In order to live a lifestyle free from opiates, heroin, or painkillers you need to first get yourself physically detoxified from these addictive substances. Before you can enjoy a lifestyle of freedom and personal growth, you must first break free from the physical dependency that you have on opiates.
In order to do that it might be helpful to understand exactly what is going on when you are craving heroin or painkillers.
You see, the human body always has a small amount of dopamine “on tap,” and that is there to establish a baseline. Call this baseline a 20 out of a possible 100 on a scale of pain relief.
It is always there so that when the body is going through intense exertion or pain, the brain can realize this and send some extra dopamine so that the person gets some relief. It is part of our built in natural survival mechanism.
So what happens when you take additional opiates and add them into your system is that the pain relief goes from a 20 out of 100 up to, say, maybe 80 out of 100. So now you are feeling good because you flooded your brain with extra opiates. This is the case when an opiate addict takes enough to feel euphoric.
Now over time, if the opiate addict continues to abuse opiates, then eventually their body will realize that they are almost always at 80 out of 100. And that being the case, the brain will realize that it no longer needs to produce that baseline amount of 20 out of 100. So the body realizes that it is getting plenty of opiates every day, and therefore it shuts off its own natural dopamine production.
This is not a problem so long as the addict continues to self medicate with painkillers or heroin. But as soon as they stop putting drugs into their system, the body is going to go into a panic because suddenly it will drop down to 0 out of 100. Remember that the baseline that allows all humans to function and feel normal is 20 out of 100. This is what produces the withdrawal symptoms that are so uncomfortable for people to deal with.
So in order to break free from this cycle, the opiate addict would do well to check into a 28 day rehab program. There they will be medically detoxed in such a way so as to minimize or even eliminate the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. It is only then that the opiate addict has a fighting chance against their addiction.
Once the addict goes through the detoxification process they are going to move on to residential treatment. There they will attend groups, learn about addiction and recovery, attend therapy, go to meetings, and so on. All of these are tools in the fight against addiction, as the addict must learn new solutions and new coping skills if they want to maintain their recovery.
Once the addict leaves treatment they have the monumental challenge of learning how to deal with life without resorting to their old solution, which was to get high. So their new lifestyle in recovery has to employ new solutions.
And the addict must constantly be seeking new solutions. Why?
Because the nature of life is that new problems are going to arise. That is a certainty, that you will experience new problems. What matters is how you deal and cope with those problems. You can distract yourself, you can run and hide from problems, or you can self medicate over the new problems. But none of those strategies will keep you clean and sober in the long run.
In order to build this new lifestyle in recovery you are going to have to adopt a new strategy of facing your problems head on and finding solutions for them. This is what it means to be responsible in your recovery–you have to actually face your problems and deal with them rather than to hide from them.
So hopefully you go through treatment and begin to learn some of these new solutions for your life so that you do not have to resort to your drug of choice. And then following treatment, hopefully you plug yourself into a program or a path of personal growth, such that you are always learning new solutions and overcoming your problems.
Really recovery is all about leaving behind a bad set of habits and employing new, healthy habits instead. If you can trade out your bad habits and trade them in for positive habits then you can really turn your life around in a short period of time.
How is this possible? Because daily habits have a compounding effect, and you are also locking in the positive changes that you are making. This is what builds a healthy lifestyle: healthy habits. If you make the positive choices a routine, rather than a decision that you have to make every day, then there is no question that your life is going to be steadily improving.
You shouldn’t need lots of willpower for this sort of thing. Instead, you need to make a decision, such as “I go to an AA meeting every day now” or “I exercise every day now.” You don’t have to agonize over these decisions because you already made up your mind and now you have a new routine. If you keep living this way and you keep upgrading your habits to more healthy ones, then eventually your life will be nothing short of amazing.
Some people do have chronic pain issues that they have to learn how to cope with in recovery without the use of painkillers. That can be a challenge but it is certainly nothing that would prevent you from being successful. There are lots of alternatives to opiate based painkillers depending on your type of pain, and you may need to explore some options and do some additional research. If you are not open minded about this then the only thing that will help your pain is a strong does of opiates, which would obviously reactivate your addiction.
Therefore the key is to be open minded enough to try some alternatives and see what helps your pain level. This may be massage, alternative medications, TENS technology, physical therapy, or something else entirely. There are lots of options and you need to be open to the possibilities so that you don’t stay trapped in addiction.
Anyone who is hooked on opiates can transition to a healthy lifestyle, but they have to surrender first, ask for help, and attend an inpatient treatment center in order to get their journey properly started.