Heroin and other opioids like it allow users the experience of a virtually pain-free existence. Even when the physical conditions for pain exist, people who use this drug cannot feel it. It works by activating the brain’s opioid receptors. These specialized nerve cells then block pain signals between the brain and body.
Although the euphoric, calming, and sedative effect of this substance is initially pleasant, it definitely comes at a cost. In addition to addiction and all of the physical, social, financial, and professional consequences that it entails, people who abuse heroin also lose their ability to tolerate pain at any level. For a long-time heroin user, even minor amounts of physical discomfort can seem excruciating. With this in mind, the prospect of quitting heroin by completing a heroin detox can be daunting to say the least.
When people attempt to quit heroin cold turkey, they must contend with the sweating, nausea, stomach cramps, and other common withdrawal symptoms on their own. They also deal with the sudden reawakening of their pain receptors and the extreme physical discomfort of restored nerve-to-brain communication. Fortunately, detoxing from heroin doesn’t have to be agonizing. In fact, when you choose to complete this process in a reputable rehab facility, it can actually be quite comfortable.
How Rehab Professionals Minimize and Prevent Pain During Heroin Detox
Unsupervised heroin detox can be just as deadly heroin overdose. When people attempt to go cold turkey, they run the risk of developing a dangerous condition known as hypernatremia. Unmanaged withdrawal symptoms such as runny nose, sweating, diarrhea, and vomiting cause severe fluid loss and dehydration. This in turn creates elevated blood sodium levels. In rehab, nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals are always working to prevent this and many other other developments associated with opioid withdrawal syndrome.
Thus, if you’re worried that you’ll be told to simply “muster through it” while in detox, you won’t. Everyone present will have a vested interest in ensuring your comfort and well-being throughout this challenging time. In rehab, you’ll receive constant medical monitoring. You will also receive multiple visits from onsite mental health professionals who will take steps to alleviate and prevent psychological withdrawal symptoms such as malaise, lack of incentive, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. Your medical doctors can leverage a number of opioid agonists such as methadone and buprenorphine that mimic the effects of illicit opioids, but are disbursed in a controlled and ultimately beneficial manner.
These and other withdrawal medications gradually ease the brain and body off of heroin so that detox is safe, easy, and comfortable overall. When heroin detox is properly managed, it can also be significantly shorter in duration. Sleep support is offered in rehab as well. Non-habit forming medications are provided to combat issues with insomnia, hypersomnia, vivid dreams, and other sleep disturbances.
Patients additionally receive mental health evaluations to determine whether or not co-occurring mental health disorders exist. Even at this initial stage of recovery, efforts are made to begin dual diagnosis treatment for those suffering from undiagnosed:
- Bipolar disorder
- General anxiety disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
However, pain is understood by rehab professionals as being part of the normal human experience. As physical detox reaches its end, many rehab centers transition their clients away from opioid agonists such as methadone that operate much like heroin to opioid antagonists like naltrexone. Naltrexone minimizes physical withdrawal symptoms without being habit-forming and without blocking the brain’s pain receptors. Although fear of pain is a common deterrent to heroin recovery, it shouldn’t be. In a medically supervised detox center, the physical discomfort of withdrawing from heroin and other opioid substances can be greatly minimized.
More importantly, people can learn to experience and process normal levels of physical and psychological discomfort by building their distress tolerance in group and individual therapy, learning healthy coping skills, and completing stress management training. The best supervised detox programs seamlessly transition patients from initial detox into ongoing addiction treatment. If you’re ready to start the detox process and want to do so in a safe, comfortable, and supportive environment, we can help. Call us today at 833-846-5669.