Of all the drugs available, heroin is perhaps the most addictive. Because of this, it is understandable why up to 90 percent of people seeking addiction treatment relapse within 3 months of detoxing from the drug. It's important to understand the challenges associated with overcoming a heroin addiction to better prepare you for what lies on the road to sobriety and increase your chances of making a lasting change. Here are two reasons why heroin addiction is hard to treat and what you can do about it.
Physical Withdrawal Can Be Hard to Bear
One thing that puts a lot of heroin addicts off from seeking or completing treatment is the withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming. Heroin creates a physical dependence on the drug; so when people stops using it, the body begins purging the remnants of the substance in its system as well as restoring natural processes that were negatively impacted by the heroin.
This leads people to experience a number of adverse symptoms as a result–such as nausea, runny nose, sweats, muscle aches, and abdominal cramps–that can last for up to 10 days. The longer a person has been using heroin and the higher the dose they've consumed, the worse the withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, it's not unusual for people to develop mental health problems (e.g. anxiety and depression) that persist long after the detoxification process ends.
The good news is detox symptoms can be managed and minimized using a combination of medication and behavioral therapy techniques. For example, Suboxone is commonly prescribed to help reduce symptoms and cravings for the drug. While it's possible to quit heroine cold turkey, for safety and lasting success, it's a good idea to detox with the help of a knowledgeable medical professional or addiction specialist who can personalize your treatment so best serve your needs.
Psychological Motivators are Not Addressed
A second reason people struggle to get and remain sober after using heroin (or any drug for that matter) is the underlying psychological issues that may be driving the addiction. For instance, it's common for people who have suffered physical or sexual abuse to turn to drugs to alleviate the emotional pain associated with those experiences. Another problem is some people turn to drugs because they never developed the coping skills necessary to deal with daily life stressors.
Eliminating the physical addiction without addressing the underlying mental health concerns can lead to relapses back into heroine use. Enrolling in a treatment program that includes working with a skilled therapist or counselor can help you deal with your psychological issues and learn healthier methods of coping with the stress in your life.
For more information about the challenges of heroin addiction treatment or to get help overcoming your substance abuse problem, contact a treatment facility near you.