How to Quit Heroin Safely
There is no such thing as completely safe heroin use. But when you get effective treatment from a reputable provider, you can learn how to quit heroin safely.
The more you know about heroin addiction, withdrawal, and treatment options, the better prepared you will be to find the type of care that’s best for you.
What is Heroin?
If you want to learn how to quit heroin safely, it can first be valuable to understand exactly what this drug is.
Heroin is an opioid. It is derived from the opium poppy plant.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has classified heroin as a Schedule I drug. This classification is reserved for substances that the U.S. government has determined have no legitimate medical use and a high danger of abuse.
Heroin interacts with parts of the central nervous system that are associated with heart rate, respiration, and other automatic functions. People who abuse this drug typically do so by snorting, smoking, or injecting it. The potential negative effects of chronic heroin abuse include damage to the liver and kidneys, breathing difficulties, heart problems, sexual dysfunction, and an elevated risk of contracting hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, and other bloodborne diseases.
Abusing heroin even once can lead to addiction, overdose, and death. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heroin abuse was a factor in nearly 143,000 overdose deaths in the United States between 1999 and 2020.
How Hard is it to Quit Heroin?
It can be extremely difficult to quit heroin. This is especially true if you try to end your heroin use on your own, without any professional assistance.
When you become addicted to heroin or any other opioid, your body will begin to adapt to the presence of this substance in your system. This change can be problematic for many reasons, including:
- While you are still using heroin, this adaptation means that you will need to use larger or more potent doses to feel the effects that you are seeking. This is known as tolerance.
- If you try to quit using heroin, your body will react with a variety of distressing physical and psychological symptoms. This is known as withdrawal.
Heroin withdrawal symptoms can begin to occur within a few hours of your last dose of heroin. Most people who try to quit heroin on their own will develop the following physical symptoms:
- Excessive perspiration
- Elevated body temperature
- Pain in muscles and bones
- Tics, twitches, and spasms
- Severe cramping
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Disrupted sleep
Heroin withdrawal can also include psychological symptoms such as:
- Intense cravings for heroin
The most intense physical symptoms of heroin withdrawal last about a week. Some of the psychological symptoms can endure for considerably longer.
Through the entire withdrawal process, you will know that you can make the symptoms disappear by using heroin again. When you try to quit heroin on your own, your access to the drug plus a lack of professional support can quickly push you back into the downward spiral of active addiction.
Thankfully, there is a better way to quit heroin.
How to Quit Heroin Safely
If you have been trying to determine how to quit heroin in the safest possible manner, the answer is detoxification. Commonly referred to as detox, detoxification is a short-term process that involves the guidance and supervision of a team of professionals.
When you enter the detox program at Sanctuary Treatment Center, your care will begin with a thorough assessment. We want to be sure we understand the full scope of your needs, so that we can provide the focused services that will be most beneficial for you.
Depending on your specific needs and treatment goals, our detox professionals may provide both medical and therapeutic support:
- Certain prescription medications can ease drug cravings and other common symptoms of heroin withdrawal. Some people receive this service only during detox, while others continue to take medication as they work to establish a solid foothold in early recovery. The medications that we prescribe at Sanctuary Treatment Center have been closely studied, and they have a documented history of safety and effectiveness.
- The therapeutic component of treatment in our detox can help you manage any discomfort that is not alleviated via medication. Therapy can also help you begin to address the circumstances that led to your heroin abuse, with the goal of empowering you to make the behavior changes that will support your continued recovery. While medication can help with certain biological aspects of heroin addiction, therapy focuses on the psychological, emotional, and social facets of this disorder.
Once you have completed heroin detox at our center in Southern California, you can transfer directly into either inpatient rehab or outpatient programming. Our team will work with you and, if appropriate, your family, to determine which option is best for you.
Begin Heroin Rehab in Southern California
Sanctuary Treatment Center offers a full continuum of personalized services for adults whose lives have been disrupted by heroin addiction. Our programming includes detox, inpatient rehab, and outpatient treatment. At every level, you can expect to receive superior care provided by a team of dedicated professionals. When you are ready to free yourself from the chains of heroin addiction, the Sanctuary team is here for you. Contact us today to learn how we can help.