The Importance of Supervised Detox
For anyone using the street opioid heroin, a supervised heroin detox center is an absolutely vital resource. That is true for a couple of reasons. First, to avoid severe possible outcomes such as addiction, overdose and death, you must stop using heroin. Detox centers make this possible. Just as importantly, supervised centers are staffed by experts who specialize in helping people halt their drug use.
But why is a supervised heroin detox center near you a necessity? Without help from trained personnel, you make it much less likely that you will succeed in quitting heroin. And that is not all. If you try to quit on your own, you increase your chances of experiencing an overdose. No one wants to face such a frightening and potentially fatal event. The assistance provided in supervised detox helps keep you safe as you take the first steps toward lasting sobriety.
What Causes the Need for Detox
Why is detox even an issue for people who use heroin? The answer to that question lies in the addictive nature of the drug. Like all opioids, heroin is capable of making short- and long-term changes in the way your brain works.
In the short-term, the most important change is the creation of a profound state of pleasure. This state, called euphoria, is much stronger than other kinds of everyday pleasure. In fact, it is so strong, that you may feel the urge to experience it again and again. Problems begin when you fulfill this urge.
If you take heroin often enough, you will start to become tolerant to its effects. When this happens, you will need to use the drug in larger amounts to feel the rush of euphoria. In turn, this action sets off a repeating cycle of more tolerance and increasing heroin use. Eventually, you will become dependent on the drug.
When you are dependent, you cannot stop taking heroin without experiencing negative consequences. Those consequences come in the form of heroin withdrawal symptoms. Examples of the symptoms that may affect you include:
- Spikes in your normal blood pressure
- A rapid heartbeat
- Heavy sweating
- Spasms in your muscles
- Unusually rapid breathing
- Stomach cramps
- Pupil enlargement
- Muscle and bone aches
- High fever
- A runny nose
- Continued cravings for more heroin
There is no way for an addicted person to stop using heroin without experiencing at least some of these issues. That is why detox, known formally as detoxification, is an essential part of recovery.
How long does heroin withdrawal last? You can expect symptoms to appear pretty quickly once you stop using the drug. These symptoms tend to reach their worst in a day or two, then begin to ease a few days later. This may seem like a short time to endure heroin withdrawal. However, in reality, your symptoms may put you in a state of extreme personal distress. For this reason, you may find it difficult or impossible to cope with withdrawal on your own.
A Heroin Detox Center Vs. “Cold Turkey”
There are two basic choices for anyone who wants to quit using heroin. The first option is enrolling at a heroin detox center near you. The other option is quitting on your own. You may try to gradually reduce your consumption or stop all at once. This second method is known as going “cold turkey.”
A Heroin Detox Center
Supervised detoxification is a coordinated approach to helping you halt your drug use. It is designed to take you from a current intoxicated state all the way through to initial sobriety. All aspects of your health are taken into consideration while you are enrolled. That includes addressing the effects of your withdrawal symptoms. It also includes:
- Helping you stay safe and secure
- Supporting your general health
- Getting you prepared to take further steps toward recovery
“Cold turkey” is an unsupervised way of quitting heroin. If you choose this option, you run several unnecessary risks. That includes lack of basic support for your well-being. It also includes lack of help for any emergencies that might arise. In addition, you lower the odds of coping with withdrawal and reaching a sober state.
Addressing Withdrawal in a Heroin Detox Center
Doctors in a heroin detox center near you take certain steps to ease your withdrawal symptoms. To help make the process more comfortable, they do not remove all of the opioids from your system at once. Instead, they prescribe controlled doses of a safer opioid option. The two such options now in use are:
Both of these substances are weaker than heroin. When you receive them in limited amounts, they will not get you “high.” On the contrary, they will support your body while you go through heroin withdrawal. In this way, they help keep your symptoms within a tolerable range of severity. As you make progress in withdrawal, your need for buprenorphine or methadone will drop. When you reach the end of withdrawal, you can stop taking the option prescribed to you.
Some detox programs may use a non-opioid alternative called clonidine. However, clonidine does not relieve as many withdrawal symptoms as methadone or buprenorphine. Specifically, it will not help you cope with:
- Opioid cravings
- Achy muscles
Going Through Withdrawal “Cold Turkey”
You cannot legally gain access to buprenorphine or methadone without doctor’s supervision. This means that, if you try to detox on your own, you will not be able to rely on these medications for help. That is a serious issue. Why?
When you stop taking heroin, it may only be a matter of hours before withdrawal sets in. And without any medical help, withdrawal symptoms often take a severe form. Severe opioid withdrawal can be a brutal experience. It usually does not threaten your life, but it can make you feel worse than you have ever felt before.
This explains why many people who go “cold turkey” never successfully quit using heroin. They simply find their withdrawal symptoms too difficult to bear. When that happens, they start using the drug again.
How a Heroin Detox Center Helps You Avoid a Relapse
Relapses are a possibility for anyone recovering from heroin addiction. However, there are things you can do to lower your relapse risks. One of the most important steps to take is enrolling at a heroin detox center near you.
How does a heroin detox center help you avoid a drug relapse? By reducing the severity of your withdrawal symptoms. When those symptoms are less intense, you will find it easier to stick with your program. In turn, by sticking with your program, you steer clear of any relapses.
The same benefits do not exist for people who try to quit on their own. For this reason, you are much more likely to relapse and fall back into heroin use.
How a Heroin Detox Center Helps You Avoid Overdosing
Heroin overdoses happen when the amount of the drug in your body begins shutting down your system. That amount differs from person to person. This means that you may overdose in circumstances where others do not.
Many parts of your body are affected during an overdose. The most crucial and dangerous effects occur in your:
- Brain and spinal cord
- Circulatory system
- Respiratory system
Your brain controls your heart and your lungs. If you take too much heroin, this process of control is interrupted. The result is an abnormal slowdown of your breathing and heart rate. Some people survive these and other consequences of an overdose. However, every year, thousands of Americans die.
How does a heroin detox center help you avoid an overdose? By reducing your chances of relapsing while going through withdrawal. When you do not have excessive amounts of opioids in your system, you cannot overdose.
Again, the situation is starkly different if you try to detox on your own. There is no one there with the professional experience needed to help you avoid a heroin relapse. In turn, there is no one there to help you avoid overdosing on the drug.
Overdose risks are a particular concern for people trying to quit using heroin. Why? As the drug leaves your system, you become less tolerant to its effects. This is a big deal if you relapse and start using the same amount of heroin you did before. That is true because your system may no longer be able to tolerate that much of the drug. The result can be an unexpected overdose that hits you when your defenses are down.
Learn More About the Necessity of a Heroin Detox Center
A heroin detox center provides some undeniable benefits. By enrolling in one, you provide a major boost to your ability to get sober. At the same time, you decrease your risks of relapsing before you complete the withdrawal process. Just as crucially, you avoid the overdose risks associated with going “cold turkey.” With so many positives to consider, it is no wonder that supervised detox is the accepted standard of care.
No one should have to go through heroin withdrawal on their own. And there is simply no need to do so when you have access to skilled detox professionals. To find out how you can protect yourself while getting sober, just contact the experts at Pathfinders. We are standing by to help you find a high-quality heroin rehab near you. We also provide safe, effective detox services as part of our larger package of addiction treatments.