Junkies refer to it as kicking - trying to get rid of that nasty little opiate habit picked up somewhere along the line. At first you considered yourself a chipper, occasionally enjoying a blissful non-sexual orgasm. "Only on the weekends," you'd say. Infamous last words they were indeed.

Of course one doesn't realize how depraved and consuming their habit is until it is too late, and that is why stopping is going to leave you with the absolute worst hangover you've ever had for up to two weeks. Welcome to hell.

Depending upon your opiate-of-choice, the onset of the sickness can start anywhere from 6 hours to two days after your last hit. It resembles a panic attack in onset, only this demon's needful claws clutch at your very soul. The will to live barely hovers above nothing. You won't shower or eat. You move just enough to avoid soiling yourself as you constantly shit and vomit.

Heroin makes you constipated. The heroin from my last hit is fading away... and the suppositories have yet to melt. I'm no longer constipated.

Your nerves are overcompensating for their long hibernation, and your legs kick involuntarily any time you come close to sleep. Hence the name kicking, some will tell you. It's just as likely its origin lies in the adage, "kicking the habit." The need for another hit is all-consuming, never leaving the forefront of your mind.

There are two methods of kicking - cold turkey and reduced-use. Going cold turkey can be made easier by taking a drug called clonodine. Opiates depress the locus coeruleus area of the brain, which then becomes hyperactive during withdrawal. Clonodine can ease the anxiety this causes. The reduced-use method involves another opiate such as methadone (and more recently, buprenorphine) being administered in decreasing doses over time. While there are reports of this method's success, it should be noted that both methadone and buprenorphine are much stronger opiates than even heroin. As one junky put it, "You can kick a heroin habit. You never kick a methadone habit."

And once the pain goes away, that's when the real battle starts. Depression. Boredom. You feel so fucking low, you'll want to fucking top yourself.

But that's what you have to look forward to once you've detoxed. Detox is a strange word to use, with its connotation that it is the heroin in your system that is poisoning you. That's not strictly true. Most depraved addicts procure all kinds of toxins because of the life they're forced to lead in maintaining their habit. I also hear "5 days" thrown around like it's some magic period of time in which your body eliminates all those "toxins." It ain't that simple.

Your withdrawal and recovery period is largely dependent on what type of opiate you took, and how often you took it. Heroin is very intense, but short acting. This is where the five-day period was inspired. Oxycontin or methadone, long lasting opiates both, can take much longer to leave your system. Two weeks would be more accurate than five days in this case. And just forget about the word "detox" with its New-Age connotations. You're body has been extremely north of center for some time - it will take time to normalize. Some people like to call that time, detoxing. Such is their right.


The quotes are from the movie Trainspotting

As someone with a fairly good grasp on pharmacology, and someone who also had a significant oxycodone habit, so large that I once did the equivalent of 200 5mg percocet in one day (i.e. 12 oxycontin 80mg), I can attest to this nightmare.

First, I have to say, the prohibition of these substances is the most detrimental factor of usage. I repeat: the illegality of these substances is causing more problems than the effects of the actual drugs. I was a straight A student, blowing cocaine and oxycodone throughout most of my senior year. My work output was not affected by the drug itself, rather the huge financial strain caused by black market inflation, and the task of making sure I always had a fix. Who is really harmed when one takes a drug? Yet, the inaccurate paternalism of many governments would have a drug user in prison with violent offenders.

When one takes an opiate, be it vicodin (hydrocodone), heroin (intravenously or intranasally), codeine, demoral, morphine or dilaudid morphine, fentanyl, oxycodone or any derivative of the poppy activates his opioid receptors, which causes a release of endorphins that triggers a release of enkephalins, which also triggers a massive release of dopamine as well. This is one hell of a chemical reaction. The only problem is that as one's body gets used to an exogenous endorphin source, it stops making endogenous endorphins, and becomes dependent on the exogenous source. This is where withdrawal creeps into the user’s life. The higher the habit, the more heinous the withdrawal symptoms because the body has become increasingly dependent on this exogenous endorphin source. Withdrawal is hell. I do not think I need to elaborate any further than what has been said by many junkies before, though I will give a list of withdrawal symptoms: extreme restlessness, panic, an odd taste and smell, shooting pains, insomnia, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), stomach cramps, sneezing, yawning and spontaneous ejaculation (these three are all an effort by your body to create endogenous endorphins), loss of appetite (usually lasts at least five days), depression, aches and pains and headaches. And this still does not reveal the pure torture of withdrawal.

However, there is so much hope. Unless the user is rich, and stocks up in advance with a connection that he knows will last forever, there will be a time when the user either goes broke, or cannot find the goods. Hopefully, in this situation the user has stacked up a nice supply of Buprenorphine. In America, this goes under two names: Suboxon (which has naloxone in it, a pure opioid antagonist added to stop people from railing the Buprenorphine), and Subutex (pure Buprenophine). A word to the wise: wait until the actual onset of withdrawal before using Buprenophine because it will knock any opioid drugs stimulating the receptors out of the receptor, and actually cause one to go into withdrawal. A common misconception about Suboxon is that it is the naloxone that causes withdrawal if it is taken while still under the influence of another opioid, but really, it is the Buprenorphine—it takes both an agonist and antagonist confirmation to the receptor—that is knocking out everything stimulating the opioid receptors. Naloxone is really to prevent one from taking the Buprenophine intravenously.

Buprenorphine is a true miracle, and the drug that helped me to get clean. I have been clean now for about three months. The first month I used Buprenorphine to ease withdrawal. It truly is a miracle. It was almost too easy. So there is so much hope for everyone out there struggling. I found Methadone really crappy, probably because it is only a partial morphinone, and a great amount of anxiety comes along with it. However, Buprenorphine allows one to feel normal, as he was before he ever gained an opiate habit.

I want to wish all struggling with this good luck, but I already know a user will go until it gets out of control. That is the way it always seems to happen. Then, many times but not all, the user will learn it just is not feasible in modern society. And, believe it or not, it will get old after a while, and lose its charm. It gets to the point where the user cannot even feel it anymore, and then usually he will finally give it up, at least for a time. As the user abstains longer and longer, they usually notice the joy in life again, and decide never to go back. Almost always, a user will get to this point sooner or later, but I already know there is nothing one can say to instill these realizations in an opiate user. It is an experiential truth, or a gnosis.

Heroin was originally named because of the feeling achieved by its users. It made them feel like a hero. It was created by the Bayer Corporation, and welcomed for its supreme efficacy in treating pain over morphine. The most common American heroin user in the nineteenth century was an upper class woman from the south. They used to carry around a heroin tincture, and until the twentieth century, the virtues of the poppy and its effects were extolled since Roman times. An opiate user can live a long successful life with a daily supply of an opiate, but a daily supply of an opiate simply is not pragmatic in today’s world. I know some countries, such as England, have heroin programs, and I think this is a great thing. Nevertheless, the rest of the world does not. A user can end up in prison, or the worst hell of pain he can imagine. I do not want to be overly didactic here, but I was once young and confident, and thought I could control my drug use. I was wrong. So while it will not kill you if you know what you are doing, and it absolutely should not be illegal, take a real fair warning from someone that thought they controlled the world like chessboard: do not get started with opiates.

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