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Can I Quit Using Heroin Cold Turkey?

dangers of quitting heroin cold turkeyHeroin is a potent, highly-addictive opiate drug. Heroin users are at risk of developing brain damage and physical dependence, even after a short period of use. People who use heroin are at risk of serious complications, including addiction, overdose, and death.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), an estimated 0.4% (or about 1.0 million people) had a heroin use disorder and approximately 9,173 people died from an overdose involving heroin in 2021.[1]

The serious, sometimes life-threatening consequences of heroin addiction make it critical for people to stop using the drug. But the changes to a person’s brain and body that occur after regular heroin use can make it nearly impossible to stop using it without treatment.

But many people want a quicker solution to their substance abuse or addiction. Some plan to quit cold turkey–meaning they will stop using the drug suddenly. But is it safe to quit heroin cold turkey?

Learn more about what happens when you stop heroin cold turkey and how to find the support you need to overcome drug addiction. Reach out to the Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment team to learn about your heroin rehab options.

What Happens When You Quit Heroin Cold Turkey?

Heroin use can alter the structure and chemistry of your brain. After a period of regular heroin use, your body adjusts to the presence of the drug. If you suddenly stop using heroin, you are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms as your body goes through the detox process. Symptoms of heroin withdrawal include:[2]

  • Chills
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Body aches
  • Anxiety
  • Twitching
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Stomach pain
  • Cramping
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Intense cravings

Symptoms usually begin within 6-24 hours of your last use of heroin. The duration and intensity of your withdrawal symptoms depend on the severity and length of your addiction and other personal factors.

Many people find heroin withdrawal so uncomfortable that they may relapse before their body has a chance to detox fully. Some of the symptoms of heroin withdrawal can become life-threatening. People should always have professional support and supervision during detox to avoid potentially deadly complications.

Is it Dangerous to Stop Heroin Cold Turkey?

Heroin withdrawal can be challenging and can sometimes lead to severe complications that can significantly harm your well-being. Some of these complications include:

  • Excessive vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Low blood sodium levels
  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Seizures
  • Severe depression with suicidal thoughts
  • Intense cravings

The cravings people experience during heroin withdrawal can substantially increase the risk of relapse. This is especially dangerous during heroin withdrawal, as tolerance is lower after a period of abstinence, and the risk of life-threatening overdose is high.

What is the Alternative to Quitting Heroin Cold Turkey?

Instead of trying to abruptly stop using heroin after a period of regular use, it’s helpful to seek treatment from a medical facility or drug and alcohol detox center. Detox centers can prescribe medications, monitor your symptoms, and make sure you follow up detoxification with continued treatment that supports long-term recovery.

Medical Management of Heroin Withdrawal

Professional, medically-supported detox is the safest way to manage the dangers of heroin withdrawal. During heroin detox, medical specialists and support professionals assess and treat people’s withdrawal symptoms with medications and holistic therapies.

Common medications used in heroin detox include:[3]

These and other medications can help lower the intensity of your withdrawal symptoms. Medications can also counteract some of withdrawal’s most uncomfortable physical and emotional aspects of cold turkey heroin withdrawal.

Other forms of treatment include:

  • Emotional support, including individual counseling when appropriate
  • Distance from triggers
  • Holistic therapies like exercise, nutrition support, mindfulness, and others

Combining evidence-based and holistic treatments can help you have a safe, complete withdrawal.

Once detox is complete, you must participate in a comprehensive addiction treatment plan that can give you the skills, treatment, and support you need to avoid relapse for life.

Do I Need Treatment for Heroin Abuse or Addiction?

Recognizing substance abuse and addiction are the first steps toward getting the help you need to overcome it. If you or someone you love uses heroin, you must seek professional help to avoid addiction’s serious, sometimes life-threatening consequences.

The signs of heroin abuse and addiction include:

  • Needing to use more heroin to get the same effect
  • Using more heroin than you intended to or using more often
  • Spending a lot of time thinking about, using, or recovering from substance use
  • Continuing to use heroin despite negative consequences to your work, relationships, or health
  • Financial or legal problems associated with your heroin use
  • Stealing, lying, or hiding your heroin use
  • Isolating or losing interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Only spending time with other heroin users
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, in school, or at home

Getting the treatment you need can be as simple as reaching out to the caring specialists at Woburn Addiction Treatment. Our knowledgeable addiction specialists can help you get the support and care you need to have a safe, complete detox and a lifelong recovery from heroin abuse.

Find Treatment for Heroin Abuse and Addiction Today

Heroin abuse and addiction can cause significant damage to every aspect of your life. Your health, relationships, and work can suffer as your addiction becomes the center of your life.

You don’t have to carry the weight of your addiction alone. Don’t wait another day for the help you need. Find the support you need or call today to learn about the heroin addiction treatment programs at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment.



Ready to Make a Change?

We know that overcoming addiction is not easy and requires courage to ask for help. At Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment, our team of professionals has decades of combined experience in helping men, women, and families overcome substance abuse.

For Confidential Help, Call: