Can I Give Up Heroin Without Professional Help?

  November 5, 2018    

Although it’s technically possible for anybody to try to give up using heroin on his or her own with no professional guidance, the expert opinion is this isn’t a recommended course of action. While there have been numerous reports of people who have successfully gone cold turkey, often the reports don’t stand up under closer scrutiny, and there is rarely any data following up on these individuals to show whether they relapse back into drug use at a later date.

Let’s take a look at why trying to quit heroin independently isn’t such a good idea.

The Stresses Of Withdrawal Syndrome

Heroin use is a substance abuse disorder that brings with it a withdrawal syndrome whenever a user tries to quit. The uncomfortable symptoms usually result in the user becoming so irrational and desperate for the drug he or she ends up behaving in an antisocial or dysfunctional way in an attempt to obtain more.

After stopping the use of heroin, the symptoms of withdrawal can appear within just a few hours. These symptoms include:

  • Nervousness and anxiety.
  • Flu symptoms, such as nausea, fatigue, headache, chills, fever or vomiting.
  • Watery eyes, runny nose, muscle spasms, and aches.
  • Mood changes, depression, or delusional behavior.

Within three days, the symptoms will have reached their peak before they start to subside. However, the physical and emotional distress are so difficult to cope with that many users begin using again to eradicate the symptoms.

After three to five days, withdrawal symptoms tend to reduce in intensity, although issues with mood swings, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, cravings, aches, and appetite loss often remain. After seven to 10 days, the symptoms will have significantly reduced. Even then, however, the chance of a relapse is high because of the co-occurring psychological disorders that so often need to be addressed. For some people, the cravings and mood swings may continue for many months, or possibly years, after giving up the drug.

The Possibility Of A Relapse

Although a withdrawal syndrome is extremely distressing, it isn’t fatal. Nevertheless, some of the complications that may occur as a side effect could be very serious. Not only that, but it has been shown the chances of a relapse while experiencing withdrawal syndrome increases dramatically. When individuals give into their cravings during this period, they are likely to be so desperate they are more likely to overdose, with potentially fatal consequences.

Even if they don’t accidentally take too much, they are often so emotionally distraught during the withdrawal period they have a greater chance of engaging in potentially dangerous behaviors because of their impulsive actions and poor decision making. This could result in an accident, criminal activity, self-harm or becoming a victim of a crime.

The Other Risks Of Unsupervised Withdrawal

During withdrawal syndrome, the chances of malnutrition, dehydration, and other forms of physical or emotional damage are greatly increased. This is because whenever an individual takes the cold-turkey approach, it is very rare for him or her to try to change the environment in which he or she is living. This is clearly not conducive to long-term success. In fact, it has been shown that users who go through withdrawal alone and without professional support have a relapse rate of almost 100 percent.

The Benefits Of Professional Substance Abuse Treatment In New Jersey

When an individual attends a managed physician-assisted program of rehab, he or she will be in a comfortable and safe environment that is conducive to long-term recovery. When dealing with heroin withdrawal, professional addiction treatment centers in New Jersey usually administer opioid replacements, tapering off their use over time. Since this medication occupies identical brain receptors to those occupied by opioids, withdrawal symptoms are greatly reduced and often eliminated completely.

A supervising physician can also monitor the recovery of the individual, and adjust the dosage to ensure he or she experiences no unwanted symptoms. And, while this process may take longer, it is certainly safer and a lot more comfortable. A physician can also prescribe other medications that can help address the residual symptoms that need behavioral or medical attention, such as depression, muscle spasms or insomnia.

When an individual enters heroin rehab, he or she will not only go through detox but he or she will also have the benefit of support groups and individual therapy to determine the underlying causes of the addiction. SOBA College Recovery addresses the issues that caused the addiction in the first place to encourage long-term sobriety.

Maintaining Control

One of the main reasons why so many people who are addicted to heroin try to go cold turkey without professional support is because they want to maintain control over their own situations. However, even when attending inpatient drug rehab, it’s still possible for individuals to have control over a number of aspects of their treatment, including:

  • Taking the opportunity to actively participate in aftercare programs, including social support and therapy.
  • Deciding to make a positive lifestyle change to facilitate recovery during withdrawal and afterward. This includes eating healthily, staying hydrated, dealing more appropriately with stress, getting enough sleep, and gaining a greater understanding of personal triggers. It also includes finding better coping strategies, exercising, developing and strengthening relationships with family and friends, and forging new friendships with positive people who can help to promote the process of recovery.
  • Choosing to participate in activities related to treatment for a long-term period after recovery.
  • Recognizing they have to take responsibility for their own recovery and embracing that responsibility

Overall, the takeaway message from this is that, while going through heroin withdrawal without professional guidance is technically possible, the chances of long-term success are very small. However, SOBA College Recovery is here to help. With highly experienced addiction professionals on board, we can give you the best chance of a long and sober life without the need for heroin. And, thanks to our support, you won’t need to go through the process of withdrawal alone. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you to get sober.

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