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How To Stay Off Opiates

Empty pill bottles litter the stained carpet. Dishes pile up in the sink. With food so bonded to the plastic and porcelain that it makes super glue jealous. The fridge is empty except expired condiments, and the TV blares around the clock. You haven’t slept in weeks, maybe even months. You get sleep whenever and wherever you happen to “nod out.” Friends have stopped calling, and you’re not sure if it’s because you stopped answering or because they’ve given up on you. You know this isn’t living, but survival and doing just enough to get by has become good enough.

You wonder if this is all life has to offer. Is this it?

The remorse consumes you and the fear that you may never crawl out of the addiction hole petrifies you. Even if you were able to be a “functional addict,” keeping up appearances and tricking other people are yourself that you didn’t have a problem, the insanity of maintaining a life with opiate addiction is enough to break the will of the strongest humans.

If you’ve been addicted to opiates, you know this feeling of loneliness and maintenance. If you are reading this article, you’ve either got to the other side of withdrawal and are terrified of relapsing, or you want to stop but are even more terrified of what life is like without pills or heroin.

The question you are asking yourself is, “How can I stay off opiates for good?”

The Simplest Way Isn’t Always the Best Way

The only fool-proof way to stay off opiates is not to use them. Ever.

We know what you’re saying to yourself: “If it were that easy, then I wouldn’t be having a problem right now.” Almost every person addicted to heroin, morphine, or any other opioid has tried to quit cold-turkey. Most cannot stop this way because the withdrawals are so severe and the obsession to use too great.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s research shows that quitting cold-turkey has a low success rate. Instead, research recommends utilizing behavioral and medical approaches to heroin and opioid treatment.

Opioid withdrawal isn’t fatal, but it feels like you are about to die, or as one person who quit heroin wrote in an op-ed for Business Insider, “Listing the symptoms or even describing them cannot even begin to convey the pain and fear one experiences while going through this. The poison seems to make a horrid effort to convince you that you will in fact die if you do not get one more fix.”

The first step in snatching back your life from the Hulk-sized grip of heroin addiction is to get to the other side of withdrawal—to get clean. There are plenty of treatment options and facilities that can provide a safe place for you to “kick.” This is typically the safest and surest way to separate the user from the drug and have them come out the other side as a person who feels human again.

How to Stay Off Opiates

Once off opiates, the life of a former addict begins resembling that of a non-addicted person rather quickly. You’ve started feeling normal again, the symptoms of withdrawal have (thankfully) lessened if not completely disappeared. You’re grateful you don’t have to live that way anymore, but the obsession to use again can persist for months.

How do you stay off opiates even when the obsession overwhelms every ounce of will you have?

Sometimes, the best way to overcome desires to use is to attack the obsession from the flanks. What I mean by this is that making decisions and taking actions that are characteristic of a healthy lifestyle is your best chance of staying clean.

Develop Coping Mechanisms

While addiction is considered a disease, most experts and former addicts agree that the substance abuse part of the disease is a symptom of other underlying problems. Utilize therapy and 12-step support groups to develop better coping skills. These resources help to identify triggers and develop new ways to deal with life’s conflicts.

Get Grateful!

There’s an old saying by former addicts and people who have overcome mental disorders. It goes something like this: “A grateful heart never picks up.”

Indeed, research confirms that recovery from addiction is strongly correlated with an increased capacity to practice gratitude and spiritual open-mindedness. Basically, the more gratitude you learn to live in, the better chance you have at staying clean.

You don’t have to be religious or even have an understanding of God. You can practice meditation and prayer. You can write gratitude lists every morning and evening. You can be grateful for being able to walk, for having a new chance at life, for having food to eat. You can even be thankful for having the internet to be able to find inspiration to stay clean. Gratitude is one of the few things we can do that is free, that can make us not feel lonely when nobody is around and can bring us serenity and calm no matter what your present circumstance is.

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