What Heroin Recovery is Really Like
Heroin addiction is a selfish and horrible disease that takes away all of your integrity and ambitions. It breaks you down and sickens you every time you use, but, in an instant, you are scrambling to find your next hit. It stays with you long after you stop using and with the least complacency, you are subject to a “triggered” relapse.
Recovery is a life-long process for a heroin addict. Few people have the power to resist this drug without long term recovery maintenance and support, and when relapse occurs, they sometimes, wind up more lost than ever or dead.
Heroin Addictions Falling Through the Cracks
It seems that the stigmas of heroin addictions never go away although heroinaddiction takes one and all, regardless, of creed, class, or distinction. We see celebrities fall as easily as the homeless and wounded on the streets, and then, we are told it’s their own faults, and they could have stopped using if they tried. WRONG!
We even see stigmas attached to the treatments of heroin addictions and according to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, “Use of methadone and other therapeutic medications has been viewed traditionally as substitute therapy—merely replacing one addiction with another and the treatment of choice for those too weak to overcome temptation.”
Although there are ongoing efforts to treat heroin addiction as the chronic disease that it is, there are many who delay seeking treatment simply because they are worried about what their families, employers, or friends may think. So, they go on with their daily drudgeries of pain, intoxication, withdrawals, obsessions, and lies to the extent that they make themselves believe they are unworthy of help.
The Old Life for the Heroin Addict
Regardless of the contrary, heroin was like a warm, cozy blanket that buffered the harsh world, relieved distressful emotions, and blocked out unwanted thoughts. Even in the midst of scrambling on the streets on a cold rainy morning to find someone who may be holding and getting just enough to calm yourself down so you can plan how you will get more, it felt like heroin was your friend.
Even through the needle fixations and the desperations to shoot up in the public toilets, the worries of showing tracks on your arms, and hours of trying to hit the “right’ vein, you said “no more” and “never again” and then, panicked over how to get the next dose. Even when you saw yourself or your friends fade away to sickness and disease, go away to prison, spiral in shame, or overdose in the alley, heroin continued to control you.
The New Life
In all the time spent “chasing the dragon” or searching for their “nirvana”, heroin addicts all have the same thing in common. They have had significant alterations in brain functions that, no matter how long they remain abstinent, there will always be the reminders of how good it felt to be “high” and spur of the moment “triggers” that tempt them to use. Most addicts never get the chance for a new life, and for those who do, it takes around the clock effort to keep.
Even for those who stay in long term methadone or buprenorphine maintenance therapies risk relapse if they let their guards down. According to a research report on methadone maintenance by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “authorities to advocate for maintenance treatment as long as the patient (1) continues to benefit, (2) wishes to remain, (3) is at risk of relapse, (4) suffers no significant side effects, and (5) stays in treatment as long as treatment is needed, as determined by the clinician.”
Heroin recovery requires continuous changes, little and big, to maintain freedom, peace, and abstinence. Some changes may be more difficult than others and some are rewarding, but, if a recovering addict looks at where they used to be, compared to where they are, almost anyone can see that there is reason to hope.
Making the Changes
Heroin recovery involves creating a new life where it is easier not to use. You don’t have to change everything, but, the more you try to hold on to the old life, the less recovery success you will have.
People, places, things, emotions, or behaviors can bring you back to your addiction if you don’t do all you can to avoid them and learn coping mechanisms to resist the urges to use when avoidance is impossible.
Learning to take care of yourself, relax, and find other things to keep your mind occupied is a daily task that throws many people off in the beginning of recovery because they are too anxious to rebuild and regain those things that they have lost. Relaxing, escaping, and rewarding ourselves are essential coping skills to manage tension and stress, which may have been a reason you took heroin in the first place and could relapse again.
Recovering heroin addicts have to learn how to be honest with themselves and others, especially those who are in their support networks including their families, friends, employers, and peers. This practice is highly valued in groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous which can help the person stay on top of their recovery throughout the long haul.
Learning to do the right things promotes confidence and motivation to do more right things to where doing the right things begin to come naturally.