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