Heroin addiction is notoriously difficult to recover from. Part of that difficulty stems from the intense physical symptoms of withdrawal that can accompany abstinence. Indeed, fear of having to suffer withdrawal symptoms is often a major stumbling block for those thinking about quitting heroin. The physical and mental aspects of withdrawal, particularly during the most intense stage, contribute significantly to relapse. Choosing a recovery plan that includes an inpatient heroin detox center can increase the chance of a successful recovery because it addresses many of these issues.
Supporting Recovery At A Critical Point
Heroin craving accompanied by physical symptoms, for the addict, starts 4 to 6 hours after the last use, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Heroin withdrawal symptoms, as explained by the American Academy of Family Physicians, have a “peak period” of 1 to 3 days. After that, the physical symptoms start to subside, gradually fading away over a period of 5 to 7 days. However, the withdrawal symptoms that effect the mind and its cognitive and emotional processes can last much longer.
An inpatient heroin detox center offers recovery support at a critical point in the addiction treatment process. Here are some benefits that the inpatient option offers to the heroin addict striving for recovery success:
- Medical staff monitoring vital signs and other measures of physical well-being during withdrawal is an important safety measure, because physical symptoms can be severe.
- Medical support during the period in which the physical symptoms of withdrawal are most intense. This is achieved typically by using medications that have a similar effect as heroin to gradually “taper down,” thus avoiding high intensity withdrawal symptoms.
- The psychological symptoms can be as difficult for the person seeking recovery to deal with as the physical symptoms are. A detox center will offer critical support in managing these symptoms as well. Some use pharmaceutical methods, some use intense counseling, and others use a combination of both.
- An inpatient heroin detox center is staffed by experienced professionals offering round the clock support of a sort that other options just can’t provide. This early stage of recovery is critical. Managing withdrawal symptoms when they are at their worst can make a real contribution to a successful recovery.
- Withdrawal symptoms are scary for the addict, causing anxiety and worry at the thought of having to endure such suffering. The knowledge that they will be supported and helped through this stage – each and every minute of the way – and that the worst of the symptoms can be controlled can be the incentive an addict considering treatment needs to choose recovery.
Understanding Heroin Addiction
Heroin addiction is a powerful force. According to Heroin: Its History, Pharmacology, and Treatment, a 2011 book by Humberto Fernandez and Therissa A. Libby, Ph.D., a relapse rate of about 80 percent during the first attempt to quit is about standard historically. In an article titled Neurobiology of Relapse to Heroin and Cocaine Seeking: A Review, the changes to the brain and its chemistry by long-term heroin use are detailed. Recovering from heroin addiction is a complex process. Successful recovery involves:
- Dealing with the altered chemistry of the brain is part of reducing relapse potentials. This is done pharmaceutically in some treatment plans. Others address the issue by using natural means of stimulating certain brain chemicals, such as using exercise as a way to release endorphins and other ‘feel good’ brain chemicals, or focusing on diet and nutrition.
- Specific types of cues – drug-oriented or social – can contribute to relapse. Recovery success relies upon learning how to deal with these cues. In the initial stages, avoidance is key. However, during that period, specific techniques and skill sets for learning how to resist those cues need to be learned, as all cues cannot be avoided at all times.
- Stress management skills are important in the prevention of relapse. For many heroin addicts, the drug was their means of dealing with stress. For some, a lack of stress management skills is exactly what made them vulnerable to addiction.
- Co-existing conditions, both those that preceded addiction and those that came as a result of the addiction, need to be dealt with. For the addict that has done terrible things in pursuit of the drug, there is likely to be shame, anxiety, and depression, all of which need to be managed to enhance the chance for success in recovery.
With the myriad of complexities involved in successfully recovering from heroin addiction and the high relapse rate for this drug, the strong support that an inpatient heroin detox center can provide seems like the best option to increase success potentials. This is especially true during the critical period when the discomforts of withdrawal are most intense.