Although alcohol DTs are the only withdrawal that actually has the potential to kill you, heroin and opiate withdrawals are a walk through hell. Many addicts continue using opiates solely because the comedown is so painful. The pain of withdrawal from opiates can drive other drug users to relapse once the symptoms become unbearable. Heroin users are truly stuck between a rock and a hard place: the drug stops working, and the addict must keep using the drug to avoid withdrawal.
What’s the Magic Combination for Recovery?
Coping with opiate withdrawal is not a precise science. Only you know what works for your body. However, by working with a medical doctor, treatment center, or detox center, heroin addicts can improve their chances of weathering the storm of withdrawal. Many addicts rely on a quick “spin dry” just to get over the initial challenge. Others benefit from long-term outpatient treatment, which includes opioid blockers and other medical treatment. Although there is no cure for heroin addiction, there is a way through it.
How to Deal With Opiate Withdrawals
Believe it or not, the best way to successfully get off opiates is to get around other people. You may feel like crawling into a hole or nailing your bedroom door shut, but other people—people who are sober, safe, and knowledgeable about heroin—are your best bet for getting clean and staying that way. Do not try to tough it out alone. Call a treatment center, contact a friend you trust or get in touch with your local 12 Step network. If you’ve ever tried quitting before, you know that it’s a struggle. Letting other people help you can ease the pain of withdrawal.
Many addicts benefit from opioid blocker medications, such as methadone, clonidine, or buprenorphine. Don’t play doctor at home, or self-medicates with these heavy duty drugs. Working with a medical professional, detox clinic, or treatment center will ensure that you get the right dose of the right medication, plus medical support if you need help for more than just heroin. (It’s common for heroin and opiate users to abuse other substances, too. Detoxing from more than one substance at a time is very difficult without medical help.) Not into daily maintenance? Vivitrol, a newer opiate treatment, is a shot that blocks opioids in the brain for up to a month. There are many options for addicts who want to try recovery.
Some addicts criticize methadone or other blocker medications, saying it’s not “true sobriety.” Well, neither is a heroin habit that requires daily maintenance. Perfectionist, all or nothing thinking keeps many addicts sick for days, weeks, months, and years. At the end of the day, detox is not a fantasy dream vacation. It’s not a wedding, that you can plan. Part of getting clean is letting go of the way you thought your recovery would be and accepting that there are many ways to get sober. Working with a doctor, taking a new medication, or learning new coping skills may be part of your path. Keep an open mind. Sobriety is what counts, not the package it shows up in.
What If I Want to Detox From Heroin At Home?
Home remedies for heroin withdrawal mostly focus on symptom management. That is, making you more comfortable while the opiates make their way out of your system. However, they don’t aid with the psychological aspect of withdrawal: the actual habit of using the drug. Symptoms of opiate withdrawal include a “flu” feeling, sore muscles, body ache, runny nose, sweating, sleeplessness, and anxiety. Later, the person detoxing might have diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, racing pulse, and intense temperature changes. Mood swings are part of the process, too. Home remedies include warm baths, anti-diarrhea medication, aspirin, and gentle compresses. Time is the key ingredient.
Again, many people struggle to handle withdrawals on their own. Will-power just isn’t enough to fight the urge to use—especially when you’re already exhausted from fighting your addiction. If you’re not able to quit on your own, reach out for help. You have options. Shame and embarrassment are some of the biggest barriers an addict can face once they’re ready to get clean. If you are afraid to ask for help, because you’re afraid it will affect your family, job, reputation, or relationship, there are resources that you can access anonymously.
One important aspect of withdrawal is anticipating what comes after you’ve gotten clean. Finding new, healthy relationships and staying sober can be a challenge. Again, linking up with people who are committed to their recovery is key. Join the Addiction Unscripted community on Facebook, and find other like-minded people to talk with as you walk this new road.
Although opiate withdrawals can be daunting, you don’t have to face them alone. Recovery is possible for anyone who is willing to give it an honest try—and a little time.