You Asked, We Answered
How do I stop using heroin? I’m scared to death of the withdrawals.
You are not alone. Many people are frightened of opiate withdrawals. But we live in an age of a certain amount of hysteria and misinformation concerning withdrawals from drugs. For example, heroin withdrawal, at its worst (assuming of course you do not have other physical issues or complications – we are assuming you are otherwise a generally healthy individual) is no more than a 72 hour flu-like experience. Everyone gets the flu, and yet, we jump to the idea that this withdrawal experience will “force” you to use substances. This is only the case if you have been taught to frame your withdrawal as being something you cannot handle. This is a learned concept – to attach continuing your use to avoid withdrawal. Thousands everyday leave hospitals physically dependent on an assortment of opiates and because they are never told to attach continuing use to stave off withdrawal, they don’t. They simply assume they caught the flu (as a worst case scenario) and then after that 72 hours, they move on. That is because they did not frame their use as a needed protection from withdrawal. Lastly, a medical detox can help you taper, and then move on with your life. The Freedom Model for Addictions addresses this in Chapter 3 and other parts of the book:
“Much is made of the role of physical dependency and withdrawal syndrome that occurs when people stop using some drugs, such as opiates, benzodiazepines, and alcohol. Surely, people who suffer from withdrawal syndrome must be true addicts enslaved to their drug of choice. Once again, this is not the case. Throughout history, most people who have had withdrawal syndrome simply experienced it as a sickness rather than as a compulsion to seek and use more drugs. It’s true that some people do require medical help to safely weather this condition, but it is not true that withdrawal compels people to use substances. Furthermore, withdrawal symptoms don’t need to be present for people to feel addicted, which can be seen in users of drugs that cause little or no withdrawal, such as marijuana and cocaine, and all the nondrug activities people feel addicted to, such as gambling, shopping, or watching pornography.”