Due to its unique hit and effects, heroin addiction is one of the most common addiction. Nutty and satisfying in taste, poppy seeds are healthy oilseeds used as a medicinal plant, as well as, condiments in cooking and garnishing to bread and bagels is the same poppy plant that produces opium poppy a substance that makes heroin — one of the most highly addictive and fast-acting opiate drugs.
In 1874, the first heroin was synthesized from morphine and was claimed as a cough suppressant and analgesics for agonizing painful respiratory illnesses such as tuberculosis and pneumonia by a German pharmaceutical company, Bayer.
Bayer asserted that it is a non-addictive morphine substitute and was marketed from 1989 to 1910 and was exported to 23 countries only to find out that it rapidly metabolizes into morphine. (1)
Heroin, also known as smack, dope, horse, and junk can be a white or brown powder. Oftentimes, it is the most commonly misused drug among the opioid class. Some opioids are used to treat medical conditions such as pain, heroin, on the other hand, is illegal and has no approved medicinal claims. Instead, it creates a state of mental repose and euphoria for those who use it. (2)
Reports soon come into view stipulating that tolerance rapidly developed in patients treated with heroin. It’s starting to become addictive that dosage has to be increased over time, and patients would not stop taking heroin even after their condition has improved and their doctor has stopped prescribing it.
What is even more alarming is that patients who stopped taking heroin experienced withdrawal symptoms more critical than those patients who are morphine-dependent. (3)
Effects of Heroin On The Body
Heroin is immediately converted into morphine once it has entered the body. It binds and activates opioid receptors as it has a similar chemical structure to that of endorphins– naturally occurring opioid chemicals produced by our body’s Central Nervous System (CNS) which inhibits our body to transmit pain signals along sensory neurons.
Furthermore, once these opioid receptors reached the reward center of the brain, they stimulate the release of another neurotransmitter called dopamine which produces pleasurable sensations of euphoria. (4)
The onset of heroin’s effect substantially depends on how it is administered. Aside from the euphoric feeling and relief from pain, it can also be accompanied by other sensations which include the following:
- Alleviation of anxiety or uneasiness
- Complete sense of well-being
- Warm flushing of the skin
- Feeling of heaviness in the extremities
- Drying of mouth
- Growing body temperature
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe itching
After the initial effects, expect drowsiness for several hours, cloudiness on mental function, slowed heart and breathing function which oftentimes may be life-threatening as this may lead to coma and permanent brain damage. (5)
International Statistics on Heroin
Around 9.2 million people around the world are struggling with a dependency on heroin and it keeps on significantly growing steadily from 214,000 users in 2002 to 467,000 users in 2012 as per Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (6)
On top of that, four out of five drug-related deaths in Europe was associated mainly with the use of heroin according to the report made by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction in 2008. (7)
Most recently, the highest number of drug overdose deaths was put on record in 2014 as it reached nearly 50,000 deaths and have accounted for 61% of an overall drug overdose in the same year only for opioids which may include both prescribed pain relievers and heroin. (8)
How To Quit Heroin
Having strong self-motivation, support from people around you and a clear mindset is the most powerful tool that one user needs to have in contending against heroin addiction. This may become the greatest battle in your life, but since you’ve come this far you are only a few steps away from winning this fight.
Trying to quit heroin addiction abruptly with the use of OTC drugs such as Imodium, Tagamet, Nyquil, Dayquil, and Robitussin can be very fatal, especially if you have been taking heroin for a very long time with high doses, this process is called cold turkey withdrawal.
This cold turkey withdrawal process can be very difficult as you may experience serious and severe withdrawal symptoms, such as nervousness, insomnia, vomiting, muscle aches and bone pains.
Furthermore, cold turkey withdrawal may increase your tendency of having a relapse. Making use of slowly but surely regimens and alternative therapies to lower down the dosage of opiates in your system over the course of time will be your ace for keeping yourself away from these severe withdrawal symptoms.
It is best to seek prescription from your doctor regarding these OTC drugs for proper advice and dosage recommendation.(9)
Battling for the first 7 days may be the most crucial part. There will be an ongoing war between your body, mind, and soul. Nevertheless, succeeding in the next 7 days without heroin will qualify you for the final round.
Mark Your Calendar
Make your own calendar and place it in a place where you can it see it right away. It may be on the wall in front of your bed, on your kitchen wall or on your desk at work, as long as you can be reminded all the time. Write Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, all the way to Day 40 but put more emphasis on Days 1 -7. You will be crossing out each day that you will survive your battle.
