How to stop taking heroin
Are you or a loved one using heroin? Do you exhibit the signs and symptoms of heroin addiction? The good news is: You can stop using heroin and recover for good.
Stopping heroin is not merely a question of detoxing your body from its metabolites. It is a long term process which takes determination and patience. More here on protocol and recommendations for how to stop taking heroin. Then, we invite your questions and comments about heroin withdrawal or its side effects and treatment at the end.
Can I just stop taking heroin?
Unfortunately, quitting heroin cold turkey does not always positively help long term recovery and abstinence. It is not a question of self control or willpower. Drastic dose reduction is very difficult when the body has developed dependence to heroin over time, and manifests specific [uncomfortable] symptoms if it doesn’t receive its dose. The intensity of withdrawal symptoms varies by individual but extreme discomfort is common. And to avoid withdrawal, some people relapse into heroin use, especially outside of medical settings.
This is why the best way to stop taking heroin is WITH MEDICAL SUPERVISION. You may be prescribed medications during heroin detox, or asked to gradually decrease dosage in or to taper the withdrawal. Make sure you consult a medical professional beforehand in order to increase your chances of recovery.
What happens when you stop taking heroin?
If you’ve been using heroin daily for a couple of weeks or more, your body is functioning normally under the presence of the drug. In other words, you’ve become physically dependent on heroin and have adapted to its central nervous system depressant effects.
What happens when you stop taking heroin is that you go through a period of withdrawal and experience a variety of predictable symptoms, some of which are very difficult. During this time, the body is seeking homeostasis after a period of “speeding up” certain functions and system. How long does it take to detox from heroin? It takes time to resolve these symptoms. Acute symptoms peak around 72 hours after your dose but can persist for 7-10 days after you stop taking heroin. Protracted withdrawal symptoms related to mood and sleep disorders can persist for weeks or months later.
Side effects stop taking heroin
Stopping heroin comes with side effects. If you are ready to undertake this step, you can anticipate the following side effects to occur:
- abdominal cramps
- body pains
- cold sweats and chills
- disturbed sleep
- painful erection
You can expect these symptoms to manifest few hours after your last dose, and peak around 42-72 hours later. The intensity and duration of these symptoms will depend on your dosing history and the type of user you used to be. The heavier the use, the longer and more intense the symptoms.
Stop taking heroin suddenly
Due to its highly addictive properties, suddenly stopping heroin can cause severe withdrawal symptoms and provoke relapse. Instead, plan your stopping thoroughly. Talk to a medical professional, or check in at an addiction treatment facility and let be supervised. This will significantly increase the chances of successful recovery.
Stop taking heroin cold turkey
While it is possible to go cold turkey off heroin and reduce the detox time, it is unnecessary and not what doctors recommend. Quitting heroin suddenly can cause serious withdrawal symptoms and it’s highly likely that you relapse if using this method. There are various other ways to stop taking heroin aimed at minimizing the severity of withdrawal symptoms.
How do I stop taking heroin safely?
The safest way to stop taking heroin is under medical supervision. The following people can help treat you directly or refer you to assessments and services in your area:
- An addiction specialist (MD)
- A clinical social worker
- A licensed clinical psychologist
- A medical doctor
- A psychiatrist
To begin, anyone coming off heroin requires a set of physical and mental assessment(s). You have to determine you level of physical dependency and the possibility of addiction. This stage requires medical assistance because remaining objective is critical at this point. Assessments also direct future treatment recommendations based on best practices.
Once you determine your level of dependency, work out with the doctor what is the safest way to stop taking heroin. If the doctor recommends checking in at a detox clinic or another facility, follow the suggestions. Medical detox clinics offer 24-7 supportive care in a safe environment. In some cases doctors, recommend a method called tapering which is the gradual reduction of your heroin doses. In other cases, heroin withdrawal will be triggered through prescription medications and then symptoms will be treated as they occur.
Once heroin is our of your system, you may be referred to longer term inpatient or outpatient rehab. The goal of these treatments are to address psychological issues of dependence, or co-occuring mental health issues which compel heroin use. Detox is only the FIRST STEP to getting better. Psychological, behavioral, and opiate substitution therapies can be combined to help you lead a life free of heroin.
How to stop taking heroin questions
Do you still have questions about stopping heroin? Please write to us in the comment section below. We will try to respond to all legitimate queries as soon as possible.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Resurgence of Heroin Use
Photo credit: frank fani