The answer is YES, you CAN stop using heroin.
Not just for a day, week or month; not just while you are in detox.
There are solutions to life long & debilitating addiction.
Once and for all, The Answer:
If you haven't guessed by now, I have some strong beliefs concerning addiction recovery and treatment. These may be somewhat controversial, as I do not subscribe to one of the major tenets of the "step" programs.
Having been as addicted as a person can be, I feel that long term treatment is the best treatment approach. 3, 7, 10 or even 21 days are simply not enough. The longer, the better. One year is ideal. Though everyones circumstance is different, my point is that the addict needs not only the time away from their environment and drug of choice, but they need to find and address the root cause(s) of their addiction.
Here's where my opinion differs from the step programs:
I do not believe that addiction is an incurable disease.
The bonds of addiction CAN be broken.
The 12 step philosophy was combined with inpatient treatment in a hospital setting for a period of 28 days (more recently, as few as 3 to 10 days). Addicts would attend AA or NA meetings while receiving group therapy and some medical stabilization/detoxification program.
Unfortunately, this model has proved to be less than successful and the insurance industry has become unwilling to pay for extended stays. The current trend is to admit someone with a heroin problem to a hospital just long enough to get them through the worst of the physical withdrawal and then to send them to outpatient counseling. This method of treating heroin addiction is the most widely used and also the least successful.
I know this is true because I have tried these methods and simply did not work for me. Please don't misunderstand, the step-programs are helpful if used in the proper time and place. By the same token, do not believe that you or a family member is/are doomed to fail because the steps failed! The steps are great for one trying to work an established recovery program (once they are clean, can think straight and are at a point where they NEED that kind of guidance).
The step programs have helped millions of people and I applaud them for what they have accomplished. However, it's like any medical issue: As medicine and psychiatry advance, we move on to better solutions.
As you may recall, at one time we used sulfa drugs to help us overcome infections. Sometimes they worked, sometimes not. They helped millions of people, though. Today we have penicillin and other modern wonder drugs which have a much higher success rate. We still use sulfa drugs as they have a time and purpose for proper use. This is how it is with the step programs.
An active addict has little interest in taking on the responsibilities and participating in the lifestyle involved with a "Step-life". It CAN happen but active heroin addicts will find it difficult to get past the withdraw (physical and mental) and subsequent cravings, so the Step programs do not really have time to start working. I found this true in my case and in others I observed, at any rate.
Long-term drug addiction treatment programs are almost always more successful in answering the question of "How do I stop using heroin?". By "Long-Term", I mean 2 month to a year or more in length.
Many of these (especially the private rehabs) are very, very expensive and most insurance companies will balk when presented with the idea of a year long treatment. Fortunately for the non-independently wealthy addict, many faith-based programs are much more affordable. This is made possible with donations from the faith community and governmental non-profit subsidies.
These programs utilize unique therapeutic training drills and instructional courses which address the underlying cause of addiction in an intensive manner and from many different angles.
The result is a person who has dealt with the sense of hopelessness which, as it turns out, causes a person to start using heroin in the first place. This individual, in most cases, no longer feels the need to use heroin or any other drugs.
Heroin addicts know all about withdraw. It is the driving force behind almost all continued daily heroin usage.
Once an addict has made the decision to quit, they need to really understand that the first 2 weeks will be bad, very bad. I suggest one of those short term medical detox program which we spoke of in the first paragraph of this page. It will get you through the worst of the withdraw.
It is important that you know some of the withdrawal symptoms you can expect.
There are three phases of heroin withdrawal:
It is only after the completion of phase three that the former addict really feels good. However, it is the first phase that is the hardest to get through because the pain is so intense. Sleeping or awake, the drug will call your name during this time.
The primary symptoms of the first phase are as follows:
The list of secondary symptoms is seemingly endless. The following list contains the most commonly experienced symptoms:
Here are some things which will help you on your recovery journey. Remember that what is considered a "long-term treatment" can last from 3 months to over two years (I know people who have spent these quantities of time in rehab - hardcore addiction and the behavior it spawns sometimes takes a LONG time to "unlearn"), so you can use these while in rehab, too.
There are options when searching for a heroin addiction recovery program.
Many opiate find themselves entering Methadone programs to treat their addiction. This often ends up being only a band aid, covering the larger problem that the individual still has: drug addiction. There are a few exceptions to this rule (especially when considering the relatively new Suboxone® treatment therapy).
The ideal situation for an individual with the desire to end their heroin addiction is to attend an abstinence oriented, long term heroin addiction recovery program. There they will find that they can safely withdrawal from heroin and learn to live without drugs.
If the individual chooses to attend an inpatient long term program they will be removed from their former using environment for a significant amount of time. This allows them to temporarily seclude themselves and learn to live life with out the use of heroin to solve their problems. Any good program will not only remove the drugs from the equation, but it will also provide you with the proper tools to equip you to live life without drugs.
Long-term heroin addiction recovery programs are preferable due to the severity of heroin addiction. Many addicts that attempt to end their addiction through outpatient treatment find that they are using again in a short period of time. This is because they are still living and seeing the same people everyday. Temptation easily gets the best of them and they are not able to be strong enough to remain sober.
Every long-term heroin addiction recovery program is different. When looking for a quality program it is important to understand that particular programs philosophy and treatment methods.
Remember that you are looking for a new way to live, not a way to fix or patch up your old way of life! You'll be putting on a new armor and learning how to use the sword to defeat heroin once and for all while you are in the program.
Be teachable and don't forget that your best thinking is what got you to the point of needing long-term treatment in the first place! Once you accept this, the cards will all start to fall into place!
Heroin addiction is not living life.
Make the choice to live without the need for heroin.