Make a to-do list on each day. Make sure that for the next 40 days you will have to make yourself busy with activities that will help you improve yourself and keep that list next to you all the time.
Clean your contact list
It may be hard for you to delete some numbers from your phone, but this is one of the big steps that you have to take in life. Delete your dealer’s numbers and you might want to delete all your drug friend’s number as well. Better yet, change your own number too to make sure that none of them will reach you.
Destroy All Your Paraphernalia
Destroy all your paraphernalia, your needles, your spoon, your tie belt, your aluminum foil strips, your empty baggies, balloons, cotton balls, your straw, your lighters, all of it. Don’t leave any spare of these evil materials around you or around your house.
Have Your Quitting Buddy
If you decided to come clean then you should have a drug-free quitting buddy. He or she should remind and support you through this war every day. Always keep your quitting buddy by your side. You’ll have a much better chance fighting the withdrawals, urges, and cravings when you have a drug-free quitting buddy by your side.
Build Your Support group
Having a quitting buddy will help you a lot but building a support group can help you so much better. Be surrounded with good people. Welcome people in your life that support the idea of change. Be with people who will have a good influence on you and people who will encourage you to continue the process that you’re doing.
Your support group may include ex-drug addicts who survived their battle so that you may remain inspired knowing that if they were able to overcome their war and so are you. You can get lessons from their experiences that will help you to survive.
Prepare All Your Needs
Stock yourself up with lots of water for the first 7 days, hydrate yourself. Store some ginger ale, Sprite or 7up on your refrigerator and drink them up once you feel like nauseous or vomiting. You may also want to hoard some Gatorade to restore and balance your electrolytes. Lastly, get ready your survival food like bread, peanut butter, bananas, crackers, egg, yogurt, etc.
Prepare Good Motivation
Inspirational and motivational movies will help you to build up your self-esteem again. It will also make you realize that living a normal and happy life is the true essence of living. These movies will help you to fight this battle emotionally, mentally and even physically. This may also help you to make time run so fast.
To persistently be positive for the next 7 days, it will be in your best interest to try to refrain from listening to any kind of negative rap, hip-hop, reggaeton, techno, trance, alternative, R&B, rock, classic rock, metal, or any music that reinforces old behavior patterns of the “old you”.
Music can affect you subconsciously. Good, clean and uplifting music will definitely help you and can change your thoughts into more positive perspective.
Walk, run or jog! The more active you become, then your chance of getting better is higher. Try to get as much physical activity every day to keep you away from vomiting and having diarrhea. The more activity and sweating you do, then the less the cold chills will trouble you. The more you move and exercise your whole body then the better your body will feel. You can attack withdrawals with exercise.
Have Proper Diet
Eat small portioned meals but keep it light to prevent or minimize stomach cramps. You will be needing proteins and small amounts of carbohydrates in your diet. Learn how to eat your fruits and veggies too!
Involve Yourself In A Withdrawal Detoxification Program
Inpatient heroin addiction detox programs utilize healthcare professionals to help you get out of heroin. Heroin detoxification with the help of healthcare professionals is a smart solution. It’s cheaper than hospitalization and better than outpatient heroin detox because you have someone to look after you. The main benefit to this is that healthcare professionals handle all phases of detox. Hence, the success rate is very high.
Chemical Dependency Units In Hospitals
This procedure of dope-sickness therapy may be high-cost. However, it is the most low-risk and most comfortable get off with heroin out of your body. There will be doctors and nurses to check and monitor you 24-hours a day. They will manage the detox program and make sure that you succeed in this battle.
Drug Rehab Treatment Centers
Drug rehabilitation centers provide professional counseling and medical supervision to assist you through the detox stage. It will help you to isolate yourself away from influential environments. But most professional rehabs are expensive but this is also the best way make yourself clean.
How To Avoid Relapse?
Stopping drugs like heroin, once addiction has developed, is a very difficult task. It takes time, patience and practice. Even if you have succeeded there is still a big possibility of relapse. Continuous adjustments and motivation after you have been clean for a long time must still be done.
Keep up what you have started. We can’t change the past, but we can always start anew. Set your new goals, make it a life changing one. Stop heroin addiction now before it ends your life. Get back with your life, stay clean for good.