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Can You Stop Using Heroin Without Medical Help?


Trying to Get Clean Off Heroin Alone

An individual who has developed a physical and psychological dependence on heroin will undeniably experience a wide range of associated withdrawal symptoms as soon as he or she suddenly stops using. Rather than enter into a medical detox program, many individuals attempt to quit using heroin on their own. They may believe that medical detox is not necessary, or that they can effectively quit cold turkey and maintain long-term sobriety. However, medical detox is always a necessary first step on the long-term road to recovery.

While it is true that symptoms associated with heroin withdrawal are not generally life-threatening, they’re often so physically uncomfortable and psychologically intense that they lead the individual to relapse before the detox process has come to an end. Psychological cravings quickly become overwhelming, and the desire to use once again overrides the desire to quit. Not only do detox centers provide a secure environment for individuals who are undergoing withdrawal, but they allow for close and constant medical attention, treating all symptoms of withdrawal as soon as they arise. In the case of heroin withdrawal, psychological cravings can be effectively treated with a combination of Medication-Assisted Treatment and intensive therapeutic care.

The physical withdrawal symptoms, which most frequently include nausea, diarrhea, tremors, chills, sweats, fatigue, and general feelings of achiness and discomfort, can be mostly treated with over-the-counter medications. Can you stop using heroin without medical help? In short, you can try – but you have a significantly better chance of staying sober if you seek professional treatment.

Heroin Withdrawal Symptoms

Heroin withdrawal can lead to dangerous mental and physical symptoms. You may lose touch with reality, become paranoid, delusional, or defensive. Your physical symptoms can include 

  • crippling abdominal pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • muscle spasms throughout your body

These symptoms combined with nervousness and agitation may have derailed your attempts to detox on your own or in the company of a friend or loved one. You may say or do things that cause irreparable harm to your relationships, leading to even more dangerous isolation. A professional detox with the help of skilled folks who understand why you act and speak as you do in the throes of withdrawal can protect those relationships.

How Long is Heroin Withdrawal

Detoxing from heroin can take up to a week before the physical symptoms fully subside. Because sweating, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting are common withdrawal symptoms, your hydration levels need to be monitored regularly. If you can’t keep down water, let alone food, and are still shedding fluid through perspiration, your heart health could be compromised.

A quality detox care team can also provide you with medications to reduce the intensity of your cravings and help you stay centered and calm. Detox is incredibly tough and often derails heroin users trying to detox. Because of the risk of losing consciousness, becoming dangerously dehydrated, or vomiting and aspirating the contents of your stomach into your lungs, you never want to attempt this detox on your own.

The Dangers Involved in Quitting Heroin Cold Turkey

No matter how strong-willed you are, and no matter how badly you want to quit, attempting to quit heroin cold turkey is frequently unsuccessful. The physical and psychological aspects of heroin withdrawal are generally too much for any individual to handle on his or her own. Most individuals who struggle with heroin addiction know that the only way to alleviate symptoms of withdrawal is by using more of the illicit chemical substance. As soon as symptoms associated with heroin withdrawal begin to peak, which typically happens within the first one to three days, the individual – more often than not – reaches for more heroin to alleviate these harsh and unpleasant symptoms. Of course, some make it through the worst of heroin withdrawal unscathed.

Can You Get Clean from Heroin Without ANY Help?

However, it is important to note that the psychological cravings often persist for months after the acute withdrawal period has come to a close. For this reason, individuals who quit heroin cold turkey are extremely susceptible to relapse for up to six months after they stop using. Medical detox centers offer a range of non-narcotic medications (like Suboxone) geared towards alleviating these drug cravings, allowing individuals to continue along in their programs of clinical care without constantly being at risk of relapse. Medications like Suboxone also help reduce the uncomfortable physical symptoms, while simultaneously making them more short-lived. While quitting cold turkey in an at-home setting could result in two full weeks of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, detoxing in a professional medical facility can reduce the duration of these symptoms to as little as three or four days.

A Multi-Phased Program of Heroin Addiction Recovery

Agape Treatment Center offers men and women in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and all surrounding areas a multi-phased program of clinical care that includes partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient treatment, and outpatient treatment. We are highly experienced in treating individuals who have been suffering at the hands of a moderate or severe heroin abuse disorder, and we understand just how overwhelming post-acute withdrawal symptoms can be for months after the detox process takes place. In addition to providing an effective and therapeutic drug rehabilitation experience, we work to treat all symptoms associated with post-acute heroin withdrawal, offering our clients the peace of mind they need to gain the most out of their recovery experience. For more information on our recovery program, feel free to reach out to us today – we look forward to speaking with you soon and getting you started on your journey of heroin addiction recovery.

Call the Agape Treatment Center admissions team at 888-614-0077 to learn more about what our addiction and mental health facilities can do for you or your loved one.

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