Some people who are addicted to heroin know it’s time to get better. This realization usually strikes when life isn’t manageable, or even tolerable, anymore. The only thing holding them back? Fear of the unknown—fear of rehab.
What will those first few days be like? Will life without heroin be unbearable?
As the assistant executive director of The Raleigh House, Whitney Harrah has seen—and helped—hundreds of people in that same situation. There are three reasons, she says, that they should put those worries aside and commit to recovery.
Reason No. 1: It Won’t Be That Bad
“When people go to treatment, it’s not the first time they’ve gone without taking drugs,” Harrah says. “I’ve never met one adult [in recovery] who hasn’t gone through withdrawal before.”
Many people who are addicted to heroin have experienced withdrawal when they tried to quit on their own. Or when they simply were not able to get their next dose before withdrawal symptoms set in.
Experts say that heroin withdrawal feels a bit like having the flu. “There will definitely be some degree of discomfort,” Harrah says. “However, it will be manageable, especially in a safe, comforting environment with nursing, medical and other trained staff.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that heroin-related physical withdrawal symptoms can include restlessness, muscle and bone pain, insomnia, diarrhea, vomiting and cold flashes with goose bumps. Major withdrawal symptoms peak between 24 and 48 hours and usually subside after about a week.
In exchange for this period of discomfort, those in recovery can look forward to a life full of hope and freedom.
Reason No. 2: You Will Be Helped in Every Possible Way
Rehab allows for a safe detox. “There will be a nurse and doctor participating in every resident’s customized treatment plan,” Harrah says. “Highly skilled and trained people will be carefully monitoring symptoms.”
At The Raleigh House, the staff does an assessment using what’s called a Clinical Opiate Withdrawal Scale. If it’s needed, doctors will provide medication to make residents more comfortable. There are several medical options available to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
That’s commonly the case when someone has been using heroin along with alcohol or other drugs. “Their withdrawal symptoms are going to be more severe,” Harrah explains.
Still, she stresses that recovery is a balancing act. If you help someone interrupt heroin use by giving them a different addictive drug (like Suboxone), in some cases, the continued action of ingesting a substance can keep addictive patterns alive.
Indeed, a study conducted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse found that 49 percent of participants reduced opioid abuse by taking Suboxone. But the success rate dropped to 8.6 percent once Suboxone was discontinued.
As Harrah says, “Suboxone can create an additional area of focus.”
This is precisely where a good treatment center comes into play. The Raleigh House treats the physical aspects of addiction, of course, but also any underlying issues or co-occurring conditions that may have lead to or exacerbated the addiction.
“We do everything we can to make our residents comfortable and make this as positive of an experience as it can be—without making the problem more significant,” Harrah says.
Reason No. 3: A New—and Better—Life Lies Ahead
At a certain stage of heroin dependence, continued use is to avoid feeling sick more than using to feel high.
Rehab gives these people the opportunity to—eventually—wake up and feel good.
This is how Harrah describes the residents who have moved on from The Raleigh House and continued to do well on their own: “There’s an improvement in their sense of self and confidence,” she says. “There’s a new curiosity and a sense of gratefulness. They are proud of their accomplishments.”
Hope at The Raleigh House
At The Raleigh House, residents benefit from a holistic approach to recovery that addresses the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and social aspects of the whole person. Residents are assigned a master’s level trained therapist to guide them on their journey to a better life. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the heroin addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.