Heroin use affects the lives of more than a half million people in the U.S. Hepatitis, HIV and AIDS have all been linked to heroin use, as well as thousands of deaths as a result of heroin overdose. If you are using heroin you might be asking yourself, “how can I quit using heroin?”
What Is Heroin?
First, some background. Heroin is an opiate narcotic that is converted to morphine in the body. Heroin can be injected, smoked, or snorted. It comes in white or brownish powder form or in a black tar.
It is not uncommon for heroin users to develop a tolerance to the drug. This means that the longer it is used, more is required to obtain the same desired effects. Obviously, tolerance dramatically increases the risk of a dangerous overdose.
Heroin users may experience significant side effects such as nausea, vomiting, twitching, breathing problems, slurred speech, itchy skin, constipation, hallucinations, nightmares, and seizures. Additionally, there are some long term health problems that can occur with habitual use of heroin including pulmonary and respiratory disease, liver disease, brain damage, heart problems and fatal overdose.
Quitting Heroin Is Possible
Quitting heroin can be a struggle but is certainly possible to stop. For some people, detox may be needed to rid the body of toxins caused by heroin use. A doctor can tell whether or not this is necessary. If it is, there are several options to consider. They include whether to use outpatient or inpatient medical detox. Outpatient detox allows people to receive medication for detox at home. The medication used in outpatient medical detox is most often methadone, suboxone or subutex. Methadone and suboxone are the most used detox drugs at methadone clinics, while subutex require as physician who is specifically licensed to prescribe the drug.
All three of these drugs are opiates, the same a heroin, and there is a risk for physical dependency. Some patients begin taking methadone or suboxone, begin a habitual behavior pattern with it that replaces heroin use, and then develop a problem with it.
Inpatient medical detox programs allow people to get away from the pressures of life to detox. Traditional hospital detox and intravenous (IV) therapy detox are the most commonly used and typically the best type of detox. Hospital detox uses oral medication that isn’t always particularly effective in providing adequate relief from withdrawal symptoms. IV therapy is supervised by a physician, thus enabling the medication to be adjusted as the withdrawal symptoms change. This reduces any discomfort experienced.
After completing detox, if necessary, people usually want to obtain help with the issues revolving around their substance use. Another option is a holistic program. These use yoga, acupuncture, aroma therapy, nutritional therapy, movement therapy, massage and similar techniques. Although enjoyable, there is no scientific evidence than any of the techniques used in holistic programs are effective at all in helping people overcome heroin problems.
Cognitive Behavioral Education, offered at the non-profit St Jude retreats, has a demonstrated long-term success rate helping people successfully rethink their behaviors and thoughts regarding heroin use.