Heroin addiction is a growing problem in America. As more and more people become addicted to prescription opioids, they are seeking heroin after their doctor discontinues their supply. The problem is growing past the inner city, where heroin addiction was once contained, to the suburbs, where chain drugstores deliver entry-level opioids from strip malls on four-lane roads.

Heroin is a deadly drug that can take a life in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. Due to the unregulated nature of the substance, the potency is often unknown. Sometimes whole batches can be tainted. For instance, the heroin in Ohio was once laced with the prescription drug Fentanyl, which resulted in an extraordinarily powerful high for some, but instant overdose death for many others. For these reasons, it is important to address addiction immediately. Treatment often includes these stages:

  • Detox
  • Inpatient
  • Outpatient

Detox

Every heroin addict must detox from the drug – there is no such thing as casually stopping and starting. Heroin has a very strong hold on its victims and keeps many strung out for years, even decades, if they are lucky enough to survive. For those who choose to recover from the addiction, the withdrawal period is extremely difficult and uncomfortable. In fact, it is so bad that it is advised to seek medical care when coming off the drug. While many have successfully undergone withdrawal alone, many more do not make it, and end up relapsing into full-blown addiction.

During withdrawal, there are many difficult and uncomfortable symptoms. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms, or experience them in the same degree. Some of the ill-effects of heroin withdrawal might include, but are not limited to:

  • Sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Intense craving
  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Insomnia

If you choose to undergo withdrawal at home, please proceed with caution. You may want to have a doctor’s number handy, or arrange to have a friend or family member on call to take you to a professional detox center if it becomes too much. However, you will want to prepare yourself for the grueling ordeal.

First, try to taper down your dosage. This may be very difficult, as any addict has problems with impulse control, much less understanding how to limit any sort of “good thing.” If you can reduce your use, however, the final detox and withdrawal will be shorter and easier to manage. Nonetheless, when you are ready to cease all use, and are detoxing at home, consider preparing yourself with the following:

  • Several gallons of water to manage fluid loss
  • Calming herbs such as valerian
  • Multiple changes of clothes, as you may sweat through them
  • Change of sheets
  • Friend to help with food or clothing
  • Directions to a medical detox facility

Inpatient

Once you have detoxed from heroin, the real work really begins. Addiction is composed of more than the superficial substance abuse. It frequently has deep roots in trauma and psychological difficulties. Thus, it is important to enter an inpatient treatment facility that will give you the intensive counseling and support needed to help you fully recover from your addition.

The inpatient experience will allow you to meet other addicts, who may have abused other substances. You will be able to see how their experiences mirror your own and that you can form community with fellow addicts who share many of the same quirks of mind and spirit. As you watch them work through their recovery process, you can support, and receive their support. Inpatient rehabilitation can be your first step towards rejoining a healthy community.

Outpatient

After inpatient treatment, or in lieu of an inpatient experience, you might enter an outpatient program to continue your recovery with supervision and a close community. Outpatient rehabilitation can include regular counseling sessions in groups or as an individual. You can also receive regular drug testing in case you need that to satisfy a court requirement or for a professional licensure issue.

One chief advantage of outpatient care is that you can live with your family, pursue your career, and otherwise live life in the wider society. If you need, you can contact the facility to schedule a meeting or for some other sorts of support. Further, you might meet others in the same outpatient program and you can exchange phone numbers and start building a fellowship. Some outpatient facilities also work with sober living, so you can be surrounded by sober people as you recover.