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Is Quitting Heroin Cold Turkey A Good Idea?

Is Quitting Heroin Cold Turkey A Good Idea?

According to the 2017 European Drug Report, drug related deaths in Europe have been steadily increasing for years, and the UK has the highest number of incidences, claiming 31% of all overdoses reported. The UK also has the highest number of heroin addicts, and more than half of the people in contact with drug and alcohol services in England in 2017 were opiate users.

These worrying statistics prove that there is more need than ever for those addicted to opiates (the group of drugs that heroin comes from) to get help from professional rehabilitation services.

 

How is heroin addictive?

It is common knowledge that heroin is one of the most addictive of all street drugs, with addiction taking hold quickly for many people who use it. Whilst not everyone that uses heroin becomes addicted, repeated use of the drug makes it increasingly difficult to stop taking it.

Heroin works in the same way as all opiates and is so addictive because of the way in which it is taken. Smoking, injecting or snorting heroin means that the drug is fast-tracked to the brain, where it bonds with opioid receptors and produces euphoric effects.

However, the brain is designed to adapt quickly to changes, meaning that after a few uses of heroin, the user can only function properly when they have a certain amount of the drug in their system. This is where the real addictive effects of heroin come into play, as the symptoms of withdrawal start to manifest.

In the early stages of addiction, the physical and psychological effects of heroin withdrawal only last for around a week, but are incredibly pronounced, which means that it can feel too difficult to stop taking it. Over a period of time, these symptoms get worse, and last for much longer, so the problem escalates.

 

Is it dangerous to quit heroin cold turkey?

There is a fair amount of stigma attached to heroin use, which can make it hard for people to seek professional help with withdrawal. However, although quitting heroin cold turkey is unlikely to kill you, the symptoms are very serious and very painful, meaning that the user is likely to resume taking heroin before they have fully detoxed.

The symptoms of heroin withdrawal usually start within 12 hours of the last dose and get steadily worse over the next two to three days. Physical symptoms can then last up to 10 days, whilst the psychological effects last weeks, or even months. For this reason, cold turkey is not impossible, but can definitely feel that way.

Heroin withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Goosebumps
  • Aching bones
  • Stomach cramps
  • Cold sweats
  • Diarrhoea
  • Runny nose
  • Excessive yawning
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings
  • Feeling irritable
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Depression

 

How can detox centres help?

There is no way for a heroin user to avoid the symptoms of heroin withdrawal, and you must be aware that, even if you are very determined not to take the drug again, the withdrawal may make this impossible for you if you are not working with professionals. A rehabilitation centre is the best place for those trying to quit heroin for a number of reasons, including:

Medication

People withdrawing from heroin are given a number of medications to help them to deal with their withdrawal symptoms. On entry to a rehab clinic, you will be given methadone or buprenorphine, which are oral medications designed to relieve the symptoms of heroin withdrawal. For a full detox, medication is prescribed on an adjustable schedule which is designed to wean you off the drug slowly and without too much discomfort.

Support

A rehabilitation centre is the right place to go through withdrawal because of the 24 hour support that is provided by the professional team there. You will be able to get help or talk to trained therapists when you are really struggling and have counselling to deal with the psychological side of your withdrawal. Doctors are also able to give you nutritional supplements, vitamins and minerals to replace the nutrients you have lost through vomiting, diarrhoea and sweating

Therapy

Rehab centres offer individual, group and family therapy sessions which deal with the bigger issues surrounding your addiction. It can help you to understand why you fell into addiction in the first place, and give you coping tools for when you are back in the real world, to lessen your chances of relapsing.

 

Do you have to be an inpatient?

Many people feel nervous about the idea of going into a treatment centre where they don’t know anyone or have their loved ones around them. However, inpatient care has been proven to be the most successful way of tackling addiction.

Not only will you have instant access to the support services you require 24 hours a day, but in a treatment centre you are away from the environment in which you became addicted. Many people find that during therapy they come to understand that many of their closest friends and family actually have a negative effect on them and their recovery, and without these people around you this is easier to process.

You will eventually have to be an outpatient, once your stay has concluded, and this will require all of your willpower and dedication. However, during the most fragile days of your withdrawal, most doctors will agree that inpatient care is best.

 

Cassiobury Court

Cassiobury Court provides a dedicated rehabilitation service, with medical detox, therapy services and comfortable accommodation to make your detox as comfortable as it can be.

Your rehab can last anything up to 90 days residentially, and there is a 12 month aftercare programme put in place to help you once you have left the centre, with 24/7 recovery team access and a full personalised recovery plan put together to minimise your chances of relapsing.

Cassiobury Court provides round the clock therapy and support, as well as various wellness and social programmes that help to make your stay comfortable and help you to get back to normal life as soon as possible once you are fully rehabilitated.

If you want to know more, we can be reached on 01923 369161 or you can text HELP to 83222.

John Gillen

A recovering addict himself, John is now one of the UK's leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Through our blog, he keeps our website visitors in the loop with the latest news and industry trends in relation to addiction treatment.