Why You Should Stop Using Heroin
When you use the opioid-based drug heroin, you experience a rush of euphoria, good feelings, and happiness. The effects on your state of mind can last for several hours. You feel as if everything has “slowed down”. Some heroin users have described the experience as “dream-like” or “surreal”. When you use heroin regularly, you will commonly inject the drug into your veins using a hypodermic needle, but you can also smoke or snort it.
Your brain naturally produces neurotransmitters that bind to opioid receptors to regulate feelings of pleasure and pain. When you abuse heroin, it binds to the opioid receptors instead of morphine, and other natural opioids. This process disrupts your normal brain function and overcharges the production of dopamine, a chemical which regulates emotions. The sudden increase of dopamine in your brain is what causes the feelings of happiness and positivity. As your brain adapts to the presence of heroin, a dream-like trance is induced. These effects of are so strong and potent, you can become addicted after only a single use.
The overwhelming effect of heroin on the brain and nervous system make heroin one of the most notoriously hard to quit illegal drug abused today.
Heroin could permanently alter your brain’s neural system resulting in brain damage. Evidence shows that heroin may significantly degenerate the brain’s white matter, the part that is responsible for regulating behavior and decision-making processes. Since heroin is an illegal “street drug”, it commonly contains other substances you may not realize.
Other substances found in heroin have been known to include:
- Drugs such as Fentanyl, Diacetylmorphine, or even Methamphetamine
- Toxins such as Strychnine or Clostridium Botulinum
- Anesthetics such as Xylocaine
- Fillers such as shoe polish, dirt, cornstarch, or talcum powder
While some of these adulterants range from harmful to toxic, some people may experience unexpected side effects.
Unexpected side effects may include:
- Allergic Reactions
The most common effects of long-term heroin use include:
- Collapsed veins for those who inject heroin
- Nose tissue damage for people who snort heroin
- Pneumonia and other lung diseases
- Stomach pain
- Swollen or abscessed skin
When You Stop Using Heroin You Experience Withdrawal
When you abruptly stop using heroin, heroin withdrawal will begin. Withdrawal symptoms will be the most intense the first day or two after last use. Heroin withdrawal usually lasts for about a week. If you use heroin regularly, you may already know the pain and suffering associated with stopping. The process of withdrawal will help to perpetuate your addiction.
The most common heroin withdrawal symptoms include:
- Intense cravings for heroin
- Muscle pains and weakness
- Severe anxiety
- Stomach sickness
The length and severity of your withdrawal symptoms will vary based upon the severity of your addiction. If you want to stop using heroin, a medical detoxification program is recommended to ensure you detox safely.
5 Steps to Stop Using Heroin
Stopping heroin use is difficult due to withdrawal. However, there is hope. You can overcome your physical addiction and take steps to recover from the underlying causes of your psychological addiction.
- Accept you have a problem and identify the reasons why you want to stop. Daily heroin abuse takes its toll on you. You must realize that continued abuse leads to many negative outcomes. A few include depression, social isolation, financial burdens, legal consequences, deteriorating health, and an overall loss of your identity. Simply put, you must come to terms with the fact that heroin abuse is extremely damaging to your body, mind, and overall quality of life. You must have a sincere desire to stop seeking the comfort the drug provides. Once you understand there is hope for recovery, and your quality of life will be dramatically better without heroin, you should be able to prepare yourself for what is to come.
- Realize there is hope for recovery. Once you realize there is hope for recovery, the thought of stopping will be less daunting. You will begin to understand how your life will improve without the addiction. Your relationships with friends and family will improve. You will begin to feel genuine happiness again. Your health will improve substantially as well. Acceptance will allow you understand that the disadvantages of abusing heroin far outweigh the advantages. This new mindset will lead you to the next step in reclaiming your life.
- Begin Detoxification. Your physical addiction to heroin must be conquered. For this step, we recommend you seek professional medical care. Heroin withdrawal symptoms are intense. Detoxing at home without medical supervision can be dangerous. Drug detox centers typically taper you off heroin using medication. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone have been shown to increase the effectiveness of treatment programs in the long-term. Methadone is a slow, low-strength opiate used to prevent withdrawal symptoms associated with heroin. Buprenorphine is one of the most prescribed drugs for heroin withdrawal. It reduces cravings and physical symptoms including muscle aches and vomiting. Naltrexone blocks receptors in the brain that react to heroin. One of the biggest benefits of Naltrexone is that it is not addicting and help to reduce cravings over time.
- Begin a Treatment Program. Heroin abuse does not end after it has been detoxed from your body. You must address the underlying cause of your addiction. Treatment centers like Pride Recovery Center specialize in addiction therapies that address the root cause of your addiction. As your stay at an inpatient detox center nears completion, it is important to transition into treatment. Our Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is a natural choice for someone that has completed their detox.
- Maintain Your Commitment to Sobriety. As you make progress in treatment, you will gain valuable insight into why you used drugs in the first place. Once you have completed a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), you will continue to an outpatient-based treatment program, which becomes less intensive over time. For example, one would transition from PHP, to Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), and then standard Outpatient Treatment Program (OP). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is often used in a treatment program to treat heroin addiction. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, focuses on changing your thoughts, impulses, and behaviors that contribute to your drug use.
Heroin Treatment at Pride Recovery Center
Our Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is well suited for those that have been medically detoxed from heroin. Our therapists help to identify your triggers, identify and resolve the underlying cause of your addictive behavior, and provide useful skills and methods to help you cope with future cravings. At Pride, we know how hard this process can be, but we also know that there is hope and you can get better. We have helped people just like you maintain a sober lifestyle, enabling them to live respectable, meaningful lives with purpose.