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Professional Detox

When a heroin user first becomes addicted, he usually reaches out for professional help in the form of a detox doctor of one form or another. This is only natural. But it may not be the smartest move.

Reasons to Detox

Although it is not usually acknowledge, all heroin addicts must be experts at their own detox. This is not necessary for chippers, but it is good to have some knowledge of detox in case they ever become addicts. Addicts commonly detox themselves for a variety of reasons:

  1. lack of money
  2. lack of drug sources
  3. kicking down a habit
  4. getting clean once and for all

Here are some tools to help you do it yourself or get the best treatment when dealing with "professionals".

"Professionals"

I don't mean to be cute by putting the word "professional" it quotes. It is simply that the vast majority of people who work in the treatment industry have few skills and little knowledge. A good (and unfortunately typical) example: after a rapid detox I experienced violet diarrhea and vomiting for several days. None of the two MDs and four RNs offered me any (non-narcotic) drugs for these maladies even though both (especially the latter) are life-threatening. The rule is: people who work in detox are incompetent (else they would get a better paying job). A corollary is that they are callous.

Had I known I could have been given an injection that would have eliminated my vomiting within seconds (Phenergan), I would have demanded it; and they would have provided it. But at that time, I did not know, so I did not ask, and did not get treated effectively.

The situation can be far worse when the "professional" is not medically trained. But this is not necessarily so. In my case, I would have been better taken take of by a close friend. He might be incompetent, but he wouldn't be callous. He could call a doctor, explain the problem and demand the proper medications--an option the withdrawing addict does not have since he is spending all his time in the bathroom (if he's lucky), vomiting up his stomach lining.

It's Up To You

The bottom line is this: even if you hire someone to detox you, you still have to detox yourself. Even if you are lucky enough to get a good professional detox (at places like Hooper Detox in Portland, Oregon) the knowledge you have will make the process easier and better.

For a detailed discussion of detoxing yourself, let me be so bold as to recommend my book Heroin User's Handbook which contains 30 pages of material on the nuts and bolts of detoxing yourself as painlessly as possible.

Everyone is different and so everyone will be best suited with a detox that it tailored to their idiosyncrasies; there is no "perfect detox". The more you know, the better off you will be.

by Dr. H © 2002
Last Modified: 11 January 2004


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