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How to Fight Heroin Cravings

How to Fight Heroin Cravings

Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs on the street. There are several types of heroin - the traditional white powder, black tar heroin, and purple heroin.

As an opioid, heroin works by attaching itself to receptors on brain cells, alleviating pain, and producing an intense sense of euphoria and sedation. Its impact on the brain makes it a difficult drug to recover from, and those who do receive heroin treatment often have trouble fighting addiction cravings during recovery. If you’re in this situation, our rehab in Boston is sharing some tips on how to fight heroin cravings that can help.

What Are Drug Cravings?

Drug cravings refer to urges or desires to use drugs or alcohol. Drug cravings are both mental and physical, making them difficult to cope with sometimes. They can happen to anyone who’s struggled with drug addiction or alcoholism in the past, regardless of how long they’ve been sober.

When it comes to the physical aspect of craving heroin, long-term use can accustom the mind and body to this drug and the high it produces. Repeated heroin use affects the balance of chemicals like dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, not only reinforcing drug-taking behavior but also sort of imprinting the mind with memories of what a heroin high feels like.

When people undergo medical detox, they may also struggle to cope with drug cravings because their body is used to ingesting a certain amount of heroin every day. This can not only be physically stressful but emotionally, as well.

Many people who begin using heroin or other drugs of abuse become accustomed to the relief or happiness they offer, regardless of how temporary that high might be. They may begin to believe that continuing to use heroin is the only way to escape their feelings of shame and guilt about their drug use, thus creating an emotional attachment.

Others who struggle with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, or trauma may also turn to drugs like heroin to escape their symptoms. They may feel as if the only way they can survive their conditions is by using drugs to numb the pain and hurt. In the long run, this usually ends with the person having both an addiction and a mental disorder.

How Long Do Cravings Last for Drugs?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear answer. Drug cravings can last anywhere from a few weeks at the start of recovery and can show up years into recovery. Usually, the worst of these cravings occur in the earlier stages of detox and recovery. The duration of heroin cravings also depends on the person’s reasons for using it and how long they’ve used it. For instance, someone who took heroin for 10 years may experience more severe and longer-lasting cravings than someone who used it for 5 months.

Additionally, addiction is just as mental and emotional as it is physical. While the body may be accustomed to a sober lifestyle, you could randomly find yourself reminiscing about heroin abuse without realizing it. Especially if you’re stressed, depressed, or upset, you may attempt to rationalize your reasons for using again.

Because heroin cravings can occur even years after someone’s gone to rehab, aftercare services can make a huge difference. At Banyan Treatment Centers Massachusetts, we usually recommend that patients join our alumni program after completing treatment so they can meet with their sponsors and others in the recovery community to keep them accountable, offer peer support, and keep them on the right track.

Spotting Heroin Cravings

Especially after withdrawal, you may experience a strong urge to use heroin again. However, these cravings can be triggered by certain people, places, or things. It’s important to be aware of the symptoms that you or someone in recovery may display when they experience these cravings so you can potentially prevent a relapse.

Some signs of heroin cravings include:

  • Clammy or sweaty skin
  • Pale skin
  • Inattentiveness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Memory problems
  • Decreased performance at school or work
  • Isolation

Things that can trigger heroin cravings include:

  • Being around people who use heroin
  • Being around people who you used to use heroin with
  • Having extra spending money
  • Feeling anxious, stressed, or worried
  • Untreated mental illness

It’s important to remember that dealing with addiction cravings is normal in addiction recovery. They do not mean that you’ve failed or that treatment hasn’t worked. Cravings also don’t mean that you want to start using again but are rather your body’s natural reaction to stress or negative emotions, which is why learning how to fight heroin cravings is crucial for sobriety.

Tips on How to Stop Heroin Cravings

Managing cravings and urges to use heroin or any other drug can be difficult, especially if you’re in early addiction recovery. Below are some tips on how to stop drug cravings naturally and stick with your recovery plan.

  • Distract yourself: Whenever you begin to experience a craving coming on, flip the script by distracting yourself. This can be almost anything, from going for a walk, watching a movie, reading a book, and even cleaning.
  • Talk about it with your sponsor or a loved one: A common mistake that many people in recovery make is keeping their struggles to themselves. Whether it’s because they feel like they’re a burden or they don’t want to seem like they’re struggling, they may bottle up their emotions until they pop. This is a huge no-no. Talking about your cravings with your loved ones or sponsor makes them aware of your situation so they can hold you accountable. Venting your feelings can also be a great stress reliever.
  • Allow cravings to happen without giving in: Sometimes, we have to go through the bad stuff to get to the good stuff, and it’s no different with heroin cravings. If you feel an urge or craving, sit down and take a moment to let yourself feel it. Acknowledge it, think of it, and then let it pass. This could help you develop a tough resilience and make it easier to ignore them in the future.
  • Make a list of why you want to stay sober: Sometimes we have to bring ourselves back to reality, and a great way to do this when you’re craving heroin is to make a list or think about your reasons for staying sober. Maybe you have a spouse and kids you want to stick around for. Maybe you have family or friends that you don’t want to lose. Maybe you want to avoid health problems. Whatever the case may be, these are inspirations that can keep you focused on your goal.
  • Use self-talk: If your cravings are making you feel as if you’ll die if you don’t use them again, counter that thinking with statements like, “Cravings are a normal part of recovery, and they happen to everyone.” Remind yourself that you’ve got this because you do!

How to Kick Heroin for Good

The best way to kick heroin is by getting professional addiction treatment. Opioids like heroin are some of the most difficult drugs to withdraw from and quit because of their intense impact on the brain. Withdrawal symptoms can also be difficult to manage without the help of an inpatient or IOP rehab.

If you want freedom from addiction, Banyan Massachusetts can help. Call us today at 888-280-4763 to speak to a specialist about our drug treatment in Boston and how you can get started today.

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Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
How to Fight Heroin Cravings
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