals choose medicine-assisted detox to avoid major withdrawal symptoms and the subsequent risk of relapse. Among some of the drugs used with this type of detoxification program is Methadone. Methadone is a synthetic opiate and is typically administered to the patient in increasingly smaller doses until he or she has overcome the physical part of the addiction.

Life After Detox

Although detoxification is the first and most important step toward long-term drug addiction recovery, there are two more phases of most programs. These include addressing psychological dependence on the drug and helping the individual learn how to cope after returning to his or her normal home environment. As one might suspect, programs vary from one treatment center to the next, but most include these three phases.

Rehabilitation Program Types

Those who seek help for their addiction will find that various types of drug rehabilitation programs are available. For example, a person can choose an outpatient treatment program if he or she has a strong support network of family and friends. Other individuals who must leave a destructive home environment or who are at a high risk of failing the program unless supervised are better off with a residential treatment program where they check into a facility for 30-90 days or longer.

Long-term treatment is also available for those who need more help than a typical 90 day program can provide. Such programs include long-term inpatient treatment, transition to a halfway house and follow-up care after the person returns to everyday life in his or her own place of residence.

The approach selected depends on a variety of factors, including the severity of the addiction and the length of time the person was drug dependent. It is best to speak to a licensed counselor who is familiar with addiction before choosing a program. This is because such individuals can evaluate patients on a case-by-case basis and help them choose the program that best suits their needs and offers the highest chance of recovery.

Lifelong Recovery

The success or failure of any heroin recovery program primarily depends on how well the person handles relapse triggers in his or her everyday life. This is why aftercare programs are vitally important. These include follow-up counseling, group meetings, medications to control underlying mental health problems, and lifestyle changes. Drug addiction is a serious and life-threatening problem, but anyone can choose the road to recovery by contacting a professional at a qualified treatment center without delay.

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