Quitting all the way to the dealer’s house

Heroin addicts regularly say they want to quit. They often say they are going to quit. Again and again they make plans to quit. But they rarely do! Why is that? Why is it if you know something is bad for you, you can’t just quit? Well, that is the billion-dollar question.


One of the main reasons why heroin is so hard to quit is because whenever they stop they get sick. Heroin sickness is commonly referred to as “dopesickness,” which is basically extreme discomfort. Nobody likes to be uncomfortable, but it’s also a powerful persuader.


As withdrawal develops, he or she begins to feel depressed and loses energy. As the symptoms begin to peak it becomes a joyless, restless and distressful medical condition. The duration of heroin withdrawal varies from person to person, but in general, the healthier you are, the quicker it goes. To be more precise, the healthier the brain, the quicker it goes.


If someone is trying to quit, it usually takes more than just good intentions or a strong will. As a matter of fact, because heroin changes the brain in a way that fosters compulsivity, quitting is extremely difficult. To make matters more confusing, there is no single effective way to break a heroin habit. Most scientific treatments leave the person cross addicted, which means they switch to a legal narcotic, such as Methadone or Buprenorphine.


Even if a heroin addict has a strong desire to quit it’s very often not as strong as their desire to keep using. Heroin addicts are doubtful as to whether or not they can quit, because they remember the many resolutions they made to quit, but they also remember the past failures. To top it all off, many addicts suffer from low self-esteem, low self-confidence, anxiety and depression. With all these issues against them it’s easy to understand why heroin addicts are not able to make the sustained effort necessary to achieve long-term abstinence. In general, it takes an accumulation of negative consequences plus a catalyst event, like an arrest or an intervention, to muster the necessary motivation to actually quit.




Common heroin addict excuses.

The 9 most common excuses for not quitting heroin.


1. Could not afford treatment.

2. Not ready to stop using heroin.

3. Possible negative effect on job.

4. Insurance did not cover heroin addiction treatment.

5. Inconvenient

6. Community might view me differently if they found out I went to rehab.

7. Did not know where to go for heroin addiction treatment.

8. I can do it myself.

9. No time.




Heroin addiction treatment

Heroin addicts cannot simply walk away from addiction. Addiction treatment is often necessary especially to get through heroin withdrawal. Family and friends can play a critical role in motivating an individual into treatment. Family therapy can also be important, especially for adolescents. The benefit of treatment is that it helps change addictive thinking and behaving into non-addictive thinking and behaving. Just as important, it can help addicts deal with personal issues such as feelings of low self-esteem, low self-confidence and low self-worth. In short, treatment helps move addicts into healthy, addiction-free lifestyles.


The best-case scenario for treating a heroin addiction is in an inpatient center, with a long-term treatment program that utilizes multiple treatment strategies. The best treatment locations are in less densely populated areas, preferably far away from the heroin addict’s stomping grounds. This way the addict is less likely to walk off and more likely to complete the program.



Addiction treatment resources:

National Institute on Drug Abuse’s handbook Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment: Know What to Ask offers guidance in finding the right treatment program. Numerous online resources can help locate a local program or provide other information, including:


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) maintains a Web site (www.findtreatment.samhsa.gov) that shows the location of residential, outpatient, and hospital inpatient treatment programs for drug addiction and alcoholism throughout the country. This information is also accessible by calling 1-800-662-HELP.


The Partnership at Drugfree.org (drugfree.org) is an organization that provides information and resources on teen drug use and addiction for parents, to help them prevent and intervene in their children’s drug use or find treatment for a child who needs it. They offer a toll-free helpline for parents (1-855-378-4373).


National Institutes on Health (NIH), is the nation’s medical research agency. NIH includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.


heroin and memory